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Our Brains Are Getting Bigger

Although many theories claim that humans are getting dumber, evidence suggests that our brains are actually getting bigger. Researchers at UC Davis Health found they increased in both volume and surface area after comparing MRIs of people born in the 1930s with those born in the 1970s, according to Newswise. And larger brains may mean a reduced risk of dementia.

  • 75 years of research: The study was part of the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), which began 75 years ago and tracks thousands of participants, some second and third generation, across various health markers. This recent paper analyzed the brain sizes of 3,226 people between 1999 and 2019 and learned that the brains of participants born in the 1970s increased in volume by 6.6% and brain surface area by 15%.
  • For what do brains grow? Better nutrition during key developmental periods of pregnancy and childhood is considered an important factor, according to Earth.com.
  • Dementia: So what does this have to do with dementia? “Larger brain structures like those observed in our study may reflect enhanced brain development and better brain health,” says lead author Dr. Charles DeCarli. “Larger brain structure represents greater brain reserve and may mitigate the late effects of age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.”
  • An incomplete picture: News and research in neuroscience notes that study participants were healthy, well-educated, and predominantly non-Hispanic white people. “Current evidence indicates that sociocultural and health disparities, which are more common among non-white individuals in the United States, may harm brain health,” the study authors note.
  • Ancient brains: While the FHS study dates back 75 years, CNN reports that an archive of ancient human brains could give researchers insight into brain diseases that have been around longer than others. Scientists have documented more than 4,000 such brains, some of which are up to 12,000 years old, according to Popular mechanics. As they explain in the Proceedings of the Royal Society BScientists are also trying to better understand how soft tissues manage to survive so long under certain circumstances.

(The ancient Greeks did not appear to suffer from dementia.)

News Source : www.newser.com
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