home
RSS
Love key to brain development in children
March 12th, 2012
11:51 AM ET

Love key to brain development in children

Editor's note: Dr. Charles Raison, CNNhealth's mental health expert, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Ever noticed how scientific opinions swing from one extreme to the other?

Take the importance of mothers in the development of children. In the early days of psychiatry almost every mental illness, from depression to schizophrenia to autism was blamed on bad mothering. Then in the 1960’s and 70’s the discovery of medications that helped these illnesses allowed psychiatry to reframe them as biological conditions, no different from cancer or heart disease. Parents were fully absolved for the mental illnesses of their children, except to the degree that they passed along bad genes that caused chemical imbalances in the brain.

Myths inevitably survive long after they’ve been scientifically disproven. Such is the case with the fantasy that mental illnesses can be written off solely to genes and chemicals. Over the last decade a string of scientific discoveries has shown that the biology driving mental illness has at least as much to do with the environment as with chemicals or genetic inheritance. And it increasingly appears that the single most powerful environmental factor is the love - or its lack - that children receive from their parents. So in a very real way we parents are back on the hook for the lifelong emotional well-being of our kids.

I say this based on a thousand studies. But to make the point here, let me describe a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that more definitively than any before it shows how parental care literally changes not just kids’ hearts and minds, but their brains as well.

Here’s how the study was done. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis recruited 92 children between the ages of 3 and 6. Rather than asking parents about how they treated their children, the researchers brought the kids and parents into a lab and videotaped them as the parents, almost always mothers, tried to help their children cope with a mildly stressful task that was designed to approximate the stress of daily parenting.

Ratings of parental ability to nurture their children were done by study personnel who watched the videos while knowing nothing about either children or parents. Several years later, on average, the children had the size of a brain area called the hippocampus measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). After taking into account a whole range of factors that can affect hippocampal size, the researchers found that children with especially nurturing, caring mothers, based on their behavior during the laboratory stressor, had significantly larger hippocampi (plural of hippocampus - you’ve got one on each side of the brain) than kids with mothers who were average or poor nurturers.

Why is this finding important? Because more than any place else in the brain, when it comes to the hippocampus, size matters. Other things being equal, having small hippocampi increases your risk for all sorts of troubles, from depression and post traumatic stress disorder to Alzheimer’s disease.  If you’ve got depression, having small hippocampi predicts that you won’t respond as well to antidepressants as well as depressed people with larger hippocampi.

Just as having small hippocampi increases the risk for all sorts of mental disorders, all the things in our lives that put us under undue stress and strain also shrink the hippocampus. This is as true for cigarette smoking as it is for being exposed as a child to abuse or parental neglect.

In addition to protecting us against brain illnesses, we all need big hippocampi because this brain area, while not much bigger than your little finger, plays a disproportionately  large role in how you will be able to handle the stresses and strains of your life, and how you will remember your life when it’s all said and done. This is so because the hippocampus is crucial for our ability to form and store personal memories. It is also of central importance for restraining the body’s stress and inflammatory responses, both of which can induce significant damage to bodily organs and the brain if not properly reined in.

The finding that especially nurturing mothers can literally grow their children’s hippocampi doesn’t exist in isolation. It is consistent with hundreds of animal studies showing that maternal nurturing has a range of biological effects relevant to physical and emotional health. An especially striking example of this is a study done several years ago in rodents showing that maternal nurturance (measured as amount of licking that rat pups received from their mothers) literally changed how the rat pups’ DNA was expressed in the hippocampus. As a result of these changes, pups who received extra licking had changes in their stress systems that have been repeatedly associated with well-being in humans.

So we underestimate our power as parents at our children’s peril. But I would be remiss if I left you with the impression that mother love is all-powerful or that genes and chemicals don’t matter at all. The association of parental nurturing with subsequent hippocampal size in children was only observed in non-depressed children. In children with signs of significant early depression, maternal nurturing in the laboratory had no association with subsequent hippocampal volume. Why this was the case is anybody’s guess, but it might suggest that at least some cases of major depression are indeed mostly genetic or “hardwired” from an early age, and so are fairly resistant to positive things from the environment.

