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Infant & Toddler Development Part 5: Early Brain Development, Learning, & Mental Health Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Core In-Service November.

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Presentation on theme: "Infant & Toddler Development Part 5: Early Brain Development, Learning, & Mental Health Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Core In-Service November."— Presentation transcript:

1 Infant & Toddler Development Part 5: Early Brain Development, Learning, & Mental Health
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Core In-Service November 25, :00-11:30 a.m. Debbie Richardson Parenting Assistant Extension Specialist Human Development & Family Science Oklahoma State University

2 Introduction Welcome Centra Instructions Overview of In-service
Resource Materials Growth charts

3 Extension Educators will be able to
In-Service Objective Extension Educators will be able to identify the critical structures, progression and support of brain development, learning, and mental health in infants and toddlers. Focus on normative or typical development.

4 Brain development starts early….
Brain cells (neurons) form in first months of fetal development Born with 100 billion brain cells Enough brain cells to learn just about anything – no more are developed after birth Growth of scientific research and technology to better see and understand brain development. Neurobiology. Affects all domains of development. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

Motor area Sensory area Intellect, logic, reasoning Taste Language Speech Hearing Vision Balance Emotional Regulation Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

6 Neurons – brain cells Dendrites pick up chemical signals across a synapse and impulses travel the length of the axon. Each axon branch has a sac containing neurotransmitters at its tip. The electrical impulse causes the release of the neurotransmitters which then stimulates or inhibits neighboring dendrites – like on/off switch. Myelin – fatty substance coating axons. Acts as electrical insulator; essential for proper information flow, and speek transmission of signals. Although mostly genetic, some factors such as malnutrition can adversely affect myelin.

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Brain Connections 15,000 synaptic connections for each cell. Signals can be sent to other cells at speeds of more than 200 mph. Connections (synapses) grow and change as a result of stimulation from the environment. Brain’s circuitry or “wiring” Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

8 Early Experiences are Crucial
Most brain cell connections are made in 1st year. By age 3, 80% of synaptic connections are made. Connections decline after this time to age 10. During first 10 yrs, brain is twice as active as adults. Then growth levels off & pruning begins. Experience shapes the way circuits are made in the brain. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Use it or Lose it What is not used is pruned. What is used develops stronger connections. Develops in “spurts” when the brain is best equipped to learn certain skills. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

10 Human Brain at Birth 14 Years Old 6 Years Old

11 5 Days 2 Months If children do not receive stimulation, brains will appear less developed. 1 Year 28 Years

12 Early Brain Development
Behavioral and brain development are interrelated. Depends on interaction of many factors: genetics, experience, relationships, health, and nutrition (nature and nurture). 60% of nutrition is used by the brain during the first year --- decreases to 30% by age 3. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

13 Early Brain Development
Quality of relationships and experiences in first 3 years has deep and lasting impact on how the brain gets “wired”. Sets foundation for development in every aspect of life. Most developmental achievements occur naturally. Progresses in a non-linear fashion. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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“Windows” of Learning Periods when particular experiences are especially important or when some skills are more easily developed. Typically moderate to long periods. Some windows should not be missed… if so, opportunity to learn can be greatly diminished. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

15 Brain Development: Windows of Opportunity
By age 2 – emotional control By age 2 – social attachment By age 5 – motor development Birth to 10 years – language skills Birth to 4 years – visual development Birth to 4 years – math and logic skills 3 to 10 years – music Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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17 FOREBRAIN MIDBRAIN HINDBRAIN Cortex Limbic Abstract thought
Concrete thought Logic/Reasoning Affiliation Attachment Contextual Memory Sexual Behavior Emotional Reactivity Arousal Appetite/Satiety Motor Regulation Blood Pressure Sleep Temperature Heart Rate Breathing FOREBRAIN Cortex “Executive Center” MIDBRAIN Limbic “Emotional Center” Brain grows in sequential fashion from bottom to top, or from least complex part (brainstem) to more complex area (cortex). From bottom up: Brainstem – impulses and reflexes. Cerebellum – behind brainstem Midbrain – top of brainstem; movement and balance Limbic – central part of the brain Cortex – top layer; includes language, decision making. “Executive control”. Cerebral cortex contains 80% of neurons. Least developed at birth. Keeps developing through adolescence. More sensitive to experiences than other parts of the brain. HINDBRAIN Cerebellum & Brainstem “Alarm Center”

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Brain Hemispheres Left side --- positive emotions, language, approaching new situations or ideas. Right side --- negative emotions, intense emotions, creativity. Right hemisphere has growth spurt in first 1½ years, and is dominant for first 3 years. Early attachment experiences may impact development of the right brain. Healthy right brain activity supports mental health throughout lifespan. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

19 Deficits that occur in the early years may be overcome with later enrichment, though the process will likely be more difficult. Among the most important windows are those involving emotional and social development. Brain has plasticity and can recover over time.

