Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pace of brain development still strong in late teens

Date:
May 10, 2011
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
The brain changes during the teen years, for instance by pruning away connections that no longer seem needed. By measuring the brainwave signals of sleeping teens ages 15-16 and again a few years later, researchers found that the process does not appear to slow as teens approach adulthood.

The brain changes during the teen years, for instance by pruning away connections that no longer seem needed. By measuring the brainwave signals of sleeping teens ages 15-16 and again a few years later, researchers found that the process does not appear to slow as teens approach adulthood.

Boys and girls have put many of the trappings of teenagerhood behind them by the age of 18 or 19, but at least some of the brain resculpting that characterizes the decade of adolescence may still be going as strong as ever, according to findings in a new study that measured brainwaves of subjects in their midteens and again in their late teens.

One of the kinds of neurological changes underway in a teen brain is a pruning of unneeded connections forged earlier in life -- the brain invests in developing some connections but sheds a higher volume of others. One way these changes can be measured, many researchers believe, is a drop in the power, or amplitude, of brainwaves over time.

What researchers found in their study of sleeping teens, said Mary Carskadon, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the Sleep Research Center at Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital, is that this amplitude reduction continues at about the same pace in the late teen years as in earlier years.

"There was a sense that the bulk of the change is happening in the younger adolescents," said Carskadon, the paper's senior author. "To see a continuation of this rapid and large change in the older adolescents was a surprise."

Their results appear in advance online in the journal Sleep.

Numbers from slumber

To conduct the study, the researchers asked five boys and nine girls aged 15 and 16 to sleep to certain preparatory specifications for a week at home and then to spend two nights in the lab while the team took all-night measurements. Then they brought the teens back two or three years later, between the ages of 17 and 19, for another week of preparatory sleep and then two more nights of monitored sleep. Previously, researchers in Carskadon's lab had done a similar study with younger teens.

Over the course of the study, the researchers also noted some other changes in the children over time. For example, they found that late teens continue an earlier teen trend of spending less and less time in so-called "slow-wave" sleep in favor of "stage 2" sleep. Meanwhile, they found that the reduction in electroencephalography (EEG) power seems to shift from the left side early in the teen years to the right side later in adolescence. That shift means that by the end of the teen years, the developmental process has occurred equally on both sides.

Lead author Leila Tarokh, a researcher at the University of Zurich and adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown, said that although many previous studies using EEG, magnetic resonance imaging, or postmortem examination have yielded similar measurements of adolescent brain changes, this study added insight because of how it was structured.

"The unique feature of this study is that it puts together these EEG measures of power and looks at these sleep stages longitudinally (in the same people over time) and across several regions around the brain," she said.

Carskadon said that sleep is a convenient time to take long-term, well controlled measurements of neural activity, but that the study does not show the role sleep may play in neural renovation among older teenagers.

"For us, sleep is a window onto the brain," Carskadon said.

In addition to Carskadon and Tarokh, other Brown and Bradley Hospital researchers include Eliza Van Reen, Ronald Seifer, and Monique LeBourgeois, who also is affiliated with the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Pace of brain development still strong in late teens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110510101621.htm>.
Brown University. (2011, May 10). Pace of brain development still strong in late teens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110510101621.htm
Brown University. "Pace of brain development still strong in late teens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110510101621.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins