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Parent-Child Communication in Childhood Enhances Brain Development

Communication with parents boosts child's brain development

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Parent-Child Communication in Childhood Enhances Brain Development.
Parent-Child Communication in Childhood Enhances Brain Development. Pixabay
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Good communication with parents promotes in a child the development of a brain network involved in the processing of rewards and other stimuli that, in turn, protects against the over consumption of food, alcohol and drugs, says a study.

The findings of the 14-year study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, suggest that robust parent-child communication has an impact on health behaviour in adulthood.

“These findings highlight the value of prevention and intervention efforts targeting parenting skills in childhood as a means to foster long-term, adaptive neurocognitive development,” said study co-author Allen Barton from the University of Georgia in the US.

In 2001, the research team began a longitudinal study involving rural US families with a child 11 years of age.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

Between the ages of 11 and 13 years, participants reported on interactions with their parents, including the frequency of discussions and arguing.

When the participants reached 25 years of age, a sub-sample of nearly 100 participants was recruited from the larger study to take part in a neuroimaging session that measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Specifically, the researchers used fMRI to study a network of brain connections called the anterior salience network (ASN). The participants also answered questions about harmful alcohol use and emotional eating at age 25.

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Greater parent-child communication in early adolescence predicted greater connectivity of the ASN at age 25, the researcher said.

Greater ASN connectivity was, in turn, associated with lower harmful alcohol use and emotional eating at age 25, they added.  (IANS)

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Breast Milk Boosts Brain Development in Premature Babies

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies

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Breastmilk
Breastmilk aids in combatting diseases in Newborns. Pixabay.

Premature babies fed with breast milk are more likely to have better brain development than those fed on formula milk, a new study has found.

According to studies, pre-term birth is associated with changes in the part of the brain’s structure that helps brain cells to communicate with one another, known as white matter.

However, this research showed that pre-term babies who exclusively received breast milk for at least three-quarters of the days spent in hospital showed improved brain connectivity, compared to babies who consumed less.

“Our findings suggest that brain development in the weeks after pre-term birth is improved in babies who receive greater amounts of breast milk,” said James Boardman, Director of the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh.

“The study highlights the need for more research to understand the role of early life nutrition for improving long-term outcomes for pre-term babies, he added.

Premature birth is associated with the possibilities of an increased risk of the decline of cognitive skills in later life, which are thought to be linked to alterations in brain development.

Breast Milk
Breast milk may help boost preemies’ brain development. Pixabay

Helping mothers to provide breast milk in the weeks after giving birth could improve long-term outcomes for children born pre-term, the researchers noted, in the paper published in the journal NeuroImage.

“Mothers of pre-term babies should be supported to provide breast milk while their baby is in neonatal care — if they are able to and if their baby is well enough to receive milk — because this may give their children the best chance of healthy brain development,” Boardman said.

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies.

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The babies were born before 33 weeks gestation and scans took place when they reached term-equivalent age, an average of 40 weeks from conception.

The effects were greatest in babies who were fed breast milk for a greater proportion of their time spent in intensive care. (IANS)