Early Years Brain Development
Early Years Brain Development: Prenatal
Our central nervous system, CNS, starts forming as early as the second week of gestation. A process called, “Neuralation” meaning the formation of a neural tube by grouping and rearrangement of early cells from the upper surface of the embryo, is the beginning of CNS and what will be part of our brains. The neural tube turns to a quite curved shaped group of cells which will later develop three major areas of the early brain, namely hindbrain, midbrain and forebrain. What’s really interesting is what will be happening inside the neural tube. The cells from the interior surface of the tube differentiate to become specialized brain cells, marking the birth of the neurons. Neurons will later group and specialize to constitute the different parts of the brain responsible for all kinds of functioning that our brains are responsible for.
What happens next is a growth spurt that we will never again experience in our life time. By week five of gestation we can witness an increase of neurons at 250,000 neurons per minute! This will help explain over 100 billion neurons in the baby’s brains. Most of these neurons will later die, through a systematic cell death process, mainly governed by how and what neuron we would use. Those not utilized will be gone. Ever heard of “use it or lose it”? That’s literally what’s happening in a bay’s brain, once again highlighting the importance of the interaction between environmental stimuli (nature) with innate abilities (number of nerve cells) necessary for our development.