Early Childhood Stress May Stunt Brain Development, Causing Deficits In Memory And Learning
A new study found that chronic stress in early childhood is not only able to inflict long-lasting emotional damage on a child, it can physically shrink their brains. The reasoning behind this is unclear but researchers stress that not everyone will experience these negative outcomes and hopefully, for those who do, the effects are reversible.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has shown that early stress caused by poverty, neglect, and physical abuse can shrink areas of the developing child’s brain. The biggest change was found in brain areas responsible for memory, learning, and processing emotion. The study was based on 128 children, age 12, who had experienced physical abuse, suffered from early neglect, were from a household with low socioeconomic status, or were from a middle-class household and had never experienced any form of chronic early stress. MRI scans of the children’s brains were taken with a special focus on the hippocampus and amygdala, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Early Childhood Stress May Stunt Brain Development, Causing Deficits In Memory And Learning.