Ever wondered why men forget birthdays and anniversaries or the names of new neighbours? Men have problems remembering names and dates more than women do, according to a new Norwegian study.
“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,” said Professor Jostein Holmen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.
Holmen and his co-workers asked nine questions about how well people think they remember as a part of a large longitudinal population health study conducted in mid-Norway called HUNT3.
HUNT3 is one of the largest health studies ever performed, with answers from over 48,000 people as part of the research material, researchers said. The participants were asked how often they had problems remembering things, whether they had problems with remembering names and dates, if they could remember what they did one year ago and if they were able to remember details from conversations.
Men reported the most problems for eight out of nine questions. “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,” said Holmen.
Women have the same problems with remembering as men do, but to a lesser extent. Names and dates are also hardest to remember for women. These problems accelerate with age, but to a much lesser extent than the researchers believed before, the study found.
Women forget just as much whether they are 30 or 50 years old, researchers said. The study also showed that people who are more highly educated forget less than those with less education. People who suffer from anxiety or depression forget more than other people do. This is true for people of both sexes.
Memory problems begin to accelerate overall in the 60-70 year-old group, researchers found. Holmen wanted to see whether people who self-reported problems with remembering at a younger age are also at a higher risk of developing dementia.
“That was the reason why we included these questions. It is important to emphasise that we still don’t know what clinical importance these problems with remembering have,” Holmen said. The results were published in the journal BMC Psychology.