The Loh Down On Science

How our children's brains change as they grow

EEG Trace

thefreedictionary.com

What's going on in our teens' heads at night? Something really shocking!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Psychiatrists at the University of California, Davis, wanted an index of childhood brainwave activity.  So for ten years they conducted sleep studies on children, ages six to eighteen. 

For two nights every six months, the children, sleeping at home, wore electrodes on their heads. These connected to an EEG device.  It records brainwaves—the brain's electrical activity.

The result?  The recordings showed that after age nine, electrical activity during deep sleep diminished.  Deep sleep is when the brain repairs itself.

Then at age twelve that activity dropped sixty percent!

Why?  In early childhood, the brain needs extra neurons for development.  But adult brains have more streamlined processes and don't need as many.  So in preparation for adulthood, teenage brains clean house!  Out goes neural clutter!  In go the hospital corners!  Leaving fewer neurons to repair during sleep.

So much for cleaning up their brains. Now if only they would clean up their rooms!

 

For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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