How Stress Influences the Developing Brain: The Still Face Experiment

In a recent post on her blog, Brain Insights, Deborah McNelis reminds us that continuous or intense stress can affect children’s brain development. When children have repeated or long term exposure to stressful experiences this results in increased levels of stress chemicals that can cause lasting damage. However, children actually learn how to cope when exposed to regular stress. This occurs when a caring adult consistently responds to the child.

Just how much of a difference can stress make? For one small example of this effect (just for a minute, and in a controlled setting) consider the Still Face experiments: