Maternal support in early childhood predicts larger hippocampal volumes at school age

Joan L. Luby, Deanna M. Barch, Andy Belden, Michael S. Gaffrey, Rebecca Tillman, Casey Babb, Tomoyuki Nishino, Hideo Suzuki, Kelly N. Botteron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

122 Scopus citations

Abstract

Early maternal support has been shown to promote specific gene expression, neurogenesis, adaptive stress responses, and larger hippocampal volumes in developing animals. In humans, a relationship between psychosocial factors in early childhood and later amygdala volumes based on prospective data has been demonstrated, providing a key link between early experience and brain development. Although much retrospective data suggests a link between early psychosocial factors and hippocampal volumes in humans, to date there has been no prospective data to inform this potentially important public health issue. In a longitudinal study of depressed and healthy preschool children who underwent neuroimaging at school age, we investigated whether early maternal support predicted later hippocampal volumes. Maternal support observed in early childhood was strongly predictive of hippocampal volume measured at school age. The positive effect of maternal support on hippocampal volumes was greater in nondepressed children. These findings provide prospective evidence in humans of the positive effect of early supportive parenting on healthy hippocampal development, a brain region key to memory and stress modulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2854-2859
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume109
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 21 2012

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Nurturance
  • Parental support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal support in early childhood predicts larger hippocampal volumes at school age'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this