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The significance of human–animal relationships as modulators of trauma effects in children: A developmental neurobiological perspective

By Jan Yorke

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Abstract

Emotional stress and trauma impacts the neurobiology of children. They are especially vulnerable given the developmental plasticity of the brain. The neural synaptic circular processes between the anterior cingulated cortex, prefrontal cortex, amygdala and the hypothalamus are altered. Trauma results in the release of the peptide glucocortisoid, or cortisol leading to an ongoing over-arousal of the anatomic nervous system. Kindling (sensitivity) of the brain, a result of stress, ironically makes the brain more receptive to attunement and enriched environments. Attunement with others as well as enriched environments is prophylactic, contributing to resilience and normal brain development. Animals are often attachment objects for children. Touch, proximity and mind–body interaction with animals have been found to contribute to stress reduction and trauma recovery. Future interdisciplinary exploration of the use of equine–human relationships as a preferred way of treating traumatised children should consider neural responses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

Publication Title Early Child Development and Care
Volume 180
Issue 5
Pages 559-570
ISBN/ISSN 0300-44301476-8275
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/03004430802181189
Author Address Yorke, Jan, jyorke@utk.edu
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Tags
  1. Brain
  2. Child development
  3. Children
  4. Development
  5. Human-animal relationships
  6. Interspecies interactions
  7. neurobiology
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. trauma
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  1. peer-reviewed