Dec. 19, 2013 —
Science Daily/Newcastle University
Newcastle University scientists have discovered that as the brain re-organizes connections throughout our life, the process begins earlier in girls which may explain why they mature faster during the teenage years.
As we grow older, our brains undergo a major reorganization reducing the connections in the brain. Studying people up to the age of 40, scientists led by Dr Marcus Kaiser and Ms Sol Lim at Newcastle University found that while overall connections in the brain get streamlined, long-distance connections that are crucial for integrating information are preserved.
The researchers suspect this newly-discovered selective process might explain why brain function does not deteriorate -- and indeed improves -during this pruning of the network. Interestingly, they also found that these changes occurred earlier in females than in males.
The researchers have demonstrated for the first time that the loss of white matter fibers between brain regions is a highly selective process -- a phenomenon they call preferential detachment. They show that connections between distant brain regions, between brain hemispheres, and between processing modules lose fewer nerve fibers during brain maturation than expected. The researchers say this may explain how we retain a stable brain network during brain maturation.