Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Abused Children Have Smaller Brains
Parts of the brain of a severely abused and neglected child can be substantially smaller than that of a healthy child.
Babies Lose Half their Neurons at Birth
It is estimated that a baby loses about half their neurons before they are born. This process is sometimes referred to as pruning and may eliminate neurons that do not receive sufficient input from other neurons.
Baby Talk Increases Vocabulary
A study showed that when mothers frequently spoke to their infants, their children learned about 300 more words by age two than did children whose mothers rarely spoke to them.
Birdsong Similar to Human Speech
Birdsong and human speech have similar characteristics. Birds, like humans, learn their complex vocalizations early in life and imitate their adult counterparts to acquire these skills. These two species have evolved a complex hierarchy of specialized forebrain areas where motor and auditory areas interact continuously in order to produce detailed vocalizations.
Brain Measurements Are Revealing
Electroencephalogram, or EEG, is a non-invasive technique used to record small changes of electrical activity in the brain with surface electrodes on the scalp. Scientists who study sleep find EEG especially useful. The tiny fluctuations detected with EEG are clear indicators of whether a person is asleep, aroused, or somewhere in between.
Brain Uses 20 Percent of Blood
Approximately 20% of the blood flowing from the heart is pumped to the brain. The brain needs constant blood flow in order to keep up with the heavy metabolic demands of the neurons. Brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) rely on this relationship between neural activity and blood flow to produce images of deduced brain activity.
Brain Uses 20% of Oxygen Breathed
Although the brain accounts for only 2% of the whole body's mass, it uses 20% of all the oxygen we breathe. A continuous supply of oxygen is necessary for survival. A loss of oxygen for 10 minutes can result in significant neural damage.
Child Brain Development
Measures of brain activity show that during the second half of a child's first year, the prefrontal cortex, the seat of forethought and logic, forms synapses at such a rate that it consumes twice as much energy as an adult brain. That furious pace continues for the child's first decade of life.
Early Brain Growth
During the first month of life, the number of connections or synapses, dramatically increases from 50 trillion to 1 quadrillion. If an infant's body grew at a comparable rate, his weight would increase from 8.5 pounds at birth to 170 pounds at one month old.