Brain development inside the womb, value of music- Baby Einstein…..

The bond between parents and babies is one of the strongest forces in nature. Romances come and go, but once you've fallen for your baby, you're probably hooked for life.

I have heard many mothers say that: having her in my life is such a joy: From the first time I held her in my arms, I have had this fierce bond with her, a connection which started even before she was born: She looks like me when I was her age, and I feel strongly that she was meant to be a part of our family.
The love you feel for your baby isn't just cultural -- it's a basic part of your makeup. Scientists have now discovered that parents are hardwired to love their babies. Even if you're a little nervous about parenthood, you'll almost certainly rise to the occasion. After all, biology is on your side.

Is the pre-born child conscious?

Many authorities believe that there is a level of consciousness in the pre-born child. Many physicians today counsel mothers and fathers to talk to their baby, while it is yet in the mother’s body; parents are encouraged to read to their coming offspring, and to play soothing music for the child. There is a strong feeling among some professionals that even a degree of “learning” may take place in the womb. Numerous persons within the medical field believe that human “awareness” begins in the womb—perhaps a considerable while before the time of birth.

Value of music

All babies react to loud noises from outside the womb by the seventh month, or even earlier. The noises might have to be pretty loud to overcome the noise within. A baby hears his mother’s heartbeat, her blood flowing, her digestion and even her lungs filling and emptying. And the insulation of skin, fat and fluid between the inside world and the outside reduces outside sounds by about 30 decibels. It must be hard to concentrate on Mozart sometimes! Still, newborns have demonstrated preferences for music and stories they have heard in the womb and even for the language they heard while in utero. Not surprisingly, they have a strong preference for their mother’s voice over all other voices, though they prefer it modified to simulate how it sounded when they were still in the womb.

• Music enhances your child's intellectual development. Dr. Frances Rauscher, from the University of Wisconsin, says that music "helps improve children's ability to reason abstractly, by strengthening neural firing patterns of the brain that are relevant to both musical and spatial cognition."

• Most music teachers will tell you that music encourages self-expression and self confidence. As a non-verbal language, music can convey a complexity of emotions, and offers a means of expression to a shy or diffident child who finds it hard to communicate through speech

According to baby Recommend site sources music is very relaxing for both you and your baby when listening to music with your baby or when playing music to your baby during pregnancy. Whilst music tastes are very subjective, it is widely believed that listening to easy-listening and classical music can be very calming. It is also reported that it will give your baby a greater appreciation of music and improve their creative and cognitive skills. Obviously the jury is out regarding how intelligent it will make your baby!

One of the famous music productions is Baby Einstein: Lullaby Classics

It offers 17 tracks and over 35 minutes of classical music that will calm any restless baby. One of the important differences between this CD and the others is that the music is not orchestrated.

Other well know ones are Mozart or Beethoven for Babies all available with Amzaon.

A few years ago, one of Great Britain’s leading brain scientists, Baroness Greenfield, a professor of neurology at Oxford University, and the director of the Royal Institution, raised some English eyebrows when she insisted that fetuses are “conscious” before birth.

Brain development inside the womb

A growing foetus in the womb develops at lightning speed. Nevertheless, it takes most babies an additional three months to "wake up" and become active partners in the relationship.

According to Dr.Restac MD., The future brain and nervous system first become apparent at about four weeks, when a portion of the outer ectoderm thickens to form a spoon-shaped structure only one cell thick known as the neural plate. A groove known as the neural groove runs the length of the neural plate, dividing it into right and left halves.

Even at this early stage of development the future brain possesses three defining characteristics. It is polarized (the head end is wider than the remainder of the neural plate), bilaterally symmetrical (divided into right and left halves separated by the neural groove), and regionalized (the wide end of the spoon will become the brain, while the narrow end will develop into the spinal cord).

Next, the two sides of the neural plate fuse to form a tube from which emerge three swellings: The forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. Over the ensuing months in the womb these three swellings enlarge, bend and expand to form the major divisions of the adult nervous system; from top down the cerebrum, the midbrain, the thalamus and hypothalamus, the cerebellum and the spinal cord.

