Pesticides: a study confirms their dangers for the brain

Researchers at Berkeley University in California conducted research on adolescents exposed to pesticides during their childhood. Their brain function is altered.

Studies on the consequences of pesticides on the body are multiplying. This time, Berkeley University in California focused on the youngest by studying the brains of teenagers exposed to pesticides during their childhood. They find that their hoop works differently than children who have not been exposed to these substances.

Organophosphates are among the most commonly used classes of #pesticides in the US, despite mounting evidence linking #prenatal exposure to the chemicals to poorer cognition and behavior problems in children ???????????? #BerkeleyResearch //t.co/yIJFfc7zs1

- UC Berkeley (@UCBerkeley) August 27, 2019

The children of the "salad bowl of America"

Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesThe study is based on the use of advanced brain imaging techniques called near-infrared functional imaging. 95 teenagers, born and raised in California's Salinas Valley, were recruited. Nicknamed the "bowl of America", this region of America is famous for its many crops, a large part of which is regularly treated with pesticides. Children's brain activity was measured between the ages of 15 and 17 while performing cognitive functions, comprehension, or attention.

A mechanism of compensation of the brain

Compared with children not exposed to pesticides, participants had different brain function. Their blood flow was lower in the frontal cortex when they performed exercises that stimulated their cognitive flexibility or visual memory. In contrast, they had greater blood flow into the parietal and temporal lobes when tested on their linguistic memory.

"The brain has a remarkable ability to use compensatory mechanisms to counteract long-term aggression," says Allan L. Reiss, co-author of the study, "Greater activation (of a zone) may be related to recruitment and the use of additional neuronal resources to address functional inefficiency caused by aggression, conversely, lower activation may be due to a failure to mobilize resources as a result of continued exposure (to a substance) or disease." The researchers want to continue their research on larger panels. They hope to be able to do the same tests with more than 500 participants.

Video: Pesticide Exposure In Pregnant Women, Autism Linked In Study (April 2020).