New Book Sheds Light on the Mechanisms Behind Female Brain
By: Leyuan Zhou
A recently-published book titled “The XX Brain,” written by Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist in New York City, seeks to explain the differences between the female and male brains and explore how the vital organ affects women’s health.
The book, which came out on March 10, includes tips on how to optimize brain health, information about the unique risks women have for developing Alzheimer’s disease, and the actions people can take to prevent memory loss.
Mosconi, the director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at Weill Cornell Medical Center, focuses her research on the female brain and women’s cognitive health. During an interview in March, she answered some important questions regarding her new book, most of which are centered around the uniqueness of the female brain.
According to Mosconi, credible research suggests that the brains of women and men are not quite the same. For example, the better capacity for women to multitask is attributed to a specific linking in parts of the female brain caused by different DNA. However, the most significant feature that separates women’s and men’s brains would be the difference in aging, which is caused by hormonal changes after menopause.
In more detail, Mosconi claims the aging of women’s brains includes “three bumps in the road” instead of the widely believed linear structure. This is because of the fluctuations of hormones during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Puberty, the first stage, is characterized by a surge of hormonal power, where the child brain matures into the brain of an adult. Pregnancy, the second stage, includes another explosion of hormones that ensues after the birth of a baby. Menopause, the third stage, will cause hormonal levels to decline.
Numerous imaging studies on the female brain have shown that the lowered hormonal levels that occur during menopause are a sign of progressively dropping brain energy levels in women’s brains.
Because of the differences in hormones between men and women, certain mental and autoimmune diseases such as anxiety, depression, and multiple sclerosis are more likely to develop in women. In addition, women are more prone to headaches, migraines, brain tumors, strokes, and Alzheimer’s disease than men.
Despite the negative implications regarding the female brain, Mosconi claims that many factors causing brain illnesses “are not genetic in nature but are really related to the choices we make in life.” She suggests that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and reduced stress can be immensely beneficial, preventing diseases and hindering aging.