Early Brain Development Speaker Notes Give Pretest (also use as a posttest) Speaker Notes: Slide 1. HOW THE BRAIN DEVELOPS Pretest - complete then listen For a long time scientists and educators have tried to theorize about how the brain functions. With the aid of technology, scientists have gathered some exciting information on the function of the brain and its implications for learning. The human brain is the most functional and best organized three pounds of matter in the universe. The brain is part of the central nervous system. It controls many bodily functions: voluntary activities (such as, walking and speaking) and involuntary activities, (such as blinking and breathing). Slide 2. Let’s do a little exercise. Quickly look at this. Then talk to your neighbor about what you saw and noticed. Did you catch it all? Isn’t it amazing how quickly the brain works? Slide 3. Ask participants: What are the implications? How can we be better teachers if we know more about brain development? Slide 4. The brain is somewhat evenly divided between tens of billions of nerve cells, or neurons, that regulate cognitive activity. The brain works with two hemispheres which have four lobes. Chemicals that foster brain development are released in waves. The waves affect different areas of the brain in a predictable sequence. We are born with over 100 billion brain cells. These cells connect through electrochemical structures. The connectors are called synapses. These architectural structures let us become who we are and will be. Most synapses generate after birth as a result of environmental stimuli. In other words, a baby’s brain is shaped and developed by the external environment. The synapses__or connections __ rapidly increase during the first year. Synapses are not initially long lasting. Without continued and proper stimulation these connections (or synapses) will not become permanent. It is important to note that the brain becomes highly affective in its capacity to develop with its electrochemical connectors, environmental exposures, and proper stimulation. Slide 5. The next step in the brain’s development is the development of the neurons. Neurons send electrochemical substances to other cells through the axons. An axon may communicate with a neuron from one side of the brain to another side. The axon's ending branch becomes the terminal. It is here that the neuron stores its neurotransmitters until they are ready to be released. Neurotransmitters are basically chemicals secreted at the synapses that affect brain cell formation, activity, maintenance and longevity of the synapses and neurons. Scientist have identified over 50 neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters either send inhibitory or excitatory messages. Some examples of a few popular neurotransmitters are as follows: Endorphins_ reduces pain Serotonin_ low levels are associated with aggression; high levels are associated with little or lack of initiative Cortisol_ activates body/brain defenses when under stress Melatonin_ promotes sleep Noradrenaline_along with adrenaline heightens awareness. Slide 6. One of the most misunderstood phenomena is when adults think that a child's brain is just a smaller version of an adult brain. This is absolutely a false assumption. The child's brain goes through a process of developing and maturing. The weight of a child's brain by the age of three has almost tripled (from 370 grams to 1080 grams). Most of the neurons (electrical devices) of the newly born infant are very inefficient. A baby's brain is very mushy and fragile until it becomes covered with a substance called myelin. Myelin provides substance to the brain and insulates it. Newborns born without much myelin will have what is referred to as a mushy brain. When a baby has been profusely shaken, it can actually shake the brain around in the skull and damage areas of the brain. This leads to the Shaken Baby Syndrome. Unfortunately, a baby in this state can die, become deaf, blind and/or mentally retarded. A newborn's brain cells initially are creating non_specific or random electrical impulses. These impulses tend to attract cells that are growing and finding their way into different parts of the brain. While synapses are continuing to develop during the first year, the brain builds potential to learn. During the first three years, the brain is storing information and memories that will be the foundation for future learning. If this foundation is blemished, or stifled, it can affect the entire life span of the child. It is interesting to know that the brain develops sequentially from the brainstem up, with the cortex developing last. Thebrainstem is the organ through which most of the sensory_motor information flows. The brainstem allows information to flow from the brain for the nervous system into the remainder of the body. Slide 7. How do we know about the brain? Positro Emission Tomography Slide 8. Rapid growth Slide 9. Cerebellum _ controls balance and automatic movements Limbic System_regulates emotions and long_term memory Cortex_functions to provide for reason and logic. Slide 10. _Occipital lobe B processes vision; it is located at the back of the head _Temporal lobe B processes speech and language development and hearing _Parietal lobe B processes sensor_motor _Frontal lobe_ responsible for critical thinking _Prefrontal lobe_ allows us to plan and rehearse future actions. So you see that the brain is a very complex and dynamic instrument. We should take time to think again how critically important it is that the brain develops properly and precisely. What do each of these areas do? Slide 11. Slide 12. WHAT IS THE IMPACT? WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS? Brain research has recently challenged many assumptions about heredity and environment beginning before