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Besides causing mental health problems in some teens, the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic also sped up the aging process in adolescents’ brains, a new study says.

Brain scans of teenagers who’d been through the pandemic showed physical changes not found in the brains of comparable age groups examined before the pandemic, said the study published in Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science.

The pandemic brain scans showed reduced thickness in the cortex, which controls executive functioning, or the ability to do tasks like planning, paying attention, and reasoning. The scans also showed growth in the amygdala, which regulates fear and stress, and the hippocampus, which controls access to memories.

These changes are “more typical of individuals who are older or who experienced significant adversity in childhood,” the study said. Head over to WebMD to read the full story.