Unleashing The Power Of The Female Brain

Blog-Unleashing The Power Of The Female Brain

Content updated from previous publish date.

It has been said that boys will be boys and girls will be girls. But what are the true differences between the two sexes when it comes to the brain? We now know the answer thanks to one of the largest functional brain-imaging studies ever done. Amen Clinics, which has built the world’s largest database of functional brain scans, compared 46,034 brain SPECT scans to identify the differences between male and female brains. The study analyzed a total of 128 regions of the brain, and in this blog, you’ll discover the main ways male and female brains work differently. These differences help us understand some of the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of the female brain and give us important clues on how to optimize it.

One of the largest functional brain-imaging studies ever done helps us understand the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of the female brain and give us important clues on how to optimize it. Click To Tweet


The study, which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, involved a brain imaging technology called SPECT, which looks at blood flow and activity patterns. In general, SPECT reveals 3 important things: areas of the brain with healthy activity, too much activity, and too little activity. For the study, the researchers performed 2 sets of brain scans—one at rest and one while performing a concentration task—on 119 healthy participants as well as 26,683 patients.


On brain scans, female brains showed significantly more activity in many regions. Because of the increased activity, females often exhibit greater strengths in the areas of:

  • Empathy
  • Intuition
  • Collaboration
  • Self-control
  • Appropriate worrying

This increased activity, however, also makes females more vulnerable to a number of mental health issues. For example, women experience and depression at twice the rate as men, and they are also twice as likely as men to struggle with anxiety. These brain differences also increase the likelihood that females will have insomnia, eating disorders, and chronic pain.


The Amen Clinics study also found that females have stronger activity in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is involved with planning, judgment, empathy, and self-control. Think of the prefrontal cortex as the brain’s brake. It helps keep you on track toward reaching your goals and stops you from saying or doing things you shouldn’t.

When the prefrontal cortex is low in activity, which is more common in males, according to the study, people can struggle with short attention spans, distractibility, problems with impulse control, and in some cases ADD/ADHD.

When it works too hard, as it often does in women, it’s like the parking brake is always on, and you can get stuck on certain thoughts or behaviors, such as worrying or holding grudges.

An area deep in the prefrontal cortex called the anterior cingulate gyrus is also more active in females. It is involved with error detection, which is why women can sometimes focus too much on what is wrong in their life—their relationships, career, children, weight, and so on.


A brain-imaging study from Canada showed that the rate of serotonin synthesis in women is 52% lower compared with men. This is very important as serotonin helps calm and relax the prefrontal cortex. When serotonin levels are too low, people often struggle with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Pain syndromes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Obsessive worry
  • Carbohydrate cravings

Other brain-imaging research has found that females also have more connections than men between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, improving communication between analytic and intuition. There is also increased activity in the regions of the brain responsible for gut feelings and intuition. They also have more activity in the limbic or emotional and bonding areas of the brain, which may explain why women tend to be primary caretakers for children and the elderly, and why they often excel at collaboration.


Based on these differences, female brains tend to have 5 special strengths: empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and a little worry.

1. Balance empathy with self-care.

Women are doing more today than ever before, and the constant stress is stealing their health and making them sick. Women tend to make health appointments for everyone else, but not themselves. Make stress-reduction part of your daily routine and consider the supplements l-theanine, magnesium, and Holy Basil, which can help lower stress.

2. Tap into your Intuition.

Those gut feelings are an important skill that keeps us alive and gives women an important edge. If you tap into it, you can get to solutions faster. To do so, pay attention to your physical sensations. Do you have a pit in your stomach? Are you getting chills? Do you have goosebumps? Tune into these signs to help guide your decisions.

3. Boost collaboration by working to include others.

This is why women often make great bosses. They have gifts of empathy, collaboration, and intuition and also tend to make fewer risky decisions when stressed. Create teams to help you reach your goals.

4. Boost serotonin to enhance your moods.

Healthy serotonin levels are associated with better moods. Your body needs the essential amino acid tryptophan in order to produce serotonin. Try adding foods that are rich in tryptophan, such as chicken, beef, turkey, salmon, pork, pumpkin seeds, and eggs.

5. Balance worry with wellness.

Some anxiety is good if it keeps you on track, but too much is painful. To get your nerves under control, avoid anxiety-inducing foods and try natural solutions to calm anxiety.

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. So the statement below regarding the study means most, not all, men have lower activity than women. So Trumpo must have no activity in the prefrontal cortex, seriously this could actually be part of his problem. Correct?
    “We found that females have stronger activity in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is involved with planning, judgment, empathy and self-control. Think of the prefrontal cortex as the brain’s brake. It helps keep you on track and stops you from saying or doing things you shouldn’t. When the prefrontal cortex is low in activity, you can struggle with short attention span, distractibility and problems with impulse control.”

    Comment by Jessie — March 9, 2018 @ 5:45 AM

  2. Are there areas of the brain that are more active for men, or are they equal in the other areas?

    Comment by Chad — March 9, 2018 @ 8:37 AM

  3. Could women have more active brains simply from having to be on the alert for danger and threats all the time and from having to repress those fears in order to appear normal?

    Would have to compare with babies brains to see if they start out this way or are conditioned.

    Comment by Bridget — March 9, 2018 @ 9:49 AM

  4. Thank you for this synopsis! Most helpful. Keeping this info in mind as I talk with clients. Is it possible to get the source for the Canadian study on serotonin? Would like to hear more about unleashing the power of the male brain as well.
    Thanks for the work that you and Tana do!

