Scientists say that active early learning shapes the adult brain

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Scientists say that active early learning shapes the adult brain. Through the Abacadarian Project, an early learning randomized controlled trial that has been following children since 1971, researchers at Penn and Virginia Tech uncovered new discoveries about the structure of the brain decades later.

An enhanced learning environment during the first five years of life clearly shapes the brain four decades later, according to scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and Virginia Tech writing in the June issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Active early learning shapes the adult brain

The researchers used structural brain imaging to explore the developmental effects of cognitive and linguistic stimulation in infants starting at six weeks of age. The effect of an enriched environment on brain structure was previously shown in animal studies, but this is the first experimental study to find similar results in humans.

Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences Martha J. Farah is director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at Penn. Our research shows an association between brain structure and five years of high-quality social and educational experiences, says Craig Ramey of Virginia Tech, the study’s principal investigator. We have shown that in vulnerable children who received stimulating and emotionally supportive learning experiences, there are statistically significant changes in brain structure in middle age.

The results support the idea that the early environment affects the brain structure of people who grow up with multiple-risk socioeconomic challenges, said Martha J., director of the Penn Center for Neuroscience and Society and first author of the study. Farah says. Farah says this has interesting implications for the basic science of brain development, as well as theories of social stratification and social policy.

The study follows the Abacadarian Project, an early intervention program started by Ramey in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1971, to study the effects of educational, social, health and family support services on high-risk infants.

Both the comparison and treatment groups received additional health care, nutrition, and family support services. However, starting at six weeks of age, the treatment group also received five years of high-quality educational support, five days a week for 50 weeks a year. When most recently scanned, the Abkadarian study participants were in their 30s and 40s, giving researchers more information about how childhood factors affect the adult brain.

In general, people are aware of the huge potential benefits of early education for underprivileged children, says co-author Sharon Landsman Ramey of Virginia Tech. The new results reveal that biological effects are associated with many behavioral, social, and social benefits. health and economic, as reported in the Abacadarian Project. This confirms the idea that positive early life experiences contribute to later positive adjustment through a combination of behavioral, social, and brain pathways.

This has interesting implications for the basic science of brain development, as well as theories of social stratification and social policy. During follow-up exams, the brains of 47 study participants underwent structural MRI scans in the human neuroimaging laboratory at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. Of these, 29 were in the group that received educational enrichment focused on promoting language, cognition, and interactive learning.

Another 18 people received similar strong health, nutrition and social service support provided to the educational treatment group and community child care or other education provided by their parents. The two groups were well matched on several factors, including maternal education, head circumference at birth, and age at scan.

By analyzing the scans, the researchers looked at overall brain size, including the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, as well as five regions chosen for their expected connections to stimuli that interfere with the children’s language and cognitive development. .

These include the left inferior frontal gyrus and left superior temporal gyrus, which may be relevant for language, and the right inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, relevant for cognitive control. A fifth, the bilateral hippocampus, was added because its volume is often associated with early life adversities and socioeconomic status.

A teacher guides

The researchers determined that the size of the entire brain, including the cortex, increased in the early childhood treatment group. Several specific cortical regions also appeared larger, according to study co-authors Reed Montague and Terry Lorenz of Virginia Tech.

A teacher guides a student through a task in this historic image from a randomized controlled trial of early childhood education that has been following participants since 1971. Now researchers at Penn and Virginia Tech have discovered the lasting effects of that learning early in brain structure. .

The scientists noted that the results of group intervention treatment for the brain were significantly higher for men than for women. The reasons for this are not known and were surprising, as both boys and girls showed generally comparable positive educational and behavioral effects of early enrichment education. The present study cannot adequately explain the gender difference.

“When we launched this project in the 1970s, the field knew more about how to assess behavior than it did about how to assess brain structure,” says C. Rami says. “Due to advances in neuroimaging technology and through strong interdisciplinary collaboration, we were able to measure the structural characteristics of the brain. The prefrontal cortex and regions associated with language were certainly affected; as far as we know, this is known from of early educational experiences “. this is the first experimental evidence of a link between long-term changes in humans. “

“We believe these findings further support the value of careful consideration and ensuring positive learning and social-emotional support for all children,” she says, “particularly for those children who need to improve outcomes.” For those who are vulnerable to inappropriate stimulation and care in the first years of life. “

Virginia Tech

Funding for this research came from the Wellcome Trust, Virginia Tech, the Penn School of Arts and Sciences Research Fund, and the William N. Sternberg Fund for Human Information Processing Research. Martha J. Farah is Walter H. of Natural Sciences in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Annenberg, founding director of the Penn Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and director of the Penn Center for Neuroscience and Society.

Other researchers who contributed to this work were Professor Saul Sternberg of the Penn Department of Psychology and Reed Montague, Virginia Tech Carillion Vernon Mountcastle research professor at Virginia Tech; Sharon Landsman Ramey, Research Professor and Distinguished Academic Researcher; and Craig Ramey, research professor and distinguished researcher in human development. All are members of the main faculty of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute who have been appointed to the Science Technology Team.

Active early learning shapes the structure of the adult brain, new research shows. In new research published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, infants with a low socioeconomic status were randomly assigned to five years of care in a cognitively and linguistically stimulating center or comparable status.

The Abcaderian Project

The intervention resulted in large and statistically significant changes in brain structure measured in middle age, particularly for men. A teacher guides a student through an assignment in this historic photo from the Abcaderian Project

A teacher guides a student through an assignment in this historic photo from Project Abcademia and How Early Life Experience Shapes the Human Brain The question is surprisingly difficult to answer, as it concerns causality rather than mere correlations of individual variations in human development.

Studies of such differences are often observational and therefore remain silent on the issue of causality. In contrast, animal studies have shown causal effects of environmental stimuli on brain structure through random assignments to low or high complexity physical environments.

Macroscopic brain changes occur

However, they cannot tell us about the characteristics of the environment that are most important for human development: linguistic and cognitive stimulation. The role of the environment in shaping the development of the brain is a central theme for neuroscience, and an important open question relates to the effects of specific human characteristics of the environment, namely, linguistic and cognitive stimulation.

While a large animal literature suggests that micro and macroscopic brain changes occur in more complex cage environments, including the larger cortex, such manipulations provide an incomplete model of the environmental differences that may be more important in human development.

Basic science of brain development

These include differences in complex forms of cognitive and linguistic experience. “Our research shows an association between brain structure and five years of high-quality educational and social experiences,” said Professor Craig Ramey, a researcher at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the Fralin State University Institute for Biomedical Research.

“We have shown that in vulnerable children who receive stimulating and emotionally supportive learning experiences, statistically significant changes in brain structure appear in middle age.”

“The results support the idea that the early environment affects the brain structure of people who grow up with socioeconomic challenges from multiple exposure,” said Dr. Martha Farah, director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania.

“This has interesting implications for the basic science of brain development, as well as for theories of social stratification and social policy.” The study included participants from the Abcademia Project, which was established in North Carolina in the early 1970s.

The project initially enrolled 112 predominantly African-American infants from very low socioeconomic households (low income and maternal education) with several associated risk factors, such as paternal absence, receipt of welfare, and low parental IQ, but neurodevelopmental free from disorders.

Subsequently, one of 112 babies was diagnosed with a congenital condition that was not eligible based on the exclusion criteria, resulting in 111 babies participating in the study. Both the comparison and treatment groups received additional health care, nutrition, and family support services. However, starting at six weeks, the treatment group also received five years of high-quality educational support, five days a week, 50 weeks a year.

Children’s language and cognitive development

During follow-up examinations, structural MRIs were obtained from 47 of the Abacadian sample, 29 of the early intervention group, and 18 of the comparison group. When the scans were done, the participants were in their 30s and 40s, giving the researchers unique insight into how childhood factors affect the adult brain.

In analyzing the scans, the authors looked at overall brain size, including the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, as well as five regions chosen for their expected connections to stimuli that interfere with the children’s language and cognitive development.

These include the left inferior frontal gyrus and left superior temporal gyrus, which may be relevant for language, and the right inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, relevant for cognitive control. A fifth, the bilateral hippocampus, was added because its volume is often associated with early life adversities and socioeconomic status.

The scientists determined that there was an increase in the size of the entire brain, including the cortex, in the early childhood treatment group. Several different regional regions also seemed larger. They also noted that the results of group intervention treatment for the brain were significantly higher for men than for women.

The reasons for this are unknown, and they were surprising, as both boys and girls showed generally comparable positive educational and behavioral effects from their early enrichment education. “When we started this project in the 1970s, this area knew more about how to assess behavior than it did about how to assess brain structure,” said Professor Rami.

Due to advances in neuroimaging technology and through strong interdisciplinary collaboration, we were able to measure the structural characteristics of the brain. The prefrontal cortex and areas associated with language were definitely affected.

And as far as we know, this is the first experimental evidence for a link between known early educational experiences and long-term changes in humans. We believe these findings further support the value of careful consideration and ensuring positive learning and social-emotional support for all children, particularly to improve outcomes for children in their early years.

Physicists accurately measure the lifespan of a neutral pinion. The neutral pion (π0) has a lifespan of about 80 atoseconds, which breaks down into two photons. In new research, an international team of physicists measured this life with an uncertainty that was half the previous more accurate result. Two photons collide in this artist’s interpretation of the Payon experiment; The result is a neutrally charged pion shown as green spheres; Just 83 atoseconds later, the pion disintegrates.

Lightest bricklayer & more commonly

and it emits two photons, shown as purple spheres. Image credit: Jefferson Lab. Two photons collide in this artist’s interpretation of Payne’s experiment; The result is a neutrally charged pion displayed as green spheres.

Exactly 83 attoseconds later, the pion dissociates and emits two photons, shown as purple spheres. Image Credit: Jefferson Lab. Pion, also known as Mason’s Pie, is the lightest bricklayer and, more commonly, the lightest hadron.

These subatomic particles have one quark and one antiquark and are very unstable. They carry strong forces that bind protons and neutrons in the nucleus. This force represents 98% of the mass of our visible universe.

As simple particles, the pion is well described by the theory of quantum chromodynamics (QCD). This theory explains how the interaction of subatomic particles creates a visible universe. Measuring the life of the neutrally charged pion and comparing it to QCD provides information about the particles and forces that shape the universe.

“Physicists predicted the existence of the Higgs boson decades before its discovery in 2012, due to symmetry in the basic components of the universe,” said Jefferson Lab physicist Ashot Gasparian and his colleagues.

Similarly, the rule about a particular type of symmetry, called chiral symmetry, predicts the existence of pions. The life of a lion with a neutral charge is linked to the breaking of chiral symmetry. This means that we can use theory to calculate this life accurately.

Measurements of this lifetime have been much less accurate than those calculated from theory. Dr. Gasparian and his colleagues at the PrimEx Collaboration accurately measured the life of the charge-neutral pinion using the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator (CEBAF) facility.

Its final result of 43.34 atoseconds has an overall uncertainty of 1.50% and confirms the prediction based on the chiral discrepancy in the QCD. The result helps test other aspects of the QCD theory, the physicists said. It also provides important information for conducting an accurate test of the Standard Model of Particle Physics, a theory that explains how the three forces of nature govern the particles that make up matter.

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