A new study found that when children are exposed to stress during childhood, their brains mature faster.
"Researchers first examined one-year-old children and their parents in 1998. Over 20 years researchers observed the children's playtime sessions, interactions with parents, friends and classmates, along with other factors. They also conducted MRI scans on the children.
With this information, the researchers were able to observe how stress affects the natural pruning process of the brain. Synaptic pruning removes connections in the brain that are no longer needed. This helps the brain function more efficiently as people age and learn new complex information.
According to a press release from the university, the researchers examined two origins of stress in two different life phases: negative life events and negative social influences at ages 0 to 5 and 14 to 17. They then compared the amount of stress with the synaptic pruning process in different areas of the brain that are responsible for functioning in social and emotional situations and that are especially vulnerable to stress."