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Teen Brains Can Reveal Future Mental Illness


Teen Brains Can Reveal Future Mental Illness

In a startling new study, researchers have discovered that the adolescent brain can reveal future mental health problems such as depression and schizophrenia.
The University of Cambridge and University College London study, published in ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ journal, encompassed 300 MRI scans on people aged 14 to 24.
The scans were used to map the structure of the brain, and the changes that occur in teen brains as they grow and develop. And now scientists can see the first signs of mental health illness arising.

What was revealed?

In the MRI scan comparisons, the researchers noticed that during development, the outer regions of the teen brain (the cortex) shrink and get thinner.
Interestingly, the brain regions with the most significant changes were the ones housing genes linked to schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
As Professor Ed Bullimore from the University of Cambridge commented, “Adolescence can be a difficult transitional period and it's when we typically see the first signs of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and depression.
"This study gives us a clue why this is the case: it's during these teenage years that those brain regions that have the strongest link to the schizophrenia risk genes are developing most rapidly.”
Bullimore went on to say that since those brain regions control how other regions connect and communicate, it “shouldn’t be too surprising that when something goes wrong there, it will affect how smoothly our brains work.”

Why is the study significant?

Given that one in five Australians (or 20 percent) will have a mental illness in any twelve-month period, research into the development of such problems is critical and very valuable.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of mental illness, it’s important to seek medical advice immediately.

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