Environmental Experience and Brain Development
The human brain requires a wide variety of environmental inputs to develop normally. What happens when these environmental inputs are absent or atypical? We examine how adverse environmental experiences including abuse, poverty, and neglect influence the developing brain. We demonstrate how the brain mechanisms that help children adapt to adversity may ultimately contribute to poor health later in development.
Learning from Experience: How does the Developing Brain Adapt to Environmental Adversity?
Katie McLaughlin, PhD Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Washington
Exposure to violence and other forms of environmental adversity like poverty, neglect, and unstable caregiving are common among children in the United States. This talk examines how these experiences influence the structure and function of the developing brain. Although neural changes in children who experience adversity are adaptive in the short-term, they have long-term consequences for children’s health and development.
Exposure to Early Psychosocial Deprivation Can Undermine Healthy Brain Development
Charles Nelson, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard University
Healthy brain development depends on experiences that occur during relatively narrow windows of time. I will describe a 15-year longitudinal study of children abandoned at birth and raised in orphanages, deprived of many of these critical experiences. This work has relevance for the 8 million worldwide raised in institutional settings, and the thousands of U.S. children who experience neglect.
This free, public series is made possible by generous bequests from Professor Allen L. Edwards and Roger B. Loucks.