Abstract

Sustained differences in early life cognitive and linguistic stimulation were found to impact adult brain structure. Starting in infancy, groups of very low SES children were randomized to either 5 years of cognitively and linguistically stimulating high-quality center-based care or a comparison condition. The intervention resulted in large and statistically significant changes in brain structure measured in midlife, particularly for males. These findings are the first to extend the large literature on experimental environmental enrichment effects on animal brains to humans, and to demonstrate the effects of environmental features that matter uniquely for human development, such as linguistic stimulation.

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