Special edition of Adoption & Fostering journal focuses on neurobiological sciences

  • Date:

Use of the neurobiological sciences to inform family policy and practice is well established and, however controversial, probably here to stay – hence the need to foster greater understanding of what it means. With this in mind, the latest special edition of the Adoption & Fostering journal, guest edited by Matt Woolgar, King's College London, and John Simmonds, CoramBAAF's Director of Policy, Research and Development, sets out to:

  • Explain some of the complexities as well as the more basic tenets of neuroscience in language that practitioners and others might understand and so be able to apply to their work.
  • Challenge ‘common misunderstandings and over-simplified messages’ regarding both developments in neurobiology AND over-reliance on concepts like attachment theory in relation to the placement and care of maltreated children. In fact, as several contributors show, attachment quality can be attributed to a combination of environmental and biological factors.
  • Move away from polarised debate towards a more nuanced understanding of the issues involved on both sides, i.e. the temptation to rely on the certainties offered by science versus the need to take into account influences such as socio-economic deprivation as well as the psychology of child development in relation to abuse and neglect.
  • Discourage over generalisation and acknowledge that ‘early adversity breeds diversity in outcomes’. The individuality of every child must be kept in mind.
  • Dispel some of the myths disseminated through dramatic images of the ‘damaged brain’.
  • Encourage the provision of  training for social work practitioners in areas such as genetic testing and the effects of childhood maltreatment on cardiometabolic disease and obesity.

Read the guest editorial The diverse neurobiological processes and legacies of early adversity: implications for practice.

Articles featured in the journal include:

Attitudes to and experiences of genetic information and testing among professionals working in the context of adoption - Nicola Jackson and Katherine Burke

The biological bases of attachment - Paula Oliveira and Pasco Fearon

Looked after and adopted children: applying the latest science to complex biopsychosocial formulations - Carmen Pinto

A review of childhood maltreatment, latent vulnerability and the brain: implications for clinical practice and prevention - Mattia I Gerin, Elly Hanson, Essi Viding and Eamon J McCrory

Pathways from childhood maltreatment to cardiometabolic disease: a research review - Jessie R Baldwin and Andrea Danese

Stress and physiology in clinical research with risk-exposed children: from mechanism to application - Thomas G O'Connor and Ana Vallejo Sefair

Utilising genetically informed research designs to better understand family processes and child development: implications for adoption and foster care focused interventions - Ruth Sellers, Amelia Smith, Leslie D Leve, Elizabeth Nixon, Jackie Cassell and Gordon Harold

CoramBAAF members can gain full access to the journal online via the members' area of this website.

Copies of the journal can also be purchased in the bookshop.