I focus on the "making and breaking forces” that drive neuroplastic processes
I create capabilities. My particular passion is advocating for children at risk and enabling equal opportunities for them in order to reach their full cognitive potential. Based on many years of interdisciplinary research, I use approaches in practice that aim at supporting people, especially children and adolescents who feel disconnected and lack a sense of belonging.
– Isabella Sarto-Jackson
Isabella Sarto-Jackson is a neurobiologist, executive manager of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, and president of the Austrian Neuroscience Association (ANA). She holds a Master´s degree in genetics, a PhD in neurobiochemistry, and the venia docendi in neurobiology. For more than a decade she has worked as a neuroscientist at the Center for Brain Research of the Medical University in Vienna. She has since extended her research focus to cognitive science and evolutionary biology.
Her work is highly interdisciplinary – at the interface of neurobiology, cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and social education.
Her particular passion is advocating for children at risk and enabling equal opportunities for them in order to reach their full cognitive potential.
The Making and Breaking of Minds
How social interactions shape the human mind
The human brain reorganizes itself and flexibly adjusts to fluctuating environmental conditions by means of neuroplastic processes. Neuroplasticity provides the basis for wide-ranging learning and memory processes that are particularly profuse during childhood and adolescence. At the same time, the exceptional malleability of the developing brain leaves it highly vulnerable to negative impact from the surroundings.
Abusive or neglecting social environments as well as socioeconomic deprivation cause physiological stress responses that can severely compromise cognitive development, emotional processing, and executive brain functions by altering the underlying neurobiochemical homeostasis. Importantly, such detrimental neurophysiological consequences are not limited to the traumatized individual but can be transmitted to the offspring through a process of social niche construction.
Proof of concept is supported by research on transgenerational trauma.