Depressed mothers' children have different brains, finds study.
A Canadian team has discovered that the brain is sensitive to the quality of care received during childhood.
Dr. Sonia Lupien and her colleagues from the University of Montreal worked with ten-year-old children whose mothers exhibited symptoms of depression throughout their lives, and discovered that the children's amygdala, a part of the brain linked to emotional responses, was enlarged.
Similar changes, but of greater magnitude, have been found in the brains of adoptees initially raised in orphanages. Personalized attention to children's needs may be the key factor.
Scientists have established that the amygdala is involved in assigning emotional significance to information and events, and it contributes to the way we behave in response to potential risks. The need to learn about the safety or danger of new experiences may be greater in early life, when we know little about the world around us.
"Having enlarged amygdala could be protective and increase the probability of survival," Lupien said.
The study was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.