Presentation on theme: "Nurturing the Developing Brain in Early Childhood"— Presentation transcript:
1 Nurturing the Developing Brain in Early Childhood Lisa Freund, Ph.D.The National Institutes of HealthThe Eunice Kennedy ShriverNational Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentBethesda, MarylandU.S.A.
5 The NeuronEach neuron uses biochemical reactions to receive, process and transmit informationNeuron’s dendritic tree is connected to a thousand neighboring neurons.When one neuron fires, a positive or negative charge is received by one of the denrites
6 Brain Growth At birth, most neurons the brain will have are present approx. 100 billion neuronsBy age 2 years, brain is 80% of adult sizeWhat keeps growing?Other brain cells (glia)New neuron connectionsapprox trillion connections by age 3 yrs.Re number of neurons born with:Neurons are the oldest and longest cells in the body! You have neurons for your whole life. While other cells die and are replaced, neurons are not replaced. In fact, you have fewer neurons when you are old compared to when you are young. However, the neurons you have when you are old ARE THE SAME ONES you had when you were young. On the other hand, data published in November 1998 show that at least in one area of the brain (the hippocampus), new neurons CAN grow in adult humans.Neurons can be quite large - in some cases, like corticospinal neurons (from motor cortex to spinal cord) or primary afferent neurons (such as those extending from the skin into the spinal cord and up to the brainstem), can be several feet long!
7 How Does the Developing Brain Become Aware, Learn, Think,? Overproduction of neurons and connections among neuronsSelective reduction of neurons and connections among neuronsWaves of intense branching and connecting followed by reduction in neuronsBefore birth through 3-years-oldAgain at 11- or 12-years-old
12 Major Areas of the Brain Self-regulation, problem solving, goal setting, social cognitionSensory motor perception,spatial abilitiesHearing, language,memory, social -emotional functionVision and perceptionOCCIPITAL LOBELocated at the back of the brain, behind the parietal lobe and temporal lobe.Concerned with many aspects of vision.FRONTAL LOBELocated in front of the central sulcus.Concerned with reasoning, planning, parts of speech and movement (motor cortex), emotions, and problem-solving.TEMPORAL LOBELocated below the lateral fissure.Concerned with perception and recognition of auditory stimuli (hearing) and memory (hippocampus).PARIETAL LOBELocated behind the central sulcus.Concerned with perception of stimuli related to touch, pressure, temperature and pain
13 Cortical thickness development from birth to 54 mos overMonths6 mm4.5 mm3 mm1.5 mm1 mmunder
14 Right lateral and top views of gray matter maturation over the cortical surface.
15 Right View of Gray Matter Maturation Over Brain Surface between Ages 4 to 21 Years
16 How Brain Areas are Developing Anatomical studies of brain development showOccipital lobes show earliest pruningFrontal and Temporal lobes show growth of neural connections longer than other areas of the brain…through 3 years oldFrontal and Temporal lobes show pruning of connections longer than other areas of the brainGreatest change between 2 years and 5 years
17 Synaptic production and pruning correspond with overall brain activity Young children’s brains work harder and less efficiently than adults’
18 Myelinization Speed of connection Begins at birth, rapidly increases to 2-years oldContinues to increase more slowly through 30-years-old
19 Myelinization Young children’s brains have fewer neuron connections and work slower than adults’
20 How Brain Function is Developing Brain areas with longest periods of organization related to…self-regulation,problem-solving,language/communicationSocial bondingMost vigorous growth, pruning, connecting, and activity occurs between 1-1/2 years through 3 or 4 years oldNeuroscience is telling us that this may be one of the most important periods for developing self-regulation, problem-solving, social-emotional, and language/communication behaviors
21 Nature and NurtureGenes and environment interact throughout brain developmentGenes form neurons, connections among major brain regionsEnvironment and experience refines the connections; enhancing some connections while eliminating others
22 Experience Can Change the Actual Structure of the Brain Brain development is “activity-dependent”Every experience excites some neural circuits and leaves others aloneNeural circuits used over and over strengthen, those that are not used are dropped resulting in “pruning”
24 Differences in brain activity (colored areas) between a typical child reader and a child with reading difficulties
25 Differences in brain activity in the same child before and after specialized reading instruction
26 Experience Can Change Brain Development The brain is undergoing explosive growth in the first years of life and needs organizing experiences to facilitate development.Learning results in more consolidation of neuronal activity—brain activity becomes more efficient
27 Neglect Impedes Brain Development Limited exposure to language, touch or social interactionsEmotional or cognitive neglectStructural ChangesLack of brain growth beyond effects of poor nutritionNeuronal death beyond “pruning”
28 Brain activity of a normal 5-year-old child (left) and a 5-year-old institutionalized Romanian orphan who was neglected in infancy (right).
