Members in the Media
From: Pacific Standard

How Moms Change Brains

Pacific Standard:

For little kids, seeing mom or dad nearby is a calming influence, maybe the difference between between perfect calm and a full-bore freakout. It’s as if having a trusted caregiver nearby transforms children from scared toddlers into confident adolescents. And in a way, a new report suggests, that’s what having mom around does to a kid’s brain.

When they’re first born and for years after, infants and young children can’t do a whole lot by themselves. They can’t eat on their own, they aren’t very good at managing their emotions, and it takes a while for them to learn how to dress themselves. Most children figure it out eventually, but in the meantime they need their parents to do a lot of that stuff for them. All the while, their brains are changing, too. Well into adolescence, kids’ brains undergo anatomical and physiological changes that affect the way we think and act.

That observation led Nim Tottenham and her lab at the University of California-Los Angeles to wonder whether a child’s brain might function differently depending on whether she or he can see her mother. In particular, Tottenham wanted to know whether being able to see mom would change connections between the amygdala—an area of the brain that’s been linked to emotional responses, among other things—and the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain thought to be responsible for integrating and processing information before turning it into action.

Read the whole story: Pacific Standard

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