Brain Development Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Brain Development Essay
Rate this post

  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1691

  • Pages: 7

Brain Development

The first eight years of a child’s life are not only the most important years of a child’s life, but also the most rapid period of human development throughout a human life. These years are critical to the emotional and physical growth of a child. By the age of four, half of a person’s intelligence potential has already been developed and early childhood experiences can have a lasting effect on personality, behavior, and learning. (Early, 2001) These first eight years of life are broken down into the first two years, early childhood, and middle childhood. Throughout these three stages of life, the brain does most of its developing and determines the life that person will lead. The developing of a child’s brain falls upon the interactions and experiences a child has with its parents and any other primary caregivers in the beginning of life. During the first two years of a child’s life, a lot occurs in their brain which is essential to their life. When a child is born, about seventy percent of their neurons are located in their cortex. (Berger, 2010) In an infant, the cortex is made up of thin layers of tissues that cover the brain and make the thought process possible. The layers related to the basic senses tend to mature pretty early in an infant’s life, but the prefrontal cortex is one that matures late. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for anticipation, planning, and impulse control and is practically inoperative during the first few months of life. It doesn’t start to mature until childhood and continues to through adolescence and adulthood. (Boyd, 2010)

Areas of the brain are very important for basic needs to live such as breathing and heartbeat deep in the skull. Emotions and impulses are controlled somewhere in the middle of the brain and perception and cognition are in the cortex. Even though at birth the brain contains more neurons than it needs, it contains fewer dendrites and synapses than it will obtain throughout life. In the cortex, the growth of synapses, axons, and dendrites takes place quickly in the first months and years of an infant’s life. This causes the brain weight to triple by the age of two. In addition, five times as many dendrites and one hundred trillion synapses are present by the age of two. This large growth of dendrites is followed by pruning. Pruning is the process by which unused connections in the brain atrophy and die, so that new ones can grow. (Berger, 2010) Pruning is very important in the development of a healthy brain. If there is too much or too little pruning going on, problems can occur. When there is too little pruning, children make have intellectual disabilities that makes thinking difficult, such as autism. When there is too much pruning, it can lead to a reduction of brain activity. (Berger, 2010) Infant brains to not develop correctly if they lack certain experiences that all humans need, such as stimulation. Babies need to be played with and talked to during their first years in order to encourage movement and allow sensations. If babies are not talked to or played with, it can stunt the brain. Infants are satisfied with even the most simple objects and facial expressions.

Human brains are designed to grow and adapt with whatever object they have available and whoever provides them with every day attention. Every baby will go through a stressful experience here and there, but it is patterns of mistreatment that harm their brain, not moments. (Berger, 2010) The most important parts of the brain develop during early childhood. Between the ages of two and six, planning, thinking, social awareness, and language occur in the cortex. It is during early childhood when the prefrontal cortex starts to mature. This allows young children to begin to plan ahead and even think about the past. (Berger, 2010) The biggest increase in brain weight after the first two years is because of myelination. Myelination continues for years and it is a life-long process, but is most apparent in early childhood. It speeds the transmission of nerve impulses between neurons and becomes pivotal when multiple thoughts and actions have to take place all at once. (Boyd, 2010) By time most children turn six, they can see object and name them, catch a ball and throw it, and write and say their ABC’s in order. It is important that when children are doing these things, that the adults in their lives are patient. The only way children are going to learn how to tie their shoes, write their name, or get dressed, is if they do it on their own with a little help from a parent. If a parent is constantly yelling at a child to hurry or take over, their child will always think that they can’t do it by themselves. (Berger, 2010)

In early childhood, children have the tendency to stick to a thought for a long time instead of switching to another. This is why children at this stage have difficulty sorting objects. Once a child is told to sort something by color and do it correctly, if they are told to next sort by shape, they try to sort by color again. However, something in the brain matures between ages three and five that allows children to grow out of perseveration. (Berger, 2010) The corpus callosum grows rapidly during early childhood. This long, thick band of nerve fibers that connects the left and right sides of the brain ,make communication between the hemispheres better and allows children to coordinate both sides of the brain and the body. (Boyd, 2010) If the corpus callosum does not mature, it could result in serious disorders such as autism. It is important that children can coordinate both sides of the brain because both sides are normally involved in every skill, even though both sides do different things. (Berger, 2010) The amygdala, the hippocampus, and the hypothalamus are crucial to emotional expression and regulation during early childhood. The amygdala registers positive and negative emotion, including fear. Increased activity in the amygdala can cause young children to have nightmares or phobias. (Berger, 2010) Located next to the amygdala, the hippocampus is in control of memory.

