On the Mind: How Parenting Affects Brain Development


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On the Mind: How Parenting Affects Brain Development - Paste

In the debate about nature versus nurture, most of us agree that it’s a little bit of both. The latest studies looking at the brain development of teens and pre-teens have focused on the latter, particularly in socioeconomically disadvantaged families. Apparently, a poorer upbringing affects the way brains transform from childhood to adulthood in a wide range of functions and behaviors. Researchers are finding that parents can make a difference despite their challenged circumstances, which gives great hope for the future.

Studies Say

The catch, of course, is that parenting style matters the most. In a study released last week, the latest research in this small field emphasized that positive parenting tactics — such as approving, validating, affectionate or humorous reactions — are the best way to boost kids who don’t grow up with many opportunities or material possessions at home. This is particularly true for young males, reported professors at the University of Oregon and University of Melbourne in Australia. This may give a new meaning to the idea of “helicopter parents.”

More specifically, studies from last year and this year have found that socioeconomic status and brain structure is highly correlated. In particular, cortical thickness varies, which could have a major impact on language and literacy development. These differences in brain development could also affect memory, executive functioning and social-emotional processing, said researchers at Columbia University.