In 1958, psychologist John Bowlby pioneered “attachment theory,” the idea that the early bond between parent and child is critical to a child’s emotional development. Since then, scientists have discovered that insecure attachment during formative years can significantly stress both the developing brain and body, resulting in long-term psychological and physical ailments. For example, low levels of attachment security have been linked to diminished levels of cortisol, a steroidal hormone released in response to stress that is critical in reducing inflammation in the body. Watch the latest Human Feature from the Museum’s Science Bulletins program to see how recent studies are using cortisol levels as a marker to determine the success of early intervention in building stronger attachments between struggling parents and children. Visitors to AMNH may view the video in the Hall of Human Origins until January 2, 2012.
Science Bulletins is a production of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology (NCSLET), part of the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History. Find out more about Science Bulletins at amnh.org/sciencebulletins/.