Researchers have found that long term exposure to air contamination might harm the mind and lead to memory complications and even depression. The examination of computer mice showed that in the long term polluted air can create real physical changes to the brain which in turn can have negative effects on memory and cognitive function.
While other researchers have considered the impact polluted air has on the heart and lungs this was one of the first study to look at the effect of poLlution on the brain. The researchers concluded that extended exposure to polluted air has visible, negative effects on the brain, which can easily lead to an assortment of health problems. This could have important and troubling ramifications for individuals who live and work in polluted urban areas worldwide.
Research workers at Ohio State University exposed mice to either filtered air of polluted air six hours a day, 5 days a week for virtually half their life-span which was 10 months. The polluted air was the same as that produced by autos, factories, and natural dust and included fine particulates about a thirtieth the dimension of a human hair, which can easily reach deep areas of the body’s organs.
The concentration of particulates simulated what people are exposed to in some polluted urban areas. In previous studies in mice, it was discovered that this type of air particulate created swelling in the body and that it was associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, and excessive weight gain. The researchers expanded on these findings by looking at the brain for the current study.
After 10 months of exposure, behavioral examinations were carried out on the rodents that included a learning and memory examination where after five days of training they were placed in a brightly lit location and given two minutes to discover the dark escape hole where they would be more comfortable. The mice who breathed the polluted air took significantly longer to learn where the escape hole was and at later tests they were more
likely to forget where it was as well.
In yet another study, mice exposed to the polluted air showed more depressive-like symptoms and higher levels of anxiety-like behaviors in one examination. To learn exactly how the air pollution led to modifications in understanding, memory, and mood, the researchers checked the hippocampal location of the mice brains and found clear physical distinctions.
The researchers looked at the dendrites, which are the branches that grow off of nerve cells or neurons, which have little projections expanding off them called backs, which transmit signals from one neuron to yet another.
Mice exposed to polluted air had far fewer spines in parts of the hippocampus, briefer dendrites, and overall lowered cell sophistication. They also discovered some swelling in the hippocampus and more active chemical messengers that trigger inflammation in the computer mice who breathed the polluted