Brain research suggests that development is a hierarchical process of wiring the brain, in that higher level processes build on a foundation of lower level processes. For example, language development depends critically on sensory and perceptual development e. The types of stimuli infants and children are exposed to help shape the brain and behavior. Although the brain may come equipped with biases for certain perceptual information, such as for speech, language, or faces, it is the specific speech, language, and range of faces they are exposed to that drives subsequent development.
Depriving young children of the kinds of experiences that are essential to later development—that is, the building blocks that create the scaffolding upon which development depends—leads to severe consequences in both brain structure and function. Studies of institutionalized children suggest that quality psychosocial experiences are necessary for the development of a healthy brain.
It is important to emphasize that the individual does not play a passive role in this process.
For example, a child who appears happy in response to a caregiver singing a song may elicit more singing. This child consequently may have more experience with songs, which could affect his or her language development and the brain processes that underlie it.
Much of brain research is descriptive and simply tells us how the brain contributes to the development of behavior that is typical of young children e. However, some of this research has implications on the decisions we make for young children. Research on deprivation can be used to make the case that environments that adversely affect infants and young children need to be remedied before they have long lasting consequences on both brain and behavior.
Intervening in adverse circumstances is more successful if it occurs before brain processes become entrenched and in turn harder to rewire. Tierney, Harvard Graduate School of Education. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Author manuscript; available in PMC Jul Tierney and Charles A.
Brain plasticity in the developing brain.
Tierney, Harvard Graduate School of Education;. She has a background in neuroscience and is currently involved in the Mind, Brain, and Education program. Her dissertation research is on brain development in children with autism. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Zero Three.
See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract Research over the past several decades has provided insight into the processes that govern early brain development and how those processes contribute to behavior. Early Stages of Brain Development An account of brain development in the early years of childhood is only complete if we first examine the origins of this process during the prenatal months. Neurulation About 2 weeks after conception, the developing embryo has organized itself into a three-layered, spherical structure.
Proliferation Once the general structure of the neural tube has been laid out, the cells that line the innermost part of the tube, called the ventricular zone , proliferate at a logarithmic rate.
Cell migration After the cells are born, they travel to their final destinations. Differentiation Once a neuron has migrated to its target destination, it generally proceeds along one of two roads: Synaptogenesis A synapse is a point of contact between two brain cells, often two neurons and frequently a dendrite and an axon.
Synapse pruning The overproduction of synapses is followed by a pruning back of the unused and overabundance of synapses. Myelination The final process involved in the development of the brain is called myelination. Summary In general, brain development begins a few weeks after conception and is thought to be complete by early adulthood. Constructing a Foundation for the Future The development of the brain is a life-long process.
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Plasticity Is Affected by Experience The brain is much more sensitive to experience in the first few years of life than in later years. Environmental Effects on Brain Structure and Function The effects of experience go beyond the simple modulation of plasticity. Conclusions In this article we have attempted to illustrate how the developmental neurosciences can shed light on early childhood development.
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Cognitive recovery in socially deprived young children: The Bucharest Early Intervention Project. Programmed cell death and neurotrophic factors. Is face processing species-specific during the first year of life? Plasticity of face processing in infancy. How people make their own environments: Romanian institution and foster care. Depression had taught me lessons about emotions and being present. Read on, you are not alone. James Adler Want to feel younger, have more energy and create a life full of passion, vibrant health, and alignment? Discover tested Ayurveda healing system.
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Brain Development and the Role of Experience in the Early Years
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Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Learn more about Amazon Prime. The reader will find substantial new information about the mechanisms underlying growth cone dynamics, about molecules involved in axon outgrowth and cell adhesion, the role of proteoglycans and glial factors in directing or confirming axons to their appropriate targets, and the role of myelin-associated growth inhibitors.