Massage Accelerates Brain Development

Massage Accelerates Brain Development and the Maturation of Visual Function
A study from Italy published in the May issue of Journal of Neuroscience explored the effects of massage therapy on brain development and in particular on visual system development in a group of healthy preterm infants (gestational age between 30 and 33 weeks) and, in parallel, in early postnatal rat pups.
Environmental enrichment (EE) was shown recently to accelerate brain development in rodents. Increased levels of maternal care, and particularly tactile stimulation through licking and grooming, may represent a key component in the early phases of EE. The researchers hypothesized that enriching the environment in terms of body massage may thus accelerate brain development in infants.
They explored the effects of body massage in preterm infants and found that massage accelerates the maturation of electroencephalographic activity and of visual function, in particular visual acuity. In massaged infants, they found higher levels of blood IGF-1.
They also found that massage accelerated the maturation of visual function also in rat pups and increased the level of IGF-1 in the cortex. These results demonstrate that massage has an influence on brain development and in particular on visual development and suggest that its effects are mediated by specific endogenous factors such as IGF-1.

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