- Reports & Working Papers
- InBrief Series
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InBrief: Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning
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 edition of the InBrief series explains how these lifelong skills develop, what can disrupt their development, and how supporting them pays off in school and life.
"Mapping Brain Connectivity"
The new field of “connectomics” aims to show how brains behave at a level not previously possible—examining how entire brains are wired together, how wiring changes as brains grow up, and how interactions with the external world affect this wiring. The Lichtman Lab at Harvard University, a partner in the Conte Center at Harvard, pioneered tools to potentially map every connection in a complete brain and has started to map the connectome in mouse brains. In this narrated, 15-minute multimedia presentation, postdoctoral fellow Bobby Kasthuri shares some of the results and insights from his work at the Lichtman Lab, using images and videos that show three-dimensional recreations of actual neural connections in the brain. He also discusses the future direction of this work in helping to understand how early adverse experiences affect connectivity.
Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change
This 5-minute video depicts the Frontiers of Innovation community's theory of change 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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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 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 >>
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. This PDF was designed to be printed on one page, front and back.
Drawing on emerging science about how early adversity becomes “built into the body” and can impair learning, behavior, and health for a lifetime, this paper, by Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, proposes an enhanced theory of change to promote better outcomes for vulnerable young children and to catalyze a new era of more effective early childhood policy and practice. The article appeared, ahead of print publication, on the web site of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America on Oct. 8, 2012.