Why do men forget important dates? Why do they forget their wives’ birthdays and their wedding anniversaries despite knowing that such acts might spell marital disaster for them? Are they suicidal, insensitive or simply born that way? The study conducted by Prof. Jostein Holmen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology proves that the forgetfulness associated with men is not merely a stigma vended by the popular entertainment industry – it is a scientific reality. Men are indeed more forgetful than women—there is no end in sight for the rebuke and ridicule they suffer through their lives.
The investigators arrived at this conclusion after putting 37,405 men and women aged 30 years and older through an analytical study that required them to answer a series of questions that focused on the state of their memory. While half of the participants reported memory problems, men reported the most for eight out of nine questions. Overall, the researchers found that memory problems increased with age. But in all age groups, men reported more memory problems than women.
Furthermore, the investigators were surprised to find that younger men forget just as much as older men.Commenting on the findings, Prof. Holmen says:”It was surprising to see that men forget more than women. This has not been documented before. It was also surprising to see that men are just as forgetful whether they are 30 or 60 years old. The results were unambiguous.”
The researchers hypothesize that gender differences in memory may be down to a number of reasons. For example, it may be linked to risk factors that are more prevalent among men like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or high body mass index.These may trigger forms of neurodegeneration, explaining why men have more memory problems than women.But the researchers note that their study found no evidence pointing to this as the reason. Therefore, the gender differences in memory are still unclear.”We have speculated a lot about why men report more frequent problems with remembering than women do, but have not been able to find an explanation. This is still an unsolved mystery,” adds Prof. Holmen.
The researchers say they plan to carry out further studies to determine whether individuals who report having memory problems at a younger age may have an increased risk of developing dementia.
“Several studies have indicated that SMI (subjective memory impairment) might be a precursor of aMCI (amnestic mild cognitive impairment) and eventually dementia, suggesting that SMI might be of importance in recognizing early cognitive impairment,” the study authors write.