associate sponsors

Havells
HDFC

Early onset puberty triggers changes that could affect learning

New York: Researchers have found that puberty hormones might trigger certain changes in the brain that could impede some aspects of flexible learning during youth.

"We have found that the onset of puberty hits something like a 'switch' in the brain's frontal cortex that can reduce flexibility in some forms of learning," said study senior author Linda Wilbrecht, Associate Professor at University of California, Berkeley.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

While gleaned from young female mice, the findings, published in the journal Current Biology, may have broad educational and health implications for girls, many of whom are entering the first stage of puberty as young as age seven and eight.

"Puberty onset is occurring earlier and earlier in girls in modern urban settings — driven by such factors as stress and the obesity epidemic — and has been associated with worse outcomes in terms of school and mental health," Wilbrecht said.

The researchers discovered significant changes in neural communication in the frontal cortices of female mice after they were exposed to pubertal hormones.

The changes occurred in a region of the frontal brain that is associated with learning, attention and behavioral regulation.

"To our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate changes in cortical neuro-transmission due to hormones at puberty," study lead author David Piekarski, a post-doctoral researcher in Wilbrecht's lab, said.

Overall, children have been found to have greater brain flexibility or "plasticity" than adults, enabling them to more easily master multiple languages and other elementary scholastic pursuits.

While they continue to learn after puberty, their cognitive focus in adolescence is often redirected to peer relationships and more social learning.

If hormonal changes start as early as second or third grade, when children are tasked with learning basic skills, a shift in brain function could be problematic, Wilbrecht said.

"We should be more thoughtful about aligning what we know about biology and education to accommodate the fact that many girls' brains are shifting to this adolescent phase earlier than expected," she said.


Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 15:24 PM

Also Watch

Firstpost in Russia: Moscow to St. Petersburg, on a free World Cup train
  • Monday, July 2, 2018 Social Media Star: Richa Chadha, Kunal Kamra talk about their political views, and why they speak their mind
  • Tuesday, June 26, 2018 It's A Wrap: Swara Bhasker talks about Veere Di Wedding and Twitter trolls, in conversation with Parul Sharma
  • Tuesday, June 19, 2018 Rahul Gandhi turns 48: Congress chief, who once said 'power is poison', should focus on party rather than on 'hate Modi' mission
  • Monday, June 4, 2018 It's A Wrap: Bhavesh Joshi Superhero makers Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane in conversation with Parul Sharma

Also See