Our brain starts getting old much later than thought, shows study

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Did you know that our brains age later than we thought? Scientists used to think that our brain starts getting old after our 25th birthday.

But a new study from University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht) says that it doesn’t start until we’re 30 to 40 years old.

They shared this exciting news in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The Research Team and Method

Two experts, Dorien van Blooijs and Frans Leijten, led the research. They worked with other scientists from UMC Utrecht and the Mayo Clinic. They studied how quickly our brain works and how this speed changes as we get older.

Faster Brain Connections

What they found is very interesting. The speed of connections in our brain actually gets faster as we grow up.

For 4-year-old children, the speed is two meters per second. But it becomes twice as fast, four meters per second, for people who are 30 to 40 years old. After that, it starts slowing down.

“Our brain continues to develop a lot longer than we thought,” said Van Blooijs.

Different Brain Parts Develop Differently

They also found that different parts of our brain develop at different times. The frontal lobe, which is at the front of our brain, grows for a longer time than the part that helps us move.

Van Blooijs says, “We already knew this thanks to previous research, but now we have concrete data.”

How They Studied the Brain

So, how did the researchers gather this data? They used a special tool called an electrode grid. This grid is used for patients who are getting ready for epilepsy surgery.

It can measure brain activity. By sending small currents through it, the researchers could see which parts of the brain reacted in abnormal ways. They could then decide which parts to remove during surgery.

Later, the researchers realized that they could use this data to learn more about the normal, healthy human brain.

Van Blooijs explains, “If you stimulate one area, another area reacts. That shows they are connected. You can measure how long it takes for this reaction.

If you know the distance between these two areas, you can find out how fast the signal moves.”

Why This Matters

The findings from this study are very important. Scientists have always wanted to understand the connections in our brain better. Now, they can use this new data to make better computer models of our brain.

For these models, they need to know not just the connections, but also how fast these connections are. “We now have these numbers for the very first time,” Leijten says.

“With our data, researchers can make new and better computer models. These models will help us understand our brain better. We expect our work to help not just epilepsy research, but also other studies about brain disorders.”

If you care about brain health, please read studies about Vitamin E that may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

The study was published in Nature Neuroscience.

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