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Premature Baby Brain Development, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 649

Essay

The video Baby’s Brain: Wider than the Sky deals with the brain of premature babies and the impact of their prematurity on their future development. The video explores this issue in depth and explains how and why premature babies’ brains react to the world. I was aware of the fact that premature babies may have brain problems that affect their entire lives. I also knew that children who are born prematurely are predisposed to a series of developmental problems and that they are more likely to have learning problems in school. What I did not know however was the cause of this.  It was entirely new to me that, although modern equipment in the intensive care unit helps to save the babies’ lives, it actually hinders them by over stimulating their brains. Moreover, I was fascinated by the manner in which the brain chooses which connections will become stronger and which ones will prune as a result of not being used. This process was entirely new to me.

There are many interesting ways in which this information can be used in an actual learning environment.  The first involves the knowledge concerning the synapses which become stronger when used, and are pruned when they are not. Due to this, according to Anna McDonald, “neuroscientists believe there are “critical periods” for development, when a particular network of neurons and their connections are best made and strengthened”.  Therefore, it is important to stimulate the child at the right time, and in the most appropriate way in order to get the most from these “critical periods” of development.  For example, in the first years of life, children learn from their direct connection with caregivers. All their senses are stimulated by their closeness and this has a major impact on their developing. Being deprived by this attention and closeness may lead to severe developmental issues (McDonald).

Moreover, for educators, knowing the child’s background and the fact that he was born prematurely is very important in understanding why certain children are aggressive, inattentive, or tend to require more attention than other children. Their behavioral problems must then be addressed by keeping in mind that the root causes of this problem. Perhaps, the best would be to let specialized personnel work with the children is special schools for children with problems, instead of demanding of them what they are simply unable to offer.

Also, educators must pay attention to intellectual abilities of these children.  According to a study done in 1998-1999, researchers from Brown and Yale Universities discovered that premature children had their brain volumes reduced with up to 25%. Also, the study showed that “the disparities were greater in the regions of the brain associated with verbal and performance IQ scores” (Peterson).  Knowing that a child was born prematurely may be important in understanding his behavior and his learning difficulties. It is important for educators to understand what was critically damaged at birth, and what can be recovered with the proper type of stimulation.

Though the video presented viewers with valuable information, I do not agree with the fact that they will necessarily have problems paying attention and learning. First, the human brain is resilient, and reconfigures itself according to the environment (McDonald). Second, as McDonald shows, allowing a child to pursuit his own interests instead of directing him will increase his performances. McDonald explains that, “educators and psychologists agree that when children enjoy an activity, they become more attentive and more motivated to improve”. Therefore, perhaps, with the proper type of education and care, premature children may be helped to overcome through learning what they were deprived of at birth.

Works Cited

McDonald, Anna. Brain development in Childhood –The Dana Guide. 2007. Web. 22 February 2013.

Peterson, Bradley. “Study Suggests that Premature Babies ‘Brains Don’t Develop as Well as Preemies” The Canadian Press. 2000. Web.

“The Baby’s Brain Wider than the Sky. The Secret Life of the Brain. Dir. David Grubin.2002.Film.

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