ALIENATION OF AFFECTION by dfgh4bnmu

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									                               ALIENATION OF AFFECTION
                                                       by James W. Prescott
          Deprived of their mothers, Harry    who reported that when a cloth-cover-        demonstrated that isolation-reared
    Harlow's monkeys were at times apa-       ed "surrogate mother" swung an infant        monkeys exhibit major differences in
   thetic, at times hyperactive, and given    monkey, the maternal-deprivation             the brain-cell branches of the somat-
   to outbursts of violence. Raised in iso-   syndrome did not develop. To study           osensory and motor cortex, but not in
   lation, they were socially inept; they     that possibility, Robert Heath and           the visual cortex. And at the Univer-
   often held themselves and rocked like      Bernard Saltzburg at the Tulane Uni-         sity of Illinois, Mary Fleeter and Wil-
   autistic children.                         versity Medical School took electro-         liam Greenough found that monkeys
          What Harlow could not know at       physiological recordings, by means of        raised in colonies had more extensive
   the time of his dramatic experiments in    implanted electrodes, from the limbic        brain-cell branchlets in parts of the
   the late 1950s and 1960s was that these    and cerebellar regions of extremely          cerebellum than monkeys reared either
   behavioral disturbances were accom-        violent, isolation-reared monkeys pro-
   panied by brain damage. More recent                                                     in isolation or in pairs.
                                              vided by Harlow. The bioelectrical
   studies suggest that during formative      signals from these electrodes displayed        Thus, the influence of the en-
   periods of brain growth, certain kinds     abnormal "spike" discharges, which          vironment seems to be imprinted
   of sensory deprivation— such as lack       were not seen in normal monkeys. The
   of touching and rocking by the mother      presence of the spikes was also detected
                                                                                          on the structure of the brain,
   — result in incomplete or damaged          by a unique computer analysis of scalp      which, in turn, shapes the envir-
  development of the neuronal systems         EEG recordings from the same mon-           onment, (I call this approach to
  that control affection (for instance, a     keys' limbic and cerebellar regions.        studying behavior "ecobiology",
  loss of the nerve-cell branches called
  dendrites). Since the same systems
                                                                                          to distinguish it from socio-
  influence brain centers associated with                                                 biology.)
  violence, in a muturally inhibiting mech-                                               In addition, cross-cultural studies have
  anism, the deprived infant may have                                                     established a significant relationship
  difficulty controlling violent impulses                                                 between the physical affection shown
  as an adult.                                                                            human infants and rates of adult physi-
         If confirmed, these studies may                                                  cal violence. In one study of 49 primi-
  have profound implications for hu-                                                      tive cultures, I found that when levels
  man cultures that raise their infants
                                                                                          of infant affection are low — as among
  with low levels of touching and move-
                                                                                          the Comanches and the Ashanti — lev-
  ment. Children in these societies may
  be unable to experience certain kinds                                                   els of violence are high; where physical
  of pleasure — and be predisposed to                                                     affection is high — as among the Maori
  apathy and violence.                                                                    of New Zealand and the Balinese —
        The disturbance, I believe, has its                                               violence is low. I also found that res-
                                                       The Kirk Collection
  origins in the somatosensory system of                                                  trictions on premarital sexual affection
                                                 1973 MOTHER'S DAY PLATE
  the cerebellum, which regulates the                                                     were associated with high violence.
 sense of movement and balance (ves-                 Further evidence of the cerebel-        The possible lesson for modern
  tibular system) and the sense of touch       lum's role was provided in a study I did   countries is clear. We seem to be
 (somesthetic system). More than other         with A.J. Berman and Doreen Ber-
  senses, such as vision and hearing,                                                     suffering from breakdowns in af-
                                               man of the Bronx Veterans Adminis-
 touch and movement seem directly              tration Hospital in New York. Using        fectional bonds — reflected in
 tied to emotions like affection. And          two of Harlow's violent monkeys, the       everything from rates of divorce
 this portion of the brain is one of those     Bermans surgically removed part of         to sexual crimes, alcoholism, and
 most susceptible to "shaping" —              the outer layers of the cortex of the
 changes in neuronal structure —                                                          drug abuse.
                                              "old brain" (paleocerebellar region) in
 during a child's development. In nume-       one monkey and of the "new brain"           Culture is that handmaiden of our neu-
 rous studies, laboratory animals             (neocerebellar region) in the other.        robiology, and without a proper envir-
 deprived of tactile and movement stim-       The monkey with the old-brain lesion        onment for physical affection, a peace-
 ulation have exhibited abnormal social       became much more peaceful, while the        ful, harmonious society may not be
 and emotional behavior.                      one with the new-brain lesion did not.      possible.
        Harlow had explained his mon-         That result makes sense: the old-brain               Reprinted from Psychology Today
 keys' behavior as caused simply by           cerebellum connects primarily to the                                   December 1979
 social isolation and not deprivation in      emotional centers in the limbic system,
 specific sensory, neurobiological pro-       while the new-brain region connect          James W. Prescott was formerly Health
 cesses. I began to suspect that the          primarily to the neocortical structures     Scientist Administrator, Developmental
 vestibular-cerebellar system was invol-      that regulate higher brain processes.       Behavioral Biology Program, National
                                                                                          Institute of Child Health and Human
 ved after a study by psychologists Wil-            Meanwhile, Austin Riesen at the       Development, National Institute of
 liam Mason and Gershon Berkson,              University of California, Riverside,        Health.

THE TRUTH SEEKER                                               — 22 -                                               Man-hi April 1989

								
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