The University of Oregon Brain Development Lab, under the direction of Helen J. Neville, is doing interesting work studying the influence of environment on brain development. She is the executive producer of a DVD you can watch online called Changing Brains.
Although the DVD is produced for a broad audience in simple language, its content is supported by scientific research. The DVD is divided into segments on reading, math, music, attention and other topics. Especially interesting is the segment on emotions and learning, which reviews evidence showing that chronic stress, neglect and depression produces chemicals that literally are toxic to the brain.
Full disclosure: I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Oregon.