A team at Amen Clinics in California studied 46,034 brain-imaging scans through SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography), a technology used to track blood flow in brain. The scans focused on 119 healthy subjects and 26,683 patients of psychiatric conditions.
Women showed higher blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, which helps control impulse and focus. They also had more blood flow than men in the limbic (or emotional) areas of the brain, which is related to anxiety and mood.
The parts of the brain that women showed higher blood flow to can suggest why women, on average, can be more empathetic and/or intuitive than men, and also why depression and anxiety disorders are higher in women than men. The results also showed that men had higher blood flow in other areas including coordination and visual spots.
This does not mean that women are ‘smarter’ than men, but it can suggest why certain brain diseases like Alzheimer’s occur more in women than men.
The lead author and psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder of Amen Clinics said, “The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using functional neuroimaging tools, such as SPECT, are essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future.”