Brain Development – Zero to Three

The development of our brain begins in the first weeks after conception and the first three years of your child’s life are crucial for development in many ways.  I find this area fascinating and thought I would share some information with you.

A quick introduction to the Brain

Our human brains have three main parts:

  1. Cerebrum: Involved in processes such as memory and learning. This is also where planning and decision making take place in adulthood.
  2. Cerebellum: Involved in balance and coordination.
  3. Brain Stem: Controls reflexes and involuntary processes e.g. heart rate and breathing.

Brainlobes

How does the brain work?

The brain contains billions of nerve cells in networks called neurons which communicate with one another via electrical and chemical signals.

  1. When a neuron receives a chemical signal from another neuron it becomes electrically charged.
  2. The electrical charge travels down its axon to the synapse terminal and triggers the release of neurotransmitters (the brain’s chemical messengers).  A Synapse is a structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron.

    Synapse Structure
    Synapse Structure
  3. Neurotransmitters released are diffused across the synapse and bind to receptors on the surface of the target cell.

According the research, in the first three years a child’s brain has twice as many synapses as it will have in adulthood.  At ages between two and three, the brain has as many synapses as it will have in adulthood.  During this period, the brain can captures the information much more efficiently than it would be able to later on.  The surplus of synapses is gradually eliminated through out childhood and adolescence as process called ‘Synaptic Pruning’.

Synapse Density

 

Click here to see the core concepts in early development and how important are early experiences are built into our bodies and brains for better or worse.

I find the human existence amazing.   There are about 100 billion of neurons that have been produced and travel to the right places in the brain while beginning to connect with one another.  Click here for information on Baby Brain Map.  It is an interactive map where you can click on the section of the image you are interested in.  I have also taken a quick screenshot for a quick summary below.  Depending on the age range, different hotspots will appear:

Brain development

For more information of an outline of Early Brain Development click here

I hope you found this as interesting as I did 🙂

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