Measuring Puberty In Studies Of Adolescent Brain Development
Relatively little is known about pubertyspecific changes in human brain development. Advancing understanding in these areas will require careful attention at two levels: conceptually and methodologically. Conceptually, this will require the development and refinement of models of adolescent brain development that address specific aspects of pubertal maturation that are causally linked to specific aspects of brain and behavioral changes. Methodologically, it will require studies that are designed with the selection of samples and measures of puberty that permit testing of these specific hypotheses. Because age and pubertal maturation are often correlated , there is a need for studies with designs that explicitly disentangle puberty and age effects .
These goals raise a number of issues regarding how to measure specific aspects of pubertal maturation in human studies. For a start, puberty is neither a brief event nor a unitary phenomenon, but instead, comprises several distinct but temporallyoverlapping processes that extend over several years . As described earlier, these processes include activation of adrenal, gonadal, and growth hormone systems, and in addition a variety of direct and indirect effects, from growth spurts to changing selfimage. The most appropriate measure of puberty will therefore depend in part on the specific research question in each study.
Some Disorders Of The Pituitary Gland
Pituitary disorders generally occur when the pituitary gland is either too active or not active enough. Often there is a discrete piece of pituitary gland which leads to the problems, this is called a pituitary adenoma . These are usually benign, non-cancerous tumours. Pituitary adenomas can cause problems through:
Conditions where the pituitary gland produces too much of one or more of its hormones include:
- Tumours of, or injury to, the hypothalamus, having a knock-on effect on the pituitary gland.
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Adolescent White Matter Development
Many MRI studies show a steady linear increase in global white matter volume between childhood and adolescence, with this increase slowing and stabilizing into adulthood . This increase differs between the sexes across adolescence, with males showing considerably steeper agerelated increases in white matter volume than do females . The increase in white matter volume has been attributed to progressive agerelated axonal myelination observed in histological samples , or alternatively, to increasing axonal calibre .
In addition to changes in white matter volume, studies have shown concurrent changes in white matter microstructure. Fractional anisotropy is an MRI measure describing the extent to which the diffusion of water molecules in the brain is anisotropic . High FA values shown in diffusion tensor imaging MRI studies are thought to reflect increasing organization of white matter tracts, due to processes including myelination. Studies consistently show an increase in FA during adolescence, for example, in the frontal lobes . To date, studies have not shown evidence for sexually dimorphic developmental trajectories of FA.
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Effects Of Early And Late Puberty Onset
Several studies about puberty have examined the effects of an early or a late onset of puberty in males and females. In general, girls who enter puberty late experience positive outcomes in adolescence and adulthood, while girls who enter puberty early experience negative outcomes. Boys who have earlier pubertal timing generally have more positive outcomes in adulthood but more negative outcomes in adolescence, while the reverse is true for later pubertal timing.
Outcomes have generally indicated that early onset of puberty in girls can be psychologically damaging. The main reason for this detrimental effect is the issue of body image. As they physically develop, gaining weight in several areas of the body, early-maturing girls usually look larger than girls who have not yet entered puberty. A result of the social pressure to be thin, the early-maturing girls develop a negative view of their body image. In addition, people may tease the girls about their visible breasts, forcing the early-maturing girl to hide her breasts by dressing differently. Embarrassment about a more developed body may also result in the refusal to undress for gym. These experiences lead to lower self-esteem, more depression and poorer body image in these early-maturing girls.
Generally, later onset of puberty in girls produces positive outcomes. They exhibit positive behaviors in adolescence that continue to adulthood.
What Does My Pituitary Gland Do
The pituitary gland is called the ‘master gland’ as the hormones it produces control so many different processes in the body. It senses the body’s needs and sends signals to different organs and glands throughout the body to regulate their function and maintain an appropriate environment. It secretes a variety of hormones into the bloodstream which act as messengers to transmit information from the pituitary gland to distant cells, regulating their activity. For example, the pituitary gland produces prolactin, which acts on the breasts to induce milk production. The pituitary gland also secretes hormones that act on the adrenal glands, thyroid gland’ data-content=’1456′ > thyroid gland, ovaries and testes, which in turn produce other hormones. Through secretion of its hormones, the pituitary gland controls metabolism, growth, sexual maturation, reproduction, blood pressure and many other vital physical functions and processes.
