News & Events

    Information Session

    Monday, September 8, 2014
    4:00 - 5:30 pm

    Presentation at 4:15 pm by Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.

    Harvard Graduate School of Education
    Gutman Conference Center, Lower Level
    6 Appian Way, Cambridge

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    Pushing Toward Breakthroughs: Using Innovative Practice to Address Toxic Stress

    This installment of the multi-part series “Tackling Toxic Stress” describes how a small but growing group of forward-thinking social service practitioners are using the expanding scientific evidence about the long-term, damaging effects of toxic stress to try innovative approaches that target its root causes and could lead to breakthroughs in the effectiveness of interventions—for both children and their caregivers.

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  • FIND: Using Science to Coach Caregivers


    FIND: Using Science to Coach Caregivers

    At Children’s Home Society of Washington, social service providers are using video clips of parents interacting with their young children to help the parents identify their own strengths and learn which interactions best promote healthy development. Created in partnership with researchers at the University of Oregon and Oregon Social Learning Center, this intervention supports positive interactions in young families facing adversity and models an innovative co-creation and testing process for new science-based strategies. Learn more in this Innovation in Action video.

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    The Spectrum of Neglect: Four Types of Unresponsive Care

    Using science as a guide, this new interactive feature describes four types of diminished responsiveness and their consequences in order to provide a framework for developing more effective strategies to protect vulnerable children from this complex challenge. The four short video clips featured, each under a minute in length, are excerpts from the 6-minute video InBrief: The Science of Neglect.

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    Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change

    This 5-minute video depicts a theory of change from the Frontiers of Innovation community for achieving breakthrough outcomes for vulnerable children and families. It describes the need to focus on building the capabilities of caregivers and strengthening the communities that together form the environment of relationships essential to children's lifelong learning, health, and behavior.

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    Three Core Concepts in Early Development

    1. Experiences Build Brain Architecture 2. Serve & Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry 3. Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development

    This three-part video series from the Center and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child depicts how advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains, for better or for worse. View videos & read more about this series >>


    The Science of Neglect:
    The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain

    Extensive biological and developmental research over the past 30 years has generated substantial evidence that young children who experience severe deprivation or significant neglect—defined broadly as the ongoing disruption or significant absence of caregiver responsiveness—bear the burdens of a range of adverse consequences. This new Working Paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains why significant deprivation is so harmful in the earliest years of life and why effective interventions are likely to pay significant dividends in better long-term outcomes in learning, health, and parenting of the next generation. Read more & download PDF >>

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  • InBrief - Early Childhood Mental Health


    InBrief: Early Childhood Mental Health

    The science of child development shows that the foundation for sound mental health is built early in life, as early experiences—which include children’s relationships with parents, caregivers, relatives, teachers, and peers—shape the architecture of the developing brain. Disruptions in this developmental process can impair a child’s capacities for learning and relating to others, with lifelong implications. This two-page summary—part of the InBrief series—explains why, many costly problems for society, ranging from the failure to complete high school to incarceration to homelessness, could be dramatically reduced if attention were paid to improving children’s environments of relationships and experiences early in life. Read more & download PDF >>

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  • Building the Brain's "Air Traffic Control" System

    Being able to focus, hold, and work with information in mind, filter distractions, and switch gears is like having an air traffic control system at a busy airport to manage the arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways. In the brain, this air traffic control mechanism is called executive functioning, a group of skills that helps us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, and revise plans as necessary. This Working Paper explains how these lifelong skills develop, what can disrupt their development, and how supporting them pays off in school and life. Read more & download PDF >>

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Faculty Spotlights
  • Faculty Spotlight: Theresa Betancourt

    When humanitarian crises hit around the world, nongovernmental organizations rush into the fray, intensively focused on urgent survival needs, not necessarily on longer-term impacts that may take an even greater toll on the country and its citizens. Theresa Betancourt, a Center-affiliated faculty member who studies children in adversity and has worked alongside NGOs, wants to help them see that farther horizon: Combining short-term survival efforts with attention to children’s developmental needs only magnifies the long-range benefits for individuals and societies.


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  • Faculty Spotlight: Matthew K. Nock

    One of the most vexing problems in attempting to understand and treat suicide-prone adolescents is that one of the times they are most likely to succeed in taking their own lives is immediately after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. In other words, right after they’ve assured everyone they’re just fine. Matthew K. Nock’s work focuses on developing more effective ways to predict adolescent suicide—before it’s too late.


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  • Faculty Spotlight: Takao Hensch

    As a young neurobiologist, Takao Hensch, Ph.D., started exploring classic questions of brain development by studying the visual systems of mice—something most scientists considered a waste of time. “What could you possibly learn from mice?” they asked, noting the animals’ nocturnal nature and horrendous eyesight. Twenty years and countless lab mice later, Hensch, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard and professor of neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), has answered skeptics again and again with significant breakthroughs in studying how experiences shape the developing brain at the molecular level. Read more >>

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