Whatever happens to a baby contributes to the emotional and perceptual map of the world that its developing brain creates. As my colleague Bruce Perry explains it, the brain is formed in a use-dependent manner.5 This is another way of describing neuroplasticity, the relatively recent discovery that neurons that fire together, wire together. When a circuit fires repeatedly, it can become a default setting—the response most likely to occur. If you feel safe and loved, your brain becomes specialized in exploration, play, and cooperation; if you are frightened and unwanted, it specializes in managing feelings of fear and abandonment. As infants and
― Bessel A. van der Kolk,
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
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