Parental Care and The Brain
Many researchers have suspected that infants must benefit from the close physical attention of their caregivers, but the extent and nature of the benefit was unclear. Now an increasing amount of biological research on animals is determining that while a number of factors are vital for proper brain development, physical attention appears to play a role in maintaing brain chemistry, brain architecture and possibly some mental functioning. Researchers hope that the insights will lead to new strategies that can boost the effects of human parenting in normal situations, as well as treat neglected children.
An aloof, detached and withdrawn child has a severe mental disorder. How did it happen? Bad parents?
Today scientists know that this assumption is false. Research shows that a number of disorders once blamed on bad parenting, actually are born of biology.
It turns out, however, that a parent's care may be important in more subtle ways.
An increasing number of biological studies on animals suggest that even though many other factors are important, a parent's caressing, cuddling and coochie-cooing play a role in maintaining proper brain development in the infant. The research is leading to:
ÃÂ·A new understanding of the importance of parenthood.
ÃÂ·Treatments for severe parental neglect.
Much of the research indicates that a parent's physical attention helps the stress system in the infant's brain develop and function normally. This system and its hormones help carry out physiological adjustments over the course of daily living and help you adapt to stressful events. It's thought, however, that abnormal functioning of the stress system can contribute to disease. Rodent studies show that babies who have increased physical contact with their moms also have positive alterations in their stress system for life.
Rodent moms do not exactly cuddle their infants like humans,