Saturday, August 13, 2022

When Does Brain Activity Start In A Fetus

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Abortion And Two Questions About Life

Consciousness in babies | Steven Laureys | TEDxFlandersWomen

The debate on whether abortion is an acceptable medical procedure essentially comes down to two questions:

  • When does human life begin?
  • Is it permissible to kill an innocent life?
  • Science answers the first. A human being begins life at the moment of fertilization, and what follows after that is simply a developing human being, not just fetal tissue, a clump of cells, or potential life, as some pro-abortion activists and doctors say. Life begins at conception and carries through until natural death.

    Early fertilized embryo, or blastocyst/Courtesy

    The decision of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade doesnt define where life begins but indicates that we can tell that there is life inside the womb once the child has viability . There are many problems, however, with stating life begins with viability, including that even the date of viability is not a hard line: preemies are being delivered earlier and earlier and surviving.

    Now that we have established that a human being is created at fertilization, natural law answers the second question. It is neither right nor just to kill an innocent personand this is something people fundamentally understand.

    Fetal Brain Development Week 28 40

    The brain completely monitors the breathing and regulates the body temperature. This being the beginning of the third trimester, the brain continues to grow and increase rapidly in size, all the while establishing connections between the nerve cells. The brain along with the lung is the last organ to develop, and the process is completed, close to the end of the third trimester. A newborns brain is only about one-quarter the size of an adults.

    The Formation Of The Neural Tube: The First Brain Structure

    Changes in the morphology of the embryo in the embryonic period. The formation of the neural tube occurs between E19 and E29. a. The emergence of the neural ridges is observed on E19. b. The ridges fold over to begin the process of neural tube formation. c. Closure of the neural tube begins on E22 in central regions of the newly forming neural tube. d. Closure continues in rostral and caudal direction. The anterior neuropore closes on E25, and the posterior on E27. e. Following the closure of the neural tube, the embryo begins to expand particularly in anterior regions. The primary vesicles are evident by E28. These include the Prosencephalon, Mesencephalon, and Rhombencephalon. f. By E49 the secondary vesicles emerge. The Prosencephalon differentiates into the Telencephalon and Diencephalon, and the Rhombencephalon into the Metencephalon and Myelencephalon. Illustrations by Matthew Stiles Davis reprinted by permission of the publisher from THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BRAIN DEVELOPMENT: INTEGRATING NATURE AND NURTURE by Joan Stiles, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Copyright © 2008 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

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    The First Access To Consciousness

    The fetus is mainly asleep, although it shows vigorous continual activity, including breathing, eye openings, and facial expression . Yet, most of these preprogrammed movements are from subcortical origin. Attempts to wake up the fetal sheep by noxious stimuli, such as pinching, cause inhibition instead of arousal . Furthermore, the fetus is sedated by the low oxygen tension of the fetal blood and the neurosteroid anesthetics pregnanolone and the sleep-inducing prostaglandin D2 provided by the placenta . The most parsimonious, yet challenging, interpretation of these data are that in utero the fetus is mostly in a state of unconsciousness.

    During the stress of being born the cholinergic system may be activated as well. Indeed, blocking the activation of the cholinergic system in rodent pups blunts the arousal response to hypoxia and increases mortality . Mice missing the 2-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors lack the ability to arouse to the same extent as wild-type mice, and a similar phenotype is observed in newborn pups after chronic exposure of the pregnant mother to nicotine . These mice may offer useful models of the sudden infant death syndrome.

    When Does A Fetus Have Brain Activity

    This is the first MRI capturing the brain activity of a mother kissing ...

    The first synapses in babys spinal cord form during week 7 of pregnancy. By week 8, electrical activity begins in the brain allowing your baby to coordinate his first movements that doctors can even see on an ultrasound!

    Your babys brain continues to develop in the coming weeks, endowing him with a remarkable range of involuntary movements like stretching, yawning and sucking by the end of the first trimester and more coordinated movements in the second trimester.

    That said, the brainstem, which controls vital functions like heart rate and breathing, isnt mostly complete until the end of the second trimester, and the cerebral cortex doesnt take up its duties until the third trimester.

    In fact, the cerebral cortex which is responsible for voluntary actions, thinking and feeling only starts to work around the end of pregnancy, with simple electrical activity detectable in regions associated with senses and motor skills in premature babies.

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    When Should I Reach Out To My Healthcare Provider About A New Pregnancy

    Most healthcare providers will have you wait to come in for an appointment until you have had a positive home pregnancy test. These tests are very accurate once you have enough hCG circulating throughout your body. This can be a few weeks after conception. Its best to call your healthcare provider once you have a positive pregnancy test to schedule your first appointment.

