Sunday October 21, 2018

Grey Matter Volume generally Decrease with Age, its density actually Increases during Adolescence: Study

Grey matter density, a measure often assumed to be highly related to volume, has not been systematically investigated in development

0
//
82
Representative Image, Wikimedia
Republish
Reprint

New York, May 26, 2017: While grey matter volume generally decrease with age, its density actually increases during adolescence, new research has found.

Grey matter is found in regions of the brain responsible for muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making, and self-control.

For years, the common narrative in human developmental neuro-imaging has been that grey matter in the brain declines in adolescence, a finding derived mainly from studies of grey matter volume and cortical thickness –the thickness of the outer layers of brain that contain grey matter.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

Grey matter density, a measure often assumed to be highly related to volume, has not been systematically investigated in development.

Th new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that while volume indeed decreases from childhood to young adulthood, grey matter density actually increases.

“We now have a richer, fuller concept of what happens during brain development,” said Ruben Gur, Professor at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, US.

Since it has been well-established that larger brain volume is associated with better cognitive performance, it was puzzling that cognitive performance shows a dramatic improvement from childhood to young adulthood at the same time that brain volume and cortical thickness decline.

The new findings can help solve this puzzle. The study also showed that while females have lower brain volume, proportionate to their smaller size, they have higher grey matter density than males, which could explain why their cognitive performance is comparable despite having lower brain volume.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Thus, while adolescents lose brain volume, and females have lower brain volume than males, this is compensated for by increased density of grey matter.

In the study, the researchers evaluated 1,189 youth between the ages of 8 and 23 who completed magnetic resonance imaging as part of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, a community-based study of brain development.

The study includes rich neuroimaging and cognitive data, to look at age-related effects on multiple measures of regional grey matter, including gray matter volume, gray matter density, and cortical thickness.

Neuroimaging allowed the researchers to derive several measures of human brain structure in a noninvasive way.

Observing such measures during development allowed the researchers to study the brain at different ages to characterise how a child’s brain differs from an adult’s.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter.

The study may better explain the extent and intensity of changes in mental life and behavior that occur during the transition from childhood to young adulthood.

“If we are puzzled by the behavior of adolescents, it may help to know that they need to adjust to a brain that is changing in its size and composition at the same time that demands on performance and acceptable behavior keep scaling up,” Gur added. (IANS)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

New Study Shows Link Between Meditation And Greater Focus

Supplementation, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are key, with recent studies showing that aerobic exercise also increases brain size.

0
yoga
Pranayamic breathing is just one way to improve brain health.

Pranayamic breathing – an important part of yoga and meditation – has a unique ability to strengthen our focus and a new study by Trinity College Dublin has unlocked its secret. The researchers note that pranayamic breathing affects the levels of a natural chemical in the brain called noradrenaline. The latter is released when we are challenged, curious, focused, or emotionally excited. When present at the right levels, noradrenaline helps the brain grow new connections and helps us concentrate better on important tasks.

The old masters were on the right track

The researchers noted: “Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. We looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims.” The researchers did so by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is affected by stress; when we are worried or anxious we produce too much, and cannot concentrate. When we feel lazy, on the other hand, we produce too little and once again, focus is lost. One way to boost levels is through yoga; another method which can complement the latter is the consumption of medical grade focus supplements, which contain compounds such as octopamine (which has a similar effect to noradrenaline).

yoga
Conversely, those with lower mindfulness ratings had greater activation of this part of the brain and also felt more pain. Pixabay

Pranayamic breathing aces the right balance

In the above study, researchers noted that brain activity in the part of the brain where noradrenaline is produced raises slightly when we inhale and drops slightly as we exhale. Thus, balance is achieved and we can focus on what we have set out to do. Pranayama not only boosts concentration but also produces “changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator.”

What is Pranayamic breathing?

Pranayamic breathing involves controlling and extending breath, with a view to manipulating your vital energy, battling stress, and improving your mood. It is often used in meditation and yoga and interestingly, many yoga experts rank pranayama as even more important than asanas (the postures performed in a yoga session). In yogic tradition, breath is said to carry a person’s life force. Interestingly, scientific studies back this assertion to the extent that pranayamic breathing is able to boost brain function and change the actual structure of the brain. In recent studies, pranayamic breathing has been found to lower or stabilize blood pressure, lower stress, and reduce anxiety and depression.

yoga
In order to comprehend better the Indian seers constructed the special “BOAT” – named Yoga/Meditation.

Implications of the study for aging

The researchers are excited that their findings could signal a way to prevent brain aging. They stated that if brains typically lose mass as we age, practices such as pranayamic breathing greatly reduce the rate of brain shrinkage, thus potentially helping keep dementia and related diseases at bay. Because keeping noradrenaline levels at an optimal level can help the brain grow new connections, meditation is an ideal activity to pursue.

Pranayamic breathing is just one way to improve brain health. Supplementation, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are key, with recent studies showing that aerobic exercise also increases brain size. To make the most of the effect of breathing on focus, consider joining a yoga class or learning the essence of pranayamic breathing online or through an app like Prana Breath or Universal Breathing.