A study has revealed that in humans, a part of the brainresponsible for face recognition continues to grow into adulthood, while the region that helps to recognise places stays the same.
The study was published in journal of Science.
According to researchers, the ability to recognise faces, which is critical for everyday social interactions, improves from childhood to adulthood.
In seeking to better understand brain activity to recognize a face, Jesse Gomez et al. from American Association for the Advancement of Science used quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) to compare brain tissue across individuals.
In 22 children and 25 adults, they compared recognition test results of faces and places with qMRI data that corresponds with the respective brain regions.
These results were confirmed in the postmortem analysis of adult brains.
The findings revealed that the region of the brain that helps people recognise faces was found to increase in relative size in adults, while the region that helps people recognise places was found to stay the same.
The results are surprising, since brain development is largely thought to involve synaptic pruning, rather than growth.
“Modeling suggests that changes in myelination, the fatty white substance that surrounds the axons of some nerve cells, is not sufficient alone to explain this expansion of the brain region,” the authors explained.
Thus, the authors propose that it may be caused by an increase in cell bodies, dendritic structures and myelin sheath.