Linda Yolanda
Linda Yolanda

Alberta: A recent study has revealed that the brains of adolescents suffering from mental health disorders are structurally distinct from their healthy counterparts. Researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada conducted brain scans on teenagers with mental health issues and found out that their brains are wired rather differently from the normal subjects of similar age.

This collaborative research was published in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, and was led by Anthony Singhal, professor and chair in the Department of Psychology. The study subjects were adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 who had a history of mental-health problems, including depression, anxiety, and ADHD. This group of teens received magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans designed to examine the white matter of their brains and were compared to scans from a second set of adolescents in the same age range who did not have a history of mental health issues.

The results of the study show clear differences in connective neural pathways, as a function of cognitive control, between the healthy adolescents and those struggling with mental-health issues.

“We saw pathways that were less structurally efficient in the patients compared to the healthy controls,” explained Singhal, who is also a member of University of Alberta’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute (NHMI). “Moreover, those observations correlated with attentional control test scores. In other words, less neural efficiency in key pathways was associated with an overall reduced tendency to focus attention.”

The study is one of the first to show these results with adolescents, mapping onto previous studies conducted with adult participants.

—ANI

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