The brain of a child is the perfect example of neuroplasticity. This means that as children learn basic and complex skills, their brain changes. The connections between neurons are either eliminated or strengthened.
To help you make sense of how early experience can shape a child’s brain, here are some questions and answers that will give you a better view of how the young mind works:
Are Babies Born with Less Neurons and Synapses than Adults?
No—babies are, in fact, born with more neurons and synapses than adults. In a study conducted in 2007, the researchers compared eight human brains of new-borns with eight brains of adults. The results showed that on average, neurons and synapses are 41 per cent lower in adults than those in babies. So what happens to the “extra” neurons? They go through a process called synaptic pruning, which weeds out the weaker synapses.
Does Brain Development Depend Only on Genes?
No. Brain development is actually the result of a complicated interaction between genes and the environment. Connections between neurons form in the utero, and these connections are determined by genetics. Whether the connection becomes weak or strong depends on the environment of the child, particularly the child’s experiences.
So, children can outsmart their genes. Think of it this way: if genes determined how smart a person becomes, then what is the purpose of school? According to Heguru Education Centre, it really depends on learning.
Is 0 to 5 Years Old the Only Critical Period for Brain Development?
They say everything happens before age 5. While the period between 0 to 5 years of age is important for brain development, it is not critical for all major cognitive skills. Brain development is, in fact, continuous. Numerous studies even show that the brain does not fully develop until a person reaches 18 to 20. To be more precise, the frontal lobes of the brain, which are responsible for planning, organisation, judgment, and strategizing, are the last ones to function fully until a person reaches adulthood.
With these facts in mind, you might be surprised what a gorgeous little genius you have on your hands.