The following terms
and concepts are used
throughout this issue.
Addiction: A chronic condition that
affects the brain’s reward and motivation
systems. Well before an addiction
takes hold, brain development plays a
critical role in a person’s susceptibility
to addiction in the first place. Early
childhood experiences, as far back as
the pre- and postnatal periods, can alter
brain architecture in ways that may
make addiction more likely.
Brain: A major and powerful organ,
your brain controls your senses, motion,
speech, thought, memory, intellect,
thinking and imagination.
Brain architecture/development: The
basic architecture of the brain is like
the construction of a home — building
begins with laying the foundation,
framing the rooms and wiring the
electrical system in an orderly way. Our
early experiences literally shape how
our brains get built. A strong foundation
in the early years increases the chances
of a healthy life. A weak foundation
increases the risk of problems later in
life. The most intense time of brain
development is during the first few years
Brain plasticity: The brain’s capacity
to change as a result of input from the
environment. Brain circuits are built in a
bottom-up sequence over the course of the
developmental period. As a general rule,
the brain is most plastic during the early
period of development, meaning that
during this time it is the most vulnerable
to harm and the most capable of recovery.
As brain circuits stabilize, they become
increasingly difficult to alter.
Cognitive development: The ability
to understand the world around you; it
involves memory, perception, thinking,
attention and language skills.
Emotional development: The
understanding of different emotions,
such as anger, sadness and happiness,
as well as the ability to regulate these
Executive function: A learned ability.
Just as air traffic controllers enable
many planes to use an airport without