Reorganisation Of The Brain Happens Earlier In Females

 

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Diffusion Tensor Imaging results in glorious images of the human brain, such as this one. Here we can see the white matter tracks within the brain. It is these pathways that are streamlined during the reorganisation of the brain.

Hello again! Another neurology post!

You may have thought that girls mature quicker during their teenage years and science may well have proven this to be true by peering into a range of subjects’ brains. During the ages of four and forty the brain undergoes a huge streamlining process called preferential detachment. This process involves a huge reorganisation of the brain where white matter fibres are streamlined or to put it another way, cut back. However, the researchers from the universities of Newcastle, Glasgow and Seoul also found that precious long-distance connections which connect different nodules in the brain are preserved. These long-distance connections are so precious because they allow one to gain information from many different parts of the brain and to coalesce them into more useful information. For example, these long-distance connections may be used to link optical information gained from say a bird with acoustic information from the tweet it gives out which helps us to recognise, if we did not know what a bird looked like, what we are looking at. 

The team from the trio of universities used 121 healthy test subjects and used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to show how these neural pathways are being pruned. DTI was also used to create the beautiful multi-coloured images of the brain which showed the white matter tracts, you may have seen these images if you have ever looked at the research of the Human Brain Connectome Project. A method which differs slightly to DTI but uses the same basic principles is tremendously useful in the prevention of strokes and seeing blockages within the brain.

However, circling back from that rather tangental point. This study, which forms part of the Human Green Brain Project, goes on to show how the way in which the brain reorganises the brain is very selective and, as I have said, favours connections such as long distance connections. It also says that this change happens quicker in the female brain than in the male brain and thus maturity occurs quicker in females.

Again, this is a magnificent study which I find very interesting. The very notion that this already amazing organ reshuffles itself and dispenses of unneeded or inefficient pathways is mind-boggling.

Here’s the link to the study itself: http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/12/13/cercor.bht333.full                                 Here’s the link to the Human Green Brain Project: http://www.greenbrainproject.org 

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