More than 60 scientists have agreed that the brain’s structure is made up of different structures that differ from each other.
This is the first time scientists have examined this subject in such detail, and the results could lead to new treatments for neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, was conducted by a team of neuroscientists led by David Wootton, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.
The team analyzed the structure of the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other imaging techniques to investigate how the brain changes as a person ages.
The brain’s most recent update, in March, showed that the size of the cerebrum, a type of white matter that carries information between the cerebral cortex, the part of the cerebral structure that controls movement, and other parts of the body, has decreased.
“The white matter of the hippocampus, which is the area of the brains cortex that is responsible for processing memories, is reduced,” said Wootston, a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Brain Imaging and Neurobiology Laboratory.
“We have now learned that these changes in white matter have a profound impact on the structure and function of the whole brain, so the brain has changed,” Wootson said.
“This is a big deal.”
The findings have profound implications for the future of brain research, because the brain is a critical part of our lives.
It is responsible with learning, memory and other important tasks, and it has evolved to cope with a wide variety of challenges, from Alzheimer’s to chronic pain.
The researchers found that the cerebellum, the area that contains the part responsible for regulating movement, has shrunk by an average of 1.4 millimeters per year during the last century.
That has meant that the brains cerebrums are smaller and less densely packed than they were in the past.
The cerebellums white matter, which lies just below the level of the skull, has become thinner and less dense, too.
“In the past, we were only seeing this decrease in white area, which was the signal that the white matter is being damaged,” Wotson said in a press release.
“Now we are seeing it is actually the opposite.
We are seeing a larger and larger reduction of white area.”
In the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the brain also has shrunk.
The CSF is the white blood fluid that fills your brain.
It can be seen in a person’s brain as gray, white or black, depending on the age of the individual.
“The white material has shrunk, and this has resulted in the formation of more white matter,” Watt said.
“It is a little bit of a shock,” Wrotton added.
“There is nothing you can do about it.”
The researchers were not able to find any brain scans of older people that showed that they had lost the ability to move their brains, Wootons research team said in the press release, so they did not know how the changes in the cerebros were affecting the brain of the younger people.
“These changes in CSF are really important because they can influence brain function and the structure or function of neurons in the brain,” Wottons said.
The findings were not limited to the brains of older adults.
The cerebrocortical structures of people with mild cognitive impairment, those with autism spectrum disorder and those with Alzheimer’s disease have also shrunk.
Wootons group has identified other changes in brain structure that may be linked to age.
The scientists said the brain “is much less likely to form white matter if the brain isn’t well-trained, if there is not enough gray matter and if the white material is less dense.”
They also found that when white matter thinned in older adults, there was an increase in the size and density of neurons and in the activity of neurons.
This may be related to the fact that the gray matter of neurons is thinner in older people, Wottos team said.
This study has implications for treatments for various neurological diseases that have been linked to changes in cerebrovascular structures, such, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke and Huntington’s disease.
The researchers said the results should lead to a new approach to treat these diseases.
“A key question we wanted to address is how these changes affect the way the brain functions in the brains younger people,” Wotsons team said, “and if there are differences in the structure that result in these different effects, this could potentially have an impact on how we treat these neurodegenerative disorders.”###This article was published by National Geographic under a Creative Commons license.