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Dev Psychopathol. 2015 May;27(2):411-23. doi: 10.1017/S0954579415000061.

Early life nutrition and neural plasticity.

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University of Minnesota.
Boys' Town USA.


The human brain undergoes a remarkable transformation during fetal life and the first postnatal years from a relatively undifferentiated but pluripotent organ to a highly specified and organized one. The outcome of this developmental maturation is highly dependent on a sequence of environmental exposures that can have either positive or negative influences on the ultimate plasticity of the adult brain. Many environmental exposures are beyond the control of the individual, but nutrition is not. An ever-increasing amount of research demonstrates not only that nutrition shapes the brain and affects its function during development but also that several nutrients early in life have profound and long-lasting effects on the brain. Nutrients have been shown to alter opening and closing of critical and sensitive periods of particular brain regions. This paper discusses the roles that various nutrients play in shaping the developing brain, concentrating specifically on recently explicated biological mechanisms by which particularly salient nutrients influence childhood and adult neural plasticity.

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