London: Moms, please note -- always try to be supportive of your young children through the stresses of life, for a study says that it helps boost their brain power
later in life.
Researchers at Washington University have found that children whose mothers are more attentive during infancy go on to develop more nerve cells in their hippocampus, a region of the brain which plays a key role in memory and emotion.
Although the findings do not prove that the mothers` behaviour caused the improved brain size, measured during later childhood, they suggest supportive parenting could
play a role in brain development, say the researchers.
The study followed 92 children from preschool into their grade-school years. The researchers analysed the level of parental support as the children were given a present and
told to wait eight minutes before unwrapping it.
Brain scans carried out on the same children between the ages of seven and 13 showed that those whose parents had provided the most support to reduce stress during the earlier
task had larger hippocampi, `The Daily Telegraph`reported.
However, the researchers said the effect was much lower in children who showed early signs of depression, suggesting this could counteract the benefit of maternal support.
Prof Joan Luby, who led the study, said: "The importance of this effect is underscored by the fact the hippocampus is a brain region central to memory, emotion regulation and stress modulation, all areas key to healthy social adaptation.
"We believe these findings have potentially profound public health implications and suggest greater public health emphasis on early parenting could be a very fruitful social
The findings have been published in the `Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences` journal.