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    Building Brains: the science behind development.

    Since the mid-90's our knowledge of brain development has increased significantly. Whilst it was originally thought that intelligence was largely hereditary, we now know that the environmental factors are equally as important. It is now thought that genetics set a range of possible intelligence which spans approximately 40 IQ points, with the environment we spend our first 9 years in defining where we fall within that range.

    Building Brains: the science behind development.

    Since the mid-90's our knowledge of brain development has increased significantly. Whilst it was orginally thought that intelligence was largely hereditary, we now know that the environmental factors are equally as important. It is now thought that genetics set a range of possible intelligence which spans approximatley 40 IQ points, with the environment we spend our first 9 years in defining where we fall within that range.

    At birth


    We are born with approximately 100 billion brain cells or neurons the most we will every have. At birth these neurons are relatively isolated from one another with few connections between neurons. It is the network of connections between our brain cells that enable us to think and to learn.

    0 - 3 years


    During the first three years neurons form connections at an astonishing rate. As we receive sensory, novel and challenging stimulation from the outside world our brains start to build a vast network of connections - with every neuron capable of connecting to 15,000 others. Each new stimulus leads to a new neural connection, and the more connections that are made, the more possibilities will exist.

    3 - 9 years


    In the years between 3 and 9 our brains go through a phase of consolidaton where the connections are pruned and refined. Only those that are used and meaningful are kept whilst the others are destroyed. This is why people who learn a language after they are 10 will have an accent, they have lost the connections required to make certain sounds which are not used in their native language.

    After 3 years the brain is still has good potential to change and grown until it comes into contact with the hormones released during puberty, however it is during the first 3 years that 97% of the connections that will ever exist are made. These foundations define the physiology that is available for thinking and learning making it a uniquely important time in our brains life

    After 3 years the brain is still has good potential to change and grown until it comes into contact with the hormones released during puberty, however it is during the first 3 years that 97% of the connections that will ever exist are made. These foundations define the physiology that is available for thinking and learning making it a uniquely important time in our brains life.

    1. 1. Lessen-Firestone J. 1999. Building Brains. Ready to Learn Forums, Michigan
    2. 2. Shaw P. 2006. Intelectual ability and cortical development in children and adolescents. Nature
    3. 3. Lyall A et al. 2014. Dynamic Development of Regional Cortical Thickness and Surface Area in Early Childhood. Univeristy of North Carolina