    When you call, your healthcare provider may ask you if you are taking a prenatal vitamin. These supplements contain folic acid. Its important that you get at least 400mcg of folic acid each day during a pregnancy to make sure the fetus’s neural tube develops correctly. Many healthcare providers suggest that you take prenatal vitamins with folic acid even when you arent pregnant. If you werent taking prenatal vitamins before your pregnancy, your provider may ask you to start as early as possible.

    The Organization Of The Mature Brain

    The human brain is arguably the most complex of all biological systems. The mature brain is composed of more than 100 billion neurons . Neurons are the information processing cells in the brain . There are many different kinds of neurons that vary in their size and shape as well as in their function. Neurons make connections with other neurons to form the information processing networks that are responsible for all of our thoughts, sensations, feelings and actions. Since each neuron can make connections with more than 1,000 other neurons, the adult brain is estimated to have more than 60 trillion neuronal connections. The point of connection between two neurons is called a synapse.

    Schematic drawing of a neuron. Each neuron a single large axon. At the distal tip of the axon is a growth cone that serves to guide the axon to targeted brain regions. Once the axon reaches the target site, synapses, or points of connection, form between the axon and the target neuron. The synapse allows electrochemical signals to be transmitted to the target neuron. Each neuron also has a complex arbor of dendrites that receive information from other neurons. Image in the public domain uploaded from: . Original image from Nicolas Rougier

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    The Developing Heart And Resultant Heartbeat

    According to Lumen Learning, the heart of a preborn baby

    originates about day 18 or 19 from the mesoderm and begins beating and pumping blood about day 21 or 22. It forms from the cardiogenic region near the head and is visible as a prominent heart bulge on the surface of the embryo. The primitive heart begins to form an S shape within the pericardium between days 23 and 28. The internal septa begin to form about day 28, separating the heart into the atria and ventricles, although the foramen ovale persists until shortly after birth. Between weeks five and eight, the atrioventricular valves form. The semilunar valves form between weeks five and nine.

    This miraculous growth proves the existence of a human being who is not a part of his mother but who is his own person and reliant upon her for sustenance.

    Walk for Life 2019/Courtesy: Lifesite Women Employ Megaphones to Project Fetal Heartbeats

    Once the heart begins its detectable beat, it is obvious that it beats much faster than an adults. What to Expects article for expectant mothers explains the varying speeds at which the babys heart beats. By six weeks, the heart is beating 110 times a minute. Just two weeks later, it will rise to between 150 and 170 times a minute.

    During labor, the babys heart rate can go anywhere from 110 to 160 beats per minute, with normal variations on either side.

    Neural Patterning In The Embryonic Period

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    The transformations in the overall shape of the embryo reflect more specific change in neural patterning within all regions of the embryonic nervous system. These changes mark the beginning of a protracted process of neural patterning within the central nervous system that begins in the embryonic period and extends for many years. The changes are gradual and follow an ongoing course of continuous specification and refinement . The patterning that emerges in the embryonic period provides only a primitive map of eventual nervous system organization, but it sets the stage for later developments. Embryonic patterning affects all brain regions from the forebrain through the spinal column, such that by the end of the embryonic period in GW8 primitive patterning of sensorimotor regions within the neocortex is established , major compartments within diencephalic and midbrain regions have differentiated , and the segmental organization of the hindbrain and spinal column have been specified . Space does not permit an extended discussion of embryonic neural patterning. Rather, one example, focused on very early patterning within the developing neocortex, will serve both to define the construct of neural patterning, and to illustrate the idea of continuous specification and refinement of brain areas.

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    Nobody Can Say When An Individual Life Begins But The Facts Can Help Show When A Life Does Not Begin

    There are not two views on abortion in Ireland. There are 4,803,748 different perspectives. In the weeks leading up to polling day, the Irish people have started from the ground up and the debate is now firmly in the parameters of under what circumstances should abortion be available?

    Scientists are generally a stroppy sort of people. We are trained to question absolutely everything, and we have a deep scepticism of authority or unjustified assertion. We make individual conclusions based on an objective assessment of the evidence and beyond the core accepted scientific facts we disagree with each other constantly.

    Since last week, 1,500 Irish scientists ranging from PhD students to Irelands only Nobel Laureate for the sciences have signed a letter written by Scientists for Yes, summarising our views on abortion.

