The Impact of Parent–Child Interaction on Brain Structures

There is a vast amount of evidence from psychological studies that the amount of parent-child interaction affects the development of children’s verbal skills and knowledge. However, despite the vast amount of literature, brain structural development associated with the amount of parent-child interaction has never been investigated. In the present human study, we used voxel-based morphometry to measure regional gray matter density (rGMD) and examined cross-sectional correlations between the amount of time spent with parents and rGMD among 127 boys and 135 girls. We also assessed correlations between the amount of time spent with parents and longitudinal changes that occurred a few years later among 106 boys and 102 girls. After correcting for confounding factors, we found negative effects of spending time with parents on rGMD in areas in the bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG) via cross-sectional analyses as well as in the contingent areas of the right STG. We also confirmed the positive effects of spending time with parents on the Verbal Comprehension score in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. rGMD in partly overlapping or contingent areas of the right STG was negatively correlated with age and the Verbal Comprehension score in cross-sectional analyses. Subsequent analyses revealed verbal parent-child interactions have similar effects on Verbal Comprehension scores and rGMD in the right STG in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. These findings indicate that parent-child interactions affect the right STG, which may be associated with verbal skills.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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