Scientists have long known of dissimilarities in anatomy and activity between the brains of women and menâ€”now a rodent study shows that even individual neurons behave differently depending on sex.
Robert Clark of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and his colleagues found that cultured neurons from female rats and mice survived longer than did neurons from their male counterparts when facing starvation. Such sex differences had been evident for decades in other body tissues, but so far no one had looked at brain cells, Clark says. When he and his team deprived the cells of nutrients, female neurons consumed mainly fat resources to stay alive, whereas large amounts of male cells started to eat up their own protein-based building blocksâ€”and subsequently died.
Scientific American: Neuron Cannibalism: Hungry Male Cells Consume Their Own Proteins
I wonder why this is? What evolutionary advantage would this be for men? Male’s brains are usually larger than female’s, but apparently not large enough to last as long as those of women during a period of starvation. I do sometimes think that, in evolutionary terms, it simply isn’t as important for any given male to survive. It is very important (over time) for as many females to survive as possible. Of course, this assumes that what is true of rats and mice is also true of humans.