Cognitive Stimulation As A Child Shows Up In The Adult Brain
The number of books in a home and the way a parent addresses a child may alter the way the brain is structured in adulthood. The findings were presented by University of Pennsylvania professor Brian Avants at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience:
“The study found that the degree of cognitive stimulation in the home predicted the thickness of certain regions of the cortex, the brain’s outer layer. The effect was
independent of mothers’ intelligence, as well as the degree of parental nurturance. In addition, experience at age four had a bigger impact than experience at age eight, indicating that early life is truly a developmentally sensitive period.
The study was based on a group of children followed for more than 20 years. The research team visited the homes of the children when they were four and eight years old, and conducted detailed observational evaluations. More than 10 years later, the team used neuroimaging to collect detailed brain images of the participants. Then Avants used computational anatomy to extract images of cortical thickness that could be related to the analyses of the children’s early home environment. The results showed that childhood home environment predicts frontal and temporal cortical thickness in the young adult brain.
‘These findings underscore the human brain’s sensitivity to its early environment,’ said researchers. ‘They provide powerful evidence that even relatively minor variations within the normal range of home experience can affect brain development over a lifetime.’” Download PDF here.