Motherly love boosts childrens' memory

Motherly love and attention at a young age could result in a child's memory being boosted significantly, new research has suggested. Carried out at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, the study revealed kids who are treated in such a way develop brains with a larger hippocampus - a region associated with stress response and learning.

Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the report showed youngsters who received the most support from their mums to reduce stress during a challenge - which involved having to wait eight minutes before unwrapping a present - had bigger hippocampus.

Professor Joan Luby of Washington University, noted that the findings have implications for healthy social adaptation, adding: "This study validates something that seems to be intuitive, which is just how important nurturing parents are to creating adaptive human beings."

Chartered Psychologist Dr Estelle Doctor, Cognitive and Educational Psychologist and Executive and Lifeskills Coach, of Lifestyle and Lifelong Development, said: "One implication from these findings is that early parenting could help promote the healthy development of a key brain region responsible for memory, emotions and stress regulations.

"Being raised by caring empathetic parents who are themselves self aware and aware of emotions in others may well make for an emotionally stable child that is able to delay gratification.

"Until it can be shown in a controlled study, that providing this type of support results in improved memory, it would seem premature to conclude that memory can be enhanced by supportive parenting.

"For most of us - children and adults - memory can be improved by what has been called 'expanding rehearsal'. This process inlvolves going over what we want to remember at expanding time intervals: the day of learning, later that week, the next week, and the next month, et cetera. 

"Children with weaker memories require more frequent revision, as well as specific techniques which parents and teachers can use to improve their learning abilities."