The Deprived Brain
Children who lag cognitively after spending time in orphanages can make up the difference by young adulthood, suggest two longitudinal studies, but some behavior and emotional issues remain—or even increase. This suggests that environmental influences might lead to disorders with or without genetic precursors.
Promoting Healthy, Meaningful Aging Through Social InvolvementBuilding an Experience Corps
Pathways responsible for higher-order thinking in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), or executive center of the brain, remain vulnerable throughout life—during critical early-life developmental windows, when the PFC fully matures in the early 20s, and finally from declines associated with old age. At all ages, physical activity and PFC-navigated social connections are essential components to maintaining brain health. The Experience Corps, a community-based social-engagement program, partners seniors with local schools to promote purpose-driven involvement. Participating seniors have exhibited immediate short-term gains in brain regions vulnerable to aging, such as the PFC, indicating that people with the most to lose have the most to gain from environmental enrichment.