about our brains
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry famously called space the final frontier. But surely the next frontier is our brains.
For all we know about them, much remains to be explored.
This issue of Apple is dedicated to new knowledge about our brains and how they develop throughout life. Our goal is to help
you better understand brain development and what it means to your life, your family and your entire community. We also hope
to erase some common misperceptions about the brain.
The strength of a society—and its ability to be prosperous and sustainable—depends on how well it supports the skills and
capacities that develop in children’s early years. This development influences everything from how well children do in school
to how healthy they are to how well they able to participate in the workforce. When a community invests in its children, it is
investing in its prosperity and its future.
Thanks to advances in science, we are learning more about the importance of healthy brain development and early childhood
experiences. Our brains begin developing very early, literally from the moment of conception. The first year of life is a time
of rapid and intense growth in the brain, and while many skills and capacities are established by age five, brain development
continues into the adult years.
Development is affected by what we’re born with (our genes) and what we experience (our environments). We now know our
genes and environments interact, and experiences can actually switch genes “on” or “off.” That interaction during childhood
lays the foundation for brain development and lifelong learning, behavior and health.
Early experiences literally shape the brain’s architecture, as each new skill builds on the ones that came before. That structure
can be strong, if early experiences are stimulating and positive, or it can be more fragile if they are not.