Body processes

Brain Development – Function, Task & Diseases

Brain development

During embryogenesis , in which the child grows up in the womb, the rudiments of the brain also form and differentiate . It’s about brain development . This continues even after birth . If there are disorders in brain development, this can lead to serious problems.

What is brain development?

Brain development can be roughly divided into embryonic and postnatal brain development. In the embryonic period, the tissue structures of the nervous system develop through processes of cell differentiation and specialization. Newborns have developed tissues that make up the brain and nervous system.

Brain development continues after birth. With 100 billion neurons in the brain, newborns already have the majority of the required neurons. Despite this, an infant’s brain weighs only about a quarter of an adult’s brain. Postnatal thickening processes of certain nerve fibers take place in the brain . In addition, connections are made.

Up until puberty , the brain goes through such structuring developments. Even after that, the brain is not a static organ , but continues to develop within the framework of neuronal plasticity. Synapses change depending on the way they are used by the individual. Links are broken again. New links are established. Such processes are important phenomena within all learning processes. Playing and varied experiences therefore promote diverse connections within the brain.

The brain is the most complex human organ and has developed phylogenetically from simple precursors. From an ontogenetic point of view, the brain is constantly exposed to changes over the course of a human life, which begin with the development in the womb and last until death.

function & task

The development of the brain and nervous system begins in the third week of pregnancy. Within the next five weeks of development, the brain and spinal cord are fully laid down as neural structures during neurulation . In the period that follows, cell division produces vast numbers of nerve cells, some of which are broken down again before birth. The first information reaches the embryonic brain while it is still in the womb, for example through the language of the parents or through music.

At birth there are around 100 billion neurons in the brain. In infancy, however, the brain increases significantly in weight and size, since the first connections are made between the individual nerve cells and many nerve fibers thicken. The growth in thickness corresponds to a sheathing of the nerve fibers, which results in higher signal conductivity . Once the baby has grown thicker, it can perceive stimuli from the environment more quickly and react to them all the more quickly.

In infants, reflexes originating in the spinal cord are particularly relevant in this context . It is only after around six months that the brain reaches a development phase that enables the baby to control the upper body and limbs. A little later, the control centers for the legs are also fully developed in the brain.

In infancy, brain development is rapid. Around the age of two years, many nerve fibers in the spinal cord, hindbrain and cerebellum reach their final strength and the complex coordination of movements slowly becomes possible. The toddler can now walk, run and pick up objects.

From the age of three, the number of synapses in the brain increases. It is only from this age that a highly complex network of neurons is formed, which connects every nerve cell with other neurons (nerve cells). Between the ages of three and ten, the number of synapses is twice that of an adult. By adolescence, the synapses decrease again as connections that are hardly used recede. After puberty, there is hardly any change in the total number of synapses.

The fact that small children have a much larger number of synapses speaks for their ability to adapt and learn. Which syncases remain depends on the skills learned. What the child has experienced or experienced and learned so far has an influence on the brain structures.

The development of memory is also part of brain development. For example, long-term memory does not develop until the age of six . At this age, the front cerebral cortex develops logical thinking, arithmetic skills, and socially appropriate behavioral skills.

From the age of ten, brain development corresponds to an optimization in terms of the skills and memory skills developed up to that point. Up until death, the brain can restructure and learn in moderation. The brain is a flexible and adaptable organ up until old age.

Diseases & Ailments

Embryonic brain development is the basis of brain development. Especially during this time, however, the neuronal structures of the organ are susceptible to external influences. For this reason, the embryonic brain is extremely sensitive to toxic influences such as alcohol consumption , nicotine , radiation or nutrient deficiencies throughout pregnancy . Certain maternal diseases can also cause damage to the fetal brain. Accordingly, there are many embryopathies. As alcohol embryopathyMedicine describes, for example, deformities that have formed as a result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. In many cases, the brain is also affected because it sometimes reacts most sensitively to toxins.

Genetic factors can also negatively influence embryonic brain development. With many genetic mutations , the brain is also affected, which can result in mental retardation , for example .

However, as development processes continue to take place in the brain after birth, incorrect handling of the small child can also have far-reaching consequences. For example, if small children do not have enough opportunities to express their curiosity , it has been proven that fewer synapses form in their brain.

From a certain point in time, brain development in terms of cell development is finally complete. The nerve cells of the brain show the highest specialization of all body cells. For this reason, the brain is only considered to be capable of regeneration to a limited extent. If nerve cells in the brain are damaged as a result of trauma , inflammation, infection or neurological diseases and degeneration, there is usually a permanent defect in these cells.

However, because the brain is a flexible organ, intact regions can often take over from damaged regions. This connection can be seen, for example, in stroke patients who are learning to walk and speak again.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.