What changes in the brain can be caused by stress at an early age – research

What changes in the brain can be caused by stress at an early age – research

Early life stress alters the activation level of many more genes in the brain than traumatic brain injury.

This was reported by Medical Xpress with reference to a study presented as part of the Neuroscience 2023 annual meeting.

A group of scientists from Ohio State University concluded that stress in young children can negatively affect health later in life.

“We found that many more genes are differentially expressed as a result of early stress manipulation than after traumatic brain injury. Stress is a really powerful factor, and we shouldn’t underestimate its effects on the developing brain.” – said the co-author of the study Catherine Lenz.

Photo: andy18/Depositphotos

The experiment was conducted on rats. For 14 days, scientists separated newborn rat pups from their mothers for a while every day. So they caused stress as an imitation of an adverse childhood experience.

On day 15, some stressed and non-stressed rats were given concussion-like head trauma under anesthesia. Four groups of rodents were distinguished – only with stress, only with craniocerebral trauma, with stress and trauma, intact. Subsequently, scientists studied the changes in gene expression in the hippocampus.

Stress alone and in combination with traumatic brain injury activated pathways in excitatory and inhibitory neurons associated with plasticity. It refers to the ability of the brain to adapt to all kinds of changes.

Both conditions also affected signaling related to oxytocin, a hormone associated with maternal behavior and social bonding. Stress alone and in combination with traumatic brain injury activated the oxytocin pathway, but only traumatic brain injury suppressed it.

Subsequently, the scientists conducted a test of the behavior of experimental rats in adulthood. Animals that experienced stress at an early age tended to go out into wide open spaces more often. This is exactly the place that usually makes rodents vulnerable to predators.

“Overall, this suggests that they may be more at risk later in life, which is consistent with human data showing that stress in early life can increase the risk of developing certain conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ed .), which may be characterized by risky behavior or substance use disorders,” – explained the co-author of the study Mikaela Brich.

Evidence of the detrimental effects of early childhood stress underscores the need to address adverse childhood experiences.

“Things like social support and development can moderate the effects of early life stress – it’s been shown in animal models and in humans. I don’t think it can be overstated how damaging early life stressors can be if they’re not dealt with. fight”, – said Catherine Lenz.

We will remind you that earlier we wrote that neuroscientists discovered a connection between the preservation of childhood memories and autism.

Read also: You can’t please everyone, or why the “good girl” syndrome has a harmful effect on life

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