Unexpected parental behavior can impair the optimal structure of the brain

Summary: Unexpected parental behavior and unpredictable environment disrupt the optimal development of emotional brain patterns during a child’s development and increase the risk of mental health disorders and drug use in later life.

A source: UC Irvine

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are pioneering research on the concept that unexpected parental behavior, along with unpredictable environments, such as lack of routine and frequent accidents, disrupts children’s optimal brain development and increases their susceptibility to mental illness and substances. abuse.

In an article published on the Internet today science, Dr. Talley Z. Baram, Corresponding Author and UCI Excellence in Anatomy and Neurobiology, Pediatrics, Neurology and Physiology and Biophysics; and Matthew T. Birney, the first author and post-doctoral researcher at UCI, describes the principles of creating emotional brain schemes from animal studies and their impact on children’s cognitive development and mental health.

“This approach begins with the basic principles of how the brain’s sensory-audio and visual and motor circuits are constructed and refined, and we apply them to emotional circuits that control behavior associated with reward, stress, and fear.

These are not only positive or negative signals from the parents, but also patterns of these behaviors and especially their predictability or unpredictability, which are related to negative consequences such as poor emotional management in later life. The latter are indicators of mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder and high risk of drug addiction, ”said Baram.

The formation of sensory brain circuits involves the initial stages of genetic and molecular activity, including neural migration and the formation of synapses.

Complex human emotional and cognitive behaviors involve many decisions and actions and are also carried out by brain schemes.

These high-order schemes involve the interaction of the prefrontal cortical areas, thalamic nuclei, hippocampus, amygdala and hypothalamic nuclei, and subcortical areas of the brain.

They receive many information flows that help the neurons in the circuits to be active. This action is required to clarify the maturity of the components and the integration links.

At the beginning of life, as these emotional patterns develop, parents are the closest key environment: They are the source of information that influences the development of the child’s brain.

Studies of mice bred in dams that show a sequence of unpredictable behaviors in the early postpartum period (but with the same amount of care) show that maternal behavior affects synaptic connections in key brain nodes, including those that contribute to stress.

Studies in infants and children show that unexpected patterns of maternal behavior are associated with subsequent lack of emotional control and behavior.

Abstract visualization of unexpectedly chaotic models of sensory signals from parents and the environment. UCI studies show that such schemes are not optimal for developing stable and clean connections between brain cells that are required for mental and cognitive health. Credit: School of Medicine / UCI

These effects persist even after adjustment for other early life changes, such as maternal sensitivity to the infant’s needs, socioeconomic status, and maternal depressive symptoms.

“The importance of this study is that it sets new goals for the intervention and helps us think of measures we can take to best support the development of mentally and cognitively healthy children,” Baram said.

“Predictability is impossible because we can aim to educate and educate parents, caregivers, and others about the importance of predicted signals and environments for the development of infants and children’s brains.”

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It shows a happy child

Baram and his team continue their research at the UCI Conte Center. “We are conducting mechanical studies of experimental rodents and monitoring infants, children and adolescents in the center. “We are now ready to test our findings in a large-scale, real-world study,” he said.

This is reported in a study of neuronal development and behavioral neurology

Author: Press service
A source: UC Irvine
The connection: Press Service – UC Irvine
Photo: Photo courtesy of the School of Medicine / UCI

Original study: Closed access.
Talley Z. I’m going science


Principles of emotional brain development

The mammalian brains are organized in repetitive, intercalated circuits, and the detailed information is focused on the development of sensory (visual, auditory) and motor circuits. However, little is known about the “emotional” schemes of the brain, including the principles of behavior management related to reward, stress, and fear.

Evidence shows that sensory information from the environment during the sensitive period of early postpartum life has a significant impact on the development of the emotional system, as well as negative or positive images, smells and sounds affect adult feelings and actions.

Mental illness and substance abuse disorders are at the root of emotional disorders. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the principles that guide the development of these schemes is important for understanding human health.

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