Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to create empathy in the world? One infant,One year, One huge investment.

This piece of research proves that given a healthy primary care giver attachment structure prior to 18 months, the child can identify and resonate with the authentic feelings of others. If the cues are questionable, ie.; experience not fitting the facial expression, the child experiences psychophysiological discomfort and checks with the trusted source for non verbal feedback. The infant has spent the first 13 to 15 months developing a foundation for right brain circuitry, autonomic nervous system,  based on the non verbal relational dyad with the care giver starting with face recognition as early as the first few days of life. . 

Babies Know When You're Faking, 

Psychology Researchers Show

Oct. 16, 2013 — If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! That's easy enough for children to figure out because the emotion matches the movement. But when feelings and reactions don't align, can kids tell there's something wrong? New research from Concordia University demonstrates that they can -- as early as 18 months.

In a study recently published in Infancy: The Official Journal of the International Society on Infant Studies, psychology researchers Sabrina Chiarella and Diane Poulin-Dubois demonstrate that infants can detect whether a person's emotions are justifiable given a particular context. They show that babies understand how the meaning of an experience is directly linked to the expressions that follow.
The implications are significant, especially for caregivers. "Our research shows that babies cannot be fooled into believing something that causes pain results in pleasure. Adults often try to shield infants from distress by putting on a happy face following a negative experience. But babies know the truth: as early as 18 months, they can implicitly understand which emotions go with which events," says psychology professor Poulin-Dubois.
To perform the research, she and PhD candidate Sabrina Chiarella recruited 92 infants at the 15 and 18-month mark. In a lab setting, the babies watched as an actor went through several scenarios in which emotional reactions went with or against pantomimed experiences. In one scenario, the researcher showed a mismatched emotion by being sad when presented with a desired toy. In another, she expressed an emotion that went with the experience by reacting in pain when pretending to hurt her finger.
At 15 months, the infants did not show a significant difference in reactions to these events, showing empathy through their facial expressions to all sad faces. This indicates that the understanding of the link between a facial expression following an emotional experience is an ability that has yet to develop at that stage.
At 18 months, however, the infants clearly detected when facial expressions did not match the experience. They spent more time looking at the researcher's face and checked back more frequently with the caregiver in the room with them so that they could gauge the reaction of a trusted source. They also showed empathy toward the person only when her sad face was justified; that is, only when the researcher was sad or in pain when she was supposed to be.
Chiarella explains that the indiscriminate show of concern to sad faces in the younger infants is an adaptive behaviour. "The ability to detect sadness and then react immediately has an evolutionary implication. However, to function effectively in the social world, children need to develop the ability to understand others' behaviours by inferring what is going on internally for those around them."
The researchers are currently examining whether infants who are exposed to an individual who is emotionally unreliable will affect in their willingness to help or learn from that individual

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How do we change society? One infant at a time?


 The issue of early childhood  psychobiological damage due to prolonged high levels of stress hormones has solidified for scientists and practitioners. Now, we need a constructive solution besides government policy changes, community outreach and parental education courses. No time to have philosophical discussions about the subject... For the past 3 decade, I have experienced a more disturbing reality than even poverty, homelessness, physical abuse and other painful states of children that are already truly heart breaking.   

Approximately 4.5 Million babies are born annually in the US 
20 Million under the age of 5 in the US
 and if 6 Million of all US children under 6 live in poverty.............. then

What is happening to the other 14 million living with poor parenting, extremely short maternity leaves, unqualified or inattentive day care workers, unqualified family members, verbal and emotional abuse and neglect, misguided attunement and disregard ?  They are the silent victims growing up with psychobiological illnesses. No one notices them, no one talks about them, no one pays attention to their insecure avoidant attachment until it is too late. Until personality disorders settle in, until depression and anxiety take hold and until heart disease and endocrine diseases show up... until a life is devastated..Alas, it is a bit too late. The wiring cannot be undone. So, how will our society ever change? How will humanity evolve for the better? Prevention is the only way.personality disordered parents,  stressed parents, depressed parents, uneducated parents, unaware parents, self involved parents, angry parents, anxious parents, abused parents, absent parents, and unqualified care givers of all types suffer tremendous denial of their power. They deeply fear the difficult task of making the fundamental internal personality change which is required to become selflessly attuned with the infant.
So, I have a plan that may actually work,  stay tuned. 

From the center on the Developing Child at Harvard

The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the healthy development of the next generation. 
Extensive research on the biology of stress now shows that healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body (especially the brain), with damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan. Learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy child development. When we are threatened, our bodies prepare us to respond by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones, such as cortisol. When a young child’s stress response systems are activated within an environment of supportive relationships with adults, these physiological effects are buffered and brought back down to baseline. The result is the development of healthy stress response systems. However, if the stress response is extreme and long-lasting, and buffering relationships are unavailable to the child, the result can be damaged, weakened systems and brain architecture, with lifelong repercussions.It’s important to distinguish among three kinds of responses to stress: positivetolerable, and toxic. As described below, these three terms refer to the stress response systems' effects on the body, not to the stressful event or experience itself:Positive stress response is a normal and essential part of healthy development, characterized by brief increases in heart rate and mild elevations in hormone levels. Some situations that might trigger a positive stress response are the first day with a new caregiver or receiving an injected immunization.Tolerable stress response activates the body’s alert systems to a greater degree as a result of more severe, longer-lasting difficulties, such as the loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a frightening injury. If the activation is time-limited and buffered by relationships with adults who help the child adapt, the brain and other organs recover from what might otherwise be damaging effects.Toxic stress response can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity—such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support. This kind of prolonged activation of the stress response systems can disrupt the development of brain architecture and other organ systems, and increase the risk for stress-related disease and cognitive impairment, well into the adult years.When toxic stress response occurs continually, or is triggered by multiple sources, it can have a cumulative toll on an individual’s physical and mental health—for a lifetime. The more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and later health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and depression. Research also indicates that supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults as early in life as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress response.

Oct. 6, 2013 — Glutamergic agents may one day be used as a novel treatment for mood and anxiety disorders, new research presented at the 26th ECNP Congress suggests. 
(Science Daily, Mind and Brain News)

Professor Sanacora presented a series of preclinical and clinical studies indicating that a novel class of drugs that target components of the glutamatergic neurotransmitter system may produce rapid and robust antidepressant effects.
"There is a rapidly expanding literature suggesting the glutamatergic neurotransmitter system is altered in the brains of individuals suffering with mood disorders," explains Professor Sanacora.
There is also increasing evidence suggesting stress may disrupt normal glutamtergic function in the brain and may be a mechanism contributing to the pathogenesis of several stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders," he adds.
Their research, due to be published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, adds to this body of evidence.
"First and foremost, our findings suggest the glutamatergic system is a truly viable target for antidepressant drug development," concludes Professor Sanacora