Environmental Factors Impacting the Developing BrainReport from International Neuroethics Society annual meeting
At yesterday’s International Neuroethics Society panel, “The Brain in Context,” three neuroscientists talked about different aspects of the physical and social environments that can affect the developing brain.
The Deprived Brain
Children who lag cognitively after spending time in orphanages can make up the difference by young adulthood, suggest two longitudinal studies, but some behavior and emotional issues remain—or even increase. This suggests that environmental influences might lead to disorders with or without genetic precursors.
Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain
In this article, adapted from Dr. Sam Wang and Dr. Sandra Aamodt’s book Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College (Bloomsbury USA, 2011; OneWorld Publications, 2011), the authors explore how play enhances brain development in children. As Wang and Aamodt describe, play activates the brain’s reward circuitry but not negative stress responses, which can facilitate attention and action. Through play, children practice social interaction and build skills and interests to draw upon in the years to come.