Neurodevelopmental effects of early deprivation in postinstitutionalized children

Seth D. Pollak, Charles A. Nelson, Mary F. Schlaak, Barbara J. Roeber, Sandi S. Wewerka, Kristen L. Wiik, Kristin A. Frenn, Michelle M. Loman, Megan R Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

282 Scopus citations


The neurodevelopmental sequelae of early deprivation were examined by testing (N = 132) 8- and 9-year-old children who had endured prolonged versus brief institutionalized rearing or rearing in the natal family. Behavioral tasks included measures that permit inferences about underlying neural circuitry. Children raised in institutionalized settings showed neuropsychological deficits on tests of visual memory and attention, as well as visually mediated learning and inhibitory control. Yet, these children performed at developmentally appropriate levels on similar tests where auditory processing was also involved and on tests assessing executive processes such as rule acquisition and planning. These findings suggest that specific aspects of brain-behavioral circuitry may be particularly vulnerable to postnatal experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-236
Number of pages13
JournalChild development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


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