Vision Continues to Develop Beyond Childhood

Recent research indicates that vision continues to develop beyond childhood. The Journal of Neuroscience published research completed by a McMaster neuroscientist, Kathyrn Murphy, and her colleagues who studied post-mortem brain-tissue samples from 30 people ranging in age from 20 days to 80 years.   Through analysis of proteins that drive the actions of neurons in the visual cortex at the back of the brain indicated that this part of the brain does not reach maturity until about age 36, plus or minus 4.5 years.  The visual cortex,  human brain’s vision-processing center, was previously thought to mature and stabilize in the first few years of life and reach maturity by 5 to 6 years, actually continues to develop until sometime in the late 30s or early 40s.

“There’s a big gap in our understanding of how our brains function,” says Murphy. “Our idea of sensory areas developing in childhood and then being static is part of the challenge. It’s not correct.”

Murphy says treatment for conditions such as amblyopia or “lazy eye”, for example, have been based on the idea that only children could benefit from corrective therapies, since it was thought that treating young adults would be pointless because they had passed the age when their brains could respond.

Though the research is isolated to the visual cortex, it suggests that other areas of the brain may also be much more plastic for much longer than previously thought, Murphy says.

Reference: MedicalXpress.  Vision keeps maturing until mid-life: Brain research recasts timeline for visual cortex development.  Retrieved from the web on 5/29/17 at

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