The neurobiology of child neglect
© Cambridge University Press 2010. Child neglect is the most chronic and prevalent form of child maltreatment. This chapter discusses the definitions, preclinical studies of maternal deprivation, the field of developmental traumatology, studies of neglected children and future directions. Child neglect may be more detrimental to the child's developing biological stress systems and brain than adversity experienced in adulthood, secondary to interactions between this lack of experience of expected environmental stimulation and brain maturation. Multiple neurotransmitter systems and neuroendocrine axes are activated during stress. The study of the effects of child neglect and childhood brain development is only in its infancy. Longitudinal investigations are a promising strategy to further understanding of the neurobiology of neglect and to help to identify the best predictors for the permanence and the therapeutic reversibility of the adverse effects associated with child neglect.
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