OKOROAFOR IFECHIDEREPYSCH (LIFESPAN DEVELOPMENT)5/6/2019INFANTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL INTERACTINGInfants gain experience by interacting with their environment. These initial experiences normally influence the structure of their brain, and play a significant role in neuron connectivity. If infants are exposed to healthy experiences that supply their brains with quality information, complex neuron connectivity takes place in their brains, enhancing their mental development. Efficient mental development at the infant stage combined with experiences in life enable children to maximize their mental capabilities. Therefore, learning experiences at the infant stage pave the way for later learning during adolescence and adulthood. Infants, who have poor learning experiences in their early life, have high chances of having impaired mental capabilities later in life. This is because negative experiences canaffect the development of the brain structure (Wachs & Gruen, 2006, p. 98).Research has indicated that there is a period during infancy when experience greatly impact on cognitive development than any other time, this period is referred to as the critical period. If an infant experiences excessive stress during this critical period, the trauma will affect the nervous system resulting in brain damage. This will lead to learning, mental, and behavioral problems later in life (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber, & Fitzgerald, 2007, 153). Children who are exposed to disorganized or insecure relationships produce large amounts of stress hormones, which can interfere with the interconnectivity of neurons. This normally makes these children to be less tolerant to stress in their adult lives.
Developmental psychologist and neuroscientist have agreed that the first three years of infant development are crucial to cognitive development. This is because it is during this period that the brain architecture takes shapes, in terms of neuron development and connectivity. Negative experiences such as stress and lack of mental stimulation can adversely affect cognitive development in infants (Wachs & Gruen, 2006, p. 99).`One of the aims of this research is to establish the effects of early experiences on cognitive development in infants. This is because there has been a growing interest on the role played by the environment in shaping behavior and intelligence. Examining how experiences (environment) shape the cognitive development of infants, will be a step towards establishing how environment affects intelligence. The second aim of this research is to reveal issues raised by different researchers concerningcognitive development. There are various researchers who have come up with different views and theories explaining cognitive development in infants. Some of these theories and ideas are divergent, which calls for establishment of a common ground.