“MRI study shows social deprivation has a measurable effect on brain growth.” July 23rd, 2012.
Excerpt: “Increasingly we are finding evidence that exposure to childhood adversity has a negative effect on brain development,” says Sheridan. “The implications are wide ranging, not just for institutionalized children but also for children exposed to abuse, abandonment, violence during war, extreme poverty and other adversities.”
More information: “Variation in neural development as a result of exposure to institutionalization early in childhood,” by Margaret A. Sheridan et al., PNAS, 2012. [*This Direct Submission article had a prearranged editor: Bruce McEwen]
It appears to be the epigenetic effect of mammalian pheromones, including human pheromones, on luteinizing hormone and white matter/gray matter ratios that is responsible for the differences in brain growth. These findings exemplify how the molecular biology that is common to all species links nutrient chemicals (e.g., in food) and pheromones (i.e., social odors) directly to adaptive evolution. This includes a direct link to human brain development, via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction.
If it is something else that’s associated with the epigenetic effects of the social environment on brain development, is there a model for that?
See my model for comparison: Kohl, J.V. (2012) Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 2: 17338.