The Early Years: The Effects of Nurturance During Childhood on Development

1589 Words 7 Pages
“Although experience may affect human brain structure and function throughout the entire life span, evidence…..suggests that early experience may be particularly critical” (Rao et al., 2010). During the childhood years, adequate nurturance by parents has a large impact on optimal biological and psychological development. This includes neurological, social, emotional, and cognitive growth. Rao et al. (2010) broadly define nurturance as including “warmth, affection, and acceptance” (p. 1145). Like nurturance, many researchers have looked at the importance of similar issues such as attention, attachment, and bonding. Conversely, issues such as stressful environments and unstable relationships have been shown to have negative consequences on …show more content…
Farah et al. (2008) noted that “Prolonged maternal separation…has been shown to exert lasting negative effects on hippocampal development (p. 794) which negatively affects memory and stress regulation later in life. In addition, in a study done with children in Quebec, Canada, Lupien et al. (2000) found that a child with a depressive mother was more likely to have high salivary levels of cortisol. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been linked to “Cognitive deficits and atrophy of brain structures involved in learning and memory” (as cited in Lupien, King, Meaney, & McEwan, 2000, p. 979). Further, studies done with rats have shown that limited variety in their cage environment negatively influences brain structures such as the number of neurons, glial cells, dendrites, and synapses (Farah et al., 2008). As these studies show, a non-nurturing and or high stress environment can inhibit a child’s proper brain development that has been associated with problems later in the child’s life. The quality of nurturance that a child receives also has profound effects on his or her social and emotional development. A study done by Pungello et al. (2009) explored the relationship between a mother’s sensitivity, measured by how well she responded to the child’s physical and emotional needs, and a child’s expressive communication, measured by vocal