Young men have a strong cognitive advantage over young women
A new study by CogniFit finds that young men have a strong cognitive advantage over young women. New finding also shows that as men and women grow older, men lose their cognitive advantage faster.
Using its extensive and validated cognitive database, CogniFit found that young males aged 20 years of age or under have significantly better results in a large number of cognitive skills over females. This male advantage is observed at least until age 40 in cognitive abilities such as working memory, divided attention, eye-hand coordination, planning and response time. Males and females perform equally well on cognitive skills such as auditory memory, naming, processing speed and recognition.
The new study also reveals that over the lifespan both men and women exhibit similar patterns of cognitive decline. Young men however, start with a significant cognitive advantage over women on most cognitive functions and this advantage remains for several decades. The study shows that, eventually, men lose this advantage and their performance, when older, equals that of women. Only two abilities, divided attention and shifting still show an advantage for men by the time they reach 60 years old. For most other abilities the gap is closing or has closed. Closure starts after 40 years old.
The study is the first to mention an advantage for young males across so many variables. The fact that, as men and women grow older, men lose their cognitive advantage over women is also a new finding. This closing of the gap around the fifth or sixth decades seems to indicate a steeper, more precipitated decline for men. We know that mortality occurs earlier for men and this could be related to cardiovascular disease, which is more frequent in males. Cardiovascular sickness is known to impair cognition and men could be losing their cognitive edge, perhaps due to higher rates of cardiovascular difficulties. This is also interesting as decreasing cognitive status could predict cardiovascular risk as early as age 40.
Dr. Evelyn Shatil Head of Cognitive Science at CogniFit, explains: “The present findings make a case for brain training for the prevention of the steeper cognitive decline observed in men, and for bridging the cognitive difference observed in women, a gap which could explain the documented differences between men and women in mathematical ability.”
The study was conducted on 29,835 men and women who were divided into 4 age-groups that spanned ages from 17 to 90 and above. The cognitive decline was documented for each age-group for both men and women, together and separately, on a large and varied array of cognitive abilities. The study is comprehensive enough to also conclude with reasonable certainty that no cognitive ability is immune from cognitive decline. There was a main effect of Gender for 13 among the 19 cognitive abilities measured.
Real-time data on the CogniFit evaluation are collected online each time a user takes the evaluation. For this study, data obtained from users’ first-time administration of the CogniFit evaluation were processed and reduced, using Expert-Judge variable allocation to abilities as well as Factor Analysis Procedures, to yield 19 different cognitive ability scores. Scores on the 19 abilities were then standardized based on norms previously calculated using a well-defined general normative sample.