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Thread: Sensory Deprivation Affects Brain’s Nerve Connections

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    Sensory Deprivation Affects Brain’s Nerve Connections

    Sensory Deprivation Affects Brain’s Nerve Connections

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    BRAIN PLASTICITY, SYNAPSE, NEURON, NY, NJ Contact Information

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    Scientists at New York University School of Medicine reveal the important role of early experience in shaping neuronal development and brain plasticity in a new study.




    Newswise — Scientists at New York University School of Medicine reveal the important role of early experience in shaping neuronal development and brain plasticity in a new study published in the July 14 issue of the journal Nature.

    In mice, the researchers found that sensory deprivation prevented the substantial loss of synapses that typically occurs in growing animals. The effects were most pronounced in the period from young adolescence to adulthood. Synapses are the gaps between neurons through which information travels.

    Wen-Biao Gan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience, and his colleagues captured images of brain plasticity--its ability to adapt quickly to ever-changing circumstances--and have started to unravel how this dynamic unfolds. The scientists were able to deliver visible evidence of the effect of sensory deprivation.

    It is well known that a growing child learns many skills. “What is less known,” says Dr. Gan, “is that during childhood until puberty in the human brain, as well as in the monkey and mouse, you see a substantial loss of neuronal connections.” In learning, it appears the brain needs to lose as it gains. He believes this loss may well be the fundamental process underlying the development and plasticity of the brain.

    After birth, the number of synapses increases and then decreases sharply. From early childhood to adolescence the synaptic loss could be as much as 50 percent.

    Dr. Gan believes that in order for learning to occur, the brain’s neurons have to be pruned. “First there is a raw material, and then it is sculpted,” he says. In other words, learning isn’t only about making new connections between neurons, he says, it also involves carving neuronal connections.


    http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/513052/

  2. #2
    In many of the world's major religions, there is a sort of 'sensory deprivation' regarding the outside world that is encouraged in those who would become monks, lamas, priests, nuns, renunciates, etc... and it was thought that adolescence is the time to do this, for maximum spiritual benefit. People entered monasteries, convents, ashrams, etc specifically at that time, for intense discipline and study.

    That sort of thing has fallen out of favor (at least in the west) now, but that is immediately what I thought about when reading this! Spiritual lessons are thought to be solidified best when undertaken between childhood and adulthood; childhood considered too immature and adulthood too "set in one's ways".

    Traditions always have a great deal of wisdom behind them, it is not really surprising that there is in fact some scientific basis!

    Thanks for the article, Max!
    "Who are all these strange ghosts rooted to the silly little adventure of earth with me?"--Jack Kerouac

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    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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