By Lisa Kreiger
For women, middle age brings softer midsections, hot flashes and a kinder, gentler tennis serve.
But when it comes to the stuff that really matters — memory mettle — at least we’re better than men.
A new study proves that women age 45 to 55 outperform age-matched men on all measures of memory: episodic memory, executive function, semantic processing and estimated verbal intelligence.
The research — led by clinical neuropsychologist Dorene M. Rentz and a team at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, linked to Harvard University — was published Monday in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.
Middle-age women trounced men in tests like the “Face-Name Associative Memory Exam,” no surprise to anyone who’s ever had to nudge their male partner at a cocktail party.
Here’s the bad news, if you’re female: On average, you will have less memory next year than you do right now. Blame Father Time. Over the years, there’s a narrowing gap between male and female memories.
Connie’s comments: Sleep more, eat colored whole foods and de-stress.
Menopause’s infamous “brain fog”? It’s real. Women who are too young for or transitioning through menopause outperformed their elders in a number of key memory areas.
Scientists say that loss of estrogen is the problem. Declines in this hormone are linked with lower rates of initial learning and retrieval of previously recalled information. Happily, it did not influence memory storage.
“Brain fog and complaints of memory issues should be taken seriously,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton of the Menopause Society, in a prepared statement. “This study and others have shown that these complaints are associated with memory deficits.”
But not all postmenopausal women experience memory or cognitive changes — and it remains unclear why some women experience these changes more acutely than others.
That’s especially comforting when the face that stares back at you in the mirror reminds you of your mother’s — a cherished memory.