*What happens to the immature cortex during development?
A child’s brain can be viewed as a symphony orchestra – rich musical pieces composed of electrical patterns form actions, thoughts and behaviors, while neurons, or brain cells, serve as the loyal orchestra players.
The brain oversees this entire process and is the master conductor.1
A young child’s brain has an undeveloped cortex responsible for executive function tasks such as thinking and planning.
The cortex grows and matures with age.2
It is a malleable structure in young children, shaped in accordance with the environmental needs of the community, thus ensuring the survival of our species.
*The “use it or loose it” principle
For instance, the native language spoken at home will become the primary language of the child.
The pathways within the brain’s language centers that are being used the most will be strengthened, so it takes less brain power to communicate effectively in the native tongue (increasing the child’s chance of survival within the tribe), while those that are not in use will become weaker and parish overtime.3
“Use it or loose it” is a great way to remember this important principle.
It is only at the age of 25 that the cortex stops developing4, which means that we can significantly shape the developing brain through College and beyond.
*How to support the maturation of the young brain and help it reach its full potential?
By exposing your kid to a variety of activities, novel experiences, social interactions and enriching environments, you are transforming the brain and allowing it to reach its full potential.
You can enhance brain development and increase neuroplasticity (formation of new brain pathways) by providing the child with a rich and colorful world.
The following developmental tools are a great place to start:
*The key ingredient to successful early brain development
Unstructured play is one of the most important aspects of shaping prefrontal cortex development.5
It involves the integration of complex social dynamics, the use of imagination and creativity and the ability to learn how our world works.
Give your kid the freedom to play with friends in a safe environment, allowing them to explore and venture out without your constant input.
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- Norman Doidge. The Brain’s Way of Healing, 2016.
- M Uytun. Development Period of Prefrontal Cortex, 2018.
- TJ Shors et al. Use it or lose it: how neurogenesis keeps the brain fit for learning. Behav Brain Res. 2012 Feb 14; 227(2): 450–458. PMID-21536076.
- Mariam Arain et al. Maturation of the adolescent brain. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2013; 9: 449–461.
- Brain Plasticity & Behavior in the Developing Brain (Kolb & Gibb, 2011).
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