Disorders and Treatment
- Mental Illness
- Bipolar Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Borderline Personality
- Mental Health Diagnosis
- Mental Health Treatments
- Alternative Meds
- Case Studies
Brain development in children may be affected by stress. Stress may alter the growth of a specific part of the brain and its function.
“There has been a lot of work in animals linking both acute and chronic stress to changes in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in complex cognitive abilities like holding on to important information for quick recall and use,” says Jamie Hanson, a University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology graduate student. “We have now found similar associations in humans, and found that more exposure to stress is related to more issues with certain kinds of cognitive processes.”
Children who live with intense and lasting stress or stressful events registered lower scores on test of what the researchers refer to as spatial working memory. They also had more trouble with short term memory.
Brain scans of these individuals revealed that the anterior cingulate, a part of the prefrontal cortex which plays a role in spatial working memory, takes up less space in children with greater exposure to stress.
“These are subtle differences, but differences related to important cognitive abilities,” Hanson explained. “We’re trying to argue that stress permanently scars your brain. We don’t know if and how it is that stress affects the brain. We only have a snapshot – one MRI scan of each subject – and at this point we don’t understand whether this is just a delay in development or a lasting difference. It could be that because the brain is very plastic, very able to change that children who have experienced a great deal of stress catch up in these areas.”
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Neuroscience
The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.