Posts Tagged ‘ kids’ brains ’

Brain Scans Reveal Babies Feel Pain the Same Way Adults Do

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Brain scansUntil now, some people have argued that a baby’s brain isn’t developed enough yet developed to feel pain, but recent research has showed that babies not only feel pain when they get shots. And a new study shows that babies and adults share the same pain threshold.

Through the use of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, researchers at the University of Oxford have discovered that babies’ brains react similarly to adult brains when exposed to the same degree of pain.

Related: Yes, Babies CAN Feel Pain When Getting Shots

These findings could potentially alter current guidelines dealing with infants and pain management during painful procedures. “As recently as the 1980s, it was common practice for babies to be given neuromuscular blocks but no pain relief medication during surgery,” reports Science Daily.

As of now, this is a small-scale study; in total, researchers have only examined 20 healthy individuals: 10 infants between one and six days old, and 10 adults between 23- and 36-years-old. Of the 20 brain regions that are active when adults experience pain, 18 were also active in babies (see the MRI image here).

In fact, scans showed that babies’ brains that were given a weak “poke” had the same response as adults who were given a “poke” that was four times as strong. This suggests that babies are not only feeling pain, but they also have a significantly lower tolerance for the feeling. Of course, further research will be needed to draw a better conclusion.

However, because babies are unable to verbalize when and how badly they experience pain, this information is especially important in establishing the best ways to deal with pain relief in the future.

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Baby's First Year
Baby's First Year
Baby's First Year

Image: Doctors examining brain scans via Shutterstock

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How Learning in Adolescence May Help Keep Brain Cells Alive

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Kids who use their brains may be helping their brain cells survive, which could impact how their brains function after puberty, according to a recently published study in Frontiers inNeuroscience. Rutgers behavioral and systems neuroscientist Tracey Shors, who co-authored the study, says the ensuring students learn at the right level is crucial. More from ScienceDaily:

Shors found that the newborn brain cells in young rats that were successful at learning survived while the same brain cells in animals that didn’t master the task died quickly.

“In those that didn’t learn, three weeks after the new brain cells were made, nearly one-half of them were no longer there,” said Shors, professor in the Department of Psychology and Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers. “But in those that learned, it was hard to count. There were so many that were still alive.”

The study is important, Shors says, because it suggests that the massive proliferation of new brain cells most likely helps young animals leave the protectiveness of their mothers and face dangers, challenges and opportunities of adulthood.

Scientists have known for years that the neurons in adult rats, which are significant but fewer in numbers than during puberty, could be saved with learning, but they did not know if this would be the case for young rats that produce two to four times more neurons than adult animals.

By examining the hippocampus — a portion of the brain associated with the process of learning — after the rats learned to associate a sound with a motor response, scientists found that the new brain cells injected with dye a few weeks earlier were still alive in those that had learned the task while the cells in those who had failed did not survive.

“It’s not that learning makes more cells,” says Shors. “It’s that the process of learning keeps new cells alive that are already present at the time of the learning experience.”

Since the process of producing new brain cells on a cellular level is similar in animals, including humans, Shors says ensuring that adolescent children learn at optimal levels is critical.

“What it has shown me, especially as an educator, is how difficult it is to achieve optimal learning for our students. You don’t want the material to be too easy to learn and yet still have it too difficult where the student doesn’t learn and gives up,” Shors says.

So, what does this mean for the 12-year-old adolescent boy or girl?

While scientists can’t measure individual brain cells in humans, Shors says this study, on the cellular level, provides a look at what is happening in the adolescent brain and provides a window into the amazing ability the brain has to reorganize itself and form new neural connections at such a transformational time in our lives.

“Adolescents are trying to figure out who they are now, who they want to be when they grow up and are at school in a learning environment all day long,” says Shors. “The brain has to have a lot of strength to respond to all those experiences.”

 Find out what career you child will have and shop educational toys for kids. 

What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School
What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School
What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School

Image via Shutterstock. 

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