Brain Continues to Develop Beyond Adolescence09/29/11
THURSDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Brain development doesn't
stop in adolescence, but continues until people are well into their
20s, a new study says.
The finding challenges a long-held belief that brain development
is completed in the teen years.
For their study, the University of Alberta researchers used MRI
to scan the brains of 103 healthy people aged 5 to 32. Each
volunteer was scanned at least twice.
The results showed that the brains of young adults were still
developing wiring to the frontal lobe, which is involved in complex
cognitive tasks such as inhibition, high-level functioning and
This continued development of brain wiring may be due to the
abundance of life experiences in young adulthood, such as going to
college or university, starting a career, gaining independence, and
developing new social and family relationships, the researchers
suggested in a university news release.
The study was recently published in the
Journal of Neuroscience.
The researchers also found that some people showed reduction in
white matter integrity over time, an indication of brain
degradation. They said this observation requires further study
because it may help improve understanding of the link between
psychiatric disorders and brain structure. Many psychiatric
disorders develop in adolescence or young adulthood.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health outlines
brain changes that occur in the teen years.
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