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Updated: May 20, 2010 15:52 IST

Grey matter shrinks ‘without water’

PTI
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Starved of water, the grey matter is forced to work harder to process the informations, say researchers. Photo: K.R. Deepak
THE HINDU Starved of water, the grey matter is forced to work harder to process the informations, say researchers. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Make sure you drink enough water everyday - it’s not only good for your body, but it is good for your brain too, for a new study says that grey matter can shrink without hydration.

Researchers have found that failing to drink enough water can make grey matter shrink, making it harder to think - so, dehydration not only affects the size of the brain but also how it works, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

According to them, just 90 minutes of steady sweating can shrink the brain as much as a year of ageing.

Starved of water, the grey matter is also forced to work harder to process the same information. Over days and weeks, lack of fluid could impact on performance at work and school, and on exam results.

But there is no need to panic - because after a glass of water or two the brain quickly returns to normal, say the researchers at King’s College London.

For their study, the researchers scanned the brains of teenagers after an hour and a half of cycling. Some exercised in three layers of sweat-inducing clothing - a bin liner worn next to the skin, a hooded chemical warfare suit and a track suit. Others were more lightly clad in shorts and t-shirts.

Those who were wrapped up lost around two pounds in sweat - and their brain tissue had shrunk away from their skulls, the study found.

Lead researcher Matthew Kempton said: “We saw a general shrinking of the brain tissue. Fluid filled cavities in the middle of the brain expanded and there was a corresponding shrinking of the brain tissue. The people who lost the most weight had the most shrinkage of the brain.”

On average, the amount of shrinkage equated to 14 months of age-related wear and tear, or the withering away associated with two and a half months of Alzheimer’s disease.

The sweaty students did just as well when asked to play a computer game that tests the ability to plan and solve problems. But the scans showed they used more of their brains to do it, according to the findings published in the ‘Human Brain Mapping’ journal.



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