WIRED FOR SOCIAL INTERACTION: WHAT AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH FROM NEUROBIOLOGY, EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, AND SOCIAL EDUCATION WORK CAN TEACH US ABOUT PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA

Isabella Sarto-Jackson

Abstract


The human brain is equipped with physiological, neural, and cognitive capacities that enable it to respond flexibly to ever-changing natural and social conditions. This capacity of the brain to reorganize itself, called neuroplasticity, is particularly marked in childhood. The high malleability of the brain at this stage provides the basis for wide-ranging learning, but leaves it vulnerable to negative environmental and social factors. Neuroplastic events that occur in response to abusive or neglecting environments can strongly interfere with the adaptive shaping of neural pathways between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, compromising judgment and self-control. Traumatic experiences during development can also have other effects on brain plasticity that are mediated by epigenetic mechanisms, and these effects can impair the developing oxytocin system, adversely affecting attachment and bonding. Mature individuals seek out niches that match the internal mental structures shaped during their early years, and will even alter the environment to make it match the internal structures. In the case of those who suffered childhood abuse, this can lead to maltreatment of the next generation. Addressing the societal challenge of child abuse and maltreatment requires broad interdisciplinary endeavors, uniting neuroscientists and social education workers to break the vicious circle.

Keywords


neuroplasticity, childhood abuse, developmental trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, social niche construction, maladaptation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18357/ijcyfs91201818117



Copyright (c) 2018 Isabella Sarto-Jackson

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International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies

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