A mother’s love can boost a child’s brainpower – study

Mail Online 1 Feb 2012
Children who are given love and affection from their mothers early in life are smarter with a better ability to learn. The study by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found school-aged children whose mothers nurtured them early in life have brains with a larger hippocampus, a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress.  The new research is the first to show that changes in this critical region of children’s brain anatomy are linked to a mother’s nurturing, Neurosciencenews.com reports. The research is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. Lead author Joan L. Luby, MD, professor of child psychiatry, said the study reinforces how important nurturing parents are to a child’s development.

…Luby said studies in the past had underscored the importance of ‘an early, nurturing environment for good, healthy outcomes for children’, but most of those studies have looked at psychosocial factors or school performance.’  She believes it is the first study to show an anatomical change in the brain, and is concrete evidence of nurturing’s powerful effect, Luby said. Although 95 percent of the parents whose nurturing skills were evaluated during the earlier study were biological mothers, the researchers say that the effects of nurturing on the brain are likely to be the same for any primary caregiver – whether they are fathers, grandparents or adoptive parents.

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