Brain Awareness Week ~ Question 4

Today’s “Brain Quiz” statement is:

“Because the brain is making so many

connections pre-birth to age 3, the first three

years of life are the most critical for brain

development. After age 3, the window of

opportunity closes.”

– True?

– False?

– Not sure?

Click here for today’s answer!

 

  • Vision – The window of opportunity for visual development is typically from birth to 6 months.  The part of the brain that processes vision is the occipital lobe, which is located at the back of the head.   Babies need to see shapes, colours and objects, all at varying distances and movements.  All these images help shape the brain’s ability to recognize and organize visual information.  The brain actually learns how to see!

 

  • Sensitive periods for language development are from birth to 3 years.  Hearing, speech and language development are all processed in the temporal lobe, which is located on the left hand side of your brain.  Why can babies learn language so much easier than adults?  Part of the answer has to do with the differences in our brains.  The baby’s brain is actually “primed” to learn language.  Babies are born with billions of brain cells, including millions that will control language.  Newborn babies are equipped to hear the sounds of many different languages, not just the language that their parents speak. During the first years of life, the brain cells connect with other cells to form complex pathways.  When babies hear their native language spoken, those language connections become stronger. Three month olds can distinguish several hundred sounds, many more than are present in any language.   But as a baby hears people speak a certain language consistently, the brain strengthens connections for that language.  The connections for other languages become weaker and eventually wither.  Most of the brain’s language connections are well established by the age 3.  After age 3, learning a new language is harder because your brain is “wired” for the language you learned first.   When we try to learn a foreign language as adults, we must fit the new sounds into the language connections already in our brains – connections that are wired specifically to understand and speak our first language, which for many of us is English.  As a result, those learning a second language after childhood generally will speak it with an accent.

 

  • Sensitive periods for learning Music and Math is not when children enter school ~ but rather from 1 – 4 years of age.  Research has also shown that the cortex, the area of the brain that hears music, is the same area that does mathematical calculations.  Much has been made of the value of exposing infants to rich, complex music.  Such music seems to wire the brain for not only understanding music, but also for the improved spatial reasoning that math requires.  We also know that the earlier a child studies a musical instrument, the more of his cortex is devoted to playing it.  So if you want your child to excel in Math, don’t overlook the music lessons!

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