birth. Once it was thought that our genes determined how our brain developed and how we interacted with the world. It appears now that genes are relevant in predisposing an individual toward certain traits. However, environmental factors, (such as, care, nutrition, surroundings and stimulation) also have an affect on the dynamics of brain development. The roles of nature and nurture determine intelligence and the emotional resilience interplay. New knowledge in brain research shows that nurturing is the key to learning and the regulation of emotional responses. When parents and caregivers show responsive early care, babies thrive. Responsive caregiving means meeting the baby's need for nourishment and warm touches as well as infant=s basic physical needs. In fact, it has been shown that the way parents and caregivers plan children=s contact with the environment affects the formation of neural pathways. Fostering and reinforcing positive interactions with babies will greatly influence the developing patterns of neuronal connectivity. Play exchanges and positive interactions between the caregiver and the infant are beneficial to the formation and biochemistry of the brain' development. Secure attachments, during the first year of life seems to predict social competency as the child gets older. Infants who experience warm and responsive caregiving are evidenced to be more empathetic with peers later in life. Also, infants with these nurturing experiences learn to be connected with other people. Again, the research reveals that the quality of care and security of attachment will affect a child' later capacity for empathy, emotional regulation and behavior. The quality of care and secure attachments are the building blocks of healthy brain development. IMPORTANCE OF CARING FOR THE YOUNG CHILD'S BRAIN Slide 13. Between 10 and 18 months, a baby's emotional intelligence begins to be wired, and this emotional arousal is closely linked with long_term memory. Particular situations are tied with emotional reactions and makes some memories long lasting. The more vivid the memory, the stronger is the imprint in the brain. Emotional responses can interfere with decision making. Children learn to trust if trust is nurtured, then it will become a part of the child's nature. Neglect on the other hand during childhood could cause behavioral and learning problems later on in life. It has also been reported that prolonged exposure to severe stress can actually change the physiological development of a child's brain. LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT AND THE BRAIN Around two months of age, the motor_control centers of the brain develop to the degree that infants can suddenly reach out and grab a near by object. Approximately four months of age, the cortex begins to refine the connections for depth perception and binocular vision. And around 12 months of age, the speech centers of the brain are balanced and the child begins to use language. We've all heard that young children find it much easier than adults to acquire a second language __ and it's true. But learning later is still very possible! The window for acquiring syntax may close as early as five or six years of age, while the window for adding new words may never close. The ability to learn a second language is highest between birth and the age of six, then undergoes a steady and inexorable decline. Many adults still manage to learn new languages, but usually only after great struggle. Watch babies notice the world at 2 to 4 months. Sight Watch the health of the eyes to assure babies are taking in the colors, faces, and shapes around them. Each neuron is attaching to 15,000 other neurons during the first months. The development of vision peaks at 8 months. In research with infants, it was found that if cataracts were not removed by age 2, children were unable to see since the vision centers were not used and did not develop. Slide 14. WHY MUSIC? Babies love music, and it is good for their learning and brain development. Does the kind of music an infant hears make a difference to brain development? There is not yet enough information from the research with infants listening to music to make a definite statement about whether the type of music an infant listens to has a particular effect on brain development. We do know that infants find some kinds of music soothing, such as lullabies. We also know from observing infants that they enjoy the patterns and rhythms that occur in music. The "Mozart Effect" we hear so much about refers to a research study in which a significant but temporary increase in spatial reasoning skills was found in college students after listening to a part of one of Mozart's sonatas. There is no scientific evidence as of yet to support the idea that classical music will impact the brain development of infants any differently than other types of soothing music. You can: · Expose infants to various styles of music. Watch each infant's behavior to see if she or he seems to like a particular type. · Play music at different times of the day, and choose the music thoughtfully. Think about the style, rhythm, tempo and beat. · Keep the volume low. Infant's hearing can be damaged by loud music. · Sing. Infants especially seem to enjoy the sound of your voice, even if you think you're not a good singer. · Be thoughtful in your choices of music. Provide music throughout the day but not just as continuous background noise. (Source: www.zerotothree.org) Slide 15. Posttest questions Use music because it relates to math skills. Know that emotional connections can be stressful or Vivid memories are often tied to emotional reactions to particular situations. The more vivid the memory, the stronger the print in the brain. Be gently physical. During the child's preschool years, think of