Research from the University of East Anglia find that children who experienced chronic, but relatively common, family difficulties – such as arguments, tension, or lack of affection or communication – between birth and 11 years of age had developed a smaller cerebellum by the age of 17 to 19. The researchers point out that the cerebellum, an area of the brain associated with learning skills, stress regulation, and sensory-motor control, is consistently found to be smaller in people with virtually all psychiatric diagnoses.
Walsh, N., Dalgleish, T., Lombardo, M., Dunn, V., et al; General and specific effects of early-life psychosocial adversities on adolescent grey matter volume. Neuroimage: Clinical. Volume 4, 2014, Pages 308-318. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2014.01.001
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Family problems experienced in childhood and adolescence affect brain development (University of East Anglia Press Release)