The pill `can make women brainier`

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London: Ladies, please note — popping the pill not only saves you from an unwanted pregnancy but can also make you brainier, for a study claims that contraceptives help swell grey matter needed for social skills and memory.

Researchers at Salzburg University in Austria have found that contraceptive pills increase the size of certain parts of women’s brains, improving memory and social skills, and enhancing the mind’s “conversation hub”.

The study found that the contraceptive of choice of 3.5 million British women — a quarter of all 16 to 49-year- olds — increases brain size by around 3 per cent, which led to improvement in brain function, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

In fact, for the study, the researchers took high- resolution images of the brains of women taking the pill and those not taking it.

The women not on the contraceptive were scanned more than once to account for the hormonal fluctuations that occur over the course of a month. Several areas of the brains of the women taking the pill were larger than the brains of those not taking the contraceptive, the findings revealed.

No matter which brand or formulation of the drug, or how long it had been prescribed for, the results were same.

Dr Belinda Pletzer, who led the study, said the sex hormones in the pill were clearly having a “tremendous effect” on the female brain.

She added: “Larger volumes of a brain area could lead to an improvement of the functions this area is responsible for. Looking at the brain areas involved in our study, which are larger in pill users compared to naturally cycling women, this could concern several higher order brain functions, especially memory and verbal skills.

“The behavioural changes due to contraceptive use are likely to affect those skills that are already better developed in women compared to men like, for example, memory.”

Just how the pill could have such an effect is not clear. But one theory is that the oestrogen or progesterone used to stop eggs from being released also strengthens the links between nerve cells in the brain.

Although some areas got bigger, the brain did not increase in overall size, and it is not known whether these parts shrink back to their original dimensions when a woman comes off the pill, say the scientists.

The study has been published in the ‘Brain Research’ journal.
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This post was submitted by virendra kumar yadav.

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