Early childhood programming and brain development.

Your brain has three parts: the stem or “reptile brain”, the limbic or “mammalian brain” and the neocortex. Researcher Dr. Paul MacLean has termed it the “triune brain” because of the three parts, each of which developed during a different time in the evolutionary history.

In the neocortex are all the higher intelligences that make human beings unique as a species. Psychologist Dr. Howard Gardner has identified many specific intelligences or “ways of knowing” that may be developed within a human being. Among these intelligences are linguistic, mathematical, visual/spatial, kinesthetic/tactical, musical, interpersonal and intra-personal.

Probably the highest of the intelligences and the greatest form of creative thought – is intuition. Intuition is the ability to receive or perceive information that is not available to our five senses. This ability is extremely acute in children between the ages of four and seven. Too often it is suppressed and crushed by authority figures who view it as irrational behaviour.

All of the higher intelligences including intuition are present in the brain at birth and over the first seven years they can unfold properly if nurtured. For these intelligences to be nurtured, several conditions must be met:

* the lower neurostructures must be sufficiently developed to allow energy
to move to a higher level;

* the child must feel physically and emotionally safe;

* there must be a model to provide the appropriate stimulus

Consider the timing of these developing intelligences. Linguistic ability unfolds while a person is still in the womb. A child isn’t taught its native language, if the mother has the ability to speak, she can’tprevent a child from learning it. In fact if a child is exposed during the first seven years, the liguistic intelligence will be activated.

In the first year of life, the sensory motor functions get going. This is accomplished through direct contact by the infant with its environment, by continual interactions with its mother and the things in its immediate world.

By age one or two, the sensory motor brain is suficiently advanced, and the baby shifts up to the next level of development. There is a great increase in neuron connections, and as the emotional-cognitive system fires up, the baby’s behaviour changes almost overnight. This is the period of the “terrible twos” and is dreaded by parents the world over. But consider this, this phase is essential for the higher development of the neocortex.

A traumatic event in a child’s preschool years may disrupt a key period when the brain is collecting and storing massive amounts of information, researchers say. A review of studies on animals, however,
suggests that extensive corrective experiences can help over time.

The report, “How a Child Builds Its Brain,” was based on studies that measured neural plasticity ‚ the molding of the brain ‚ in animals as they underwent training and learning experiences. It was one of several studies published in the March-April issue of Preventive Medicine, which was devoted to the
proceedings of a 1996 conference on the “Critical Period of Brain Development.”

Researchers at the conference agreed that a critical period exists when brain development is most ready for stimulation and synapse formation, and that a deprived child may never fully or healthily develop without careful and expensive intervention. They suggest mandatory preschool for all children.

The brain stores new information in systems ‚ one tied to its own developmental timetable and another that extracts potentially useful information for later use, said James E. Black, a physician and professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and visiting professor at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the U. of I. at Urbana-Champaign.

In essence, Black said, “Experience alters brain structure to form persisting memories, not in a monolithic or rigid fashion, but rather utilizing multiple, flexible brain systems that can encode different types of experience and often on different developmental schedules.”

Animal studies ‚ particularly experiments on rats by Black and William T. Greenough, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the Beckman Institute ‚ suggest “positive, enriching experience will likely produce more synaptic connections in human children,” Black wrote.

While young mammals learn, an overproduction of synaptic connections is followed by a substantial decrease when information is stored or pruned and organized. If a species relies on the quality and timing of experience, Black said, the organization becomes vulnerable to disruption. On the other hand,
unique and individualized experience-dependent input ‚ where a squirrel hides a nut or a child’s mastery of a second language ‚ is stored in new neural connections. When a rat is exposed to an enriched environment, brain weight and thickness increase, and new synapses and new blood vessels form.

“While adults certainly retain neural plasticity and can be traumatized by experience, children are likely to be far more vulnerable to pathological experience, either abuse or deprivation, particularly during periods of rapid creation or modification of synaptic connections,” Black said.

The animal studies, he said, suggest that extensive and caring intervention can often break the cycle and heal the damage. Even if a critical period is misused or neglected, humans retain the potential to use corrective experience to make up for their early loss. By the same reasoning, he said, failure to
help abused or neglected children can lead to lifelong patterns of distress and dysfunction.

For the last 20 years I have been working with adults to process traumatic childhood programming
That was significantly impacting them with brilliant results. I called this program “Success Permission”

Be well
Dr Sundardas

One thought on “Early childhood programming and brain development.

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