Even The Human Brain Sags With Age

Posted: Oct 25 2016, 9:24am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 25 2016, 9:27am CDT , in Latest Science News


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Even the Human Brain Sags with Age
New research from Newcastle University, UK, in collaboration with Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, investigated the way the human brain folds and how this 'cortical folding' changes with age. Linking the change in brain folding to the tension on the cerebral cortex - the outer layer of neural tissue in our brains - the team found that as we age, the tension on cortex appears to decrease. This effect was more pronounced in individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Credit: Newcastle University

It has been discovered that even the human brain seems to sag on a metaphorical level with age.

Losing that supple skin with its wonderful elasticity is just one of the side effects of aging. Yet novel evidence suggests the same thing occurs with our brain with the passage of time. The human brain seems to consist of series of folds and this cortical folding changes radically with one’s age.

This folding is dependent on the tension in the cerebral cortex. With age, the tension seems to decrease considerably. Especially, those who had Alzheimer’s Disease seemed to show this to a marked degree.

This research elucidates the basic mechanisms of brain folding. In the future, it could serve as a key means of eradicating brain diseases. The human brain consists of a series of grooves and foldings rather in the same manner as a walnut.

Yet no one has been able to measure the structural-functional effects of these foldings. By creating maps of these brain foldings in 1000 individuals, it has been shown that these foldings build up according to a plan and a blueprint. It is the tension in the cerebral cortex and it decreases with age.

This cerebral cortex is a main feature of all mammalian evolution. In a normal adult brain, if the cortex of one hemisphere was unfolded and laid flat on a surface, it would have a surface area of 100,000 mm2.

That is about one and a half times the size of a standard A4 paper that you find in the market. Research shows that this pattern of folding follows the same path in all mammalian species.

This is without any reference to size or form. Up until now there had been no systematic study to get to the bottom of this whole conundrum.

This tension-release with age is the same process that we see in case of the skin which develops wrinkles and loses its elasticity and perfect nature. However, there was one difference that was observed.

Female brains tend to be less folded than male brains of the same age. However, despite this sexual difference, they both followed the same laws as far as function was concerned.

Thus for the very first time, we have a means of measuring the changes going on in the brain and gauging what they mean with the onset of senescence.

The findings of this study got published in the academic journal PNAS.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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