Compared with other mammals, human infants are born helpless and immature and are critically dependent upon their caregivers for their survival. Even as children mature, their caregivers continue to play an important role in fostering their health and in socializing their behaviors. Only few, therefore, would debate the proposition that a child’s home environment is significant in shaping their development. Indeed, in recent years, literature has been accumulating suggesting that family factors are associated with a child’s socioemotional development or mental health and that the brain may play an important role in explaining these associations (
1). However, the home environment is not the only environment in which children spend a significant amount of their waking hours. Depending on their country of residence, from approximately 3 to 7 years of age onward, children spend about half of their day at school. It is surprising, therefore, that the association between school climate and child socioemotional and neurodevelopment is a relatively uncharted area of research. While research does show that a more positive school climate is associated with better socioemotional functioning (
- Rakesh D.
- Kelly C.
- Vijayakumar N.
- Zalesky A.
- Allen N.B.
- Whittle S.
Unraveling the consequences of childhood maltreatment: Deviations from typical functional neurodevelopment mediate the relationship between maltreatment history and depressive symptoms.
Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2021; 6: 329-342
2), little is known about potential neural mechanisms. In the current issue of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, Rakesh et al. (
- Aldridge J.M.
- McChesney K.
The relationships between school climate and adolescent mental health and wellbeing: A systematic literature review.
Int J Educ Res. 2018; 88: 121-145
3) point out this gap in our knowledge and take an important first step in exploring associations between school climate and brain development.
- Rakesh D.
- Zalesky A.
- Whittle S.
The role of school environment in brain structure, connectivity, and mental health in children: A multimodal investigation.
Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2023; 8: 32-41
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- Unraveling the consequences of childhood maltreatment: Deviations from typical functional neurodevelopment mediate the relationship between maltreatment history and depressive symptoms.Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2021; 6: 329-342
- The relationships between school climate and adolescent mental health and wellbeing: A systematic literature review.Int J Educ Res. 2018; 88: 121-145
- The role of school environment in brain structure, connectivity, and mental health in children: A multimodal investigation.Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2023; 8: 32-41
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- Associations between neighborhood disadvantage, resting-state functional connectivity, and behavior in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study: The moderating role of positive family and school environments.Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2021; 6: 877-886
- School climate, cortical structure, and socioemotional functioning: Associations across family income levels.J Cogn Neurosci. 2022; 34: 1842-1865
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Accepted: October 14, 2022
Received: October 12, 2022
© 2022 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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- The Role of School Environment in Brain Structure, Connectivity, and Mental Health in Children: A Multimodal InvestigationBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and NeuroimagingVol. 8Issue 1
- PreviewMuch work has been dedicated to understanding the effects of adverse home environments on brain development. While the school social and learning environment plays a role in child development, little work has been done to investigate the impact of the school environment on the developing brain. The goal of the present study was to examine associations between the school environment, brain structure and connectivity, and mental health.