Children are able to remember memories they had at certain locations that will follow them through adulthood. The hypothalamus responds to symbols from both of these parts of the brain. The hypothalamus produces a hormone called cortisol to activate parts of the brain and body. As all three of these parts of the brain develop, children pay close attention to their parents’ emotions. If they sense that their parent is scared or worried, they will also develop fear. (Berger, 2010) Brain maturation in young children is advanced, but like in infants, experience and parental relationships has an impact too. Brain maturation only increases more throughout middle childhood. Since the brain has no areas specific for reading like it does for talking, gestures, and expressions, humans have to learn to read on their own. This is possible because of massive interconnections between the parts of the brain that deal with sounds, vision, and comprehending. (Berger, 2010) These “massive interconnections” are not only needed for reading but for many other social skills as well. Several parts of the brain connect to enable for many activities, reading, writing, logic, and social decisions. Children require more connections than adults because they often use more parts of their brain for activities than adults do. (Boyd, 2010) The older that children get, the quicker their reaction time gets. In middle childhood, children are more efficient learners because of their more speedy reactions.

In addition to thinking quickly, children are able to pay more attention in middle childhood. As children get older, they get better at concentrating on one stimuli and ignoring others. They are more able to focus on one thing and not get distracted by others. This usually happens by the age of seven. (Berger, 2010) In middle childhood children also learn how to do math. They adopt newer, better strategies to solve math problems. Although they aren’t always perfect, they can usually find the right answer. In children during middle adulthood they may know the answer one day, but it isn’t permanently in their brain and they may not know they answer the next day. (Berger, 2010) Another way children advance in middle childhood is through memory. They are better at connecting their past knowledge to what they are doing in that moment. Children realize that some things should be remembered and they begin to strategies like repeating themselves in order to remember them. They also use strategies like visual clues such as remember how a word looks or auditory clues like remembering how a word sounds. In middle childhood children’s memory becomes more adaptive and they are able to learn from their parents, teachers, and friends. (Berger, 2010) From the time children are born until they reach adolescence they are developing rapidly in their brain and bodies.

Although most of the development of the brain during childhood is genetic, it is so important for parents to interact with their children, be patient with them, teach them new things, and set the best example they can for their children so they can become healthy adults. Brain development doesn’t stop after childhood, but continues to develop throughout adulthood. Almost all of the brain development takes place during childhood and the first several years of a person’s life are the most important to their personality and their future.

“References”
Early Childhood Development: The Key to a Full and Productive Life. New York: UNICEF, 2001. PDF. (Early, 2001) Berger, Kathleen Stassen. Invitation to the Life Span. Second ed. New York: Worth, 2010. Print. (Berger, 2010)

Boyd, Denise Roberts., and Helen L. Bee. The Growing Child. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010. Print. (Boyd, 2010)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About the author

admin

View all posts

Brain Development Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Brain Development Essay
Rate this post

  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1151

  • Pages: 5

Brain Development

At birth there are about 100 billion brain cells produced and they are beginning to connect with each other. At the first week of age, brain development starts with conception. It is important to reach the age of an infant and practice the ten principals. In the early years, young brains produce almost twice as many synapses as they will need. By age two, the number of synapses a toddler has is similar to that of an adult. By three the child has twice as many synapses as an adult. The infant brain develops through the interaction with the world around, especially the interaction with adults.

At the first few months, an infant cannot response to praise or punishment. Emerging research on brain development indicates that the degree for responsive care giving that children receive as infants and toddlers positively affects the connections between neurons in the brain (Brain Cells), and the architecture of the brain itself. The first three years of life are the period of growth in all areas of a baby’s development. Consistent, responsive relationships enable infants and toddlers to develop secure attachments.

Infants and Toddlers develop knowing and understanding by perceiving experiences directly with the senses. For infants to acquire the ability to comprehend this sensory information they must b able to distinguish between the familiar and the unknown; later they will begin to consider, to formulate, and to form mental images in this process of experiencing and clarifying the environment. Infants begin by exploring the world with their bodies. They internalize what they take in through their senses and display it in their physical movements.

