Stress in childhood affects brain development
According to researchers, stress may affect brain development in children, altering growth of a specific piece of the brain and abilities connected with it.
Children who had more intense and lasting stressful events in their lives showed worse results on tests of spatial working memory. They had more trouble navigating tests of short-term memory such as finding a token in a series of boxes.
Brain scans showed that the anterior cingulate, a portion of the prefrontal cortex believed to play important roles in spatial working memory, takes up less space in children with greater exposure to very stressful situations.
In further studies researchers are going to find out how to help children who have experienced an inordinate amount of stress.