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How are Young Brains Affected by Stress?

Stress management is among the pillars of brain health maintenance. High and sustained levels of stress can indeed damage neurons, especially in areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

What about the effect of stress on the developing brains of infants and children? What are the cognitive consequences? How can these be prevented? This interesting article reports findings from both animal and human research answering these questions:

Brain development goes through sensitive periods during which stressors and nurturing experiences can have lasting effects

Chaos in the home and inconsistent parenting impairs development of self regulatory behaviors, which can lead to substance abuse, earlier onset of sexual activity, bad decision making and poor mood control.

… consistency as well as quality of parental care is important for successful cognitive and social development and that exposure to novelty against a backdrop of stable maternal care is key

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4 Responses

  1. Jeff says:

    For children, most of us take for granted that because they’re kids life is full of play and fun. What do they have to stress about? Maybe in decades past this was true but today kids have a lot to stress about and from so many directions. Things may be great at home but terrible at school or vice versa. Both parents probably work long hours which leaves less “family” time. School is a race for good grades and accomplishment to get into great colleges. It’s not about succeeding but “excelling.” Then there are kids with learning disabilities who struggle with both academics AND social skills. It’s no wonder they have stress. I thought the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study was very enlightening. Stress is one of those ideas that parents think about but not in detail as to just how much of an impact it has on kids now and for the rest of their lives.

  2. It is interesting how there is a fine line between good stress and bad stress!

  3. I completely agree with you. I am rather sensitive and whenever I feel stress, I can think effectively. In fact, my mind stop working and I behave like a child. So I think keep our mind fresh is a key for effective brain.Thanks for your writing

  4. Judy says:

    I am wondering if stress in the young brain could be the beginning of Multiple Sclerosis. Have any tests been done regarding this?

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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