Stress, early brain development, and behavior

Megan R. Gunnar, Ronald G. Barr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Stress hormones, particularly glucocorticoids (eg, cortisol) and the processes that regulate them are part of the story of how early experiences shape brain development. This article reviews the research on the impact of glucocorticoids on the brain. The authors then describe the psychological and social processes that reduce stress hormone responses to threatening and painful procedures. Finally, they review the literature on cognitive and emotional effects of synthetic glucocorticoids. They attempt to provide a succinct overview of this complex area, pointing out where improvement in understanding and management of stress hormones early in development may improve medical and behavioral outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInfants and Young Children
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


  • Brain development
  • Children
  • Coping
  • Corticosteroids
  • Cortisol
  • Crying
  • Infants
  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Toddlers


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