Mom Power: Support from moms in pre-school years boosts brain development in kids

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Mom is the reflection of Wow!. Now there are scientific studies to back this! A study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine has shown that children who receive support and nurturing from mothers during the initial years of life, have increased brain development than children with less supportive mothers.

The study was conducted among 127 kids who received 3 MRI scans from the period they started school through early adolescence. The kids who received care from their mothers during the pre-school years showed steady development in the hippocampus region of the brain, which helps them do well in school, cope better in life and develop emotionally. This part of the brain is critical to learning, memory and emotional development. In contrast to this, the hippocampus region of the brain appeared much smaller in kids that did not receive such nurturing from their mothers during the pre-school period, but received such support later in the elementary or middle school level.

The investigators attribute this to greater plasticity in the brain when kids are younger. This study goes to establish that early life experiences affect the brain to a great extent and makes it imperative for parents to provide such support and care to children in those developmental years.

The study was conducted by observing the interactions between mothers and children. The mothers were measured for their nurturing by simulating stressful situations. “The mother is asked to complete a task while we give the child an attractive gift to open, but we don’t allow it to be opened right away,” Joan Luby, professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said.
“It’s a stressful condition like those that happen multiple times each day in any given family, like when you’re cooking dinner and a child wants attention. The child needs something, but you have something else to do, so it challenges your parenting skills,” she pointed out.

Mothers who handled the situation skillfully with composure were rated as more nurturing and supportive vis-à-vis mothers who dismissed their children.

Children whose mothers were above average on the nurturing scale showed increases in growth of the hippocampus area more than two times than those whose mothers were below average on the nurturing scale.


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