Women's brains are hotter than men's and more likely to top 40C, study finds

Womens brains are hotter than mens
Womens brains are hotter than mens
Pintu Kumar

A new molecular biology study into the temperature of brains has thrown up some interesting findings in relation to the gender and age of its voluntary participants

Women's brains are hotter than men's and more likely to top 40C, a new study has found.

Science boffins have discovered that women's brains are about 0.4C warmer than men's, meaning they have a greater likelihood of topping 40C.

The research has been done by the Medical Research Council's Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge and indicates that the difference is likely to be caused by the menstrual cycle.

Most women were scanned in the post-ovulation phase with the difference between their brains' temperature to that of those who took part in the study who were in the pre-ovulation phase also around 0.4C higher.

40 volunteers from the age of 20 to 40 were scanned in the morning, afternoon and evening on the same day at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh with the results of the study published in the Brain journal.

Researchers went on to find the average temperature to be higher than previously believed at 38.5C, but deeper brain structures commonly rose above 40C with the highest temperature taken being 40.9.

The brain typically cools at night and warms up during the day.

And whilst such high temperatures would be regarded as a fever in other parts of the body – the mouth, for instance is normally less than 37C – in the brain, it can be a sign that the organ is functioning healthily.

The scientists also noted that temperatures increased with age, most markedly in deep brain regions where the average increase was 0.6C.

That led to the assumption that the brain's capacity to cool down deteriorates as we get older.

Dr John O'Neill, group leader at the University of Cambridge, said: "To me, the most surprising finding from our study is that the healthy human brain can reach temperatures that would be diagnosed as fever anywhere else in the body.

"Such high temperatures have been measured in people with brain injuries in the past, but had been assumed to result from the injury.

"There is good reason to believe this daily variation is associated with long-term brain health – something we hope to investigate next."

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