COVID-19 Pandemic Stress Caused Teen Brains To Age By Several Years Claims Study | NewsBust COVID-19 Pandemic Stress Caused Teen Brains To Age By Several Years Claims Study | NewsBust

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COVID-19 Pandemic Stress Caused Teen Brains To Age By Several Years Claims Study

By Shivani Kapoor - December 2, 2022

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According to a Stanford University, US study, in 2020 alone, reports of anxiety and depression among adults have increased by more than 25 percent compared to previous years. In this regard, the first author of the research paper, Ian Gottlieb, said, “We already know from global research that the pandemic has adversely affected the mental health of youth, but we did not know whether the impact was caused or the pandemic itself.” How much did it affect his mind physically.

Gottlieb said that as we age, changes in the structure of the brain occur naturally. During puberty and early adolescence, children’s bodies experience growth in both the hippocampus and the amygdala (regions of the brain that control access to certain memories and help organize emotions, respectively). At the same time, the tissues in the cortex become thinner.

By comparing MRI scans of a group of 163 children taken before and during the pandemic, Gottlieb’s study found that the experience of lockdown accelerated this process of development in adolescents. “Until now, these kinds of rapid changes in brain age have only been shown in children who have been exposed to prolonged adversity, be it violence, neglect, family dysfunction, or similar factors,” he said.

Gottlieb said these experiences are linked to poorer mental health outcomes later in life, but it is unclear whether the changes in brain structure the Stanford team observed are linked to changes in mental health. “It’s also not clear that the changes are permanent,” he said. Gottlieb is also the director of the Stanford Neurodevelopment, Affect and Psychopathology (SNAP) Laboratory at Stanford University.

Will his chronological age eventually catch up with his ‘brain age’? If their brain is permanently older than their chronological age, it is unclear what the consequences will be in the future. For a 70- or 80-year-old, you would expect some cognitive and memory problems based on changes in the brain, but what does it mean for a 16-year-old if their brain is aging prematurely?”

Gottlieb explained that originally their study was not designed to look at the effect of COVID-19 on brain structure. Before the pandemic, his lab had recruited a group of children and adolescents from around the San Francisco Bay Area to participate in a long-term study on depression during puberty — but when the pandemic struck, he routinely scheduled MRIs. Could not scan.

“This technique only works if you consider that the brains of 16-year-olds are similar to the brains of 16-year-olds before the pandemic with respect to cortical thickness and hippocampus and amygdala volumes,” Gottlieb said. , ”After looking at our data, we realized that is not the case. Compared to adolescents assessed before the pandemic, adolescents assessed after the end of the pandemic not only had more severe internalized mental health problems, but also had reduced cortical thickness, larger hippocampus and amygdala, and increased brain aging. Went.”

Co-author Jonas Miller from the University of Connecticut, US, said these findings could have serious consequences for a whole generation of adolescents in later life. “Adolescence is already a period of rapid brain change, and it is already associated with increased rates of mental health problems, depression, and risk behaviors,” Miller said.

The study says that if children who experienced the pandemic had faster brain development, scientists would need to account for the abnormal rate of development in any future research involving this generation.

(This news has not been edited by NewsBust team. It is published directly from syndicate feed.)

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