Infants gather vital information through such simple acts as mouthing, grasping, and reaching. The knowing process also involves language abilities. As young children use their senses to experience the world, they need labels to categorize and remember these experiences. By creating these labels, children increase their ability to communicate and begin to control their own behavior. These expanded abilities give young children additional opportunities to understand the world (Infant, Toddlers, and Caregiver Ninth Edition).

Recent brain research supports the goal of building a total person instead of concentrating on cognitive development alone. Providing a rich environment with interesting things to do is desirable and stimulates cognitive development. But that does not work without working on physical, social, and emotional development at the same time. What make differences are the day-to-day living, the relationships, the experiences, the diapering, the feedings, the toilet training, and the free play and exploration that contribute to intellectual development.

Early experiences matter, and shape brain architecture. Advances in brain research have provided great insight into how young children’s experiences have profound impact on genetic predispositions and thereby share the processes that determine whether their brains will have adaptations or maladaptations for later learning, memory, reasoning, executive functioning, expressing a full range of positive and negative emotions, socialization, behavior control and lifelong health.

The thrust of this element is to close the gap between what we have learned and what we do with infants and toddlers. Experiences that prepare the developing brain to function optimally include having warm, nurturing, attentive social interactions and conscientiously buffering young children from the adverse impact of toxic stress. Lack of these kinds of experiences can have devastating, long-term effects on brain development including cognitive functioning and social-emotional competencies.

For example, unpredictable or chaotic routines or lack of consistent caregivers may jeopardize children’s foundation for identity development or self regulation, or few language experiences, toys, and opportunities to explore impede the development of neural connections and pathways that facilitate learning (Essential elements of Quality-Infant-toddler Program). To deliver high quality care giving, adults need to understand and recognize key developmental processes that help them understand and support infants and toddlers.

Since this essential element explicitly identifies knowledge about key developmental processes threats to them as a factor in quality infant-toddler program, three terms are defined as important pieces of a wider knowledge base about brain development that informs practice: serve and return, executive functioning and toxic stress. Serve and return is the interaction between young children and their parents and caregiver is a key to healthy brain development.

It helps to create neural connections that build later cognitive and emotional skills. Executive functioning represents the cognitive skills that enable a child to focus on, hold, and think about information, filter distractions; and divert their attention to something new. The foundation for executive functioning is laid in infancy and is facilitated through early experiences. Acquiring the early building blocks of (executive functioning) skills is one of the most important and challenging tasks of the early childhood years.

Toxic stress is defined as strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity without adequate adult support. Toxic stress disrupts brain development. While some experience with manageable stress is important for healthy development, prolonged, uninterrupted, overwhelming stress; toxic stress without the buffering relationships a child needs, can result in damaged, weakened systems and brain architecture that can have negative long-term effect (Essential Elements of Quality-Infant-Toddler Program). Environments make a difference in brain development.

Environments that provide proper nutrition and regularly scheduled periods of sleep and physical activity consistently promote warm, nurturing, attentive social interaction; and conscientiously buffer young children from the adverse impacts of toxic stress. Lack of adequate nutrition, physical activity, appropriate sensory stimulation or social-emotional developmental experiences disrupt brain architecture and can have a decisively negative Impact on future development (Essential Elements of Quality-Infant-Toddler Program).

Finding about the impact of early experiences on brain development highlight the importance of intervening early with highly stressed infants and toddlers and their families. Infants and children who are rarely spoken to, who are exposed to few toys, and who have little opportunity to explore and experiment with their environment may fail to fully develop the neural connections and path ways that facilitate later learning. Despite their normal genetic endowment, these children are at a significant intellectual disadvantage and are likely to require costly special education or other remedial services when they enter school.

Fortunately, intervention programs that start working with children and their families at birth or even prenatally can help prevent this tragic loss of potential. While high-quality infant and toddler programs are not necessarily intervention programs. When caregiver and parenting practices are grounded in knowledge of early brain development, caregivers and parents are much more effective in providing experiences that facilitate optimal development including strong brain architecture (Essential element of Quality-Infant-Toddler Program).

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About the author

admin

View all posts