Friday May 25, 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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New Study Shows That Elderly With Symptoms of Depression Are More Prone to Memory Problems

"Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems," said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, US.

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The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory -- a person's ability to remember specific experiences and events.
representational image. pixabay

Depression may speed up brain ageing and lead to memory problems in older adults, suggests new research that offers hope of finding a new way to treat memory issues.

“Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems,” said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, US.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, also showed that older people with greater symptoms of depression may have structural differences in the brain compared to people without symptoms.

“With as many as 25 per cent of older adults experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to better understand the relationship between depression and memory problems,” Zeki Al Hazzouri said.

The study involved over 1,000 people with an average age of 71.

The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory -- a person's ability to remember specific experiences and events.
representational image, pixabay

At the beginning of the study, all the participants had brain scans, a psychological exam and assessments for memory and thinking skills. Their memory and thinking skills were tested again an average of five years later.

At the start of the study, 22 per cent of the participants had greater symptoms of depression.

The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory — a person’s ability to remember specific experiences and events.

Those with greater symptoms of depression had differences in the brain including smaller brain volume as well as a 55 per cent greater chance of small vascular lesions in the brain, the findings showed.

Also Read: Trauma in Childhood is Linked to Negative Outcomes in Adulthood 

“Small vascular lesions in the brain are markers of small vessel disease, a condition in which the walls in the small blood vessels are damaged,” said Zeki Al Hazzouri.

“Our research suggests that depression and brain ageing may occur simultaneously, and greater symptoms of depression may affect brain health through small vessel disease,” Zeki Al Hazzouri added. (IANS)