Scientists who study the brain during its earliest period marvel at the clockwork precision by which the genes issue instructions for growth and development. But even as it begins to form, the brain remains highly dynamic. And the environment of the embryo plays a crucial role in how the brain will finally turn out.

According to neuroscientist Mary Beth Hatten, a development biologist at Rockefeller University in New York, "The embryo itself provides the environment that interacts with the genes. It's teeming with chemicals, and its very shape has an influence on the brain. And as the brain grows it also creates an environment that interacts with the genes and can lead to changes in how the brain will eventually develop. Thus the brain is a dynamic organ right from the beginning."

As it develops, the brain's most dramatic alteration over time is the exceptional growth of the forebrain, which gives rise to the cerebral hemispheres. When the brain is viewed from the side, only three of its major structures are visible: the brain stem, the cerebellum, and the cerebral hemispheres. All other structures are hidden by the vastly expanded cerebral hemispheres, which represent 85 percent of the brain by weight.

In addition to their large size, the hemispheres are remarkable for their highly wrinkled, convoluted appearance. At five months of age the cerebral hemispheres appear as smooth as billiard balls. Four months later they look more like the two halves of a gnarled walnut.

"If one looks at the brain of the developing infant in utero, it's really quite smooth, but during the last 12 weeks of prenatal development the brain folds in on itself," says Michael Rivkin of the department of neurology at Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass. "By the end of the pregnancy the surface of the infant brain consists of a landscape of hills and valleys, technically referred to as gyri and sulci. By the time the infant is born, its brain looks like the brain of an older child or young adult."

Why does the brain fold in on itself and undergo such a dramatic change in appearance? Think of the last time you packed a suitcase. Folding your clothes allowed you to enclose a comparatively large surface of your wardrobe within the fixed confines of the suitcase. A similar situation exists in the brain: A large surface area can be crammed into the fixed volume of the human skull only by wrinkling and enfolding. "The surface of the brain folds in on itself as a way of accommodating an increasing surface area without changing the intracranial volume into which it has to fit," says Rivkin.

The human brain grows at a rapid pace during the late stages of fetal development and the docosahexanoic acid content of the fetal brain increases three to five times during the final trimester of pregnancy and triples during the first 12 weeks of life. The first 12 to 18 months of life are when the brain requires fatty acids to set the foundations for cognition and visual acuity.

Research studies have also shown that infants taking formula enriched with docosahexanoic acid scored significantly higher on mental development tests . It is noteworthy that while all of the study participants had normal physical development and were equally able to solve simple mental problems, it is noteworthy that when given a more complex mental challenge, the children on the docosahexanoic acid scored better.

According to nutrition expert, Barbara Levine, Ph.D., R.D., Director of Human Nutrition at the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, "Researchers have long recognized the far-reaching significance of docosahexanoic acid for the mental and visual development of infants, and we are so pleased to now see the emergence of key clinical data supporting this important cause.

Neuronal growth , development within first 2 months, left and right brains….

Neuronal growth

Even in the womb your baby is beginning to make sense of the world. Every minute 100,000 new nerve cells are created in the brain. At birth the baby has about 100 billion nerve cells. Research has found that the baby’s brain has the capacity to receive nerve impulses and then sort the signals it receives. Repeated sounds, movements and perhaps even the mother’s hormones released in times of stress or calm stimulate the development of nerve pathways. The brain strengthens the connections of familiar sensations and ignores more random sensations.

A large surface area is important because it increases the number of neurons (brain cells) that can be accommodated within the cerebral cortex, the outer 2 millimeters of the hemispheres. This thin rind (cortex means "rind" in Latin) that is less than the thickness of an orange peel and has the consistency of tapioca pudding contains two-thirds of all the 100 billion neurons in the human brain and almost three-quarters of the 100 trillion interneuronal connections.

These neurons have formed more connections than there are stars in the universe. For example, by three weeks of development (when the developing embryo is about the size of a grain of rice), neurons are forming at a rate of more than 250,000 per minute. The final number of neurons at birth will surpass one hundred billion.

