‘Annual Research Review: Early intervention viewed through the lens of developmental neuroscience’
Open Access paper from the JCPP
The overarching goal of this paper is to examine the efficacy of early intervention when viewed through the lens of developmental neuroscience. We begin by briefly summarizing neural development from conception through the first few postnatal years. We emphasize the role of experience during the postnatal period, and consistent with decades of research on critical periods, we argue that experience can represent both a period of opportunity and a period of vulnerability. Because plasticity is at the heart of early intervention, we next turn our attention to the efficacy of early intervention drawing from two distinct literatures: early intervention services for children growing up in disadvantaged environments, and children at elevated likelihood of developing a neurodevelopmental delay or disorder. In the case of the former, we single out interventions that target caregiving and in the case of the latter, we highlight recent work on autism. A consistent theme throughout our review is a discussion of how early intervention is embedded in the developing brain. We conclude our article by discussing the implications our review has for policy, and we then offer recommendations for future research.
Authors: Charles A. Nelson, Eileen Sullivan, Anne-Michelle Engelstad
First published: 12 July 2023
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