Dartmouth scientists say they’ve determined
anatomically significant changes in the human brain’s structure
continue to develop after the age of 18.

The study sought to define exactly when a person’s brain reaches adulthood and human maturity begins.

Abigail
Baird, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences and
co-author of the research, said the study tracked a group of freshman
students.

During the first
year of college, especially at a residential college, students have
many new experiences, said Baird. They are faced with new cognitive,
social, and emotional challenges. We thought it was important to
document and learn from the changes taking place in their brains.

Baird
and graduate student Craig Bennett looked at the brains of nineteen
18-year-old Dartmouth students. A control group of 17 older students,
ranging in age from 25 to 35, were studied for comparison.

The
brain of an 18-year-old college freshman is still far from resembling
the brain of someone in their mid-20s, said Bennett. When do we reach
adulthood? It might be much later than we traditionally think.

The study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Human Brain Mapping.

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