Children who experience severe deprivation early in life have smaller brains in adulthood, researchers have found.
The findings are based on scans of young adults who were adopted as children into UK families from Romania’s orphanages that rose under the regime of the dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu.
Now experts say that despite the children having been adopted into loving, nurturing families in the early 1990s, the early neglect appears to have left its mark on their brain structures.
“I think the most striking finding is … that the effects on the brain have persisted,” said Prof Edmund Sonuga-Barke, a co-author of the study from King’s College London, who added that the results showed neuroplasticity had limits.
“The idea that everything is recoverable, no matter what your experience … isn’t necessarily true – even with the best care you can still see those signs of that earlier adversity,” he said.