Early adversity has profound and lasting effects on neurodevelopment and emotional behavior. Under typical environmental conditions, prefrontal cortex connections with the amygdala are immature during childhood and become adult-like during adolescence. Rodent models show that maternal deprivation accelerates this development as an ontogenetic adaptation to adversity. Here, we demonstrate that, as in the rodent, children who experienced early maternal deprivation exhibit early emergence of mature amygdala–prefrontal connectivity. Evidence suggests that the adult-like neural phenotype, which is mediated by cortisol levels, confers some degree of enhanced emotion regulation, as maternally deprived youths with adult-like phenotypes are less anxious than their counterparts with immature phenotypes. Accelerated amygdala–prefrontal development may serve as an ontogenetic adaptation in the human in response to early adversity.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Early emergence of mature brain alarm circuits in maternally deprived children
Many studies have shown adverse effects of various kinds of childhood deprivation or abuse, with maternal deprivation being one of the most significant. Normally, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) connections with the amygdala are immature during childhood and become adult-like during adolescence. Gee et al. show that institutionalized youths who experienced early maternal deprivation show mature connectivity at a much earlier age: