Maternal self perception linked to child`s brain development

Washington: A new study has found that a mother`s perceived social status predicts her child`s brain development and stress indicators.

While previous studies going back to the 1950s have linked objective socioeconomic factors -- such as parental income or education -- to child health, achievement and brain function, the new study is the first to link brain function to maternal self-perception .

In the study, children whose mothers saw themselves as having a low social status were more likely to have increased cortisol levels, an indicator of stress, and less activation of their hippocampus, a structure in the brain responsible for long-term memory formation (required for learning) and reducing stress responses.

"We know that there are big disparities among people in income and education," Margaret Sheridan, PhD, of the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children`s Hospital, the study`s first author, said.

"Our results indicate that a mother`s perception of her social status `lives` biologically in her children," she said.

The findings are published online by the journal Developmental Science.