Blair also presented his work with Cybele Raver which demonstrates that children’s early educational experiences can be modified to promote executive function and stress physiology – in this case by working with teachers to embed supports for self regulation using the Tools of the Mind programme. So what about parents? A trial underway testing the merit of the Play and Learning Strategies programme in Early Head Start (funded through the Buffering Toxic Stress Consortium) will examine whether the programme is helpful in promoting parental self regulation and by extension children’s outcomes. We can also expect an extension to FLP that will help to elucidate the early childhood roots of major health outcomes (through a National Institute of Health programme grant on Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes). Big things to come, hopefully some in time for the next meeting!
And some briefer highlights from the symposia...
If there was a prize for top discussant it would have to go to Megan Gunnar rounding off a stellar line up of talks on cortisol, stress and the brain and implications for socioemotional behavior - what an engaging summary delivered with lightening clarity. In summarising Mariann Howland’s work on prenatal stress and internalising outcomes Gunnar stresses that if in real estate the emphasis is “location, location, location” in development it is “timing, timing, timing”. Gunnar advises that the only way to understand timing is to map it as closely as possible with the development of neural systems; identify what specifically is developing and when exactly development is taking place. Her observations of Amanda Tarullo’s work underscored the importance of joint attention (which Tarullo showed was positively influenced by higher SES and infant directed speech and lower cortisol) as the first step in setting up our brains to process language and the need to intervene before language develops. Comments on Arianna Gard’s work (which showed that harsh parenting and neighbourhood deprivation predict greater antisocial behaviour via less amygdala reactivity to fearful facial expressions) focused on the importance of investigating differential susceptibility and elucidating the conditions that might give rise to differential neural development in response to threat. And what might the results suggest for intervention? Promote greater parental sensitivity.
Pictures: Christine O'Farrelly and google