UCL News


UCL in the News: Hope for the children of the cellar

28 April 2008

Kathryn Westcott, BBC News The Austrian children locked in a cellar with their mother since birth have been through an experience that is hard to imagine.

But experts say the psychological damage they have suffered could be less severe than you may think. …

Peter Fonagy, director of the research department of clinical, educational and health psychology at UCL, said the children were likely to suffer significant social problems in the medium term because of their lack of social interaction.

"They are likely to suffer significant cognitive and perceptual deficit and major problems with emotional regulation," he says. "The parts of the brain that read emotion in other people would not be so well developed."

But he said that cognitively, the five year old had a very good chance of catching up, and that, despite their ages, there was much the others could still learn.

"The human brain is marvellous in its ability to adapt to different circumstances," he said. …