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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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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