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Where Is The Placenta
Blood vessels in the placenta bring oxygen and nutrients to the fetus and remove waste products. The umbilical vein brings oxygenated blood to the fetus from the placenta while the paired umbilical arteries take deoxygenated fetal blood back towards the placenta.
The placenta connects the developing fetus to the wall of the mothers uterus during pregnancy. It grows in the wall of the uterus and is attached to the fetus within the uterine cavity by the umbilical cord. The placenta is formed by cells that originate from the fetus and is therefore the first of the fetal organs to develop.
What Happens During Puberty
Puberty is the name we give to a series of hormone-driven changes that happen in our bodies right before and during adolescence, the time when we grow from children into adults . The shape, size, and composition of our bodies change as we progress toward sexual maturity, which is the ability of an organism to reproduce. Our moods and behaviors change as a result of puberty as well. The same hormones that cause changes in our bodies also help shape the structure and organization of our brains. Through puberty, our brains strengthen and fine-tune the connections that allow for mature ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving .
- Figure 2 – Early in puberty, the adrenal glands produce hormones called androgens, like DHEA .
- You may see the earliest signs of puberty in this phase, like pubic hair, body odor, oily skin, and acne. Then, two small brain regions, called the hypothalamus and pituitary gland , send messages to the reproductive organs, telling them to make sex steroids like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone . These hormones can shape the brains structure and function throughout development.
It Doesn’t Hurt It’s Just A Growth Spurt
“Spurt” is the word used to describe a short burst of activity, something that happens in a hurry. And a growth spurt is just that: Your body is growing, and it’s happening really fast! When you enter puberty, it might seem like your sleeves are always getting shorter and your pants always look like you’re ready for a flood that’s because you’re experiencing a major growth spurt. It lasts for about 2 to 3 years. When that growth spurt is at its peak, some people grow 4 or more inches in a year.
This growth during puberty will be the last time your body grows taller. After that, you will be at your adult height. But your height isn’t the only thing that will be changing.
Ventricles And Cerebrospinal Fluid
Deep in the brain are four open areas with passageways between them. They also open into the central spinal canal and the area beneath arachnoid layer of the meninges.
The ventricles manufacture cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, a watery fluid that circulates in and around the ventricles and the spinal cord, and between the meninges. CSF surrounds and cushions the spinal cord and brain, washes out waste and impurities, and delivers nutrients.
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A Mediator Of Metabolic Signals Influences Puberty And Growth
Body growth and the onset of puberty are regulated by neurons located in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. In the central hypothalamus, signalling by hormones called melanocortins relays metabolic information to downstream growth and reproductive centres. However, the molecular and cellular targets of these signals have not been completely elucidated. Writing in Nature, Lam et al. describe previously unreported mutations in the gene encoding the human melanocortin 3 receptor protein that seem to disrupt the receptors function. They found that these mutations are associated with a delay in the onset of puberty as well as with reduced childhood growth, adult height and lean body mass.
Body Shape Fat Distribution And Body Composition
During this period, also in response to rising levels of estrogen, the lower half of the pelvis and thus hips widen . Fat tissue increases to a greater percentage of the body composition than in males, especially in the typical female distribution of breasts, hips, buttocks, thighs, upper arms, and pubis. Progressive differences in fat distribution as well as sex differences in local skeletal growth contribute to the typical female body shape by the end of puberty. On average, at 10 years, girls have 6% more body fat than boys.
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Diet Tips For Hypothalamus Health
As the hypothalamus plays such a vital role in the body, it is very important to keep it healthy. While a person cannot fully avoid genetic factors, they can take dietary steps towards ideal hypothalamus health on a daily basis to reduce the risk of hypothalamic disease.
The hypothalamus controls the appetite, and the foods in the diet influence the hypothalamus. Studies have shown that diets high in saturated fats can alter the way the hypothalamus regulates hunger and energy expenditure.
