- Stress during early childhood may lead to faster maturation of the brain during adolescence
- Faster maturation prevents the brain from flexibly adjusting to the current environment
- Stress on the brain can increase the risk of developing antisocial personality traits
Stress due to negative experiences during childhood may lead to faster maturation of certain regions of the brain during adolescence, according to a new study from Radboud University. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Brain Development and AdolescenceDuring adolescence, previously made connections of the brain are refined and made efficient by a natural process called pruning. This makes it crucial for the brain development to occur in a systematic manner. Faster or slower maturation of the brain can alter the pruning process.
Study OverviewThe long-term study included 37 participants who were monitored for almost 20 years. The study was initialized in 1988 and over the next 20 years, the research team studied the children's play sessions and interactions with parents, friends and classmates. They were also subjected to MRI scans. The data was used to analyze how stress in various life stages affects the adolescent brain, especially the cerebral areas, of these children.
- negative life events and
- negative influences.
- Early childhood (0-5 years) and
- Adolescence (14-17 years)
- Stress during childhood caused due to negative experiences, such as illness or divorce, was related to faster maturation of the prefrontal cortex and amygdala during adolescence.
- Stress during adolescence caused due from negative social environment, such as low peer esteem at school, was related to slower maturation of the hippocampus.
- Social stress later in life leads to slower maturation during adolescence and stronger the effect of stress on the brain higher the risk of developing antisocial personality traits.
- Baby's Brain Begins Now: Conception to Age 3 - (http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/why-0-3/baby-and-brain)
- Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development - (https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/brain_development.pdf)