‘Stress may retard brain development in children’June 7th, 2012 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, June 7 (IANS) Stress may retard brain development in children, altering the growth of a specific part and the abilities tied to it, researchers say.
“There has been a lot of work on animals linking both acute and chronic stress to changes in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in complex cognitive abilities like holding on to important information for quick recall and use,” says study co-author Jamie Hanson of Wisconsin-Madison, US.
“We have now found similar associations in humans. More exposure to stress is related to more issues with certain kinds of cognitive processes,” adds Hanson, the Journal of Neuroscience reports.
Children who had experienced more intense and lasting stressful events posted lower scores on tests of what researchers refer to as spatial working memory.
They had more trouble navigating tests of short-term memory such as finding a token in a series of boxes, according to the study, a Wisconsin statement says.
Brain scans revealed that the anterior cingulate, a portion of the prefrontal cortex believed to play key roles in spatial working memory, takes up less space in children with greater exposure to very stressful situations.
“These are subtle differences, but differences related to important cognitive abilities,” says Hanson.
But these may not be irreversible differences. “We’re not trying to argue that stress permanently scars your brain. We don’t know if and how it is that stress affects the brain,” says Hanson, a psychology graduate student at Wisconsin-Madison.
“We only have a snapshot - one MRI scan of each subject - and at this point we don’t understand whether this is just a delay in development or a lasting difference,” Hanson adds.
“It could be that, because the brains is very plastic, very able to change, that children who have experienced a great deal of stress catch up in these areas,” says Hanson.
Researchers determined stress levels through interviews with children aged nine to 14 years and their parents.
The team, which included Wisconsin psychology professors Richard Davidson and Seth Pollak and their labs, collected expansive biographies of stressful events from slight to severe.
- Brain imaging tells how smart you are - Aug 02, 2012
- Brain size linked to early Alzheimer's risk - Dec 28, 2011
- Flu during pregnancy may raise baby's schizophrenia risk - Mar 12, 2010
- Brain's crossed wires cause depression - Dec 09, 2011
- New study sheds light on cognitive recovery after brain damage - Nov 04, 2010
- Scan reveals what brain looks like when you are angry - Jun 19, 2012
- Genius linked to prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone - Mar 12, 2011
- Chronic stress clouds thinking, memory - Mar 11, 2012
- Tobacco smoking negatively affects teens' brains - Mar 03, 2011
- Regular exercise improves overweight kids' math skills - Feb 11, 2011
- Mom's simple phone call calms edgy nerves - May 14, 2010
- Cell phone use in pregnancy affects foetus' brain - Mar 16, 2012
- Anxiety helps people sniff out danger - Mar 23, 2012
- How well our brain functions is based on our family's genes - Mar 04, 2011
- Morality influenced by evolving brain - May 29, 2011
Tags: brain development, brains, chronic stress, co author, cognitive abilities, cognitive processes, hanson, important information, mri scan, prefrontal cortex, psychology graduate student, scars, short term memory, snapshot, stress levels, stressful events, stressful situations, subtle differences, wisconsin madison, working memory