Interlake High SchoolClass of 2026Bellevue, WA
AboutHi! My name is Abhidi Brahnmath, and I am a freshman in the Seattle area. My Polygence project is a research paper on the behavioral and neural impacts of childhood stressors, such as bullying, abuse from parents, and systemic racism. I wanted to learn more about how experiencing adversity can rewire someone's perspective, which is why I chose this topic. Currently, I am working on submitting my research to journals to hopefully be published!
- "The behavioral and neural impact of childhood stressors" with mentor Sori (July 14, 2022)
The behavioral and neural impact of childhood stressors
Started Mar. 17, 2022
Abstract or project description
The formative period of childhood consists of positive and negative experiences, which shape the concepts that the child internalizes. Childhood adversity can generate intense feelings that only build up over time, and can lead to significant structural changes in the victim’s cognitive pathway, emotional thoughts, that could drive them to extreme behaviors such as substance abuse. The oversized impact of childhood stressors into adolescence and adulthood has not been adequately understood and hence remains unmitigated. Parents are expected to provide emotional support, communicate the recognition of safe situations, and catalyze personality development. However, children who have been abused, neglected, or deprived of a parent are prone to more risky behavior due to the lack of ingrained values, decreased self-esteem, the stress of independence at a young age, and decreased development in emotional regulation areas such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-amygdala axis (HPA axis). Bullying creates a power dynamic that emotionally manipulates the victim, and can lead to suicidal thoughts, and increased activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), which can lead to more emotional responses when decisions must be made, stemming into aggressive behavior and lack of trust with others. Isolation from peers can not only lead to stronger feelings of loneliness, but can lead to social anxiety, imbalances in hormones, and less emotional intelligence. Being part of a minority and experiencing systemic racism, or experiencing sexism can lead to less academic achievement and confidence, narrowing of career directions, loss of trust with healthcare providers, and increased substance abuse as a coping mechanism. Understanding the severity of these impacts, solutions can be explored, such as increasing emotional development in socially struggling children and academic support for minorities, and recognizing the signs of parent-child relationship adversity. Studies investigating the role of family life in benevolent sexism, and the effects of situating a parental abuse victim in a kinder setting would be beneficial for science to better the lives of these affected children.