As development progresses, each neuron will make as many as 10,000 connections to other nerve cells in the brain. Amazingly, unlike other cells in the body that regularly die and are replaced, the neurons your baby will have in old age are the same neurons that formed during development in the womb.

Between 5 – 6 weeks the brain formation begins dividing into the right and left hemispheres, then into the major structures (medulla , cerebellum, etc.) At 8 weeks of development the baby is two inches long and now called a fetus all major organ systems are formed and the fetus takes on a visibly human form .

Nurturing Your Child’s Development from 0 to 2 Months

The report, From Neurons to Neighborhoods of the American Academy of Pediatrics outlines the Childs development as follows:

One of the most important tasks of the first 2 months is to help new- borns feel comfortable in their new world. They are learning to regulate their eating and sleeping
patterns and their emotions, which help them feel content, safe and secure. Even as newborns, babies can play in many ways. They can connect sounds with their sources, and love when you talk and sing to them. Play helps babies learn about the world
around them. It is also an important way they connect with you, helping them to develop a strong attachment and promoting healthy social development.

Newborns use their gestures (body movements), sounds and facial expressions to communicate their feelings and needs from day 1. They use different cries to let you know they are hungry, tired or bored. They ask for a break by looking away,
arching their backs, frowning or crying. They socialize with you by watching your face and exchanging looks.

What steps to take

Offer your baby lots of different objects for him to look at, touch and even grip in his palms. He can focus best on things that are 8 to 12 inches away. Play “tracking” games by moving yourself and interesting objects back and forth. First he will use his eyes to follow. Eventually he will move his head from side to side. This helps strengthen his neck muscles as well as exercise his visual abilities.

Observe carefully. This will help you figure out what your baby’s cries are telling you.
Soothe your baby. When you respond to your baby’s cries and meet his needs, you let him know he is loved. You can’t spoil a baby. In fact, by responding lovingly to his needs, you are helping him learn skills now that allow him eventually to soothe
himself. You are also promoting a strong bond and healthy brain development.

Left and Right Brain dominance

Basic functions such as breathing and feeding mature earlier than regions controlling more sophisticated ones such as language or reasoning .Human nervous system development takes longer in the embryonic stage than other species . The lower regions of the central nervous system develop specific attributes earlier while higher level (and area ) brain development may be formed with less detail initially .

The human brain is made out of billions of cells or Neurons Dendrites of a neuron are the “branches” receiving input and the axon (the “trunk”) relays information Information is transmitted via electrical impulses within each neuron Most neural development occurs from 17 weeks of gestation and is called neurogenesis By four months of gestation most neurons are formed and those that survive continue to exist until old age .

The left brain and right brain capabilities

The left and right hemispheres of the brain have different capabilities. The right brain possesses the ability to retain complete image of things seen at a glance in the memory. Also, it is the receptacle for inspiration and the site of expression for image abundant creativity.

The right brain controls the abilities to visualize images and the realization of those images physically. Nearly all-successful people, regardless of their field of expertise, demonstrate the right brain ability of distinct image visualization.

However, as the left-brain develops, it becomes harder to bring forth the abilities of the right brain. If the child's brain is stuffed with knowledge, it becomes very difficult to exercise and develop the right brain.

Right brain capabilities that all children possess are:

• The five senses of the right brain. Corresponding to the 5 senses of the left-brain (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) the right brain also has its 5 senses. However, they are not the senses of sight and hearing in the normal manner, but the ability to see, hear, sense things through waves translated into images. These 5 senses of the right brain are its basic abilities. When these abilities are released, man becomes capable of seeing images as motion pictures.

• The ability to see images in the form of motion pictures.

• Photographic memory

• The ability to do complex mental calculations.

• The conversion of images to words, numbers, symbols and the reverse.

• The ability to master foreign languages easily.

• The ability to receive inspiration and use it towards unique creativity.

• The ability of photographic speed-reading.

• The ability to receive information on an intuitive level, and to use that information accordingly.

Author's Bio: 

Prof. Lakshman Madurasinghe: Ms(Psy).,PhD(Psy).,DSc(Psy).,Chartered Fellow CIPD-London.