• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Surprising Facts About an Infant’s Brain

Almost everyone is fascinated by the cuteness, tenderness, pureness, and delicateness of babies but they are far more fascinating than one would assume.

Here are some interesting facts about an infant’s brain:

1) Your baby’s brain is not fully developed at birth

As human beings have gotten smarter, due to evolution, the brains have also gotten bigger over time. The genetic largeness of human heads has progressively made pregnancy a little tricky.

This is because the baby’s head size has to be of a size that will ensure it’s passage through the human birth canal during birth. Moreover, the weight of the head also serves as a metabolic burden on the mother.

Thus, human infants are born before their brain has been fully developed with a bigger head.

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Caption: newborn baby

Alt tag : baby, girl, sleep

2) They possess more neurons than adults

After a baby has just been born, they will possess around 100 billion neurons. This means that infants have twice as many neurons as adults while having twice as small of a brain.

During this time, these neurons will excessively connect and form networks with one another and create trillions of connections and synapses.

This is the sole reason why babies can pick up and learn a tremendous amount of things, especially in the first year of their life.

However, the infant brain makes more connections than actually required and eventually, after 3-4 years, the infant’s brain will grow in size and the number of neurons starts to decrease by getting rid of the weaker synaptic. This process in which the brain eliminates the extra neurons and synaptic connections is known as synaptic pruning.

Thus, is advisable to expose the infant to as much learning as possible while ensuring abundant sleep and playtime, during this period.

In a matter of three years, the infant brain eventually becomes twice as active as an adult’s brain with around 20,000 synapses per neuron.

During the baby and toddler years, the most highly evolved area of the brain creates two million new synapses per second.

By age three, the child’s brain is actually twice as active as an adult’s. It has some 15,000 synapses or connections per neuron, many more than in the adult brain.

Comparison between the infant and adult brain activity.

Caption: Comparison between the infant and adult brain activity.

3) The infant brain develops at an incredible rate

The infant brain grows at an incredibly fast rate. In fact, an infant is born with only one-third the size of an adult brain but within a matter of 90 days, it doubles up it’s volume and develops at a high speed.

By the end of this process, it forms upto 55 percent of the normal brain size.

The fastest growing structure of the brain is in the region which is involved in controlling movement. The area is known as the cerebellum and in 3 months, this structure will be 110% bigger than it was at birth.

Moreover, during every second of your baby’s early months, numerous synapses are formed as the brain neurons develop and continuously form connections by creating two million new synapses per second.

Another reason for this rate of development is because infants are now born at an early stage in their development. Due to this, the brain has still not been developed and thus necessary and important developments still continue to take place after birth.

This usually lasts for about three years and once this period is over the human brain will never be able to grow as rapidly as it did ever again.

: metabolic activity from glucose consumption

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Alt tag: baby eating

Caption: metabolic activity from glucose consumption

4) Brain growth consumes a considerable amount of the baby’s calories

Every part of our body typically requires energy to do work, be it growth, repair, or modification.

This energy is obtained by burning the calories that is present in the human body. It is similar to burning fuel or coal for energy.

Thus if an infant’s brain is developing excessively, at such a high rate, then the body is bound to utilise a lot of energy to carry out this process- It utilises around 60% of the baby’s metabolic energy which is mainly obtained from glucose consumption.

This is a comparatively large amount considering that adults only use 20% of the body’s metabolic energy.

 mother son baby

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Alt tag : mother son baby

Caption: inability to focus

5) The brain is easily overstimulated

In addition to having a large number of brain cells and numerous synapses, the infant’s brain is also wired to function, comprehend and retain information differently.

It is wired in such a way which makes the baby sensitive to sensations and they are unable to screen out unrequired or unfocused stimulations. Thus, the baby’s brain is constantly overstimulated.

To get a clearer understanding, if you’re having a conversation with a person when there’s background music playing, you would be able to tune out the music and concentrate on what the person is saying.

However, your baby is unable to perform this “automatic” or ” natural function” and as a result, it makes it very hard for them to focus on one thing. This is why baby’s are usually very observant as they could be drawn to numerous things with just a glimpse.

Overstimulation also causes infants to get overwhelmed which usually results in crankiness and crying.

One of the reasons for overstimulation or lack of focus is because the infant is new to the world and is not aware of all the worldly things and worldly functions. Thus, their brain has to still form synapses or connections with every little thing they come across.

Yes, in a way you could consider them to be cute, cuddly, observant little aliens in the first three years of their lives.

For example, when you are out at a park with your baby, he could be having a conversation with the plant and trees around you.

 oyster class visit

Credit: flickr

Alt tag : oyster class visit

Caption: Bilingual babies excell in school

6) They can easily pick up languages

When you study, it is believed that you need to mentally get your brain into that “study zone” and it takes about 20 – 45mins.

The brains of infants are in this constant state to learn and retain information due to the developing nerve cells that are in their most active state. This is precisely why babies are capable of learning any language.

In addition, as bilingual children begin to mature, they will possess a better attention span and focus, especially in their school work, as neurons are constantly active when you have to switch a language or translate it to your understanding.

Not only are babies capable, at birth, of learning any language, those babies who are spoken to regularly in two or more languages also have better executive function later in life, specifically the ability to control attention to conflicting perceptual or representational features of a problem. In other words, bilingual children have better attention or focus, which bodes well for school and work performance.

: crop mother playing with baby

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Alt tag : crop mother playing with baby

Caption: more responsive to humans

7) Babies are drawn to responsive objects

Infants react and are more drawn to things that respond back to them as they are still trying to explore and figure out human and environmental connection.

This is why it is not advisable to use educational videos or technology as a form of teaching during the earlier stages. The infant is very observant and they often experiment on human reaction.

For example, if the baby sticks its tongue out, he will try to observe or look for a reaction from you. Infants also often use imitations to find this reaction. If a person is responsive, the baby will immediately be drawn to or get fond of the person.

This is usually why when the mother leaves the room, the baby starts to cry. It is also an indication that the long term memory has started to develop when the baby is able to recognise and identify the mother.

This is when emotional connections start to form.

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