What’s the difference between these two brains?
Telegraph (UK) 28 Oct 2012
They both belong to three-year-olds, so why is one so much bigger? Because one was loved by its parents and the other neglected – a fact that has dramatic implications
…What could possibly cause so radical a divergence in brain development? The obvious answer is that it must have been some illness or terrible accident. The obvious answer is wrong. The primary cause of the extraordinary difference between the brains of these two three-year-old children is the way they were treated by their mothers. The child with the much more fully developed brain was cherished by its mother, who was constantly and fully responsive to her baby. The child with the shrivelled brain was neglected and abused. That difference in treatment explains why one child’s brain develops fully, and the other’s does not. Neurologists are beginning to understand exactly how a baby’s interaction with their mother determines how, and indeed whether, the brain grows in the way that it should. Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, who has surveyed the scientific literature and has made significant contributions to it, stresses that the growth of brain cells is a “consequence of an infant’s interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother]”. The growth of the baby’s brain “literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant. The development of cerebral circuits depends on it.”