    Each one of those 1,500 individual scientists has their own distinct moral values, whether religious or secular. Each of us assessed the social and scientific evidence surrounding the issue of abortion in society and each arrived at her or his own unique, personal stance, and how best to manage abortion in Ireland.

    Polarised referendum campaigns can stop people from listening and looking at the evidence. As we approach polling day, there are a number of pieces of evidence social and scientific that Scientists for Yes believe may be valuable, as the public come to their own conclusions:

    1. Brain development

    2. Evolution and human uniqueness

    Fetal Brain Development Week 5

    The first sign of the cerebral hemisphere is visible at this stage. As the brain continues to develop, other organs like the circulatory system begins to function with all four chambers of the heart present. We can see upper and lower limb buds. The heart too starts to beat with twice the rate of the mother.

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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.

    We Dont Know Where Life Begins But Heres What We Do Know About What Develops When During A Pregnancy

    6 weeks and 2 days pregnant

    In our Q& A: Eighth Amendment Referendum series, we are answering questions our readers have submitted in relation to the upcoming vote on 25 May.


    A number of people have asked a version of these questions. Here are some of those queries:

    • I would just like more information to clarify how developed a foetus is at 10 weeks and at 12 weeks?
    • Can you show us an image of a 12-week old foetus so that we know what we are dealing with?
    • I would like to know what medical science has shown regarding at what stage an unborn baby is capable of feeling pain and suffering?
    • What is the consensus of when a life begins?


    OVER THE PAST few weeks, the development of embryos and foetuses at various stages of a pregnancy have been used in campaigns urging people to vote either Yes or No in the Eighth Amendment referendum.

    In particular, references to the development of the heart, brain and facial features during a pregnancy have been used as an emotive argument to retain the Eighth Amendment.

    When does life begin?

    There is little consensus of when life begins: the BBC has a good, simplified guide hereon the different stages of pregnancy where life could be interpreted as beginning: including when the foetus first moves, when the brain is fully developed, or when the foetus reaches viability .

    But ultimately, as the guide states, theres no agreement in medicine, philosophy or theology as to what stage of foetal development should be associated with the right to life.

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    The Organization Of A Childs Brain Is Affected By Early Experiences

    Why would the brain create more synapses than it needs, only to discard the extras? The answer lies in the interplay of genetic and environmental factors in brain development.

    The early stages of development are strongly affected by genetic factors for example, genes direct newly formed neurons to their correct locations in the brain and play a role in how they interact.12,13 However, although they arrange the basic wiring of the brain, genes do not design the brain completely.14,15

    Instead, genes allow the brain to fine-tune itself according to the input it receives from the environment. A childs senses report to the brain about her environment and experiences, and this input stimulates neural activity. Speech sounds, for example, stimulate activity in language-related brain regions. If the amount of input increases synapses between neurons in that area will be activated more often.

    Repeated use strengthens a synapse. Synapses that are rarely used remain weak and are more likely to be eliminated in the pruning process. Synapse strength contributes to the connectivity and efficiency of the networks that support learning, memory, and other cognitive abilities.16,17 Therefore, a childs experiences not only determine what information enters her brain, but also influence how her brain processes information.

    What Happens Right After Conception

    Within 24 hours after fertilization, the egg begins rapidly dividing into many cells. It remains in the fallopian tube for about three days after conception. Then the fertilized egg continues to divide as it passes slowly through the fallopian tube to the uterus. Once there, its next job is to attach to the endometrium. This is called implantation.

    Before implantation though, the blastocyte breaks out of its protective covering. When the blastocyte makes contact with the endometrium, the two exchange hormones to help the blastocyte attach. Some women notice spotting during the one or two days when implantation happens. This is normal and isnt something you should worry about. At this point, the endometrium becomes thicker and the cervix is sealed by a plug of mucus.

    Within three weeks, the blastocyte cells ultimately form a little ball, or an embryo. By this time, the first nerve cells have formed.

    Your developing fetus has already gone through a few name changes in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Generally, it’s called an embryo from conception until the eighth week of development. After the eighth week, it’s called a fetus until its born.

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    S Of Your Babys Brain

    Around week 5, your babys brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop. Your babys brain is part of the central nervous system, which also houses the spinal cord. There are three key components of a babys brain to consider. These include:

    • Cerebrum: Thinking, remembering, and feeling occurs in this part of the brain.
    • Cerebellum: This part of the brain is responsible for motor control, which allows the baby to move their arms and legs, among other things.
    • Brain stem: Keeping the body alive is the primary role of the brain stem. This includes breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure.

    What Develops In The Second Trimester

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    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.

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