WHAT TO KNOW
Humans have over 100 billion brain cells. Each one has dendrites, filament-like extensions that are like branches growing out from a tree. Those dendrites receive and send out impulses, electro-chemical messages, to other brain cells. Those impulses travel to other neurons along pathways called synapses, joined to each other by "polysynaptic membranes."
The human brain is making connections at a rapid pace of 700 to a 1000 every second.
In the first three years, a child’s brain has up to twice as many synapses as it will have in adulthood.
Genes provide a blueprint for the brain, but a child’s environment and experiences carry out the construction.
From birth to 6 years old the brain....
- Development of voluntary movement, reasoning, perception, frontal lobes active in development of emotions, attachments, planning, working memory, and perception.
- A sense of self is developing and life experiences shape the emotional well being.
- By age six, the brain is 95% its adult weight and peak of energy consumption.
- Caregivers need to provide nurturing environment and daily individualized communication. Negative or harsh treatment may come with emotional consequences in the future.
These early synaptic connections form the basis of a person’s lifelong capacity to learn, adapt to change, have resilience in case of unexpected circumstances, as well physical and mental health.
Synaptic density in the prefrontal cortex probably reaches its peak during the third year, up to 200 percent of its adult level. This region also continues to create and strengthen networks with other areas. As a result, complex cognitive abilities are being improved and consolidated. At this stage, for example, children are better able to use the past to interpret present events. They also have more cognitive flexibility and a better understanding of cause and effect.