Action and Reaction: The Effects of Abuse on a Child’s Brain


Brandon Keim of Wired Science brings to our attention the long term effects that childhood abuse has on the brain, both as a child, and later as an adult.  What are essentially neurological survival techniques in the brain of a child, become hindering behavioural and emotional problems in adulthood. Using fMRI techonology,  blood flow to the brain was measured in both the brains of abused and non-abused children of a similar demographic. According to Eamon McCrory of University College London: ” In the abused children, angry faces provoked distinct activation patterns in their anterior insula and right amygdala, parts of the brain involved in processing threat and pain. Similar patterns have been measured in soldiers who’ve seen combat.”

Lastly in the article, this stood out as being of particular importance:  “Can children change in response to an act of intervention? To a better home environment? We’re quite optimistic that’s the case, that this is reversible. But that’s something we need to test.” (McCrory)

In my own studies, this always seemed to me to be a path worth pursuing. When our neurological wiring has been set, or highly influenced by our environment and personal experience, is it possible to reset that same wiring by altering the external factors? And if it is, to what extent? At what age would this approach begin to lose its effectiveness?



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