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Researchers discover that human brains are growing bigger each generation

In recent years, scientists have discovered that human brains are getting bigger over time, which may be a key factor in staving off dementia as people age. A team of researchers led by the University of California Davis Health conducted an MRIs study on individuals born between the 1930s and the 1970s to find this out. The study revealed that babies born in the 1970s had nearly 15 percent more brain surface area and 6.6 percent more brain volume than those born in the 1930s.

The researchers used MRI data from the Framingham Heart Study, which has been ongoing since 1948, and included brain scans from 3,226 subjects. In addition to an increase in brain volume and surface area, they also observed growth in parts of the brain associated with memory and learning. While it’s still uncertain what these larger brains mean in terms of intelligence, researchers believe that having a larger brain could be beneficial for overall brain health.

A study published in 2016 in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study and found that while the number of Alzheimer’s disease patients has been increasing with age, the percentage of newly diagnosed individuals has actually decreased per decade. The implications of these findings are significant as they suggest that there may be a potential link between brain size and cognitive decline as people age.

UC Davis professor of neurology Charles DeCarli was first author of the study and believes that larger brain structures may reflect improved brain development and health, creating a larger “brain reserve” that could potentially protect against age-related cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease. The research findings highlight a new perspective on how our brains can impact our overall health as we age, providing hope for future studies to explore this further.

By Samantha Jones

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