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Puberty Leads to Alterations in Brain Structures

Puberty Leads to Alterations in Brain Structures

(ePharmaNews) – Puberty is accompanied with structural changes in brain, which is responsible for the deepening of social interactions and better understanding of the environment surrounding the adolescent, says a new study.

The study, which was published in Oxford Journal: Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, concluded that brain's response to social stimuli differs dramatically after puberty, as the same stimuli lead to more intense and more extended responses in the brain of the same teenager compared to the response during his/her childhood.

The study involved 45 children who are 10 year-old; they were shown pictures of different emotional expressions while scientists were looking into their brain using functional MRI, several areas related to emotions showed up on the scans. 3 years later, the same children, which by then became teenagers, had the same test repeated.  The scientists noticed an increase in the intensity of the response on the fMRI, and more importantly, several other regions showed up too.

"These results suggest that pubertal development per se is linked to neural processing of socioemotional stimuli, particularly with respect to the integration of complex perceptual input and higher order cortical processing of affective content." Says the author from Oregon University

In the context, previous studies have mentioned the importance of social influences regarding the psychological development, though it did not link it to neural changes. For example, one of them showed that popularity of the teenager can prevent from depression that accompanied puberty, and that premature puberty is, thus, linked to high rates of depression.
Then, it is not only "the voice changes", "the hair growth" or the "nose enlargement" that make the teenager's feels change, it can be in the brain too.

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Prepared by: Basel AlJunaidy

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