In the finale of Season 3 of Purposeful Lab, Dan and Catherine welcome Dr. Sofia Carozza for the second time to continue their discussion on the brain as it relates to childhood development. With the help of AI, Sofia spends her time at Harvard Medical researching how early experiences in life shape the brain structure and one's cognitive functions. What her research shows is that your brain can heal and that there is hope for those who have undergone early childhood trauma. This episode explores the effects of trauma on the brain, how neuroplasticity can heal the brain, the power of relationships in withstanding childhood trauma, and AI models in the field of neuroscience.
Childhood Trauma and Brain Plasticity
Dr. Carozza explains how her inspiration for her work began when she worked in an orphanage in Paraguay. She witnessed many children who had developmental problems due to abandonment, violence, or neglect. However, she observed that when the children experienced loving relationships, many of their developmental problems began to heal. This prompted her to study the neuroscience behind how the brain can heal from childhood trauma.
How Different Brains Handle Trauma
Dr. Carozza continues by describing how environments can influence the effects of trauma on children. Any environment in childhood will mold patterns of behavior that can span well into adulthood. However, people’s reactions may vary depending on receptors to stress hormones, personality, and the relationships that form a child’s conception of love.
A child who has a stronger support system of love can help them withstand trauma. Positive or negative experiences affect the whole brain and biology of individuals, but it is our relationships with others that have the biggest impact.
Freedom and the Brain
The relational landscape a child has early in life can influence their ability to choose the good in their lives. However, while some scientists may claim this mitigates our free will, Dr. Carozza argues that trauma does not deny the human capacity for agency but rather can make our ability to choose our flourishing more difficult. Additionally, according to Dr. Carozza, there is no set time in development where neuroplasticity is not at play. Meaning that no matter the trauma, our brains can always heal and lead us toward choosing our genuine flourishing.
Take A Listen
This episode demonstrates that although we may all experience great suffering and trauma throughout our lives, our brain is designed to heal and grow toward what is truly good. Through loving relationships, we can awaken our desire to change and grow through grace. Dr. Carozza’s research demonstrates that the key to healing from traumas is loving relationships. However much a person has suffered in their lifetime, there is always hope to heal, even on the neurological level.