Some Brain Connections are Not Complete until Your 20s

Myelination

Do you know that some brain connections are not complete until your 20s?

The process is called myelination. It is the coating of neurons with a chemical insulator which makes a signal travel along it up to 100 times faster. There is signal regeneration at the nodes of Ranvier. The effect is similar to types of telecommunication transmissions.

nerve cell showing myein sheath in repeating units on a long axon

Order of Occurrence

Myelination can be casually described as preceding from the back collar up to the forehead (Fields, p 282, The Other Brain). The process continues from early infancy into young adulthood.

Effects

Vision (and sensory handling) occurs early. First you develop local categorization of objects, then (with myelinated axons) those results can be shared with other modules of the brain.

The frontal cortex, areas which have executive function, finalize their myelination last. I’ve read estimates this occurs from early 20s to late 20s.

The effect of myelination is mastery of that particular cortical task and a ‘fixing’ of the manner in which people organize their reality.

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