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Childhood stress makes your brain mature faster

LONDON, June 16: Stress in early childhood due to negative experiences — such as illness or divorce of parents — may lead to faster maturation of certain brain regions,during adolescence, a new study suggests. The study found that these experiences cause faster maturation of the prefrontal cortex and amygdala — that also play a role in the control of emotions, in adolescence. “From an evolutionary perspective, it is useful to mature faster if you grow up in a stressful environment. However, it also prevents the brain from adjusting to the current environment in a flexible way,” said Anna Tyborowska from the Radboud University in the Netherlands. In contrast, stress experienced later in life such as low peer esteem at school, is connected to a slower maturation of the brain area hippocampus and another part of the prefrontal cortex in teenage years, the researchers said. “What makes this interesting is that a stronger effect of stress on the brain also increases the risk of developing antisocial personality traits,” Tyborowska said. For the study the researchers examined a group — which then comprised 129 one-year-olds and their parents — in 1998. Over the past 20 years, researchers studied, inter alia, their play sessions and interactions with parents, friends and classmates. The children were also subjected to MRI scans. (IANS)

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