Have you invested in pricey educational toys, videos and activities all in the hopes of boosting your child’s brain development?
It turns out that what The Beatles have been singing all along has some truth in relation to brain development: “All you need is love.” Here’s why.
A recent study found that children who were nurtured had a bigger hippocampus compared to those who received less nurturing. Of course, many have long suspected that a loving and supportive environment helps a child develop better, but now there’s proof.
What’s a hippocampus anyway?
According to About.com and EurekAlert.com it is the area of the brain responsible for:
- emotions such as fear and anger,
- memory and
- releasing stress hormones (which helps us manage stress better)
Child neuroscientists and psychiatrists from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, worked with kids aged 3-6 in a study that began 10 years ago. Some had suffered from depression and psychiatric disorders while others were mentally healthy.
One of the exercises involved in the study was:
Researchers placed both child and adult (mostly the mother) in a room and produced stressful situations for the kid. Outsiders who had no background on the children and their mental health were asked to rate how nurturing the adults were towards the kids.
- Fast forward to several years, brain scans showed that the kids who were mentally healthy and had nurturing moms had a bigger hippocampus – almost 10% more than their less nurtured counterparts.
- It didn’t matter who the adult nurturing the children was. Fathers, caregivers, teachers, grandparents or any other person aside from the mother still helped improve brain development.
This might be pretty obvious so instead of a conclusion, this question is more fitting as a parting note: