Thursday, December 1, 2016

Childhood Memory Development

Childhood Memory

Childhood memory refers to memories formed childhood. Among its others, memory functions to guide present behaviour and to predict future outcomes. Memory in childhood is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the memories formed and retrieved late adolescence  and the adult years.

This topic aims to provide a better understanding of the brain is early childhood : its development, structures and maturation, and the major role it plays in all spheres of the young child's life including emotions, learning and behaviour.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Memory and Early Brain Development :

Memory is a fundamental capacity that plays a vital role in social, emotional and cognitive functioning. Our memories form the basis for our sense of self, guide our thoughts and decisions, influence our emotional reactions, and allow us to learn. As such, memory is central to cognition and cognitive development. Yet, historically, it was believed that children under three of four years were unable to form stable representations of events and thus, were unable to remember them.This belief came in part from findings that adults rarely recall personal events from before the age of three and half years (a phenomenon known as infantile or childhood amnesia).However, research with infants and young children has made it clear that they can and do from memories of events.

Infants and young children experience rapid brain development. The weight of brain increases from 25% of its ultimate adult weight at birth of 75% by the second year of life. However, not all parts of the brain develop at the same time. This is especially true for the areas of the brain that are implicated in declarative memory. The cells that make up most of the hippocampus  a brain structure in the medial temporal lobe necessary for the formation of declarative memories, are formed by the end of the prenatal period. Yet the cells in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, an area of brain that link the structure with

cortical regions do not appear adult - like until 12 to 15 months of age. Another area of the brain implicated in memory functions is the prefrontal cortex. The density of synapses in this area increases dramatically at eight months and peaks between 15 and 24 months. Changes continue to occur after this period, until well into adolescence. Thus, we see dramatic changes in the first two years of life.

The ability to form memories and remember them is a vital part of human experience. Historically, people believed that infants lacked this ability. The use of a nonverbal task has allowed researches to challenge and disprove the assumption. Declarative memory is apparent in the first year of life, as evidenced be behaviour or nonverbal, imitation-based tasks. It develops substantially throughout the first and second years of life. The timing of improvement in performance corresponds to the changes in the developing brain.

Sloutsky said the findings show that not all parts of memory develop at the same pace in children.

" Some parts of memory are nearly fully developed by 4 years of age, abut some components of memory are still developing even after children reach 7 years of age"

" we really need to understand what children can and cannot remember, " Yim said. " asking young children to put together all the pieces of some episodic memories may be more than they can realistically achieve"

1.    A journal published by - Association for Psychological Science
2.    Patricia J. Bauer , PhD, Tanujeni Pathman, MA Emory University USA, Dec 2008

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Early Puberty in Girls Linked To Higher Risk Of Problem Behaviors

Girls who start puberty early may be at particular risk for problem behaviors as teenagers, a new study suggests- (Reuters Health) .
But parents who are alert to the risk might be able to step in and prevent the problems, the researchers say.
The risk might be related to the girls’ friendships. In their study, girls whose bodies started to change before age 11 were more likely later on to have best friends who misbehave.
But, the researchers found, most of these harmful friendships weren’t yet formed by age 11. So while the girls are still young, this might be a time for parents to monitor them closely, support them, and prevent these dangerous friendships from getting started.
“Peers are increasingly influential from childhood through adolescence, and girls who mature earlier than their peers may be drawn to more delinquent friends for a variety of reasons, such as wanting to fit in, being teased by other classmates, or not having the emotional development or social competence to match their advanced physical development,” Erika Westling told Reuters Health.
Westling researches personality and health at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene but was not involved in the new study.
“As this research shows, early maturers appear to be more vulnerable to peer influences than non-early maturers, so they may not be able to resist peer pressure as effectively,” Westling added.
Sylvie Mrug, a psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her colleagues interviewed 2,600 girls at age 11, 13 and 16 years old, and their parents. The girls reported on their own behavior issues, those of their best friend, and any incidences of physical or nonphysical aggression.
Out of every 100 girls in the study, 16 had “matured early,” that is, they got their periods for the first time before age 11. (The average age for first period to occur is 12.)
As expected, girls whose best friends had behavior problems were very likely to have similar behavior problems themselves.
And girls who entered puberty early had a stronger link between best friend’s problems and their own problems, which suggests more vulnerability to peer influences, the authors write in Pediatrics.
Mrug and her colleagues accounted for parental education, household income, family structure and ethnicity. They were not able, however, to account for parental conflict or parenting behaviors, which might also be important in determining girls’ behavior, Mrug said.
“For girls, early puberty is associated with more emotional problems, such as depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem, as well as more problem behaviors, such as delinquency, aggression, substance use, and risky sexual behavior,” Mrug said. “For boys the results are less consistent, but early puberty has also been linked with more problem behaviors.”
These results might help researchers understand how to prevent some of these negative associations, Mrug said.
Lars Lien, of the Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research in Oslo, who has also studied this issue, told Reuters Health that the link to badly-behaving peers is interesting and perhaps very important, but it can’t be completely trusted unless other studies can duplicate the results.
Although this study did not identify who the girls’ best friends were, in previous studies, more deviant friendships for early maturing girls have been with older boys.
It is not certain that preventing problematic friendships, if that were possible, would make a difference in a girl’s behavior, Lien said.
“But from common sense and having daughters myself I think that although many parents blame bad peers, I’m not sure if we have any evidence to say that other friends would change a trajectory,” he said.
But Mrug argues that parents actually do have a lot of influence over their kids’ friend choices.
Parents can expose their kids to different types of peers via play dates, extracurricular activities and church youth groups. Parents also shape their kids’ values and behaviors, she said.
“Parental monitoring plays a big role in adolescence - knowing what the child does when she is away from parents, knowing who her friends are and what they do together, and the best foundation for effective monitoring is an affectionate, supportive parent-child relationship combined with consistent rules and consequences,” Mrug said.
“Clear rules and expectations, with appropriate positive and negative consequences for the adolescent’s behavior are also critical, together with open communication about values and why some behaviors are unacceptable,” she said.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, New York Mon Dec 9, 2013.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


As the number of people playing games rises, the impact of video games on the human brain becomes a more intriguing research area. Video games are gaining popularity with both children and adults. There is concern among the public that the brutality portrayed on television, as well as within video games, encourages aggressive behavior within its spectators.

Based on the thousands of studies and news pieces on the impact of the violent nature of some television, shows, we can assume that violent scenes in video games also aggravate violent behavior.

There is a source who calls the research preliminary, but one has only to look at the results of completed research to see that habitual players of brutal games become desensitized to violence. An increase in aggressive behavior was reported in players while playing a very violent game as well as in those players who were exposed to only a mildly violent game. Playing the game with high levels of violence raised anxiety levels within players much more than within subjects who played less aggressive games.

How Video Games Affect Brain Function:

It's widely known that, for some people, video games on their mobile phones while babbling to themselves excitedly as though they are alone. Visit an arcade and observe irritated players, who have an concern with public opinion as they environment.Habitual players are also less inclined to share their feelings.
When a player is absorbed by there video game playing , are there changes in the brain? Are these changes initiated by some altered brain state?

One  researcher distributed his three hundred participants into three separate groups:
a) People who seldom play
b) Players logging just a few hours each week
c) Heavy gamers (who played several hours a day)


Alpha waves appear when the brain in repose, Beta brain waves , on the other hand, signal animation and stress in the prefrontal region of the brain. The study exposed a longer reduction in beta waves correlated with more time spent playing video games.The players in heavy gamer group showed a near constant absence of beta brainwave activity.

Brain Activity During Video Games

These chemical gofers can also increase heart rate. Adrenal glands secrete these hormones in reaction to peril. There is ample research showing elevated blood pressure and heart rate, as well as depletion of oxygen occur while playing video games. This would indicate that the human brain believes the body is in actual jeopardy and is responding accordingly. Hence, the elevated heart rate. There are many reports of players disregarding their environment and instead viewing the game as the genuine experience.
This would signify that the players are impacted by the video games. Research has proven that an increase in heart blood pressure occur while a person plays video games. Additionally prefrantal lobe activity is lowered during game play. These increases could well be the cause for the shifts in attitude .The cause for the hostile behavior and emotionality can easily be explained by these physical changes. The research on the degree of the impact on the player after they stop playing in still in its infancy.

Relationship Between Video Games And Mental Health

This persisted despite turning the game off. This demonstrates a habitual  restraint of prefrontal regions of their brains. These people barely ever used this region. These players reported being easily brought to anger. experiencing difficulty concentrating , as well as having to strain to mix with friends. A hostile  demeanor is thought to be associated with curtailed use of the prefrontal region of the brain, as well as diminished beta wave activity. Another researcher's results caused him to arrive at the conclusion that game devotees can experience chronic underuse of key options of  the frontal brain region. This leads to an altered emotional state.This research documented that video games cause a lack of frontal brain use. Which alters your mood. This would certainty explain hostile behavior.

Understanding how the autonomic nervous system is impacted by video games gives us a clear picture. Agitation and alarm are incited by the play of many video games. Many people are worried that this could impact the autonomic nerves over the long-term. Breathing and heart rate are internal involuntary organ processes linked to the autonomic nerves. Emotional centers in your brain emit electrical signals that can elevate or lower heart rate. Epionephirine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) we stress hormones in the body that act as message carriers within the body.

Visual Abilities

At the university of Geneva , Prof Daphne Bavelier has compared the visual abilities of gamers and non-gamers. In one test, subjects must try to keep track of the position of multiple moving objects.
She has found that individuals who play action video games perform markedly better those who do not.
Prof Bavelier's theory is that fast action games require the player constantly to switch their attention from one part of the screen to another while also staying vigilant for other events in the environment.

Image Caption

This challenges the brain, making it process incoming visual information more efficiently

Playing video games good or bad for you? It can be both

Video games are frowned upon by parents as time- wasters, and worse. Some education experts think that these game corrupt the brain. Playing violent video games are easily blamed by the media and some experts as the reason why some young people become violent or commit extreme anti-social behavior. But many scientists and psychologist find that video games can actually have many benefits- the main one is making kids smart. Video games may actually teach kids high-level thinking skills that they will need in the future.

"Video games change your brain," according to university of Wiscosin psychologist C. Shawn Green.Playing video games change the brain's physical structure the same way as do learning to  read, playing the piano or navigating using a map.Much like exercise an build muscle, the powerful combination of concentration and rewarding surges of  neurotransmitters like dopamine strengthen neural circuits that can build the brain.

Healthday News - April 3, 2015 by Randy Dotings 

A small Study offers a mixed view on whether video games may make kids more aggressive .
Those children who spend more time playing games might be slightly likelier to be hyperactive and to get into fights.But violent video games seem to have no effect on behavior, according to British researchers.

The researchers also said they discovered that kids who played video games for less than an hour a day were more likely to be less aggressive and rated as better- behaved by their teachers.

Dr. Claire Mccarthy, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical school wouldn't go so far as to criticize video games. Considering the lack of definitive research " we need to be a little bit careful when it comes to vilifying video games." she said
And we are unlikely to ever know all the true effects of video games , she added.

"All we can really do is use our common sense and make sure that kids get plenty of time away from screens, too, McCarthy said, "playing video games doesn't usually help kids learn the behavioral skill they need to succeed. they still need to get shut off sometimes."


Monday, May 23, 2016


Nurturing a child early in life may help him or her develop a larger hippocampus, the brain region important for learning, memory and stress responses, a new study shows.

Studies in human children, on the other hand, found a connection between early social experiences and the volume of the amygdala, which helps regulate the processing and memory of emotional reactions. Numerous studies also have found that children raised in a nurturing environment typically do better in school and are more emotionally developed than their non-nurtured peers.
 Brain images have now revealed that a mother's love physically affects the volume of her child's hippocampus. in the study , children of nurturing mothers had hippocampal volumes 10 percent larger than children whose mothers were not as nurturing.

we can now say with confidence that the psycho social environment has a material impact on the way the human brain develops,"said Dr. Joan Luby, The study's lead researcher and a psychiatrist at the Washington University school of Medicine in St Louis.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


The bond between mother and child

With the cutting of the umbilical cord, physical attachment to our mothers ends and emotional and psychological attachment begins. While the first attachment provides everything we need to thrive inside the womb, many psychologists believe the second attachment provides the psychological foundation and maybe even the social and physical buffer we need to thrive in the world.

Attachments infants and children from with other primary-care providers also affect a child's development, research shows.The nature and impact of such attachments have become a focus for researchers interested in the increase in daycare for very young children.

Social Development

Many researchers have found correlations between secure mother-infant attachment and later psychological and social development. Infants who securely attach to their mothers become more self-reliant toddlers and have a better sense of self-esteem, said Alan Sroufe, Phd, an attachment researcher at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.

Kids who had secure attachment histories but suffer losses will become less secure; said Sroufe .
He also found that anxious,poorly attached infants can become more secure if their mothers enter stable love relationships or alleviate their symptoms of depression.

Buffering Stress

Secure infant attachment may provide children with a crucial tool for dealing with stress by buffering their physiological reaction to novel or unexpected events, said Megan Gunnar, PhD, Of the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.
The secure children seemed to be saying, 'This is scary but I feel safe,"said Gunnar. 'They had the resources to cope.'
Secure attachments may act as a buffer against the stress of new, strange or scary events, Gunnar said. Without that buffer , children find it difficult to cope and their bodies activate a stress reaction.

Attachments are relationships that develop from interactions,'said Howes, 'We have to figure out who the caregivers are' and make sure they'er all competent.
While this is a relief to mothers who want have to work, it also emphasizes the need for high-quality child care, Howes pointed out.
Many attachment researchers find themselves playing the part of child advocates, they home or that require high-quality daycare for all children.

' Babies need a lot of love and a lot of work, and denying that would be wrong,' said Sroufe.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Friendships established during the preschool years create valuable contexts to learn and practice skills essential to children's social,  cognitive,  communication and emotional development.
Establishing friendships is an important developmental goal of early childhood.
Friendships also benefit children by creating a sense of belonging and security and  by lessening stress. In addition , successful friendships in early childhood contribute to children's quality of life and are considered important to life adjustment.
Children develop socially and emotionally through interactions and relationships with others. Parent support may be achieved by -
1. Positive parent child interactions
2. Parents roles as supervisors , coaches, and advisers during children's play and
3. Parents roles a providers of social opportunities
Friendships are important, but your guidance and monitoring of activities are needed for your child to be safe and successful.
As children grow, friendships take on new meaning.
Parents who have open communication and active involvement in the early years set the tone for ongoing deeper conversations about friends during the school-aged and adolescent years.
- Starting from the preschool years, you can be present and available when your children are playing with others.These early play times allow you to see how your child interacts with other children and highlights your child's internal social strengths and challenges.
If your child very Shy , You will be able to help warm up initial interactions and conversely, if your child is very social, you will be able to help him learn how to move room for a quieter friend.
- Even from the very start, children get very angry with friends. This gives you the opportunity to teach how to feel the emotional and physical sensation of anger and express anger without very badly or physically hurting others.
- Adult often think " children need to work it out themselves". Children with different social skills will require different coaching about friendship
- The shy child will need to learn to  not respond to peer conflict with fear, worry,  and increased isolation
- The child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder will need to be coached to slowdown or filter their thoughts so that they can give their friend "a break" before being to direct or harsh
- A very physically active child will have to be sure to avoid hurting friends when filled with frustration and anger
- Children who have grown up in a home where a lot of anger is expressed or children who have experienced or witnessed physical violence at home will specific skills to slow down their physical and verbal response to a threat
- Welcome your child's friends to your home. Be sure they can follow the rules of your home. If speaking with respect and asking permission to have a snack is a core value in your family
-If there is any chance that you can join your child's school , sport, or club event get involved. You will get the chance to see your child in action and appreciate how they get along with their peers
- Be sure that you, as a parent, are involved in creating social plans. There is no reason to encourage texting or phone use before a child needs it to keep in contact with you . Once she is able to remotely communicate, with peers, be sure you know who she is communicating with, how much time she/he is in  communication about.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


During a child's developmental years, they are constantly growing and changing, it is imperative to note that one must keep this in mind when diagnosing and treating emotional and behavioral disorders in children .

Health professionals once thought that brain disorders such as Bipolar disorders, or even depression occurred after childhood but now, if is widely held that these brain disorders can begin in early childhood.
According to the National Institute of Mental health (NIMH), emotional and behavioral disorders affect 10 to 15 percent of children globally.

Types of Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This disorders is one of the most common mental disorders among children, and two to three more boys than girls are affected.
Many children unable to sit still , finish tasks , plan ahead or even be around them . ADHD can continue on into adolescence and even adulthood.
From medication to therapy and varying educational options. Children with ADHD can learn to function in new ways.

  • Autism
Children with autism appear to be remote , indifferent, isolated in their own world , and are unable to from emotional connections with others people. Autism is a found in every region of the country. It is more common in boys than girls, and affect about 1 to 2 people in every thousand.
This brain disorder can manifest in mental retardation, language delay, and other children are very high functioning with intelligence and speech in act. Because their brains do  not function in the same way other children's do, consistency is the key when dealing with an autistic child.

  • Bi Polar Disorder
Bi Polar disorder generally begins during early childhood and continues into adulthood, it is characterized by intense mood swings.
For example, a child may have excessive " high " or euphoric feelings, then suddenly sadness depression.
This is thought to be a genetic illness and diagnosis for children 12 in generally not common and is often misdiagnoses as ADHD.

  • Anxiety disorder
Often cause children to feel distressed uneasy, even frighten for no apparent reason, some common anxiety disorders are panic disorders characterized by episodes of intense fear that occur without warning or provocation. Obsessive compulsive, repeated behaviors or thoughts that seem like they are impossible to stop.