Monday, March 27, 2006

Neurobiology of infant attachment.

There's a polemic around universal childcare program in Quebec right now. More and more children spend a lot of hours in those center as young as six month. Moreover, a survey from C.D. Howe Institut show that there's more children in day-care center than the average in the rest of Canada (51,4% again 16,3%). Obviously, it's less expensive here in Quebec, that can explain why there's more children here than anywhere. Also, they show that Quebec's children are more agressive and more anxious than in the rest of Canada (agressivity: 34% vs 11,8%; anxiety: 24,2% vs 1,7%). Of course, this survey isn't based of scientifics facts but those differences are pretty high, so if we did a controled study on the subject, we could probably find some significant different between Quebec's children and Canada's children.

How can we explain the link between going to day-care center and agressivity and anxiety ? I'll try to explain it through neurobiology of attachment. First of all, we are ready to attach to the care-giver when we are young. The noradrenergic locus coeruleus helping the early brain to learn fast to attach to care-giver. On the other hand, the hypofunctionning of the amygdala avoid learning aversives to care-giver (Moriceau, & Sullivan, 2005). If you're in day-care center, this innate system is broken from is regular development. Could it produce the agressivity and anxious behavior, we talked ?

As we discuss on a previous post, we know that amygdala is often more activated on people who commit violent behavior, so if there's problem with basic attachment because children are in day-care center, the amygdala could read the environment as hostile and that the children can be more agressive and more anxious. This is just a hypothese I didn't find any study doing the correlation between the attachement, the response of amygdala when the children is growing up, agressivity and anxiety, but with what we know about amygdala and emotion, it could be possible I think. Don't you ?

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