A study found that the brains of teenagers tested after the lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic were clearly depleted a few years older Adolescent brains that were tested before the pandemic.
The study suggests that stress caused by factors related to the pandemic, physically altered adolescent brains, That made their brain structure several years older than the brains of their peers tested before the pandemic.
Brain aging leads to rapid changes, according to research seen only in children who have experienced chronic adversities such as rejection, violence or family dysfunction.
The study “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and brain maturation in adolescents” was published in the December 1, 2022 issue of Scientific American. Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science.
According to Ian Gottlieb, professor of psychology in the School of Sciences and Humanities Stanford Universityand lead author of the study, the pandemic was known to negatively impact mental health of young people but what was not happening in your brain
As we age, there are natural changes in the structure of the brain, but during puberty and early adolescence, young people’s bodies experience growth in both the hippocampus and the amygdala, areas of the brain that respectively control Access certain memories and organize emotions. At the same time, the tissue of the cortex, an area involved in executive functioning, thinned.
By comparing MRI images of a group of 163 children and adolescents taken before and during the pandemic, researchers found that adolescent growth spurt As he experienced imprisonment due to illness.
Although these experiences are related to poor mental health in later life, it is unclear whether brain structure changes. associated with changes in mental health.
for researchers It’s also unclear whether the changes are permanent. Or if at some point his chronological age will catch up or catch up with his aging brain. However, if these adolescents’ brains remain older than their chronological age, it is unclear what the outcome will be in the future.
For someone in their 70s or 80s, some cognitive decline and problems would be expected. brain changes, but What does it mean for a 16 year old boy that his brain is aging prematurely?
Gottlieb explained that his study nOr it was designed to look at the effect of COVID-19 on brain structure. Prior to the pandemic his lab had recruited a group of children and adolescents to participate in a long-term study on depression during puberty, but when the pandemic began it was not able to perform the scheduled MRI scans on the youth, in which they Lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Compared to teens assessed before the pandemic, teens assessed after incarceration not only had more severe mental problems, but also they had reduced cortical thickness, They had larger hippocampus and amygdala and more advanced brain age”.
These findings could have very important implications for other longitudinal studies conducted during pandemics, as researchers will need to consider if there is accelerated development in the brains of children who experienced pandemics. Abnormal growth on any test Involving this generation. These discoveries will likely have very serious consequences for a generation of teens later in life.
Adolescence is a period in which brain reorganization is very rapid. associated with an increase in mental problems, such as depression and risky behavior.
Gottlieb plans to follow a group of young people as they transition from adolescence to adulthood, examining whether the COVID pandemic changed the trajectory of their brain development over the long term. He also plans to monitor the mental health of these teens and compare the structure of their brains. who were infected with the COVID-19 virus with the composition of those who were not infected to identify any difference, no matter how subtle.