The brain of a baby is hungry. It collects every movement and sound, catalogues every tone and inflection.
Brain development begins even before birth, affected by the emotional and physical landscape of the mother—her nutrition, level of stress, drug use, the very air she breathes. “The beginning of our lives is both unrememberable and unforgettable,” says one child psychologist.
Upon birth, a baby has a larger environment to explore, and by age four the actual physical structure of the brain will reflect how he or she has been formed by family, language and surroundings. Brain scans can show whether a child has been bathed in affection or scarred by neglect. Amazingly, the brain is so plastic that, even in a child who has been damaged, proper nurturing can create new neural pathways. Nature reflects nurture.
Video: Baby Brains
You can also watch the video, “The First Year: Computational Geniuses” at NationalGeographic.com
View more photographs and read the story at NationalGeographic.com: