By Kirsten Weir

The first time Nathan Fox, PhD, stepped into a Romanian orphanage, he was struck by the silence. “The most remarkable thing about the infant room was how quiet it was, probably because the infants had learned that their cries were not responded to,” says Fox, who directs the Child Development Laboratory at the University of Maryland.

The babies laid in cribs all day, except when being fed, diapered or bathed on a set schedule. They weren’t rocked or sung to. Many stared at their own hands, trying to derive whatever stimulation they could from the world around them. “Basically these kids were left on their own,” Fox says.

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