Pre and Post Natal Brain Development

  • Font size:
  • A
  • A
  • A

Tess Thompson

Generally speaking brain development can be divided into two parts. The first is the physical framework provided by nature which is basically the raw material that one can work with. The other aspect pertains to the development that occurs due to environmental stimuli in the growing years.

Pre natal brain development starts early. The outer germ layer of the embryonic tissue starts developing into nervous tissue. Initially a neural plate starts showing up from the 16th day. Between the neural folds there is a median groove, known as the neural groove. Gradually the neural folds are elevated till the folds meet and fuse together to form a closed tube known as the neural tube. The ectodermal wall of the neural tube is the elementary stage of the nervous system.

At the front end of the neural tube the three major areas of the brain, forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain are formed. Over time, usually by the 7th week these three areas are further divided into different parts. The brain grows at an alarming speed during the developmental stages with hundreds and thousands of neurons (brain cells) added every minute.

Although there are more than 100 billion neurons in the brain, it is believed that you have all the neurons at birth. Neurons from the hippocampus, commonly known as ‘the grey cells’ are known to regenerate but whether or not other brain cells can re-grow is still a subject matter of research.

The brain continues to grow with the aid of glial cells. These cells do not carry any nerve impulses but are responsible for many important functions like insulating nerve cells with myelin. Other functions performed by the glial cells include transmitting nutrition to neurons and holding them in place, digesting parts of dead neurons and providing them with physical support.

Hereditary determines the framework and the number of neurons a child is born with. However, the connectivity of neurons depends upon the dendrites and axons that conduct signals towards and away from the neurons. These are responsible for transmission of nerve impulses. After birth, the neurons make new connections and the environment plays an important part in how a child’s brain develops these new connections. If connectivity between the neurons is not maintained, the connections become weak and some neurons die completely. An early start in stimulating the neurons can ensure that the child retains a higher level of mental capability.

Essentially the human brain is capable of adapting to events with the feedback it receives from the environment. It was successfully argued by Gerald Edelman in 1987 that once the structural anatomical connectivity is established through mechanical and chemical processes, the brain goes through another process of development. This development occurs from non-genetic external factors and postnatal experiences play an important role in strengthening synaptic connection between different neuronal groups.

Your brain health determines most of what goes on in the body. While you are aware of some, most of it occurs without your conscious knowledge. While the sense of touch, smell and hearing develop automatically, some abilities like mental focus and cognition depend mostly on experiences after birth. What you eat can also have an adverse or beneficial impact on your brain’s functioning. The brain uses quite a substantial amount of energy and oxygen to remain fully functional. Herbs and vitamins that promote mental focus go a long way to supply antioxidants to prevent damage caused by free radicals and oxidation.


Related Products