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The Foundation Years - I
|by Kamna Raj|
The brain is part of the central nervous system, and plays a decisive role in controlling many bodily functions both voluntary activities (like walking, or talking) and involuntary activities (like breathing, or blinking).
At birth, the human brain is in a remarkably unfinished state. Most of its 100 billion neurons are not yet connected in networks. Forming and reinforcing these connections are the key tasks of early brain development.
Research indicates that by the age of three, the brains of children are two and a half times more active than the brain of adults. Pasko Rakic and his colleagues at Yale University have found that the cerebral cortex is vulnerable to environmental influence from its earliest stages of development. Because the brain has the capacity to change, parents, other family members, teachers, doctors, have ample opportunities to promote and support children's healthy growth and development. Scientists have learned that different regions of the cortex increase in size when they are exposed to stimulating conditions, and that the longer they are exposed the more they grow.
Different parts of the brain become active at different times and with different degrees of intensity. By studying the PET scans of children who came to his hospital for diagnosis and treatment, Harry Chugani and his colleagues have quantified the activity levels of different parts of the brain at various stages of development. For example, at one month of age there is intensive activity in the cortical and subcortical regions that control sensory-motor functions. Between second and third months cortical activity rises sharply thus a prime time for providing visual and auditory stimulation. By about eight months of age the frontal cortex shows increased metabolic activity-this part is associated with the ability to regulate and express emotions as well as to think and to plan.
Having known that by the time the children reach age three, their brains are twice as active as those of adults and that there are prime times for acquiring different kinds of knowledge and skills, one can thus understand as to why early experiences play a crucial role in a child's development. Early experiences have a decisive impact on the architecture of the brain. Early interventions don't just create a context; they directly affect the way the brain is "wired."
Please visit us soon to learn more about the early experiences and its affects, in part II
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