New study reports parental support encourages brain development

Would you like some more evidence on child brain plasticity and how it’s affected by the child’s experiences?

Web MD is reporting on a new study:

The study followed 92 children from preschool into their grade-school years.

For the study, Luby and her team videotaped each parent and child while they completed an experiment called “the waiting task.”

Children, who were between the ages of 4 and 7, were presented a brightly wrapped gift, but were told they had to wait eight minutes before they could open it.

In the meantime, moms were asked to fill out a stack of forms.

“It really simulates a real-life parenting situation that people often face. You’re cooking dinner and your child is throwing a tantrum, and how do you juggle that?” Luby says.

“The maternal support had to do with how much positive parenting the parent showed: how much they reassured the child, how much they helped regulate the child when the child made bids that they needed that gift,” she says.

Later, trained assistants scored the moms on how well they helped their children through the stress of the task.

Researchers continued to follow the children, and when they were between the ages of 7 and 13, their brains were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Researchers were particularly interested in the size of a comma-shaped brain region called the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory and how we handle stress. Hippocampus size has been linked to factors such as stressful life events and depression severity.

Support Bolsters Brain’s Learning Memory Centers

Among the 51 kids in the study who had no symptoms of depression as preschoolers, those who got more support from their moms as they completed the waiting task had larger hippocampi seen in later scans.

Read the rest here.

2 thoughts on “New study reports parental support encourages brain development

  1. Ugh. Makes me think about all the times I am probably NOT that supportive when asking my daughter to wait while I finish doing something else… Support!

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