    Comment by Kathy — March 9, 2018 @ 12:02 PM

  5. The only problem Trump has is people like you who complain about everything he does, no matter what he does. The man has done more good in on year than the Kenyan did in eight.

    Comment by richard nicoletti — March 10, 2018 @ 4:33 AM

  6. This is a discussion on the brain…don’t know why Trump has become the subject, but just to set the record straight is that those of us who might ‘complain’ about him is for good reason. With him in office we are all losers. Noted Psychiatrists en mass have written warning signals on him based on his behavior. As a professional myself, I have major concerns for what I see as a language-based disability: low vocabulary; syntax; difficulty remaining on topic as part of his verbal expressive language; his reported lack of reading most likely due to reading/comprehension issues; and, his untreated ADHD with impulsivity. As for him doing more this year….I’d say what he has done is created more chaos and conflict than any other president, while the American born President Obama provided us with a very stable economy after inheriting one of the worst recessions in U.S. history. One only has to research this at the government website to learn the facts. Trump inherited a stable economy that he has been coasting on.

    Comment by Marlene R. — March 10, 2018 @ 6:24 AM

  7. I was thinking that evolution optimized women for childbearing and caring for for infants. Women needed to bond and have compassion. Men were optimized to take the risks, because one man can father many more children than a women can bear in her lifetime. This made men more expendable.

    Comment by Toby Elizabeth — March 10, 2018 @ 7:39 AM

  8. I found this interesting and it opened up my eyes to a lot of things.. For Richard Nicoletti. Why is everything on every page political.. It just goes to explain men are not as smart and classy as women. You should have left your racist comment out of this very informative study and Amen Clinic should delete it. Did your mother drop you on your head and fail to get you medical attention? That goes for Jesse also. Not sure if man or woman but leave politics out.

    Comment by Christianna Wheeler — March 10, 2018 @ 9:36 AM

  9. Interesting and informative article on women’s brains.

    Now, in this day of beat-the-man-up (and down), when do we get a book on the guys?

    Thank you.

    Comment by M. D. Collins — March 10, 2018 @ 3:40 PM

  10. Richard Nicoletti you are so right about President Trump. and Jessie at least he has a brain unlike you and your democratic party who haven’t given this man a break for making this country strong again.

    Comment by marie — March 11, 2018 @ 11:14 AM

  11. It would seem that this it is not black and white. I feel like I have some trouble with impulse control at times, but I also feel like my brake is on all the time. I do not like taking risks.

    I agree that there are some people who will criticize politicians no matter what they do, as a mechanism to build momentum against them in follow-up elections, and also to obstruct any “progress” they intend to make in areas that are antithetical to all they hold dear.

    But for average people, I believe it is normal to take objection to actions that are taken by any politician. Because no politician can truly represent all the people. Even within a political party, you can have a seemingly infinite combination of opinions on how the world should work and what it should look like.

    Comment by Andy — March 11, 2018 @ 12:39 PM

  12. This is a stanard relpy…of many on the right…or people that think like Trump.

    Comment by Sue Mitchel — March 11, 2018 @ 2:49 PM

  13. Jessie, the brain is much more complex than your attribution.

    Comment by PT — March 19, 2018 @ 7:23 AM

  14. I looked forward to reading this article but was disappointed to find generalizations drawn from the brain scan data.

    Wouldn’t the next step be to assess the subjects on those behavioral attributes?

    I think this article also sensationalizes the gender divide and does not help create any real understanding brain differences. And should this differentiation be based simply on a binary? How do lgbtqa and inter sexed people factor in?

    Comment by Garth — June 6, 2018 @ 4:11 AM

  15. It is sad to read, that post-pandemic, we seem to have lost our social skills. Making an important study the subject of politics, which is very personal and raises everyone’s ire, shows us that we’ve got a long way to go to get back to civil discourse.

    Comment by Jem — July 24, 2023 @ 3:33 AM

  16. I find this article very thorough and helpful. I believe it to be true and helpful. I will be looking for more opportunities to ingest tryptophan to increase serotonin levels. Thank you for this article. I wish responders wouldn’t make a political response.

    Comment by Cynthia — July 24, 2023 @ 3:51 AM

  17. Holding grudges would seem to be the opposite of empathy.

    Comment by Khendra — July 24, 2023 @ 5:58 AM

  18. i may have made this comment before but i have always used cannabis from about the age of 18 – always wondered why it made me feel normal?
    found out recently that i had a tbi on the back of my head when i was 2yrs, i am now 73 and after some radical dentistry i discovered my damage
    i hope that with treatment i can come off the cannabis and lead a normal life – always plagued with depression – also dysfunctional reproductive system leading to ovarian cancer at 47yrs
    what a joy my spiteful sister was who pulled a swing rope which caused the accident – and then – oh joy of joys spent years attacking me both verbally and physically making me feel inadequate
    the joy of knowing i do not live forever!!

    Comment by penny waters — July 25, 2023 @ 3:36 AM

  19. Hello- I have listened to Dr Amen on a variety of podcasts. I agree that it’s important to scan the brain to find the best solution for the symptom or situation the person is experiencing. The unfortunate part is the cost of a brain scan. Dr Amen claims to have scanned the brains of many famous people, which is great data. But it’s because those are the people who can afford the scans. I’m a first responder with 2 kids in college and would love a brain scan but there’s no way I could afford it. It’s really sad and frustrating to know this tool is possible but not accessible to many. It would be amazing if insurance was able to cover some of the cost, but unfortunately that is not the case. Thanks for the work you do, but I wish I could afford your services.

    Thank you

    Comment by Brandi — November 17, 2023 @ 3:43 PM

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