Men’s memories? Forget about it…

Now that I’m at midlife, sometimes my wife thinks I’m losing my mind. New research from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies suggests that she might be right–at age 50, a woman’s memory is better than a man’s.  A survey of more than 9,600 middle-aged British men and women showed that women outscored men in two listening and recollection tests.  I found a story about the study at the University of London’s website. 

Participants in the first test listened to 10 common words being read out loud and were then given two minutes to recall as many as possible. The second test required them to list the same 10 words about five minutes later. The results: Women scored almost 5% more than men, on average, in the first test, and nearly 8% more in the second.     

Women were less accurate in a third test requiring them to cross out as many “Ps” and “Ws” as possible in a page filled with rows of random letters, though they had scanned the letters faster than men. In a fourth test, naming as many animals as they could in a minute, men and women had identical scores. Each could name 22 animals, on average.

The men and women tested were all members of the National Child Development Study, and have been tracked since their births in 1958. They were tested at age 16, and the latest tests will help estimate the impact that exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol and depression have had on mental abilities. Initial analysis shows those who exercised at least once a month did better on all tests, on average, than those who did not. Non-smokers, including ex-smokers, also outscored smokers in the first of the “word recall” tests, even after social background was taken into consideration.

Hey fellas, if you want to keep up with the women after the age of 50, looks like you’d be better off putting down the beers and heading to the gym.