Scientists for the first time tracked how the human brain changes from birth to death

(ORDO NEWS) — Hundreds of scientists around the world combined their MRI scans to create the world’s first brain growth chart.

Researchers have pieced together thousands of brain scans and compiled reference diagrams of the development of this organ in humans.

Although we know that the human brain undergoes a number of significant changes throughout life, doctors today have no way of assessing whether the brain develops normally at any given age.

What does a normal, healthy brain look like at 15, and how is it different from a brain at 45? Scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Pennsylvania teamed up with hundreds of researchers from around the world to solve this problem.

To create a series of charts that track the dynamics of brain development over a lifetime, the researchers first needed to collect a huge dataset.

Since fMRI of the brain is expensive and time-consuming, one team of scientists could not collect all the necessary data. Therefore, the researchers sought to collaborate with hundreds of scientists around the world, each of whom performed their own brain scans.

How the brain develops throughout life

The massive project collected 123,984 MRI scans from over 100,000 people. Scanning covered people in a wide range of ages – from 100 years old to a fetus aged 15 weeks.

As a result, the authors of the study, for the first time, were able to obtain a set of reference diagrams that track structural changes in the brain throughout a person’s life.

And the scale of the data set allowed the researchers to create a scale to determine normal brain size spectra for different age ranges.

A new study has shown, for example, that gray matter volume in the human brain peaks at age six, but white matter continues to grow until about 29 years of age.

Around the age of 50, the amount of white matter in the brain begins to decrease rapidly.


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