Teenagers who use their brains a lot speed up their maturation process, according to a new study in Montreal. This can reduce the risk of developing mental disorders in early adulthood.
The more nerve receptors there are in an area of the brain during adolescence, the more active it is and the more quickly it matures. This is the conclusion of the study published in mid-October in the journal PNAS conducted by Thomas Baus, a neurobiologist at the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine University.
“The more neurotransmitters there are in an area of the brain, the more potential brain activity there is,” Mr. Baus explains in an interview. It’s part of a group From international researchers who recorded the brain activity of 532 teenagers aged 14 to 22 on three occasions.
Dendrites – receptors for information, such as stimuli – are formed through the process of brain thinning during adolescence and early adulthood. This thinning also targets the myelin layer surrounding axons, which sends information, for example, instructions to other nerve cells or muscles. Therefore, brain maturation should be neither too fast nor too slow. “A study in Saguenay shows that in some cases, social inequality can cause the brain to mature too quickly,” says Mr Baus.
Proper brain maturation likely protects against some psychiatric disorders. “When the brain does not mature properly, it may be more susceptible to confusion. For example, schizophrenia is a disorder in the representation of the external world. If we cannot interpret the outside world well, we can misinterpret certain situations, delusions, and hallucinations. “Appropriate brain maturation may also protect against psychosis associated with certain intoxicants, such as cannabis.
Should we encourage study, sports and the arts? “The important thing is to have experiences, friends and first loves,” Mr. Baus says. In this way the brain becomes more active and matures properly. » But be careful, you have to meet in person, not on a social networking screen. “We know, for example, that children learn language through a screen less well than through contact in person. There is a wealth of information that is lost due to interaction with a screen.”
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