20 Two Basics the Developing Brain Needs
Safety Positive Experiences Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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…on brain growth, development and behavior during pregnancy, infancy or early childhood: Inadequate nutrition Drugs Alcohol Toxins (smoking, lead, chemicals) Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Lack of critical early nurturing Chaotic and cognitively impoverished environments Pervasive physical threat Watching violence Early, frequent, and intense stress Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Stress & Development When stressed, brain releases the chemical Cortisol. High levels of Cortisol can slow brain development and child may experience more cognitive, motor, and social delays. Hyper-alert or sensitive, irritable, fearful Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

24 A Safe Environment for Brain Development
Reduce stress by making child’s world safe, secure and responsive. Remove any physical threats. Responsive to crying. Predictable daily routines. Adequate nutrition & hydration. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

25 Positive Experiences for Building the Young Brain
Loving care & touch Consistent, individual attention Everyday, simple activities Exposure to new experiences Understand child development Talking Music Limit television Balance – pay attention to the whole child Read and respond to child’s cues One size doesn’t fit all Know child & what he/she is capable of doing Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Stimulation Overstimulation may result in frustration, stress, or withdrawal. Too many new experiences at once may be overwhelming and won’t help development. Child needs time to process what he/she has learned. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Learning Children with a secure bond to caregivers are more ready to learn. Children learn by doing. Fancy, expensive toys, videos, and flash cards are not necessary. Repetition in a variety of ways – modeling, actions, verbally, etc. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Language Children exposed to lots of language in reading, singing, and talking develop more neuron connections in the brain area that handles language. Children not involved in lots of verbal interaction have brains that are measurably less developed. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Thinking Exposure to lots of language is directly linked with advanced thinking skills. Toddlers understand and can solve more difficult problems at a younger age than children in poor quality environments. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Physical Activity Toddler brains thrive with the opportunity to climb, play, splash, and run. Exercise actually causes the parts of the brain that control movement to develop more neuron connections. For example, leaving a child in a playpen or in front of TV all day slows motor development. Importance of play. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Emotional Control Brain development helps determine a person’s emotional tendencies. Infants raised with inconsistent routines, changing caregivers, and stressful environments are more anxious, impulsive, may be less caring toward others, and have fewer problem-solving skills. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

32 Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health
Synonymous with healthy social and emotional development. Capacity to experience, regulate and express emotions. Infant characteristics – biological influences, individual differences. In various contexts within which caregiving takes place – social & cultural. Focuses on unfolding infant-parent relationship. Play & exploration are crucial activities for young children. Play during development parallels the sequential neurodevelopmental process. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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What Science Tells Us Early relationships have permanent effects on brain development, health, and later mental health. Social-emotional and physical health are inseparable in the very early years. Responsive caregiving can mediate the effects of some chronic health conditions, e.g., prematurity, poverty. Social and emotional development is strongly linked to success in school (and beyond). Intervention can be effective; children and adults can recover. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

34 7 Essentials for Early Development
1. Encourage exploration. 2. Mentor in basic skills. 3. Celebrate developmental advances. 4. Rehearse and extend new skills. 5. Protect from inappropriate disapproval, teasing, neglect, and punishment. 6. Communicate richly and responsively. 7. Guide and limit behavior; teach what is acceptable. (Ramey & Ramey, Right From Birth, 1999) Play and exploration are crucial activities for young children. Play during development parallels sequential neurodevelopmental process. Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

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Wrap-up Questions Discussion In-service evaluation Follow-up Next Session Part 6: Influences & Outcomes, December 2 Infant-Toddler 5, D.Richardson

36 References In addition to the provided resource materials listed on the in-service agenda, other reference materials used for this presentation are available upon request.

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