Forgetting is a mid-life crisis for men

Forgetting is a mid-life crisis for men

Women come out best in listening, recollection tests

Forgetting is a mid-life crisis for men

breaking his head: In middle age, absentmindedness is a particularly a male problem. getty images

Not, it seems, because they cannot be bothered to remember. Research suggests that, in middle age at least, absent-minded-ness is a particularly male problem.

At the age of 50, women’s verbal memory outperforms their male counterparts by a significant margin, a report by the Institute of Education, University of London suggests.
A survey of more than 9,600 middle-aged British men and women showed that women outscored men in two listening and recollection tests.

“Men performed significantly more poorly in the verbal memory tests: particularly on the delayed memory test,” the authors, Matthew Brown and Brian Dodgeon, said.

“This was quite a surprising result, since women turning 50 tend to do worse: another study has shown that during the menopause women do not do so well.”

Participants in the first test listened to 10 common words being read out 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. 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. They had, however, scanned 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 study did not test whether men are better than women at recalling numbers; previous studies have shown that women tend to do better on word recognition tests.

Those tested were members of the National Child Development Study who have been tracked since their birth 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.

“Although measuring gender differences was not the central purpose of tests, the differences between men and women were interesting,” the authors said.

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