The visual cortex is the vision-processing center of the human brain. It was earlier believed to mature and stabilize by the first 5-6 years of life.
Under a new study by the McMaster University, neurologists analyzed proteins in brain-tissue post-mortem samples from 30 people in age between 20 days and 80 years. They found that the visual cortex develops until some period in the late 30s or early 40s.
"There's a big gap in our understanding of how our brains function. Our idea of sensory areas developing in childhood and then being static is part of the challenge. It's not correct" says Kathryn Murphy, the research lead.
The research has implications in the field of visual treatment. Treatment for conditions like "lazy eye” or amblyopia are based on the concept that only children could gain from corrective therapies, as it was believed that treating young adults would be futile as they had elapsed the age when their brains could react to.
Murphy also believes that other areas of the brain may also be much more malleable for a longer time than earlier believed.
These findings have been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.