Environment plays a big role when it comes to raising children. A new study reports that where kids grow up and how they were raised also affect brain structure.
Through the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP), researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital were able to study children in Romania’s ill-reputed institutionalized orphanages and compared them to those who had families to live with.
From an MRI scan, they were able to verify that children who were neglected had lower gray matter and white matter volume than children who were well taken care of. However, children who spent their infancy at the orphanages but were later transferred to better foster homes seemed to have caught up with the children who lived with their own families, at least when it came to white matter volume. Gray matter volume unfortunately remained lower than normal.
White matter serves an important purpose as it is responsible for connecting the different regions of the brain to one another. Gray matter volume, on the other hand, deals with muscle control and sense perception. According to the study authors, growth of grey matter volume happens at concentrated points in childhood and could be the reason foster kids can’t seem to catch up. At this point, more research needs to be done. Considering that there are millions of children in foster care today, there’s not a lot of time to waste.
(Photo by eizus via Flickr Creative Commons)