According to lead researcher, Dr Monique Ernst (National Institute of Mental Health / NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA), "In our study, we showed that certain brain regions develop differently in boys and girls at puberty. Functional connectivity increases in boys and decreases in girls over puberty. Our next set of studies will aim to clarify the significance of these communication changes in the maturing brain, and to identify if the changes are protective or if they increase vulnerability."
"We looked at these brain areas because they had previously been identified as conferring risk for mood problems in adolescents. We know that mood upsets, particularly anxiety and depression, occur disproportionately in girls, and that women are twice likely as men to suffer from depression following the trend emerging during puberty. We found that the puberty period is associated with significant brain changes in these mood-related brain areas; however, we need to be cautious in interpreting these changes; we need to verify that the association we see between these brain changes and the coincident mood changes are linked. This work is underway."
Researchers - Brain - Scans - Girls - Boys
The researchers analysed brain scans of 147 girls and 157 boys, aged between 13 and 15, from centres in Dublin, London, Dresden, Mannheim, and Paris.They were at varying puberty stages, from having not started their puberty to being fully mature. The researchers took images of the brain activity while the adolescent volunteers were lying still in an MRI scanner. These images were corrected for age and then were analyzed in a way that measures how strongly brain regions communicate with one another (known as "functional connectivity"). The values of the functional connectivity of these regions were correlated with the level of maturity at puberty.
Monique Ernst continued, "This is a first,...
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