Final Thoughts: Brain Development Continues Throughout 20s
Neuroscientists largely agree that the human brain hasnt fully developed until the mid-20s. Although the changes that the brain incurs after adolescence are not well-studied, increases in myelination and pruning of neural pathways are believed to occur. Additionally our personality as well as development of the prefrontal cortex is finalized well into our 20s.
Although you may consider yourself an adult at age 18, keep in mind that your brain still has a ways to develop. Your cognition, ability to assess risk, and think logically will continue to improve as you age. This is considerably different than neuroscience views of the past in which we thought the brain was done developing in the teenage years.
And despite the fact that brain development may be done by our 30s, it doesnt mean that someone with a fully developed brain cannot change it. There is considerable evidence to suggest that we can still change our own brains with a process called neuroplasticity. Our brains are constantly adapting to our environment, experiences, and other inputs to which it is exposed.
When Talking To Teens Be Careful To Check What Emotion They Are Seeing In You
Often teens can misinterpret emotions and they see anger when in reality you are feeling anxious. This can often lead to many moments of miscommunication. So, when you are talking to teenagers be careful to check what emotion they are seeing in you, and make sure you always acknowledge their emotions first and then help them to be able to think about what they are feeling.
Best Books About Baby And Toddler Brain Development
This article is just scratching the surface of whats out there. While weve provided many great sources as links on this page, the following books will provide more thorough explanations and information regarding brain development in young children. If youre interested in learning more, here are a few books we recommend.
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A Child With A Learning Disability Will Always Have The Disability
While a child with a learning disability, or with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , may show continuing problems in these areas, there are treatments that may help the child compensate for the problems. The brain changes with experience and the direct teaching of appropriate skills is the most important aspect of learning for children with special needs. Shaywitz reports success in teaching compensation skills to children with severe dyslexia beginning at an early age and continuing throughout school. Gross-Glenn found that adults with an early history of dyslexia, who had learned to read, had developed different pathways compared to those without such a history. The evidence from this research indicates that new pathways can be formed with intervention. Although these pathways are not as efficient as those generally utilized for these tasks, they can function adequately. Response To Intervention is a method that can help tailor an intervention to a child’s needs .
What Develops In The Third Trimester
The third trimester is full of rapid growth. In fact, as your baby continues to grow, so does the brain. All the convoluted surfaces of the brain materialize, and the halves will separate, explains Gaither.
The most notable part of the brain during this final trimester is the cerebellum hence, the kicking, punching, wiggling, stretching, and all of the other movements your baby is performing.
While it may feel like you have control over nothing for the next 9 months, you do have a say in the foods you eat. Healthy brain development starts before pregnancy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , a healthy diet that includes folic acid, both from foods and dietary supplements, can promote a healthy nervous system.
There are a number of defects along the babys brain and spinal cord that can occur when there is an abnormality occurring within the first weeks of brain development, says Gaither. This may include anencephaly or spina bifida.
Gaither says two supplements in particular are involved with fetal brain development:
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What Develops In The Second Trimester
During the second trimester, Gaither says the brain begins to take command of bodily functions. This includes specific movements that come from the hindbrain, and more specifically, the cerebellum.
One of the first notable developments, sucking and swallowing, are detectable around 16 weeks. Fast-forward to 21 weeks, and Gaither says baby can swallow amniotic fluid.
Its also during the second trimester that breathing movements begin as directed by the developing central nervous system. Experts call this practice breathing since the brain is directing the diaphragm and chest muscles to contract.
And dont be surprised if you feel some kicking during this trimester. Remember the cerebellum or the part of the brain responsible for motor control? Well, its directing the babys movements, including kicking and stretching.
Gaither points out that a fetus can begin to hear during the late second trimester, and a sleep pattern emerges as the brainwaves from the developing hypothalamus become more mature.
The Functions Of The Cerebral Cortex
The cerebral cortex has six layers. Moreover, it is divided into lobes. Hence, these lobes are referred to by the names of the skull bones that cover them: frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital. In addition, the limbic lobe incorporates parts of three of the other lobes .
Each lobe is linked with various functions:
Frontal lobe reasoning and abstract thinking, aggression, sexual behavior, smell, voluntary movement and articulation of speech
Parietal lobe sensory awareness , language, abstract reasoning , body awareness
Temporal lobe emotions, compulsions, sexual behavior, interpretation of language, hearing, memory
Occipital lobe processing visual stimuli.
