I heard (part of) this fascating segment on NPR this morning about orphans' brains and how parents physically shape their child's brain.
You've probably heard the stories from the 1980 and 1990s about the Romanian orphanages and how there were so many children that the nurses barely had time to hold them all. In fact, some children were left in cribs for days. In this segment, they talked about how that lack of attention can actually damage a child's brain - specifically reduced gray and white matter. These children's brains were actually smaller from lack of attention.
There was delayed language, odd behaviors and an inability to bond with adoptive parents. As one neuroscientist (who studied the EEGs of these children) said: "Instead of a 100-watt light bulb, it was a 40-watt light bulb."
It is interesting to note that children adopted by age 2 are mostly likely to develop typical brains thanks to their new family environment of stimulation, attention and love.
Here is the written version of what I heard:
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