Given the complexity of the human brain, should we be surprised that every possible outcome of genes, chemicals and environment is actualized in someone somewhere? Meantime, one generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world.


soundoff (1,587 Responses)
  1. t mobile near me

    http://www.ujihara.jp/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bulknearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. clothing stores near me

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I actually thought you would probably have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.

    http://tamperproofmailingtubes.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=anchoredperformancegym.com

    June 13, 2021 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. walgreens near me

    bookmarked!!, I love your site!

    https://encrypted.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=https3A2F2Focrvparts.com&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGaY_nlK9ozc51fqwjiVdMaYZL7rg

    June 13, 2021 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. church near me

    https://ea.delawarecpf.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://songwritingsociety.com

    June 13, 2021 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. trails near me

    https://www.web28.werkbank.bayern-online.de/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?url=http://iamkarra.com

    June 14, 2021 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. corona testing near me

    http://2ch.io/https://ocrvcenter.mobi

    June 14, 2021 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. winery near me

    http://portuguese.myoresearch.com/?URL=http://spokanevalleyseo.com

    June 14, 2021 at 05:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. used tires near me

    When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Cheers!

    http://timemapper.okfnlabs.org/view?url=https://heatingairconditioningcontractorsmissionviejo.com

    June 14, 2021 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. therapist near me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thanks for providing this info.

    http://www.magazinemedia.eu/Redirect.aspx?destination=www.duiattorneyphoenixaz.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. banh khuc tv

    Coi Thẳng Soccerlich bong da giao huu hom nayTheo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania vào ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới mang đến futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội ko ngán Lebanon song sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch tranh tài, quý khách có thể chuẩn bị xếp việc làm

    https://rucyprus.net/detail/xem-truyen-hinh-truc-tiep-htv7-75815.html

    June 14, 2021 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. barnes and noble near me

    https://www.client.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=http://commercialvanrepairshop.com

    June 14, 2021 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. body shop near me

    https://www.irc.lc/http://fleetvehiclerepairshop.combbs-arab

    June 14, 2021 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. thrift stores near me

    Right here is the perfect web site for everyone who would like to find out about this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject that's been discussed for ages. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

    https://www.studivz.net/Link/Dereferer/?https://www.postfallswebsites.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. king soopers near me

    I was able to find good information from your blog posts.

    http://www.ar.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=http://www.ocrvcenter.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. batteries plus near me

    https://yellowpages.uticaod.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrv.mobi/

    June 14, 2021 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. zaxby's near me

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I've got you book marked to check out new stuff you postÖ

    http://www.scga.org/Account/AccessDenied.aspx?URL=www.cool-air-tech.com

    June 14, 2021 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. dodge dealer near me

    Very nice write-up. I definitely appreciate this website. Keep writing!

    https://www.studivz.net/Link/Dereferer/?ocrv.tv/

    June 14, 2021 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    After looking into a handful of the blog articles on your site, I seriously like your way of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my web site too and let me know what you think.

    http://www.bytecheck.com/results?resource=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-hermosa-beach-california

    June 14, 2021 at 21:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Repair Seal Beach

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe that this website needs far more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!

    http://luminous-lint.com/app/iframe/photographer/Frantisek__Drtikol/www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-temecula-california

    June 14, 2021 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. mu vs everton

    Liên Kết Coi Trực Tiếp Bóng Đá Futsal Việt Nam Vs Lebanon Vòng Chủng Loại World Cupcakhia linkNếu cứ chơi như cách vừa đè bẹp Everton cho tới 3-1 trên Sảnh khách

    https://virandoamor.com/detail/ban-thang-tv-989.html

    June 15, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    https://www.dorsten.de/Externer_Link.asp?ziel=http://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-driver-seat-repair-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Excellent post! We are linking to this particularly great article on our site. Keep up the great writing.

    http://clubs.london.edu/click?uid=24ce7c96-76b4-11e6-8631-0050569d64d5&r=http://delilerkoyu.com/index.php/component/httр:/index.php?option=com_datsogallery&Itemid=23&func=detail&catid=11&id=274

    June 15, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. hn.24h

    Tỷ Số Bóng Đá Trực Tuyến Thời Điểm Hôm Nay90ptvTheo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania vào ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới đến futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội không ngán Lebanon song sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch tranh tài, quý khách có thể chuẩn bị xếp việc làm

    https://questiontime.info/detail/bo-da-ngoai-hang-anh-bxh-130111.html

    June 15, 2021 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    http://oliverhume.com.au/enquiry/thank-you/?redirectTo=http://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-chatsworth-california

    June 15, 2021 at 04:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    Hi! I could have sworn Iíve been to this site before but after looking at some of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím definitely happy I found it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

    http://hobowars.com/game/linker.php?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-maintenance-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    https://www.meetme.com/apps/redirect/?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 07:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    https://www.fms.treas.gov/fmsweb/disclaimer.jsp?ciURL=https://www.ausbusinessmarketing.newsbloger.com/3256185/top-rv-repair-shop-secrets

    June 15, 2021 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Camper Repair Shop Near Me

    http://ww17.intstagram.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-west-hollywood-california

