Within nine months a single cell will split and expand to form a human being. As your baby develops and grows in the womb its brain is a hotbed of activity. It starts to grow three weeks after conception and keeps on going. By using an ultrasound device doctors are able to look inside the little head and get a bird’s eye view of the brain development throughout pregnancy.

A normally developing brain (cerebrum) will have both hemispheres symmetrical. The cerebrum is the part of the brain that is responsible for thinking, feeling and muscle control. The white line in the middle front, called the falx, divides the left and right hemispheres.

At the back of the head is the cerebellum, responsible for movement as well, but differently. It coordinates the sequential and coordinated movement of various muscle groups. This is the part may help your child become a football quarterback or a gymnastics star.

Throughout the brain there is a constant flow of cerebrospinal fluid, liquid that lubricates the inside and outside the surfaces of the brain and spinal chord. The liquid also provides protection and shock absorption. The cerebrospinal fluid is produced within four fluid-filled spaces called ventricles, through tissues call the choroids plexus, where it goes on to drain into the space surrounding the brain and spinal cord (subarachnoid space). There are also a network of arteries that carry blood to provide the brain cells with their needed nutrients and oxygen.

During the last two trimesters of pregnancy, the baby’s head quadruples in length, and increases its volume by 60-fold. The thinking part of the brain, the cerebral hemispheres, begins to change and grow as well, and in order for all this increase in size to fit within the small skull it will begin to “fold.” Just prior to birth the terrain of the brain grows even more intricate, with bumps (gyri) and deep fissures (sulci).

During the pregnancy the brain is forming experiences as new connections are made. The same events that shape the brain during development are also responsible for storing information—new skills and memories—throughout life. The major difference between brain development in a child versus learning as an adult is a matter of degree. The brain’s plasticity is more easily impressed when a child is young than when it becomes an adult.

This plasticity has two sides. On the positive side, it means that young children’s brains are more open to learning and enriching influences. On the negative side, it also means that young children’s brains are more vulnerable to developmental problems should their environment prove especially impoverished or un-nurturing.

It is interesting to see how our brain actually develops before we are born to allow it to store our memory and be able to learn and grow.

 From the desk of Ron White



Babyzone.com – You developing baby – the Brain: http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy/fetal_development/photos_the_developing_fetal_brain

Zero to Three – Early Experiences Matter: http://main.zerotothree.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ter_key_brainFAQ