Institutional deprivation and neurobehavioral development in infancy

Jenalee R. Doom, Megan R Gunnar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Institutional care during infancy often deprives children of the social interaction, environmental experiences, and the nutrients needed to promote healthy development. This chapter covers cognitive, emotional, and behavioral systems impacted by early institutional care as well as neural systems, as evidenced by the use of imaging technology and electrophysiology. It also discusses impacts on stress-mediating systems such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and relatively recent research on genetic moderation of outcomes and epigenetics as these are expected to relate to physical and mental health outcomes. Finally, the chapter discusses sensitive periods of development, postinstitutional factors affecting outcomes (e.g, parenting and attachment), and the plasticity of brain and behavioral systems following early intervention. Implications of studying children within institutions, children placed into foster care or adopted into families, and those undergoing psychosocial or nutritional interventions are discussed in relation to what these groups can tell about institutionalization and the human condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Experience and Plasticity of the Developing Brain
PublisherWiley Blackwell
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781118931684
ISBN (Print)9781118931653
StatePublished - Mar 5 2016


  • Brain development
  • Cognitive skills
  • Electrophysiology
  • Emotional development
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Infancy
  • Institutional deprivation
  • Neurobehavioral development
  • Plasticity
  • Sensitive periods


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