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Study: He doesn't remember, she does

Matrimonial lore says husbands never remember marital spats and wives never forget. A new study suggests a reason: Women's brains are wired both to feel and to recall emotions more keenly than the brains of men.

A team of psychologists tested groups of women and men for their ability to recall or recognize highly evocative photographs three weeks after first seeing them and found the women's recollections were 10 percent to 15 percentage points more accurate.

The study, appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also used MRIs to image the subjects' brains as they were exposed to the pictures. It found that the women's neural responses to emotional scenes were much more active than the men's.

Turhan Canli, an assistant professor of psychology at State University of New York Stony Brook, said the study shows a woman's brain is better organized to perceive and remember emotions.

"The wiring of emotional experience and the coding of that experience into memory is much more tightly integrated in women than in men," said Canli, the lead author of the study.

Other study authors are John Desmond, Zuo Zhao and John Gabrieli, all of Stanford University.

The findings are consistent with earlier research that found differences in the workings of the minds of women and men, said Diane Halpern, director of the Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children and a professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College in California.

Halpern said the study "makes a strong link between cognitive behavior and a brain structure that gets activated" when exposed to emotional stimuli.

"It advances our understanding of the link between cognition and the underlying brain structures," she said. "But it doesn't mean that those are immutable, . . . that they can't change with experience."

Education helps deal with

complicated treatment

WASHINGTON _ Well-educated patients are better able to follow the complex medical treatments needed to treat some diseases than are patients with less schooling, according to a RAND study.

Researchers at RAND, a nonprofit research institution in Santa Monica, Calif., examined the health of patients with HIV and with diabetes, both diseases that require carefully following directions and consistency in taking tests, keeping appointments and taking medicines.

The researchers then related the health of the patients to their level of education and found that schooling made a dramatic difference. The effect of education was even more important for a patient's health than income, age, race or sex, the study found.

A federal expert said the study could lead to developing intensive new programs to help the less-educated follow complex treatments needed to combat some diseases.

In analyzing a study of HIV patients and relating the findings to education levels, the researchers found that 68 percent of college graduates with HIV are receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, a complex pill-taking routine that requires careful adherence. Among high school dropouts with HIV, the study found only 54 percent were on HAART.

16-million in U.S. could have Alzheimer's by 2050

The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease could more than triple to 16-million by 2050, new research indicates.

The projections, presented Monday at an Alzheimer's conference in Stockholm, Sweden, are slightly higher than those conducted 10 years ago, mostly because more people are expected to live beyond the age of 85 than were predicted a decade ago.

Some 4.6-million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer's.

Last year, the World Health Organization estimated there are as many as 37-million people worldwide with dementia. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia.

FDA advisers recommend

nonsurgical sterilization

WASHINGTON _ A tiny, spring-like device threaded into the fallopian tubes seems to offer women permanent birth control without surgery and should be approved for sale, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted Monday.

If the FDA agrees, the Essure device could become an easier method of sterilization, the most widely used form of contraception. The FDA isn't bound by its advisers' recommendations, but typically follows them.

The advisers did attach some conditions. Noting Essure can't always be inserted successfully, the panel urged FDA to require better data on the failure rate for potential patients to consider.

The panel also urged some additional steps to assure women understand it's not reversible birth control, said FDA engineer Colin Pollard, chief of gynecologist devices.