29 What early experiences promote healthy brain development? Important areas of brain development are associated with…Self-control or Self-regulationLanguage/communicationLearningSocial emotional functionResearch shows that everyday experiences with caregivers or other children can optimize the development in these areas
32 Social Basis of Early Brain Development Early experiences create brain neuron connectionsParent-child interactions are keyAnd when are they most effective?Neuroscience and other research says between birth and 3 to 4-years old
35 Self-Regulation Emotion Regulation Capacity to identify feelings EmpathyManagement of strong emotionsBehavioral InhibitionDelay gratificationControl impulses
36 Self-Regulation Attention and Thinking Regulation (Executive Function) Directing attentionMental representationPlanningFocus on goalMonitor actions; informationCorrect actionsIdentify and use strategies
37 Self-RegulationEarly parent-child interactions lay basis of self-regulation skills that become internalized by the childDirecting attentionIdentifying goalsMonitoring Child’s actionsCorrecting Child’s actionsModeling strategies
38 Parent-child Interaction with Infant or Toddler Parent who supports optimal developmentIs sensitive to child’s cuesResponds to child’s distressTakes advantage of simple, everyday activities to stimulate learning
39 Parent-child Interaction with Infant or Toddler The child can influence interaction throughClarity of his or her cuesResponsiveness to parentActivity level
40 Parent-child Interaction with 3- to 5-year-old Directing attentionSuggesting strategiesMonitoring, evaluating actionsStaying directed toward goalFeedback is less directive
43 Research has Shown that Successful Scaffolding Results in Healthy Brains Ready to Learn Faster rates of language learningIncreased task persistenceIncreased self-controlMore appropriate requests for helpIncreased self-monitoring during tasksIncreased ability to learnModerates risk factors
45 We Know that…. Children show improved school achievement With planned, intentional instruction in the preschool years.When the literacy environment at home and in school can engage the child.With consistent reading aloudWhen preschool teachers receive high quality training.
46 We know that…Just as parents who provide scaffolding promote healthy development, so can pre-school teachers provide scaffolding in the classroom
47 Classroom Scaffolding What types of teacher scaffolding can result in optimal outcomes for children?Providing print and materials that foster their understanding of conceptsResponding to children’s requests and signals promptly and sensitivelyMaintaining and expanding on children’s interests in meaningful learning activitiesProviding children with choices and prompting children to make thoughtful decisions
48 To Promote the Foundations for Reading Phonological awareness --ability to notice and work with the sounds in language.How quickly children learn to read depends on how much phonological awareness has developed during toddler and preschool years.
49 To Promote Phonological Awareness Teachers and Parents can…Chose books to read aloud that focus on sounds, rhyming, and alliterationInvite children to make up new verses of familiar words or songs by changing the beginning sounds of wordsPlay games where children isolate the beginning sound in familiar words, and generate rhyming words
50 Promote Knowledge of Letters Research shows it is important for young children to be able to:Recognize and name lettersRecognize beginning letters in familiar words (especially their own name)Recognize both capital and lowercase lettersRelate some letters to the specific sounds they representTeachers and parents can reinforce learning about letters by providing letters in a form children can touch, by playing games with letters, and by helping children write letters.
51 Read Aloud To Promote Interest in Reading Establish a pattern of reading aloud frequently to children.Ask children questions as you read.Encourage children to talk about the book.Read aloud many kinds of books.Reread aloud favorite books.
52 Teachers and Parents Research has shown preschools that support the parent in promoting the child’s cognitive development and learning show greatest child achievement in elementary school and beyond