The Brain Keeps Growing and Growing…

Brain growth continues into young adulthood

(RxWiki News) For a long time, the medical community believed the brain stopped developing during adolescence. Researchers have now found evidence that the brain is still growing past then.

The possibilities are endless if are brains continue to grow. But don't get too carried away because researchers only found evidence of brain development past adolescence - not forever.

"Do a puzzle every now and then to keep your brain working."

Christian Beaulieu, Ph.D., a scientist at Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions, and Catherine Lebel, his Ph.D. student at the time, found structural changes in the white matter of the brain happening during young adulthood.

The white matter of the brain is the wiring of the brain where different regions are connected together to help improve thinking; this means the connections are getting stronger as we age, Lebel says.

The study included 103 healthy individuals between the ages of five and 32. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) to scan the brain of each participant at least twice.

They found proof that the brain continues to develop after adolescence – particularly wiring to the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is responsible for complex thinking like feelings of being self-conscious, high-level functioning and attention.

More interesting, the researchers found several scans showed reductions in white matter over time which could mean brain degradation. More research is needed because this finding could provide understanding between the relationship of psychiatric disorders and brain structure -since normally these types of disorders start developing during adolescence.

The research is published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network.

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Review Date: 
September 23, 2011