Early experience and brain development - Bick, Nelson (2017) - Article

Summary with the article: Early experience and brain development - Bick, Nelson (2017)


This article is about the relationship between early experiences and the development of the brain. This article focuses on healthy brain development. Certain early experiences are needed for typical brain development. Severe neglect in early life will lead to changes in brain development. This can jeopardize both emotional, behavioral and cognitive functioning. Harmful effects of neglect can be stopped by early intervention. The earlier the intervention, the maximum the recovery from negative experiences.

What does healthy brain development require?

Healthy brain development develops through adequate, nurturing relationships. In the first place, these are the caregvivers. They regulate the baby's physiology by responding to the baby's signals. This can be signs of hunger or illness, calming the baby to sleep, but also by ensuring the correct body temperature through close physical contact. In addition to caregivers, family caregivers are also a critical basis for healthy emotional and cognitive development. The emotional health and intelligence is fed by the quality of care. When this quality is low, it has negative consequences for the child's brain development.

What do the writers mean by experience-dependent development?

We call the development that occurs as a result of experiences experience-dependent development. This concerns experiences that vary between individual members of a species. These experiences are the development and are part of what makes each individual unique. Certain experiences are needed to ensure optimal brain development. These support both physical, cognitive and emotional functioning. In order to develop optimally, it is important that these experiences occur at specific points in the development.

How can the effects of early experiences on brain development be studied?

Animal research is often used to investigate the understanding of the impact of early parenting experiences on brain development. In the neural circuit of the brain, known similarities have been observed between humans and other mammals. Research into the development of the human brain often comes from findings from animal studies.

What conclusions do the writers draw at the end of this article?

The role of early experiences in shaping the brain is clearly demonstrated by the results of research into children raised by institutions. Dramatic changes in brain development occur if there has been severe neglect in children in the first few years. These changes can be both structural and functional. Recovery patterns are very complex. Some aspects of brain function and structure may respond more to enrichment in one environment than in another. The timing of the intervention is very important for the degree of recovery. Some aspects of neural recovery can be immediate. For some other aspects, more time appears to be required.

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