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New study shows brain function impaired by automobile exhaust

World NewsNew study shows brain function impaired by automobile exhaust

In a new study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of Victoria and published in the journal Environment Health, Canadian researchers have linked automobile emissions to impaired brain function.

In a release Tuesday, UBC noted that it had “demonstrated that normal levels of traffic pollution can impair human brain function in just a few hours.”

According to the release, the peer-reviewed paper emphasized how “just two hours of diesel exhaust decreases brain functional connectivity — a measure of how different brain regions are functioning.” “How the parts interact and communicate with each other. This study provides the first evidence in humans, from a controlled experiment, of changes in brain network connectivity caused by air pollution.”

Twenty-five adults were exposed to diesel exhaust and filtered air at various times in the laboratory and their brain activity was measured before and after each exposure using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. This was done at UBC’s Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory at Vancouver General Hospital.

This study sought to address a gap in knowledge of the neurological effects of exposure to traffic-related air pollution, or TRAP, even as its adverse effects on the body, particularly the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, have been established. are

“This study, the first of its kind in the world, provides fresh evidence supporting a link between air pollution and cognition,” said Dr. Chris Carlston, professor and head of respiratory medicine at UBC, senior author of the study. provides.”

However, the effects of exposure were transient and participants’ communication returned to normal after exposure. But, Dr. Carlston hypothesized that where there is continuous exposure, the effects can be long-lasting.

“People might want to think twice about rolling down the windows the next time they’re stuck in traffic,” he said, adding, “It’s important to make sure your car’s air filter is in good order.” , and if you’re walking or biking on a busy road, consider turning onto a less busy route.”

The researchers analyzed changes in the brain’s default mode network (DMN), a collection of interconnected brain regions that play an important role in memory and internal thinking.

“We know that altered functional connectivity in the DMN is associated with lower cognitive performance and depressive symptoms, so it is interesting to see if traffic pollution is disrupting these same networks,” said Dr. Judy Gavrelik, University of said Professor of Psychology at Victoria and first author of the study.


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