In a longitudinal study of depressed and healthy preschool children who underwent neuroimaging at school age, the authors of this paper investigated whether early maternal support predicted later hippocampal volumes. Maternal support in early childhood was associated with larger hippocampal volume at school age. The positive effect of maternal support on hippocampal volumes was greater in nondepressed compared to depressed children. These human data support earlier work in laboratory animals and add to the literature linking early psychosocial factors with brain volume and function. The hippocampus is a key area involved in memory and stress regulation

Luby JL et al. Maternal support in early childhood predicts larger hippocampal volumes at school age. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA [Epub ahead of print January 30, 2012, doi 10.1073/ pnas.1118003109]

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