Hormonal Changes In Girls
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As the amplitude of LH pulses increases, the theca cells of the ovaries begin to produce testosterone and smaller amounts of progesterone. Much of the testosterone moves into nearby cells called granulosa cells. Smaller increases of FSH induce an increase in the aromatase activity of these granulosa cells, which converts most of the testosterone to estradiol for secretion into the circulation. The remaining testosterone, together with adrenal androgens is responsible for the typical androgenic changes of female puberty: pubic hair, other androgenic hair as outlined above, body odor, acne. The bioactivity of testosterone is to a large degree limited by SHBG which in turn is mainly controlled by estradiol and prolactin levels .
Rising levels of estradiol produce the characteristic estrogenic body changes of female puberty: growth spurt, acceleration of bone maturation and closure, breastgrowth, increased fat composition, growth of the uterus, increased thickness of the endometrium and the vaginal mucosa, and widening of the lower pelvis.
Growth hormone levels rise steadily throughout puberty. IGF1 levels rise and then decline as puberty ends. Growth finishes and adult height is attained as the estradiol levels complete closure of the epiphyses.
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Scientists Discover How Our Brain Uses Nutritional State To Regulate Growth And Age At Puberty
Scientists have discovered how a receptor in the brain, called MC3R, detects the nutritional state of the body and regulates the timing of puberty and rate of growth in children and increases in lean muscle mass.
These findings, published today in the journal Nature, may explain how humans have been growing taller and reaching sexual maturity earlier over the past century. Over the 20th century, average heightincreased by about 10 cm in the UK, and up to 20 cm in other countries.
While scientists have long suggested that this phenomenon could be related to more reliable access to food for pregnant women and children, until now, precisely how the body senses its state of nutrition and turns that information into growth and sexual maturation had not been understood.
It was already known that signals reach the brain to indicate the body’s nutritional state, such as the hormones leptin, produced in adipose cells, and insulin, produced in response to increases in blood sugar levels. In a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, these hormones act on a small group of neurons that produce signals called melanocortins.
The melanocortins act on a variety of receptors, two of which are present in the brain. One of these, the melanocortin 4 receptor has previously been shown to regulate appetite and lack of MC4R results in obesity however, the MC4R system does not control the effect of nutrition on growth and timing of puberty.
Pineal And Pituitary Glands
The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland in the brain, situated beneath the back part of the corpus callosum, and secretes melatonin. The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain that secretes hormones and regulates and controls other hormone-secreting glands and many body processes, including reproduction.
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Does Milk Cause Early Puberty
Fact: There is no scientific evidence that drinking milk causes early puberty. In the United States, girls are entering puberty at younger ages than they were in the first half of the 20th century. Researchers do not know the exact trigger for early-onset puberty, although it is likely influenced by many factors.
Tips To Support & Protect Our Brain Glands
The only way to balance things out from the get-go is to start at the beginning with these seven tips that help nourish, support, and protect your three precious brain glands that do SO much for you.
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Introducing: Your Hypothalamus Pituitary Gland And Pineal Gland
These three small, but mighty glands are only the size of an almond, a pea and a grain of rice, respectively.
Today, we explain :
- What these three glands are responsible for
- What can go wrong when they are out of whack
- And what foods, supplements, and lifestyle adjustments you can make to skyrocket your brain power and overall sense of emotional balance and well-being
These three major glands all work synergistically and while they are very small in size, they control so many crucial functions within the body.
We can look at the hypothalamus as the director or conductor and the pituitary gland as the messenger. The hypothalamus works as an interface between the endocrine system and the central nervous system with the help of the pituitary gland. The pineal glands most important responsibility is to regulate our sleep-wake cycle.
Eat A Balanced Healthy Diet
A balanced diet is good for your health but it can also affect your hormones.
For example, malnourished children may not produce enough growth hormone to meet growth goals for their age group.
General tips for healthy eating include:
- eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals
- choosing good sources of fats, such as those that contain omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats
- opting for whole grains over refined grains
- reducing sodium intake
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Putting The Pu In Puberty
A lot of teens notice that they have a new smell under their arms and elsewhere on their bodies when they enter puberty, and it’s not a pretty one. That smell is body odor, and everyone gets it. As you enter puberty, the puberty hormones affect glands in your skin, and the glands make chemicals that smell bad. These chemicals put the scent in adolescent!
So what can you do to feel less stinky? Well, keeping clean is a good way to lessen the smell. You might want to take a shower every day, either in the morning before school, or the night before. Using deodorant every day can help keep body odor in check, too.