Visual development continues longer than previously thought

Researchers from the McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, studied postmort brain tissues of 30 people ranging from ages of 20 days to 80 years, in the process discovering that the brain’s visual cortex reaches maturity on average at 36 years of age.{{quote-A:R-W:450-I:2-Q:“The findings are especially important to adults with ongoing conditions such as amblyopia and strabismus.”-WHO:Professor Kathryn Murphy, Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at McMaster}}“There’s a big gap in our understanding of how our brains function. Our idea of sensory areas developing in childhood and then being static is part of the challenge. It’s not correct,” study lead Professor Kathryn Murphy said.The findings are especially important to adults with ongoing conditions such as amblyopia and strabismus, as it was previously thought any treatment beyond childhood would be pointless because they had passed the age when their brains could respond.Amblyopia affects around 3–5% of Australian children and aside from the physical side effects, people with the condition often struggle with mental health issues such as depression and social anxiety.The brain tissues were examined using a technique called western blotting, commonly used in molecular biology to sort and detect specific proteins extracted from cells.Murphy explained that the visual cortex goes through a gradual five-stage development process, which indicates a perceived lifelong change in visual perception, and that they found some proteins in the primary visual cortex that are responsible for visual development.While research was isolated to the visual cortex, the team indicated that other areas of the brain may also be more plastic for longer than previously thought.

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