Before babies and young children are able to learn through the use of language, they learn through the information they receive through their senses (i.e. taste, touch, smell, sight and sound) and by integrating this information in meaningful ways.
The main part of the brain that is responsible for putting together this sensory information in ways that facilitate learning is the CEREBELLUM, located at the back of the head (see diagram below).
How Childhood Trauma Can Adversely Affect The Development Of The Cerebellum :
Neuroscientific studied suggest that the development of the cerebellum depends significantly upon the perceived security, consistency, reliability and rhythmicity of the mother’s (or primary carer’s) physical holding of the infant.
Neglect :If the mother (or primary carer) is neglectful and does not hold the baby sufficiently frequently in a manner that transmits to him/her (i.e. the baby) feelings of deep and meaningful emotional connection , this may lead to impaired development of the cerebellum which, in turn, can lead to cerebellar dysfunction. It is this dysfunction of the cerebellum which may then cause problems integrating sensory information (Teicher st al., 2003).
Effects Of Cerebellar Dysfunction :Dysfunctions which may result from impaired development of the cerebellum due to the kind of neglect described above include :
- extreme sensitivity of touch. Examples include the affected individual :
– being easily irritated by ‘coarse’ feeling clothing
– being easily made to feel uncomfortable by the touch of others (therefore the individual may feel compelled to actively avoid coming into physical contact with others and to be