A study at the University of Washington concluded that children who received more support from their parents had a greater development of the brain region linked with memory and emotions.
By Pedro Lipcovich
Research published today adds a strong argument for the notion that the brain structures, far from being only determined by biology, constitute the links established throughout life, beginning with early childhood. The study, conducted at the University of Washington, is called “the maternal support in early childhood predicts larger volumes of the hippocampus in school age” and was divided into two sections separated by several years. The first part consisted of an ingenious test to assess the degree of support that the mother or father could give children three to five years in an everyday situation. The second part consisted of applying those kids, and at school age, an MRI to measure the size of the hippocampus, linked to memory and emotion structure: it turned out, the guys who had better maternal support, that part brain had achieved greater weight and volume.
The work is published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and is signed by a team from the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Washington University in Saint Louis, led by Joan Luby. The first part of the test was made several years ago with boys who were between three and five years. In a research laboratory behavior, were tested in the company of a parent, usually the mother, the boy handed him a gift, wrapped in gift paper, but with the slogan wait eight minutes before opening; mother, meanwhile, had to complete a written questionnaire. The test sought to establish, according to predetermined standards, to what extent support the mother gave the boy in the situation, relatively stressful to wait before opening the gift. The fact that the mother had to turn a task, completing questionnaires, sought to reproduce the structure of an everyday situation in which the mother or caregiver the boy must perform tasks while addresses contain the anxieties of the child. The greater or lesser maternal support was recorded on a scale score, and what was established at that time was the correlation between lower maternal support and an increased risk of depression in children.
The second phase of the research was conducted on 92 children, when they were between 7 and 13 years and was to determine, using MRI, the size of a brain structure called the hippocampus. The result was that in the boys-in testing had shown the preescolar- receive sufficient maternal support, the size of the hippocampus was 10 percent higher than in children who had not received that support. The article notes that the hippocampus “is a central region for memory, emotion regulation and maturation of stress, key areas for healthy social adaptation.” The hippocampus is the only place in the brain in which over a lifetime develop new neurons (last Friday, Pagina / 12 reported on recent work by researchers at the Leloir Institute CONICET).
Joan Luby, director of research at the University of Washington, said that “for years, studies highlighted the importance of early care for the proper development of children, but generally limited to factors such as school performance: study it is the first to show an anatomical change in the brain in relation to the importance of early parental action. “
Mariela Terzaghi, head of Neurology Noel H. Sbarra Hospital of La Plata, said that this research “is part of a series of works that break with the idea of a unique genetic determination for the brain, making place to the influence of aspects between which it should also include the historical, social and cultural conditions of parenting. However, larger hippocampal not necessarily better function, and should not assume that issues explain the mind from brain locations. “
Sergio Rodriguez -coautor Crossings between psychoanalysis and neurobiology said the report from the University of Washington “concerning the logic of research on neurotic depression, where the decreasing depression coincides with increased activity in the hippocampus and the cingulate core brain “.