    June 15, 2021 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. huyen thoai amaya tap 30

    Thông Tin, Sự Khiếu Nại Liên Quan Lại Đến Thẳng Bóng Đá Phái Nữ nha cai so 1Đội tuyển chọn Việt Nam chỉ cần thiết một kết trái hòa có bàn thắng nhằm lần thứ hai góp mặt tại World Cup futsal. Nhưng, để làm được điều này

    https://sshuebner.org/

    June 15, 2021 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing!

    http://bcdairy.ca/dairyfarmers/index?URL=ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-installation-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 90 phút.tv

    Kết Trái Futsal Việt Nam Vs Lebanonket qua asiad 2019Theo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania vào ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới mang đến futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội không ngán Lebanon song sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch thi đấu, bạn hoàn toàn có thể sắp xếp công việc

    https://arubaeducation.info/detail/xem-viv6-hd-109605.html

    June 15, 2021 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Repair Near Me

    Great article! We are linking to this great content on our site. Keep up the great writing.

    http://secure.duoservers.com/?lang=en&s_id=123179&rdomain=http://ocrvcenter.com/autocar-collision-repair-shop-near-me/&action=order&popup=1

    June 15, 2021 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. truc tuyen vtv3

    Thẳng Soccer Thời Điểm Hôm Nay, Link Coi Soccer Trực Tuyến 24hhtv2 hdTheo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania vào ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới cho futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội không ngán Lebanon tuy nhiên sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch tranh tài, bạn hoàn toàn có thể sắp xếp việc làm

    https://virandoamor.com/detail/lich-k-14674.html

    June 15, 2021 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Shop Near My Location

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your site!

    https://directory.pasadenanow.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-pacoima-california

    June 15, 2021 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post. Thanks for providing these details.

    http://radar.techcabal.com/clicks/track?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/cascade-collision-repair-shop-near-me/

    June 15, 2021 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    https://kuwait-airways.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-bell-california

    June 15, 2021 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Nearby RV Repairs

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS. I donít understand why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody having the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    http://www.bitly.com/a/warning?hash=3nUs1YL&url=ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-collision-repair-near-me/

    June 15, 2021 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    http://www.cassinausa.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-chatsworth-california/

    June 15, 2021 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Repairs Nearby

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do believe that you need to write more about this issue, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people do not discuss these subjects. To the next! Many thanks!!

    https://kms.fr/Eprv/Spe/GoPartenaires/?Url=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-castaic-californiacity-temp-wireframe

    June 15, 2021 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    http://dol.deliver.ifeng.com/c?z=ifeng&la=0&si=2&cg=1&c=1&ci=2&or=7549&l=28704&bg=28703&b=37275&u=https://uccadia.com/proces-laurent-gbagbo-et-ble-goude-du-01-octobre-2018/

    June 15, 2021 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It's the little changes that will make the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    http://profitquery.com/share/?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-countertop-repair-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RV Repair Orange County

    http://www.funny-games.ws/myspace.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-near-me

    June 16, 2021 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    http://www.aimcapital.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.treas.gov

    June 16, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Camper Repairs Near Me

    https://www.livedocs.my-retail-store.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-downey-california/

    June 16, 2021 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. nhật bản vs qatar

    Xoilac Tv Trực Tiếp Bóng Đáplay okXem bóng đá trực tuyến Trực tiếp Odd BK vs Sarpsborg, 20h ngày 24/5, giải VĐQG Na Uy. Xem lịch phạt sóng thẳng đá bóng EURO hôm nay được Webthethao cập nhật chủ yếu xác nhất.

    https://chiefscreolecafe.com/detail/kq-leicester-city-29569.html

    June 16, 2021 at 03:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    http://profil.uniag.sk/pracoviste/predmety.pl?id=56;zpet=https://ocrvcenter.com/camper-repair-near-me/;lang=cz

    June 16, 2021 at 04:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    http://www.fms.treas.gov/fmsweb/disclaimer.jsp?ciURL=http://www.cerebralpalsyforum.net/post13705.html

    June 16, 2021 at 05:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    https://pt-br.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-yucca-valley-california

    June 16, 2021 at 06:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    https://fms.treas.gov/fmsweb/disclaimer.jsp?ciURL=https://homemadewithmess.co.uk/2019/01/02/back-with-a-bang-syrian-falafel-with-chilli-sauce-minted-yoghurt-and-a-crunchy-salad/comment-page-7129/

    June 16, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    http://drugoffice.gov.hk/gb/unigb/diplingpaedmediatorreiter.eu/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=4&limitstart=43280

    June 16, 2021 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Leave a Reply to RV Repair Shops Nearby


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.