Trauma in infancy and childhood shapes the brain, learning, and behavior, and fuels changes that can last a lifetime, according to new human and animal research released October 16.
The findings show:
• Physical abuse in early childhood may realign communication between key “body-control” brain areas, possibly predisposing adults to cardiovascular disease and mental health problems
• Rodent studies provide insight into brain changes that allow tolerance of pain within mother-pup attachment.
• Childhood poverty is associated with changes in working memory and attention years later in adults; yet training in childhood is associated with improved cognitive functions.
• Chronic stress experienced by infant primates leads to fearful and aggressive behaviors; these are associated with changes in stress hormone production and in the development of the amygdala.
Another recent finding discussed shows that:
• Parent education and income is associated with children’s brain size, including structures important for memory and emotion.
(The Society for Neuroscience is a nonprofit membership organization of basic scientists and physicians who study the brain and nervous system.)