Memory, learning problems linked to pre-mature births: Study

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 13:35

Melbourne: The memory and learning problems later in life were linked with pre-mature births, according to a study conducted by the Australian researchers.

The study, which has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience, was conducted on the people who underwent non-invasive magnetic stimulation of the brain`s motor cortex to test its `plasticity`, brain`s ability to reorganise.

According to ABC report, Adelaide University based researcher Julia Pitcher said those born at or before 37 weeks had reduced `plasticity`.

"The growth of the brain is rapid between 20 and 37 weeks gestation and being born even mildly pre-term appears to subtly, but significantly, alter brain microstructure, neural connectivity and neurochemistry," she said.

"Every week of gestation that we lose from term is having an effect on the development of these brains," Pitcher said adding "It`s persisting well into their high school years and that`s probably having some other effects on these children in terms of their willingness to stay in school".

The researcher said that there may be some easy ways to improve brain function, including through exercise and boosting levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which aids learning.

"People often associate increased cortisol with stress, but cortisol fluctuates up and down normally over each 24-hour period and this plays a critical role in learning, the consolidation of new knowledge into memory and the later retrieval of those memories," she said.

This might be important for the development of a possible therapy to overcome the neuroplasticity problem, Pitcher added.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 13:35

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