This month, we’re embarking on a new series of blog posts that will be looking at how emotional well being has a direct impact on biology – including brain development and physical health.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that shows the powerful connections through which emotional and behavioral factors can rewire the brain and directly affect health. Even in infants, we can see the impact of trauma and stress on brain development. The limbic system is the social and emotional part of the brain, governing attachment, nurturing instincts, learning, implicit memory (preverbal, unconscious), motivation, stress response, and the immune system. The circuits of the limbic brain are wired together almost entirely by attachment experiences and are altered by stress and trauma.
The mind-body connection happens on both a physical and chemical level. For example, in the case of stress, research has documented the mechanisms through which stressful emotions alter white blood cell function. Stress diminishes white blood cell response to infected cells and to cancer cells. It has also found that vaccinations are less effective and wounds heal more slowly in people who are stressed.
The issues of attachment, trauma and stress, and how they play into the mind-body connection, cannot be understated.
In the coming weeks
In the next weeks, our series we will cover:
- Infant and early childhood brain development
- Understanding the limbic system
- The impact of stress on the body and brain
- Attachment, trauma and behavior
- Helping children cope