Brain changes significantly after age 18

Image illustrating where the brain matured
during the study participants’ freshman year.

In a study aimed at identifying how and when a person’s brain reaches adulthood, scientists have learned that significant changes in brain structure continue after age 18.

The results indicate that significant changes took place in the brains of nineteen 18-year-old Dartmouth students who had moved more than 100 miles to attend college. [A control group of 17 older students, ranging in age from 25 to 35, were also studied for comparison.] The changes were localized to regions of the brain known to integrate emotion and cognition. Specifically, these are areas that take information from our current body state and apply it for use in navigating the world.

    “The brain of an 18-year-old college freshman is still far from resembling the brain of someone in their mid-twenties. When do we reach adulthood? It might be much later than we traditionally think.”