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One part of the brain unexpectedly continues to grow in adulthood

Date:
January 5, 2017
Source:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Summary:
In humans, the part of the brain that's responsible for face recognition continues to grow into adulthood, a new study reveals. The results are surprising, since brain development is largely thought to involve synaptic pruning, rather than growth.
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Researcher shows the child images of his brain just taken on the MRI machine. This material relates to a paper that appeared in the Jan. 6, 2017, issue of Science, published by AAAS. The paper, by J. Gomez at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and colleagues was titled, "Microstructural proliferation in human cortex is coupled with the development of face processing."
Credit: Jesse Gomez and Kalanit Grill-Spector at the Vision and Perception Neuroscience Lab

In humans, the part of the brain that's responsible for face recognition continues to grow into adulthood, a new study reveals.

The results are surprising, since brain development is largely thought to involve synaptic pruning, rather than growth.

The ability to recognize faces, which is critical for everyday social interactions, improves from childhood to adulthood. In seeking to better understand brain activity behind facial recognition, Jesse Gomez et al. used quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) to compare brain tissue across individuals.

In 22 children and 25 adults, they compared recognition test results of faces and places with qMRI data that corresponds with the respective brain regions. Intriguingly, the region of the brain that helps people recognize faces was found to increase in relative size in adults, while the region that helps people recognize places was found to stay the same.

These results were confirmed in the postmortem analysis of adult brains. Modeling suggests that changes in myelination, the fatty white substance that surrounds the axons of some nerve cells, is not sufficient alone to explain this expansion of the brain region. Thus the authors propose that it may be caused by an increase in cell bodies, dendritic structures, and myelin sheath.


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Materials provided by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jesse Gomez, Michael A. Barnett, Vaidehi Natu, Aviv Mezer, Nicola Palomero-Gallagher, Kevin S. Weiner, Katrin Amunts, Karl Zilles, Kalanit Grill-Spector. Microstructural proliferation in human cortex is coupled with the development of face processing. Science, 2017; 355 (6320): 68 DOI: 10.1126/science.aag0311

Cite This Page:

American Association for the Advancement of Science. "One part of the brain unexpectedly continues to grow in adulthood." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170105143510.htm>.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2017, January 5). One part of the brain unexpectedly continues to grow in adulthood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170105143510.htm
American Association for the Advancement of Science. "One part of the brain unexpectedly continues to grow in adulthood." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170105143510.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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