What our Brains Remember as our Bodies Age Dawne Clark, PhD Centre for Child Well-Being Mount Royal University May 15, 2010.
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Presentation on theme: "What our Brains Remember as our Bodies Age Dawne Clark, PhD Centre for Child Well-Being Mount Royal University May 15, 2010."— Presentation transcript:
What our Brains Remember as our Bodies Age Dawne Clark, PhD Centre for Child Well-Being Mount Royal University May 15, 2010
What does our brain do for us? Human beings, as a species, have three primary functions: to survive, to procreate, and to raise our young Our brain is the organ of the body which allows us to organize and fulfill our three primary functions (Perry, 2004)
Some Amazing Brain Facts! Our brains begin to develop only 3 weeks after conception! The brain is about 75% water and weighs about 3 pounds. Your skin weighs about twice as much as your brain!
More Facts! There are 15 times more brain cells in your head than there are people on the planet! The number of possible interconnections amongst the neurons in one brain exceeds the estimated number of atoms in the entire universe!
Stress Dr. Sonia Lupien describes the components of severe stress: N – Novelty U – Unpredictability T – Threat to the ego S – Sense of loss of control Some stress is okay or even good – but don’t go NUTS!
Chronic Anxiety and Persistent Fear Abuse, neglect, ongoing domestic violence May experience lifelong consequences as a result of disruptions to the developing structure of the brain These states trigger extreme, prolonged activation of the child’s stress response system (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2010)
How fear and anxiety affect the developing brain
What this damage may look like Distorted perception and response to threat – serious anxiety disorders – problems with social interactions – greater vulnerability to stress – greater likelihood of responding aggressively A child’s ability to learn – Memory – Problem-solving abilities
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study Largest population health study (over 17,000) relating early childhood experiences to adult health issues Obesity clinic – Inability or unwillingness to lose weight – Memories of adverse experiences before age 18
Nine most common adverse experiences 1Recurrent physical abuse 2Recurrent emotional abuse 3Emotional or physical neglect 4Contact sexual abuse 5Domestic violence 6Alcohol and/or drug abuse in the home 7Family member who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, suicidal or institutionalized 8One or no parents 9An incarcerated household member
Main Findings of ACE Study ACE ScoreWomenMenAverage 034.538.036.1 124.527.926.0 215.516.415.9 310.38.69.5 4 or more18.104.22.168 ACEs are surprisingly common among middle class Americans
ACEs have an impact even up to fifty years later alcoholism and alcohol abuse chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) depression fetal death health-related quality of life illicit drug use ischemic heart disease (IHD) liver disease risk for intimate partner violence multiple sexual partners sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) smoking suicide attempts
Why is it important to know about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study? The ACE study provides compelling evidence that: – ACEs are surprisingly common – They happen even in “the best of families” – They have long-term, damaging consequences
Conclusion We now know that: Early experiences impact the developing brain The brain doesn’t forget The trajectory of development over the lifespan is affected – Learning and abilities – Health – Relationships