all areas _ climbing, splashing, slow and fast movement, hard and soft areas, different textures like clay, and paint. Mirror behaviors you want in children. Children will pick up many behaviors of the adults around them. If parents voices are loud, children may be loud; if parents use soft warm touches, children will learn the same. If children see patience in adults looking for solutions to problems, they will see that learning is a process with many steps. Pretest EARLY BRAIN DEVELOPMENT How many pounds does the average brain weigh at birth? The brain cells connect through electrochemical structures that are known as what? During the first three years of life, the brain is storing information and memories that will be the foundation of what? What is the name of the organ through which most sensori-motor information flows? What are the major systems of the brain? Secure attachments during the first year of life seem to predict what type of competency? Research says that a baby's emotional intelligence becomes pronounced at what age range? Does listening to Mozart (and other classical music) early in life makes the brain smarter? Can young children can easily learn a foreign language? Prolonged exposure to severe stress can actually change what developmental area of a child's brain? Key of Answers Three Synapses Learning Cerebellum, Limbic System, and Cortex Brainstem Social Ten-Eighteen Months Not necessarily Yes Physiological Other group activities: Facilitators may elect to have participants review the handout on "Guidelines for Caring for Young Children's Brain", or involve them in the activity entitled "Nine Dots" now. NINE DOTS ACTIVITY Facilitator: The purpose of this activity is to suggest to participant that their pre- existing mental set might constrain their capacity to learn new ideas. Materials: Plain paper, a chart paper with a configuration of nine dots or transparency of the nine dots. Procedure: Display to the group the following configuration of nine dots. Ask participants to reproduce the dots on a sheet of paper. Assign them the task of connecting all nine dots by drawing four straight continuous lines (without lifting their pencils or retracing a line). Allow them a few minutes to make several attempts. Ask how many solved the task successfully. Then either ask a volunteer to step forward and display the correct solution on the chart paper or else show them the key on chart paper or overhead transparency. Key: The key to this activity is to force one's mind to expand beyond the self-imposed box created by the nine dots. The solution can be found in this web site http://www.brainstorming.co.uk/puzzles/ninedots.html Nine Dots Puzzle Discussion Questions: 1.What is the impact in our minds of the configuration of the nine dots? (We mentally create a square and try to circumscribe it with four lines, leaving the center dot untouched.) 2.What is the key to solving the puzzle? (Get out of the boxes or paradigms that we have, or that others create for us) 3.What implications does this exercise have for our training and for our jobs? Approximate time: 10-15 minutes Taken from: Games Trainers Play by Edward E. Scannell. RECALL : RETENTION OF THE BRAIN (OPTIONAL ACTIVITY) Facilitator: The purpose of this activity is to illustrate recall power of the brain; to demonstrate that learned facts can be retrieved almost immediately. Materials: None required Procedure: The human brain, with its billions and billions of cells, stores almost every bit of knowledge or experience is has encountered. Like a computer, one merely pushes the right Abutton" to instantly recall items stored for years and years of experience. After expanding or introducing this segment, tell the participants you would like for them to attempt to demonstrate the aforementioned point of retention and recall. Ask the participants to just relax for a moment and then ask, "Who can tell me the name of their first grade teacher ? Past usage of this exercise indicates that at least half of the group will raise their hands. (An alternative question is to ask the group if they had a dog as a pet when they were a young child, and what its name was or physical characteristics were.) Discussion Questions: When is the last time you thought about your first grade teacher? Why would that name have popped into your heads so quickly? (The person was significant; the brain phenomenal). Why are some things retained while most items are so quickly forgotten? (We consciously and unconsciously screen in and out various items). What can you do to more firmly implant ideas, knowledge, etc. in long term storage? (Repeat them, recall them frequently, associate them with other items)? Approximate time:5 -7 minutes Taken from: Games Trainers Play by Edward E. Scannell, MEMORY GAME ACTIVITY Facilitators: The purpose of this activity is to involve participants in checking their perception and memory of the items that they will briefly view. This is a fun exercise that exercises the brain. Materials: Picture of transparency of animals: namely, the dove, turtle, lion, donkey, shark fish, and rabbit. Other items listed in the selection are a stoplight and a car (se a computer clip art program to design this visual) Procedure: Tell participants that you will flash a picture for five seconds and you want them to recall exactly what they saw. You may want to flash the picture again for three second and ask how many know the exact order of the pictures. Have participants share the answer. Discussion Questions: What process of recall did you use to identify the pictures? (Was it the classification of the categories for animals to items, or the size of the objects?) How did you make the connections or remember the exact order of animals and items? When you see something briefly, do you capture all the details?