Study shows women's verbal memory to be significantly better than men's at age 50.

Research suggests that, in middle age at least, absent-mindedness is a particularly male problem.

At the age of 50, women's verbal memory outperforms their male counterparts by a significant margin, a report by the Institute of Education, University of London suggests.

A survey of more than 9,600 middle-aged British men and women showed that women outscored men in two listening and recollection tests

Those tested were members of the National Child Development Study who have been tracked since their birth in 1958.

They were tested at age 16, and the latest tests will help estimate the impact that exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol and depression have had on mental abilities.

Initial analysis shows those who exercised at least once a month did better on all tests, on average, than those who did not.

Non-smokers, including ex-smokers, also outscored smokers in the first of the word recall tests, even after social background was taken into consideration.

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