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Capitalizing on Neuroplasticity Across Development to Redirect Pathways From Juvenile Justice Involvement

Chaplo, S., & Fishbein, D.

From the abstract: "Adolescence is an exquisitely sensitive period of development during which pathways branch toward success in school and prosocial pursuits or, conversely, toward behavior problems and involvement in high-risk activities and systems, such as juvenile justice (JJ). Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as poverty, family dysfunction, and child maltreatment, have been strongly and repeatedly associated with JJ involvement. A significant body of research from neuroscience has established that ACEs can alter facets of neurodevelopment that undergird self-regulation throughout childhood and adolescence, thereby increasing susceptibility to behaviors that attract attention of the JJ system. Because the ability to intervene prior to system-entrenchment is crucial to disrupting an adverse developmental pathway, we look toward neuroscience to offer insights into how to do so more effectively. In this chapter, evidence is summarized that informs an understanding of how neurodevelopmental pathways may lead to JJ involvement. Because neurodevelopment is malleable in response to both detrimental and positive experiences, there is potential for well-targeted interventions to normalize brain and cognitive development, especially during sensitive periods of maturation. This discussion is followed by a proposed research agenda to determine how to exploit these critical windows of opportunity to divert youth from persistent antisocial behavior and JJ involvement. Lastly, a review of neuroscience findings regarding the ability of intervention to strengthen brain systems that modulate self-regulation is presented. This research has direct practical significance with potential to be translated into meaningful policy change."


Chaplo, S., & Fishbein, D. (2021). Capitalizing on neuroplasticity across development to redirect pathways from juvenile justice involvement. Current Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience. Advance online publication. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34486099/