Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BEGINNINGS Chapter 4: Brain Development


One thing that we know about the human brain and brain development is how little we really know. Our knowledge of the human brain is in its infancy. In-spite of this, we have learned incredible things over the past 20 years.

During the first three years of life a typical healthy brain in a typical healthy environment makes hundreds, perhaps thousands of, synaptic connections per second. This means children typically learn at an amazing rate. At around age three the process slows down significantly; though we continue to learn and synaptic connections continue to be formed. At about age ten, the typical brain will begin to purge (prune) unused connections. This is sort-of like cleaning out and organizing your house, removing the unimportant and less important items, making everything else easier to find. Some times the brain does not perform this function very well, creating an ever increasingly cluttered and disorganized mind where it is difficult to find and access information. Fortunately most of us are able to continue to learn and discard useless information and connections through most if not all of our lives.

These first few years of life are extremely important to our development in many areas including attachments, relationships, and language.
Brain development is dependant on a number of different factors: genetics, prenatal care, factors that affect the mother during pregnancy, other influences we bring with us from before birth, environment, nutrition, interactions, music etc. Some early brain development is so essential that if missed during the early years, there may never be an opportunity to fully recover.

One more important fact about early brain development. Nursing a child helps develop the myelin sheath around neurons in the brain, which makes your child’s brain run just a little faster which makes him or her just a little more intelligent.


Years ago I had a friend and co/worker who was born deaf. As an adult she was able to get a cochlear implant. I had not known this when I first new her. We had a chat system in the office to facilitate communication and one day when I learned she had the implant I asked her if she could hear anything. Her response was ‘yes, I hear everything.’ This really surprised me; but as I continued to ask questions I learned that she could hear everything, she just couldn’t process language and she could not hear the subtle nuances of the sounds of language.  She could hear sounds as people spoke; but the spoken word, without her ability to read lips, was completely unintelligible. A few years after knowing her I viewed a video on the importance of detecting early hearing loss. Three sister were presented. Each had a complete hearing loss and each had a cochlear implant at about the same age. Unfortunately this meant that the oldest sister had it when she was a young girl, the next when she was a preschooler and the youngest when she was a toddler. The speech of the oldest was and will always be somewhat difficult; however the youngest was absolutely typical for a child of her age.


You often hear people say, ‘oh, don’t worry about it, s/he will grow out of it.’ While this may be the case in some situations, in many if not most, it is not. Problems and issues are usually more easily remedied while a child is young. Research is absolutely clear on this issue. Communication, motor, behavioral, and many other deficits are most easily improved or completely remedied during the first years of life. The same first years of life are crucial to helping children get a good start in life.

Key Words:

Google Parenting Search Engine and/or the Google Scholar Search Engine Below: "Early Childhood Development"; "Early Childhood Intervention"; "Early Years".

Supplemental Material:

HUG Stories 1

Early Learning Brain Development and Lifelong Outcomes

BBC Baby Synapse Connection

Early Learning and the Brain

Can You Boost Your Child’s IQ?

Got Smarts? Mother's Milk May Pump Up Baby's IQ: Scientific American

Bausch + Lomb: Understanding your Baby’s Vision Development

Animated Brain Samples: Embryonic Development

Baby Steps: Learn the Signs. Act Early

Breast-feeding benefits academic performance 10 years later

Vitamin D in Pregnancy May Be Key for Baby's Brain

Vitamin C Deficiency in Pregnant Mothers may affect Baby’s Brain Development

The Effects of Early Life Adversity on Brain and Behavioral Development - Dana Foundation


Mother's Care Determines Child's Brain Size: Study : Health : Counsel & Heal



Prenatal Exposure to Fish Beneficial to Child Development



Baby basics: Does how you parent hinder your child's brain development? | Deseret News



Those early piano lessons boosted your brain, study says - JSOnline


Angel said...

It is amazing to know that we our brains our continuing to learn at a early age. Our brains our continuing to grow and process new information. A mother nursing a newborn helps the newborn develop a myelin sheath around the brain. It makes the baby's brain work a little harder, which makes them a little more intelligent than formula fed infants.

The question that I have is: With all the new formula's out there why do they say that support brain development if they don't?

CR Petersen said...

While some formulas are better than others, there is no doubt. There is nothing that compares with mom, especially if mom is healthy.