Recent research (Longitudinal data analyzing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental health and Brain Maturation in Adolescents and the implications) found that the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected brain activity in Adolescents. Stress can be the major cause of this dilemma as the research was done particularly on American teenagers.
The Global open science, where the research was published in their journal affirms that besides the Covid-19 pandemic being one of the deadliest health frightening concerns in recent times it also made a crash in the cognitive functions of the young population in the form of brain aging.
COVID-19 Epidemic Increased Adolescent Brain Ageing
Earlier research has shown that adversities in life like violent habitat, parentage failures, and neglect can hike and develop brain maturation or aging particularly in youngsters and children. In specific, these studies reported having said results in cortical heaviness, an indicator of aging mainly in the brains of youngsters who have experienced premature adversities.
All around during the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all youngsters and children have experienced this high rate of adversity basically due to social isolation and online learning situations. Also, in addition, the financial stress, violence at home, and side effects of infection result in acute respiratory problems caused by the acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2(SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19.
In a study, about 160 teenagers are included, and 100 of them were female. Everyone was given the ten-item Children’s Depression Inventory to self-report unpleasant symptoms. The symptoms of the candidate were also assessed using the MASC (Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children).
Furthermore, to self-reported symptoms, they also did research on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in which they came to know about the cortical thickness and subcortical dimensions. The values thus obtained are used to find out BrainAGE(Brain age gap estimate) measurement values for all candidates by the use of a female-male specific machine-learning-based model developed by the Brain-aged working group (ENIGMA).
When the comparison has been done, about the frequency and intensity of the self-reported mental health symptoms, the analyst came to know that the group which reported severe symptoms of anxiety, depression, and internalizing problems was the peri-COVID group as compared to the pre-COVID group. But the difference between the two groups in their frequency of externalizing the problems was NIL.
Demonstrating the MRI scan analysis, the peri-COVID candidates had diminished bilateral cortical thickness as well as they have sizeable bilateral hippocampal and amygdala volumes. In addition, comparing the BrainAGE the peri-COVID was found to have a greater one comparing the pre-COVID category.
These discoveries are really significant as these findings give an understanding that the COVID-19 pandemic and the health measures taken by the authorities in order to guard public health resulted in drastic damage to both the mental health and neurodevelopment of teenagers. These alterations can impede the brain maturation of today’s teens compared to two or three years ago.
We need future studies to determine whether these changes so far happened are temporary or if they have any long-term effects on the brain development of teenagers. Hopefully, as the pandemic has gone down, we are expecting the healing process to happen as a part of evolution which results in the natural growth of the brain considering all age groups. As the situation evolves, subsequent research can prove that progress provides us with hope.