Five things to know about early childhood brain development

Nov 14, 2012

There's a lot of research that shows just how important the first few years of a child's life are to their cognitive development. But for those of us who aren't medical doctors the information can be rather confusing. 

Luckily State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra spoke with Dr. Jack Shonkoff  to help us ordinary Americans make sense of it all. Shonkoff is the director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

Shonkoff says when it comes to early childhood brain development there are five important facts all parents, physicians, educators, and policymakers should know. 

A couple of those facts are:

1. A baby forms 700 new neural connections per second in the first years of life. The process happens very rapidly and is dramatically influenced by one's life experiences and environment.

2. Parents whose stress is related to poverty must work to adjust their behavior to create a safe, enriching, and interactive environment for their children. Otherwise the perils of poverty can have a lifelong effect on a child's brain development.

To learn more about early childhood brain development and how poverty affects the brain development of young children, visit State of Opportunity.

- Jordan Medina, Michigan Radio Newsroom