Healthy brains begin in the womb
And experiences affect development
The formation of the brain ismore than an expression of parents’genes. The emerging brain is alsoshaped by what a baby experiencesbefore birth.
Dr. Bryan Kolb, a professor in theDepartment of Neuroscience at theUniversity of Lethbridge, says thedevelopment of the prenatal brainreflects a complex interplay of genesand experiences.
“There’s no strict genetic blueprint
on how to build a brain,” says the
neuroscientist. “Brains exposed
to different environmental events
such as sensory stimuli, drugs, diet,
hormones or stress may develop in
very different ways.”
Brain cells, or neurons, begin to
form about a month after conception
and peak in the fourth month at
250,000 neurons a minute, Kolb says.
During pregnancy, newly formedcells rapidly sculpt the brain’scircuitry in stages. Within the first sixmonths of pregnancy, basic sensoryand motor regions of the brain beginto function, and by the last trimesteran unborn baby is capable of simpleforms of learning.
What a baby experiences while
connections are forming between
different regions of the brain could
significantly alter the wiring of cells
and overall brain development. During pregnancy, a baby’s experiences could significantly alter overall brain circuitry and development.