Small study finds rapid brain maturation in pandemic kids

For the Go Figure Department:

A small study finds rapid brain maturation in pandemic kids

By Freda Kreier

… Exactly what part of the pandemic may have shaped teen brains is unclear. But “this study shows that the pandemic has had a material impact on brain maturation,” says Joan Luby, a child psychiatrist at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, who wasn’t involved in the research.

Gotlib suspects that stress is to blame. Previous studies have shown that exposure to violence or negligence can lead to accelerated brain maturation in children. Considering that mental health plummeted for teens during the pandemic (SN: 9/8/22), “it’s not a big leap” to think that the stressful conditions could also have shaped brain development in his study’s cohort, Gotlib says.

But what caused the alterations and what implications they may have are still open questions. …

Maturation in Adolescents: Implications for Analyzing Longitudinal Data

Open AccessPublished:December 01, 2022
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsgos.2022.11.002

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant stress and disruption for young people, likely leading to alterations in their mental health and neurodevelopment. In this context, it is not clear whether youth who lived through the pandemic and its shutdowns are comparable psychobiologically to their age- and sex-matched peers assessed before the pandemic. This question is particularly important for researchers who are analyzing longitudinal data that span the pandemic.

Methods

In this study we compared carefully matched youth assessed before the pandemic (*n=*81) and after the pandemic-related shutdowns ended (*n=*82).

Results

We found that youth assessed after the pandemic shutdowns had more severe internalizing mental health problems, reduced cortical thickness, larger hippocampal and amygdala volume, and more advanced brain age.

Conclusions

Thus, not only does the COVID-19 pandemic appear to have led to poorer mental health and accelerated brain aging in adolescents, but it also poses significant challenges to researchers analyzing data from longitudinal studies of normative development that were interrupted by the pandemic.

Another example of why we must consider the environment when we consider human consciousness, or any other consciousness. It’s a constant exchange of feedback loops.

It’s in line with us being born premature, we’re dependent on our parents and tribe those first few years, in exchange, we are adapted to current conditions. Whereas many other mammals, their offspring are capable of fending for themselves within days, if not hours, but for that, they are adapted to the conditions their ancestors had to deal with, so changing condition is particularly difficult on them.