4 - 1 FCE 212 Brain Development January 18, 2007 2 The...

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1 1 FCE 212 Brain Development January 18, 2007 2 The onset of brain development v From conception until about the third birthday is a four-year period of “potential” growth which is the most critical period of human development. v During this time, all things are possible-learning to walk, learning to talk, learning to “fit in” to society. v Maria Montessori (1953) called this period the “Absorbent Mind” 3 Brain components and functions 4 Diagram of Synapses 5 Brain function The cells of the brain are either neurons or glia. Neurons are connected. They pass electrochemical signals to each other. (Note that the neurons are not connected completely at birth.) Information is integrated within the cell body, which in turn, send out “action potentials” (the electrochemical signals). These signals travel along the axon to the end of the axon (dendrites) at which point a synapse may occur. Synapses are the paths or avenues that allow nerve cells to connect with each other. 6 The amazing fetus’s brain • By the 17 th week of pregnancy, the fetus already has one billion brain cells, more than the adult brain. These cells are proliferating at a rate of 50,000 per second. • At birth, the distinct areas of the brain are all in place, however, much growth will still occur. • The “building blocks” for brain development are created before birth; 60% of human genes are dedicated to brain development and the brain is only about 25% completed at birth (Doris Bergen, 2004) 7 Continuing growth of the brain • New synapses are formed while others are pruned away. • Between birth and eight months, the synapses are formed quickly. There may be 1,000 trillion synapses in the brain at 8 months. • After the first birthday, pruning occurs more quickly. By 10 years of age a child has nearly 500 trillion synapses, which is the same as the average adult. • Pruning occurs for about 12 years but the brain maintains flexibility for future learning. 8 • In general, the bigger the brain of a species, the more intelligent animals of that species are likely to be. • Changes in the size, structure, and connection patterns of the brain during the course of child’s development
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4 - 1 FCE 212 Brain Development January 18, 2007 2 The...

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