The Developing Brain
Starting from within the womb, fetal brain development begins the amazing journey that leads to a well-developed brain at birth that continues to grow for 18 more years.
- Neurons. Neurons develop at the rate of 250,000 neurons per minute during early pregnancy.
- Size at birth. At birth, your brain was almost the same size as an adult brain and contained most of the brain cells for your whole life.
- Newborn’s growth. A newborn baby’s brain grows about three times its size in the first year.
- Stopped growing. Your brain stopped growing at age 18.
- Cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex grows thicker as you learn to use it.
- Stimulation. A stimulating environment for a child can make the difference between a 25% greater ability to learn or 25% less in an environment with little stimulation.
- New neurons. Humans continue to make new neurons throughout life in response to mental activity.
- Read aloud. Reading aloud and talking often to a young child promotes brain development.
- Emotions. The capacity for such emotions as joy, happiness, fear, and shyness are already developed at birth. The specific type of nurturing a child receives shapes how these emotions are developed.
- First sense. The first sense to develop while in utero is the sense of touch. The lips and cheeks can experience touch at about 8 weeks and the rest of the body around 12 weeks.
- Bilingual brains. Children who learn two languages before the age of five alters the brain structure and adults have a much denser gray matter.
- Child abuse and the brain. Studies have shown that child abuse can inhibit development of the brain and can permanently affect brain development.