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Plus Sign + If Content Is Closed ‘x’ If Content Is Open
Your child’s brain is not fully mature until their mid-20s. This is a little earlier for girls and a little later for boys. Researchers used to think that teens’ brains were mature. But they thought that teens’ behavior differed from adults because they didn’t have the same experiences to draw on.
Now with technologies that measure and map brain activity, researchers can more clearly see how the brain develops.
How The Brain Changes During Development
From early stages of adolescence into adulthood, the brain experiences major growth and pruning. Initial developments begin near the back of the cortex, and tend to finish in the frontal areas . There are a couple key ways by which the brain changes during various stages of development including: myelination as well as synaptic pruning.
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Why Does The Brain Take So Long To Develop
Human beings are the only animals that are born completely helpless, and we have the biggest size of adult brain. If we were born with an adult-sized brain our heads would not fit through our mothers’ hips. Brain development that continues after birth also helps us better adapt to our living environment and increases our chance of survival.
We used to think that once children had gone through puberty and growth had finished, development was complete. Then MRI scanners were invented and they showed that the brain goes on changing for a long time after puberty has finished, and may not be complete until nearly 30 years of age.
The following image shows that the brain doesn’t change much in size between 5 and 20 years of age. What changes is the colour. The blue colour shows all the connections happening between all the parts of the brain that are already formed.
Your Clients History Of Trauma Shapes Who They Are As Adults
It is a sad reality that most of your adult clients have suffered some form of trauma as children or adolescents. This trauma impacted who they became as adults.
It is critical for you to not only learn about your clients trauma history, but also be able to explain how it impacted their brain development.
It is well documented that trauma during adolescence disrupts brain development. This leads to increased risk taking, impulsivity, substance abuse, and criminal activity.
Here are some resources for you to cite to when discussing this point:
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The Brain Is Structured For Language
Neuroscientists tell us that a baby is born with millions of brain cells, all he or she will ever need. Each brain cell has branching appendages, called dendrites, that reach out to make connections with other brain cells. The places where brain cells connect are called synapses. When electrical signals pass from brain cell to brain cell, they cross the synapse between the cells.
When synapses are stimulated over and over, that pattern of neural connections is hard-wired in the brain. It becomes an efficient, permanent pathway that allows signals to be transmitted quickly and accurately. Advances in brain-imaging technology in recent years have confirmed this process.
New technology has allowed us to see that there are physical differences in a childs brain that has been appropriately stimulated, versus one that has suffered lack of stimulation. Connections that are not stimulated by repeated experiences atrophy, or fade away. It is truly a use-it-or-lose-it situation.
We know that reorganization of the connections between brain cells after birth is highly impacted by experiences provided by the childs environment. Parents play an invaluable role in influencing the childs cognitive, language, motor, and social emotional development. It is through providing repeated, positive experiences for their child that parents have a lasting impact on his or her childs brain development.
Language Development Begins Early
Researchers now tell us that an infant is able to respond to sound 10 weeks before birth, learning the mothers voice and the sound pattern of the language she speaks prenatally through bone conduction. A baby takes comfort in hearing his mothers voice after birth, therefore a mothers lullaby can be very calming, especially if the mother sang to the baby during pregnancy.
While a newborn does not use words, he is definitely able to communicate. He can look into his fathers or mothers face in a way that tells them he wants to hear their voices. By crying he is able to let them know when he is hungry, cold, needs a diaper change, or has other needs to be met.
An infants brain responds best to a type of speech called parentese, which adults use naturally when speaking to babies. Parentese uses short, simple sentences, prolonged vowel sounds, more inflection in the voice, and a higher pitch than the speech used when talking to another adult. Studies have shown that when parents spoke parentese, the baby was able to connect words sooner to the objects they represent.
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Do The Holdings In Miller And Roper Apply To People Over 18
The Supreme Court has not yet addressed the applicability of its reasoning in Miller and Roper to persons over the age of 18. Those questions were not before the Court. More importantly, since Miller and Roper, juvenile brain science has continued to develop.
Other jurisdictions, however, have begun to address juvenile brain development science and its application to persons over the age of 18.
