Anne E. Berens, Sarah K. G. Jensen, and Charles A. Nelson
This chapter begins by providing a basic overview of how the brain develops, starting with conception and continuing through adolescence. It emphasizes the experience-dependent nature of development and discusses how experience “cuts both ways.” Positive experiences can exert a healthy impact on development, whereas exposure to adverse experiences can have a deleterious impact on development. The chapter draws upon studies of both animals and humans. It pays particular attention to the range of adverse experiences that can selectively impact different aspects of brain and behavioral development, such as the effects of stress or neglect. The chapter then turns to how such experiences can become biologically embedded, leading to long-term changes in both biological and psychological development. The chapter concludes by discussing the implications such knowledge has for the law.