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Nurturing in early years boosts children's brain growth

27/04/2016 Joanna

Children who are encouraged to learn from an early age have more capabilities to learn, as well as improved memory and better responses to stress, a new study has shown.

The research, which was conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, highlighted that nurturing from the mother during early years is crucial to the success of adolescents.

The main author of the study, Joan Luby, child psychiatrist at St Louis Children's Hospital, said: "This study suggests there's a sensitive period when the brain responds more to maternal support."

A series of brain scans conducted on children from nursery age through to adolescence showed that those who were nurtured by their mothers at an early age were more successful when it came to learning, memory and regulating emotions during adolescence. In contrast, those who did not have dedicated attention from their mother at a young age were less advanced in these areas.

"We think that's due to greater plasticity in the brain when kids are younger, meaning that the brain is affected more by experiences very early in life. That suggests it's vital that kids receive support and nurturing during those early years," Ms Luby stated.

The findings could open the doorway for children to perform better at school, cope better in life and develop emotionally, by encouraging parents to provide more support and nurturing early in the lives of their children.

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