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Nurturing the Developing Brain in Early Childhood

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... years old. Continues to increase more slowly through 30-years-old ... Neuroscience and other research says between birth and 3 to 4-years old. Self-Regulation ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Nurturing the Developing Brain in Early Childhood


1
Nurturing the Developing Brain in Early Childhood
  • Lisa Freund, Ph.D.
  • The National Institutes of Health
  • The Eunice Kennedy Shriver
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human
    Development
  • Bethesda, Maryland
  • U.S.A.

2
The Brain is Still a Mystery
3
Brain Growth
AGE BRAIN WEIGHT
(GRAMS) 20 WEEKS GESTATION 100 BIRTH 400 18
MONTHS 800 3 YEARS OLD
1100 ADULT 1300 - 1400
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5
The Neuron
6
Brain Growth
  • At birth, most neurons the brain will have are
    present
  • approx. 100 billion neurons
  • By age 2 years, brain is 80 of adult size
  • What keeps growing?
  • Other brain cells (glia)
  • New neuron connections
  • approx. 1000 trillion connections by age 3 yrs.

7
How Does the Developing Brain Become Aware,
Learn, Think,?
  • Overproduction of neurons and connections among
    neurons
  • Selective reduction of neurons and connections
    among neurons
  • Waves of intense branching and connecting
    followed by reduction in neurons
  • Before birth through 3-years-old
  • Again at 11- or 12-years-old

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10
MRI PICTURE OF A HEALTHY 13-YEAR-OLD BOY
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12
Major Areas of the Brain
Self-regulation, problem solving, goal setting,
social cognition
Sensory motor perception, spatial abilities
Hearing, language, memory, social -emotional
function
Vision and perception
13
Cortical thickness development from birth to 54
mos
over
Months
6 mm
4.5 mm
3 mm
1.5 mm
1 mm
under
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 show
  • Occipital lobes show earliest pruning
  • Frontal and Temporal lobes show growth of neural
    connections longer than other areas of the
    brainthrough 3 years old
  • Frontal and Temporal lobes show pruning of
    connections longer than other areas of the brain
  • Greatest change between 2 years and 5 years

17
Synaptic production and pruning correspond with
overall brain activity
Young childrens brains work harder and less
efficiently than adults
18
Myelinization
  • Speed of connection
  • Begins at birth, rapidly increases to 2-years old
  • Continues to increase more slowly through
    30-years-old

19
Myelinization
Young childrens 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/communication
  • Social bonding
  • Most vigorous growth, pruning, connecting, and
    activity occurs between 1-1/2 years through 3 or
    4 years old
  • Neuroscience 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 Nurture
  • Genes and environment interact throughout brain
    development
  • Genes form neurons, connections among major brain
    regions
  • Environment 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 alone
  • Neural circuits used over and over strengthen,
    those that are not used are dropped resulting in
    pruning

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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 activitybrain activity becomes more
    efficient

27
Neglect Impedes Brain Development
  • Limited exposure to language, touch or social
    interactions
  • Emotional or cognitive neglect
  • Structural Changes
  • Lack of brain growth beyond effects of poor
    nutrition
  • Neuronal 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-regulation
  • Language/communication
  • Learning
  • Social emotional function
  • Research shows that everyday experiences with
    caregivers or other children can optimize the
    development in these areas

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Social Basis of Early Brain Development
  • Early experiences create brain neuron connections
  • Parent-child interactions are key
  • And when are they most effective?
  • Neuroscience and other research says between
    birth and 3 to 4-years old

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35
Self-Regulation
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Capacity to identify feelings
  • Empathy
  • Management of strong emotions
  • Behavioral Inhibition
  • Delay gratification
  • Control impulses

36
Self-Regulation
  • Attention and Thinking Regulation (Executive
    Function)
  • Directing attention
  • Mental representation
  • Planning
  • Focus on goal
  • Monitor actions information
  • Correct actions
  • Identify and use strategies

37
Self-Regulation
  • Early parent-child interactions lay basis of
    self-regulation skills that become internalized
    by the child
  • Directing attention
  • Identifying goals
  • Monitoring Childs actions
  • Correcting Childs actions
  • Modeling strategies

38
Parent-child Interaction with Infant or Toddler
  • Parent who supports optimal development
  • Is sensitive to childs cues
  • Responds to childs distress
  • Takes advantage of simple, everyday activities to
    stimulate learning

39
Parent-child Interaction with Infant or Toddler
  • The child can influence interaction through
  • Clarity of his or her cues
  • Responsiveness to parent
  • Activity level

40
Parent-child Interaction with 3- to 5-year-old
  • With 3- to 5-year-old
  • Directing attention
  • Suggesting strategies
  • Monitoring, evaluating actions
  • Staying directed toward goal
  • Feedback is less directive

41
Reading Comprehension
42
Scaffolding
43
Research has Shown that Successful Scaffolding
Results in Healthy Brains Ready to Learn
  • Faster rates of language learning
  • Increased task persistence
  • Increased self-control
  • More appropriate requests for help
  • Increased self-monitoring during tasks
  • Increased ability to learn
  • Moderates risk factors

44
Implications for Early Education
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 aloud
  • When 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 concepts
  • Responding to childrens requests and signals
    promptly and sensitively
  • Maintaining and expanding on childrens interests
    in meaningful learning activities
  • Providing 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 alliteration
  • Invite children to make up new verses of familiar
    words or songs by changing the beginning sounds
    of words
  • Play 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 letters
  • Recognize beginning letters in familiar words
    (especially their own name)
  • Recognize both capital and lowercase letters
  • Relate some letters to the specific sounds they
    represent
  • Teachers 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 childs cognitive development and learning
    show greatest child achievement in elementary
    school and beyond

53
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