There
are many factors that can influence and affect brain development, whilst some
are positive and assist with healthy brain development. Others can be
associated with toxic stress such as domestic violence or disasters, which
would have negative affects on brain development. Negative affects could be
altering the structure and chemical activity of the brain and in the how the
child functions emotionally and in their behaviour. Babies babbling, gesturing
or crying bringing reliable reactions form their caregivers are healthy ways of
developing brain development. Baby’s neuronal pathways are strengthened and
they are a stronger ability with social interactions and how to get their needs
met. In contrast to this, if children life in threatening conditions where
their caregivers respond to abuse of fail to provide responses to their
children, their children’s brains will become hyper alert to danger and may not
fully develop. The types of neuronal pathways that are developed under negative
conditions prepare children to copy within that negative environment. Their
ability to respond to nurturing interactions will be impaired. Toxic stress
including child maltreatment have a variety of negative effects on children’
brains…
Hippocampus – Toxic stress can reduce the hippocampus’s capacity to bring
cortisol levels back to normal after stressful event has occurred
Corpus Callosum – Maltreated children and adolescents tend to have decreased
volume in the corpus callosum which is the largest white matter structure in
the brain responsible for communication
Cerebellum – Maltreated children tend to have decreased volume in the
cerebellum which helps coordinate motor behaviour and executive functioning
Prefrontal cortex – Severely neglected children indicate they have a smaller
prefrontal cortex which is critical to behaviour, cognition and emotion
regulation
Cortisol levels – Maltreated children have lower than normal morning cortisol
levels couple with flatter released levels throughout the day. This can lead to
decreased energy sources, which could affect learning and socialization (Child
welfare.gov, 2018).