The features of youth identified in Roper and Graham simply do not magically disappear at age seventeenor eighteen for that matter. See Elizabeth S. Scott & Laurence Steinberg, Rethinking Juvenile Justice 60 . State v. Sweet, 879 N.W.2d 811, 837 .] See also, People v. Sanchez, 63 Misc. 3d 938, 945 .
The Law And Juvenile Brain Development
The United States Supreme Court has recognized these developments in brain science. In 2005, the Court observed that A juvenile is not absolved of responsibility for his actions, but his transgression is not as morally reprehensible as that of an adult. Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 553 Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 68 .
The United States Supreme Court has also recognized that juveniles have diminished culpability. Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 471 . This diminished culpability is a reflection of juveniles lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility, leading to recklessness, impulsivity, and heedless risk-taking. Id.
The Court further recognized in Miller that juveniles are more vulnerable to outside, negative influences. In Roper, the Court noted that the character of a juvenile is not as well formed as that of an adult. The personality traits of juveniles are more transitory, less fixed.
In recognizing the difference between adults and juveniles, the Court observed that such differences are not only based on common sense, but also the fact that developments in psychology and brain science continue to show fundamental difference between juvenile and adult minds. These differences are not crime specific.
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Brain Development And Mastery Of Language In The Early Childhood Years
by Elaine Shiver, M.S.S.W. IDRA Newsletter April 2001
Parents of young children and professionals working with young children watch with anticipation the developmental milestones indicating a child is picking up the skills expected at a certain age. In the first year of life that focus is typically on motor skills, in the second year attention shifts to language development.
The development of communication through language is an instinctive process. Language is our most common means of interacting with one another, and children begin the process naturally. Neurobiologist Dr. Lise Eliot writes: the reason language is instinctive is because it is, to a large extent, hard-wired in the brain. Just as we evolve neural circuits for eating and seeing, so has our brain, together with a sophisticated vocal apparatus, evolved a complex neural circuit for rapidly perceiving, analyzing, composing, and producing language .
We also know, however, that the experiences provided in a childs environment are critical for the development of language. It is this interplay of nature and nurture that results in our ability to communicate, but the process of learning language begins with how the brain is structured.
How You Can Support Healthy Brain Development
The best way to keep your developing child healthy is to keep yourself healthy. This means making sure that you are well nourished and taking a daily prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid and DHA. As for what to eat during pregnancy, eating a wide variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins is sufficient. Make sure to keep your prenatal appointments so that your doctor can keep track of your health through things like ensuring that you are gaining weight appropriately.
While there is no reliable research that confirms playing classical music for your baby makes them any smarter, some studies show that the fetus will react to music. So go ahead, sing to your baby, express your love and care for the baby, and engage their developing senses. However, dont put headphones on your baby bump, as this may be too loud for their sensitive little ears and stress them out. Amniotic fluid actually conducts sound quite well, so they can hear the music youre listening to on your radio.
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Avoiding Toxic Stress And Developing Positive Relationships
Toxic stress constantly triggers the stress response in a child. Stress, is a natural part of our biology that allows us to respond quickly to potential dangers, but when the stress response is engaged constantly, it starts to damage the mind and body. Toxic early life stress is triggered by things like family poverty, exposure to violence and neglect and can become truly toxic when the child does not have recourse and strong, comforting family bonds.
How Brain Development Affects Physical Capabilities
Lots of muscle tone isnt much use without a robust guidance system, which is why good brain development goes hand in hand with good physical development. Your brain expertly determines which muscles need to contract and which need to relax at what time in order to make your body move in the way youd like it to. When your baby is born, they dont yet have the ability to control their bodies the way you or I do, but theyll start to take part in vigorous physical activity the moment they can do so.
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Genes Provide A Blueprint For The Brain But A Childs Environment And Experiences Carry Out The Construction
The excess of synapses produced by a childs brain in the first three years makes the brain especially responsive to external input. During this period, the brain can capture experience more efficiently than it will be able to later, when the pruning of synapses is underway.11 The brains ability to shape itself called plasticity lets humans adapt more readily and more quickly than we could if genes alone determined our wiring.18 The process of blooming and pruning, far from being wasteful, is actually an efficient way for the brain to achieve optimal development.