Newborn`s Brain

Newborn`s Brain

  Autor NN Team Data: 12.02.2009

Newborn`s Brain

Human brain is a wonder of nature we still do not fully understand. He controls all voluntary and involuntary actions of our body and yet we know so little about it. On the other hand, the newborn's brain is a bigger unknown. Not fully developed yet, it is still capable of so many miracles which amaze us daily.

The child's brain begins to develop soon after fertilization, when brain cells begin to appear at the top of the embryo. Three and a half weeks after fertilization, the neural tube begins to expand and it will form the spine and brain. Within the neural tube neurons (brain cells) begin to develop and communicate with each other. At first, neurons can multiply rapidly at a rate of 250,000 per minute. But after the 20th week the process slows and the brain is organized in over 40 systems. In the sixth month all neurons are already formed for life.

In the last three months, the connections between neurons become closer. The strongest of them will turn into distinct parts of the brain. The systems formed this way eventually will control the sight, language, movement, hearing and other functions of the human body. Neurons continue to build billions of links that will form the nervous system of the fetus.

At one time it was believed that babies have the brain fully formed. Today we know that after delivery, most connections in the brain form and determine what we think, what we are, how we control our emotions.

Although it has already developed incredibly, a newborn's brain is still incomplete. It is very small - only 25% of adult brain size and weight - and unequal in terms of development. At birth, only the lower parts of the nervous system - the spinal cord and brain basis- are well developed, while the higher regions - the limbic system and the cerebral cortex - are still in primitive stage.

So, a newborn's behavior is dictated mostly by the brain basis, responsible for reflexes. That's why most of the actions and movements of an infant are simply reflexes. The upper part of the brain, the cerebral cortex is responsible for conscious thoughts and feelings, the voluntary actions that will occur later in child's life.

Although all neurons in the cortex are produced before birth, the connections between them are weak. Most of synaptic cortex connections are made after birth, in the period of exuberance, which is a time where there is a massive explosion of new occurrences of synapses. At its peak, cerebral cortex creates two million new synapses every second! With these new connections the milestones in the development of an infant also appear: color vision, attachment to parents and the first word.

At the age of two years, the child's cerebral cortex contains over 1,000 trillion synapses. From the age of 9-10 years and later in adolescence, the number of synapses decreases gradually until it reaches the adult brain.

Learning ability is inversely proportional to the age. The smaller the child the more quickly he/she learns, while the adults have a low learning capacity. The child was born almost blind, deaf and devoid of senses. These begin to appear and develop under the influence of visual auditory, tactile stimuli if they have the corresponding frequency, intensity and duration.

The brain grows and develops only if used. It's one thing that no parent should forget. Even parents' hugging, caressing have an important role in brain development. Studies have shown that love and care that we show to our children help not only to create a strong emotional connection, but also in brain development.

Synapses in the brain are created through experience. When talking with your child, when you caress and hug it, you create new experiences that will form new and new synapses. The more varied and positive the experiences, the more numerous and powerful are the synapses.

On the other hand, lack of stimulation carries to the contrary. If it has not part of experience (it is neglected, left in front of the TV) or has some negative experiences (it is abused), child's brain is not getting what it needs to grow. Neglected and abused children not only that are less prepared for life but also have smaller brains compared to other children.

Experts say that babies and children who grow up in a safe environment, surrounded by love in the first three years of life, are somehow immunized against stress that we will face later in life. The first three years of life represent a critical period in terms of cognitive, emotional and physical development. In these early years, any stimulus, positive or negative, will have an extraordinarily large influence on the child.

Let us remember these things daily. Make an effort to find time for our children. To love, to caress them, to hug them whenever we can. It is a form of insurance for the years to come.

This article is part of the Information Campaign "A-Plus Parent".

Read the English version of this article: Newborn`s Brain