Environmental Factors Impacting the Developing BrainReport from International Neuroethics Society annual meeting
At yesterday’s International Neuroethics Society panel, “The Brain in Context,” three neuroscientists talked about different aspects of the physical and social environments that can affect the developing brain.
The Deprived Brain
Children who lag cognitively after spending time in orphanages can make up the difference by young adulthood, suggest two longitudinal studies, but some behavior and emotional issues remain—or even increase. This suggests that environmental influences might lead to disorders with or without genetic precursors.
Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain
In this article, adapted from Dr. Sam Wang and Dr. Sandra Aamodt’s book Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College (Bloomsbury USA, 2011; OneWorld Publications, 2011), the authors explore how play enhances brain development in children. As Wang and Aamodt describe, play activates the brain’s reward circuitry but not negative stress responses, which can facilitate attention and action. Through play, children practice social interaction and build skills and interests to draw upon in the years to come.
Tracking the Tracts: Rare Disease Yields Clues to Early Myelin DevelopmentQ&A with Maria Escolar, M.D.
Dana grantee Maria Escolar’s research could provide a better way to diagnose and treat infants with Krabbe disease and other motor diseases before the onset of visible symptoms, when treatment works best.
Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain
Early-life stress can lead to long-lasting behavioral, mental, and physical consequences. Fortunately, preventive measures can improve health outcomes, and while interventions for those who have already experienced debilitating early-life stress require considerable effort, they remain possible, thanks to the brain’s plasticity. Complementary article to "From Lab Bench to Court Bench."
From Lab Bench to Court BenchUsing Science to Inform Decisions in Juvenile Court
Juvenile court judges are asked to determine what is in the best interest of the child in every case they hear. Until about a decade ago, court decisions were routinely made without taking into consideration the needs of toddlers and infants. The Miami Child Well-Being Court™ (MCWBC) program, a partnership of clinicians and judges, has brought science into the courtroom, making it integral to the decision-making process and working to ensure that the needs of the child are met. Complementary article to "Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain"
Fear in LoveAttachment, Abuse, and the Developing Brain
Dr. Regina Sullivan explains how her research with rat pups has led to greater understanding of the infant brain, and how negative early experiences can cause long-term genetic, brain, behavioral, and hormonal changes that can affect not only the abuse victim but also the victim’s descendants.