February 12, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EST
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say they may have learned why women generally live longer than men.
A study by Dr. Ruben Gur shows that men lose brain tissue three times faster than women as they grow older, suggesting that women have some mechanism that allows them to distribute brain activity throughout brain tissue. Men, Gur says, use the same tissue repeatedly, creating toxic by-products that speed up the brain's deterioration.
Gur hypothesized that the mechanism could be sex hormones, but emphasized that there is no proof of that. If scientists can pinpoint the mechanism, he said, they may be able to slow down the deterioration in men and narrow the longevity gap between men and women.
In a separate, unrelated brain study, scientists have located what they call the "interval timer" in the human brain -- the part of the brain that keeps track of actual time.
Dr. Warren Meck of Duke University says that the interval timer -- located in the very center of the brain -- is the part of the brain that determines such things as whether there is enough time to cross a street in front of a car.
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