neuroplasticity.pdf - FOCUS ON SOCIAL NEUROSCIENCE review...

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NATURE NEUROSCIENCE VOLUME 15 | NUMBER 5 | MAY 2012 689 R E V I E W F O C U S O N S O C I A L N E U RO S C I E N C E 1 Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. 2 Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA. Correspondence should be addressed to R.J.D. ([email protected]) or B.S.M. ([email protected]). Published online 15 April 2012; doi:10.1038/nn.3093 cognitive impairment that can be partially remediated by early place- ment in foster care 7 . The earlier the age of foster care placement and removal from the orphanage, the less severe was the observed cognitive deficit. The extent of such sensitive periods in the realms of social and emotional behavior is not yet known. However, there are some hints; for example, there is recent evidence in a rodent model that amygdala circuits are kept in an immature state in an infant by the presence of the mother, but can be stimulated to mature by corticosterone to promote maturation to allow aversive learning 8 . Once a developmental event has occurred, can it be reversed? Research on recovery of vision in adult amblyopic subjects suggests mechanisms that might be used to remove the brakes on adult plasticity, such as the use of behavioral interven- tions 9 . Whether similar mechanisms might be present to facilitate adult plasticity of social behavior has not been studied. We do know that early stressful and nurturing environments have robust effects on the developing brain, some of which persist for the life of the organism. The effects of stress are the most well-characterized, and we review key findings at the animal level below. Research at the human level that has focused on the experience- dependent effects of stressful life events has taken advantage of largely unintended environmental circumstances, such as child maltreatment or exposure to early stress. In addition to this corpus, there is now a growing literature on the effect of interventions explicitly designed to promote positive outcomes, such as physical exercise 2 , cognitive ther- apy 3,4 , social service programs for older individuals 10 and meditation 5,11 . There are also a growing number of interventions designed to promote prosocial behavior in children that include social-emotional learning 12 and executive function training 13 . The evidence for their efficacy is mostly behavioral at this point in time, and the mechanisms by which such interventions operate have not been systematically examined, although it is likely that some features of neuroplasticity will be impor- tant for at least some of the behavioral effects that have been described.
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  • Fall '09
  • Stress, Sula, prefrontal cortex, Rev. Neurosci., structural plasticity

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