Brain develops ”till the age of 40” You are not as adult as you think!

Brain only fully ‘matures’ in middle age, claims neuroscientist. You might think that you become fully matur when you turn 21 but new research suggests that your brain does not stop developing until your late 40s. Scientists used to believe that your brain stopped physically evolving in early childhood but new research has shown that keeps changing well into middle age. Brain scans have shown that prefrontal cortex – the area just behind your forehead – continues to change shape in your 30s and 40s. The discovery is particularly significant as the prefrontal cortex is a key area of the brain and is often thought said to be key to what makes us human.It is said to be involved with decision making, social interaction

and many other personality traits. Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a neuroscientist at University College London, revealed the new thinking at the British Neuroscience Christmas symposium in London. She said: “Until about 10 years ago we pretty much assumed that the human brain stopped developing in early childhood. “But we now understand from brain imaging that that is far from the truth and that many human brains keep on developing for many decades.”The area of the brain that goes through the most protracted development is the prefrontal cortex right at the front of the brain.”It is the part of the brain that is involved in high cognitive function such as decision making, planning and social behaviour. It is also to do with understanding other people.”It starts develop in early childhood, is reorganised in late adolescence and continues developing well into the 30s and 40s.”It is the part of the brain that makes us human.”   –  Blakemore Lab; The Developmental Group at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience focuses on the development of mentalising, emotions, action understanding and executive function during adolescence. A second focus of our research is on social cognitive deficits in autism spectrum disorders. Our research involves a variety of behavioural (psychophysics, eye-tracking, motion capture)

and neuroimaging (MRI, fMRI and MEG) methods. We are based at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in Queen Square, London, UK. Group Leader: Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience University College London. Current Research and Interest; Social cognitive development during adolescence. Social cognitive processes (action understanding, mentalising, emotion processing) in the normal brain and in people with autism. Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. She is Leader of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Her group’s research focuses on social cognition in adolescence and in autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.Sarah-Jayne studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University (1993-1996) and then did her PhD (1996-2000) at the Functional Imaging Lab (FIL) with Chris Frith and Daniel Wolpert, investigating the self-monitoring of action in healthy individuals and people with schizophrenia. She then took up a Wellcome Trust International Research Fellowship (2001-2003) to work in Lyon, France, with Jean Decety on the

perception of causality in the human brain. This was followed by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (2004-2007) and then a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (2007-2013) at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.Sarah-Jayne is actively involved in Public Engagement with Science: she frequently gives public lectures and talks at schools, has worked with the Select Committee for Education, and acted as scientific consultant on the BBC series The Human Mind in 2003. Sarah-Jayne has an interest in the links between neuroscience and education. She co-authored a book with Professor Uta Frith called The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education. She sits on the Royal Society BrainWaves working group for neuroscience, education and lifelong learning. She is a member of the Management Committee for the Centre for Educational Neuroscience. Sarah-Jayne is Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust Four Year PhD Programme in Neuroscience at UCL. She is Associate Editor for Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. She is co-Editor-in-Chief of the new journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. News from: UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience  & Source Sunday

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