Aug. 7 (UPI) — The results of the largest functional brain imaging survey ever conducted suggest female brains are more active than male brains.
Scientists surveyed the results of 46,034 brain imaging studies involving single-photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, a type of 3D gamma ray imaging.
SPECT can measure blood flow through the brain, identifying regions of heightened neurological activity. The massive dataset allowed researchers to identify gendered differences in brain structure.
“The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Daniel G. Amen, a psychiatrist at Amen Clinics in California, said in a news release. “Using functional neuroimaging tools, such as SPECT, are essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future.”
The results of the record-breaking survey showed female brains are especially active in the prefrontal cortex and limbic system. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for focus and impulse control, while the limbic system controls motivation, behavior and emotions, like mood and anxiety.
The parts of the brain linked with vision and coordination were more active among men.
Researchers say studied differences in male and female brains can reveal how men and women are affected by different diseases and public health problems. Females experience higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease and depression, while men are more likely to be experience conduct-related problems and end up in jail or prison.
“Precisely defining the physiological and structural basis of gender differences in brain function will illuminate Alzheimer’s disease and understanding our partners,” said Dr. George Perry, dean of the College of Sciences at the University of Texas at San Antonio.