The human brain becomes ‘old’ at just 25, new research suggests.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is found in the brain and spinal cord, changes its speed of movement in people older than mid-20s, a study found.
These movements are linked to breathing and heart rates, with CSF changes previously being associated with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and high blood pressure.
Study author Professor Aneta Stefanovska from Lancaster University said: ‘Preliminary results showed evidence of a decline in participants over the age of 25, indicating that brain ageing may begin earlier than expected.
‘Future studies could provide further insights into various neurodegenerative and ageing-related diseases.’
It is unclear if these CSF changes are associated with brain disorders that typically affect the elderly, such as dementia.
Previous research suggests the volume and weight of the brain begins to decline by around five per cent per decade when a person reaches 40 years old.
The human brain becomes ‘old’ at just 25, new research reveals (stock)
IS ALCOHOL OR CANNABIS WORSE FOR THE BRAIN?
Alcohol damages the brain more than cannabis, research suggested in February 2017.
Unlike booze, marijuana does not affect the size or integrity of white or grey matter in the brain, even after years of exposure, a study found.
Grey matter enables the brain to function, while white controls communication between nerve clusters.
Study author Professor Kent Hutchison from the University of Colorado Boulder, said: ‘While marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol.’
The scientists add, however, research into cannabis’ mental effects are still very limited.
Lead author Rachel Thayer said: ‘Particularly with marijuana use, there is still so much that we don’t know about how it impacts the brain.’
In the US, 44 percent of those aged 12 or over have used cannabis at some point in their lives.
Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Colorado have legalised marijuana for medical or recreational use.
Although their findings appear positive, the researchers also add there is a long way to go before cannabis will likely be broadly legalised.
Many are still concerned as to how the class-C drug affects people of different ages, manages pain and causes addiction.
Findings may improve diagnoses
On the back of these findings, Professor Stefanovska added further research ‘may open up new frontiers in the understanding and diagnosis of various neurodegenerative and ageing-related diseases to improve diagnostic procedures and patient prognosis.’
The discovery came to light during the development of a new method of investigating brain function, which has revealed the stage in life when the brain starts to deteriorate.
The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Past research suggests brain ageing starts at 40
Previous research carried out by Imperial College London suggests brains’ grey matter, which enables the organ to function, shrinks during middle age and is related to cell death.
White matter, which enables communication between nerve clusters, also appears to decline at around 40.
This is also when the deterioration of myelin sheath occurs. Myelin sheath is a fatty substances that surrounds nerve cells and ensures proper function of the nervous system.
These changes are thought to occur due to a reduction in the hormones dopamine and serotonin.
Brain surgery could ‘spread’ Alzheimer’s disease
This comes after research released earlier this month suggested brain surgery may ‘spread’ Alzheimer’s disease.
Amyloid proteins, which have previously been associated with the condition, may be transmitted on poorly cleaned surgical instruments used during such procedures, a study implies.
After analysing four people aged 30-to-57 with brain bleeds caused by the build-up of amyloid plaques, researchers discovered they all underwent brain surgery when they were younger.
This may explain why the amyloid protein, which normally only affects people over 65, accumulated in the younger patients, the scientists add.
Previous studies suggest tiny amounts of amyloid proteins can ‘stick’ to steel wires and be transmitted into animals’ brains.
Past findings also show abnormal proteins responsible for the degenerative brain disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be transmitted between patients during certain medical procedures.
The researchers add, however, the build-up of amyloid proteins does not necessarily indicate Alzheimer’s disease, with none of the study’s participants showing signs of early-onset dementia.