Science says that right from birth to 5 years of age a child’s brain develops more than at any other time in life and this
period makes a lifelong impression on the child’s ability to learn and grow. All of their experience whether positive or negative help them shape how their brain works. A fun fact a baby’s brain is 1/4th the size of an adult brain and in 1st year only it doubles in size and by the 5th year the brain is 90-95% the size of an adult brain. When the child is in the mother's womb, brain development starts and all 5 senses begin to function. When the baby is 2-6 months old then their relationship and experience with their parents and caregivers shape the brain. They learn emotions by observation.
From 6 to 9 months a rapid spurt takes place where the child learns from what they hear, see, feel and taste. Interaction
time with loved ones is a key learning opportunity for early development. At age of 3 there are around 1000 trillion brain connections (synapses). This is one of the best times to develop good habits and by 5 children are into formal education
and a strong foundation is being laid for brain development. After childhood, the brain undergoes remodeling after which it will be ready to work as an adult brain.
Teenage & Brain Development
You must have noticed or experienced that a teenager responds with maturity while sometimes getting too emotional, this happens because the teenagers are working with a brain that is under construction. This under-construction process can be referred to as ‘Brain Remodelling’ that takes place during adolescence and continues till the mid-'20s. All the experiences, age, and hormonal changes determine this remodeling of the brain. During this period the brain works on the principle of “use it or lose it “ and starts to become more efficient by removing or pruning away the unused connections of the grey matter related to thinking and processing while strengthening the other connection.
The removing or pruning away model starts at the back of the brain while the prefrontal or front part of the brain which is responsible for decision making, planning, problem solving and control undergoes remodeling at last. These changes continue till early adulthood. Now if this part is still developing then how do teenagers make decisions or solve problems? Well the answer is: Amygdala, a part of the brain that is associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behavior.
25 – The new 50?
By the age of 25 when the brain weighs around 1.3 kg, it is at its peak performance and as per a study by Simon Fraser University in Canada published after a study conducted on 3305 volunteers from 16 to 44 years of age it was observed that the “intellectual skills start to decline and dull with the passage of time, every 15 years after age 24, cognitive speed dropped by about 15%.
In your 30s when you may look younger, the cells start to die in the prefrontal cortex, an area important for forming new memories and learning hence a decline in cognitive functioning. At this point in time, our brain uses experience to anticipate and predict. Now that we have understood that with age there is a burden of neurological disorders thus a concern on how to preserve brain health. For this let us understand what is brain health, its importance and how to improve it.