Early Brain Development and What Babies Know

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EARLY BRAIN DEVELOPMENT AND WHAT BABIES KNOW 5

EarlyBrain Development and What Babies Know

Achild’s brain develops at a high rate from the time an infant isborn to the age of three whereby about seven hundred neuralconnections are produced in every second. However, the speed at whichthe brain will develop is dogged by factors such as experiences,relations with the parents and other people close to the kid, and theenvironment (National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families,2016). The development of brain involves a bottom-up, top-downsequence. Sensory areas are the ones that mature before thehigh-level association areas. For example, sexual, sensory,risk-taking, appetitive, and sensation-seeking linkages are producedbefore mind ties such as arrangement, ability to reason in a maturemanner, and self-discipline is formed.

Beforean infant is born, the basic wiring patterns present in the brain arenot solely determined by the genes, but according to theNeuroconstructivist view, the brain has plasticity and minddevelopment is also influenced by the environment (Berger, 2016). Inthis regard, the personal experiences of a child will determine thetypes of connections that will be made in the brain. Neurons will bepresent even before the baby is born. Immediately after birth,brain’s neural connections will start forming due to the presenceof sights, eye contacts, sounds, touches among other stimulants.

Thereare structural changes that occur in the brain as a child matures tobe an adolescent. These modifications take place in the amygdala,prefrontal cortex, corpus callosum, and the limbic system. The corpuscallosum thickens to enable the child to process information whilethe development of the prefrontal cortex helps an infant to reason,have self-control, and make decisions (Berger, 2016). Besides, kidswill start showing emotions when the limbic part of the braindevelops.

Theinformation that has surprised me about an infant’s brain islearning that genes are not the only determinants of the mind.Initially, I thought that the way a child behavesresultfrom genes, but both the genes and environment influence braindevelopment in children.

Researchersnegate the Piaget’s theory that states that infants are blankslates. Baby examiners argue that toddlers have natural instincts todifferentiate between the bad and good and in most cases, areattracted by events that are more appealing than occurrences orthings that are meaningless (Geddes, 2015). Therefore, it impliesthat a toddler can differentiate between the right and wrong.

Oneof the new research techniques that have been developed to studybabies’ brains is known as infant near-infrared spectrometry(NIRS). NIRS focuses on brain activities through color recording andis used to predict the probability of risk stroke in premature babiesusing the flow of oxygenated blood. Also, electroencephalography(EEG) is a research technique that is used to study the brain ofchildren when the kids start recognizing the dissimilarities betweenthemselves and other people (Geddes, 2015). The reason why it is hardto study the brain of a child is that an infant cannot speak. In thisregard, a toddler will not be in a position to explain the strategiesused in reason. Also, children do not follow instructions, and theycan interrupt unexpectedly brain study experiments.

Newresearch by Jerome Kagan of Harvard University found that gazes areexceedingly vital in reading the mind of children. According to her,different studies attempt to prove that babies understand goals,number, and causality. In the studies, the only measure looked at isa change in viewing time. An important aspect that has emerged isthat babies desire to gaze at faces that stare directly at a child’sface instead of those looking away from the kid’s face (Geddes,2015).

Theknowledge I have acquiredwillhelp me to have a better understanding of the critical stages ofbrain development in children. Therefore, as a parent, I will usethis knowledge to nurture real personalities in infants and bettercommunication skills.

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Berger,K. S. (2016). Invitationsto the Life Span, 3rd edition.New York: Worth Publishers.

Geddes,L. (2015). The Big Baby Experiment.Scientific American:Nature.Retrieved fromhttp://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-big-baby-experiment/

NationalCenter for Infants, Toddlers and Families. (2016). BrainDevelopment.Zero-to-Three. Retrieved fromhttp://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/brain-development/

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