Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Reinvention of the Self § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM

"Elizabeth Gould overturned one of the central tenets of neuroscience. Now she’s building on her discovery to show that poverty and stress may not just be symptoms of society, but bound to our anatomy".

Brilliant article about the role of the environment in making us who we are:

"Subsequent experiments have teased out a host of other ways stress can damage the developing brain. For example, if a pregnant rhesus monkey is forced to endure stressful conditions—like being startled by a blaring horn for 10 minutes a day—her children are born with reduced neurogenesis, even if they never actually experience stress once born. This pre-natal trauma, just like trauma endured in infancy, has life-long implications. The offspring of monkeys stressed during pregnancy have smaller hippocampi, suffer from elevated levels of glucocorticoids and display all the classical symptoms of anxiety. Being low in a dominance hierarchy also suppresses neurogenesis. So does living in a bare environment. As a general rule of thumb, a rough life—especially a rough start to life—strongly correlates with lower levels of fresh cells.
Gould’s research inevitably conjures up comparisons to societal problems. And while Gould, like all rigorous bench scientists, prefers to focus on the strictly scientific aspects of her data—she is wary of having it twisted for political purposes—she is also acutely aware of the potential implications of her research".

The environment shapes us, from the very beginning to the very end.

"...As Nottebohm has said, “Take nature away and all your insight is in a biological vacuum.” Nottebohm discovered neurogenesis in birds learning to sing in their natural habitat". If he'd studied birds in cages, they would have been too stressed to sing and therefore wouldn't have grown new neurons.

The Reinvention of the Self § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM

The implications for midwifery work with childbearing women is that midwives create the right environment within which women can explore becoming mothers in an optimal way.

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