“If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn’t.” – Emerson Pugh
The human brain is the most complicated object in the known universe.
The biggest obstacle to changing how we raise the future generation – is the belief that it has little effect on who people become. There is a widespread creationist – though not necessarily religious – view of people as having a personality and brain that will follow a blueprint set by genes.
“Genes contain the information for the general organization of the brain’s structure, but experience plays an important role in determining which genes become expressed, how they will be activated, and the timing of that activation.” – Daniel J. Siegel
We are born with a multi-purpose learning machine whose 86 billion cells are almost all present at birth, but whose wiring is in great part custom-built during the first years of life based on the infinite sensory, emotional and cognitive stimuli we encounter.
Main parts of the brain
The cartooned eBook Roughly How the Brain Works presents the main parts of the brain involved in behavior in vivid illustrations and clear explanations:
How the brain is built
While our body reaches its adult height and weight by late adolescence, our brain reaches 85% of its full adult size by age three! The first years are crucial in laying down the basic functioning of the brain. Our life experiences in childhood and adolescence continue to shape it, particularly the pre-frontal cortex which is the last to mature (by age 24.)
The importance of getting a good start “When things go right early on, they will tend to continue to go right and even to self-correct if there are minor problems. But if they go wrong at first, they will tend to continue to go wrong. (…) Parents don’t have to be perfect. But it’s important to know that young children are extraordinarily susceptible to the spiralling consequences of the choices we – and later they – make, for good and for ill.”
- Selection of articles on Neuroscience from Quanta Magazine
- Article – “The Power of Touch” (The New Yorker, March 2015)
- Video – “The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans” ( TEDx, Daniel Amen, Oct 2013)