InBrief: The Science of Neglect

Thriving communities depend on the successful development of the people who live in them, and building the foundations of successful development in childhood requires responsive relationships and supportive environments. Beginning shortly after birth, the typical “serve and return” interactions that occur between young children and the adults who care for them actually affect the formation of neural connections and the circuitry of the developing brain. This two-page summary—part of the InBrief series—explains why when adult responses are unreliable, inappropriate, or simply absent, developing brain circuits can be disrupted, and subsequent learning, behavior, and health can be impaired. The brief provides an overview of The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain, a Working Paper by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.

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