Brava!! We have just celebrated women this month of March, with March 8 being heralded as International Women’s Day. Despite the many barriers that have been placed in front of women throughout history, women have continued to break the mold and shatter glass ceilings, proving themselves just as powerful, capable, and smart as their male counterparts. And while many continue to view women as the “weaker sex,” (booo!) just how do women stack up against men in certain cognitive functions? Spoiler alert: women are impressively strong.
Cognitive functions can be defined as cerebral activities that lead to knowledge, including all means and mechanisms of acquiring information. Cognitive abilities are related to executive functions, and research shows that women do excel in some of these five skills versus men; the skills being: attention, decision-making, memory, multi-tasking, and spatial skills. Let us look carefully at each one, along with some (fun) facts, and find out which of the two genders excel at what skill.
The average attention span is 8 seconds in 2013, compared to 12 seconds in 2000. Although men can be distracted by beautiful women and shiny cars, women tend to be equally distracted even while watching something on the screen (maybe thinking about their other tasks at hand?) How do we improve on our attention skill then?
- Disconnect to connect! Unplug your gadgets especially during tasks that need to be finished – for work, for the family, or for school. Turn off your phone during meetings and family meals.
- Fully concentrate. Be in the moment.
- Discipline your brain. Mentally endure.
Each waking day we have to make decisions. How do we achieve the best decision making process? And, most importantly, do women make better decisions than men? U.S Supreme Court Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor's appointment became the best argument of women being better judges, pun intended. So how does one decide correctly?
- Be swift - do not dilly dally
- Be objective - look at the bigger picture
- Get help, if necessary - ask the experts
- Plan for the worst - know what to do for worst case scenarios so that you are prepared
Hands down, women remember better than men. Think birthdays and anniversaries. Any questions?
Oh and did you know?
- Most memories develop from ages 15-25.
- Left handed people have better memory.
- We have around 70,000 thoughts/day
So how do we improve on our memory? Aside of course from buying all the colored post it notes and relying on your phone calendars and secretaries to remind you of your wedding anniversary?
- Eat right - fish rich with Omega-3 fatty acids for optimal brain performance, fruits, nuts, eggs.
- Exercise - brisk walking is good. Go to the park and look at pretty women and shiny cars passing too. (Yes I am being sarcastic. But if this helps, so be it)
- Get enough sleep - science says 6-7 hours should be fine for adults.
Are you men listening?
In this wired world we live in, we cannot help but multitask. How do we do this without breaking down? Hats off to the women who are the best multitaskers in the universe.They can: answer emails, prepare lunch, catch up on news, and talk to their mothers on the phone, all at the same time. Can men do that? Not likely, no. (do we hear groans right now?)
So what makes women successful in multitasking? Here are some of their tips:
- Be physically active: take the stairs, do some pool laps, run around the block
- Cardiorespiratory activities facilitates brain activation for executive function
- When all else fails, do one thing at a time. But then again, women cannot do one thing at a time.
Spatial skill pertains to scientific thought and communication. This assists us in these disciplines:
Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math
Most women will give this to men. At least this author does. Who can relate to getting lost time and again, going somewhere they have gone to multiple times? Or feeling completely baffled while looking at at a map?
According to some smart directionally-adept men, spatial skills may be improved through
- repetitive mental exercises - go ahead, push yourself
- video games that focus on brain training - studies have shown that properly-designed games are good for brain training, to improve on all cognitive skills
- reading comprehension, and
- verbal reasoning tests
And the Winner Is ...
Now did we keep track on who did better on these five cognitive skills?
Not just because it is Women’s Month that I say women do better than men. And not because I myself am female: I still remember phone numbers, account numbers, my social security number, and even my college student number (I AM ancient) and that I can multitask so well it gets boring when I am doing nothing or just one thing. But I also say this as a tribute to fantastic women of the world (and of my life): Mother Teresa, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, the very brave Malala, my 83-year old mother, my 28-year old daughter, and women who break barriers - who all inspire us to do better, to excel, to conquer the world, whether the world is our own home, our business and advocacies, or an entire nation.
Collectively though, we all seek to achieve a productive life full of happy and shared memories. By consciously honing our cognitive functions, we certainly maintain a healthy body and a healthier mind, whatever gender, for ourselves, or for our loved ones.
(About the author: Gina is Neeuro's Director of Communications who also wears other hats: mother, educator, volunteer. She is a good multitasker but admits she miserably fails in spatial skills. The Neeuro campaign on Indiegogo is a personal advocacy, being one of the first willing volunteers for testing and research for the Neeuro SenzeBand, firmly believing in mind wellness. Check this link for more information on how to improve cognitive skills through mind stimulation and games.)