The Developing Brain Part Four

Marian C. Diamond, PhD. - The Constantly Adapting Brain

Marian C. Diamond, Ph.D, a neuroscientist at U.C Berkeley did research on the neuroanatomy of the forebrain, notably the impact of the environment on brain development, published under the title Enriching Heredity: The Impact of the Environment on the Anatomy of the Brain. Marian describes how rich interaction with the environment literally grows and shapes the brain lifelong. “There are a hundred billion nerve cells in a brain and many of those nerve cell can make connections with thousands of others. A single nerve cell can receive as much input from about 20,000 other cells, so you think of the computation that goes on in a single cell before it fires. The interaction of the environment with this system is extremely dynamic and important. One can say that the brain is responding to the external environment and to the internal environment at all times. The nerve cells are designed to receive stimuli, store information and transmit information.  Every cell receives input from both the internal and the external environment at all times.  And we've shown that we can (physically) change the brain by changing the internal and external environments at any age.”

Themes: 
brain
brain development
child development

The Developing Brain Part Three

Feelings, the very core of the mind – with Jaak Panksepp, PhD

In the current featured interview recorded at the recent APPPAH congress, Jaak Panksepp, PhD, describes how in 1965, “there was no conversation about the nature of emotions at that time, certainly not in the sense of understanding affective feelings deeply at the neuroscience level.” So he gradually started developing the field, which is now called Affective Neuroscience, which has deep implications for understanding ourselves as creatures of the world and what we share with the other creatures. Obvious to some but shocking to many, human beings and animals share more than most imagine. “Many people, including myself, have argued that the fundamental mental processes are shared by all mammals, because of their neural similarities. Then one might ask what is at the very core of the mind? What was the first form of mind and experience that existed on the face of the earth? I would say it’s feelings.”

Themes: 
brain
brain development
emotions

The Developping Brain Part Two

The Anatomy of Joy with Jaak Panksepp, PhD

Jaak Panksepp, PhD, Emeritus Professor of the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University. Panksepp coined the term 'affective neuroscience', the name for the field that studies the neural mechanisms of emotion. "We finally got a handle on the nature of psychological pain, which is very important for depression and other psychiatric disorders.  And then we said well there must be something fundamental about the social principal that is in the arena of joy.  What would it be? And the answer was obvious that it must be playfulness.

Themes: 
brain
brain development
emotions
play

The Developing Brain

 
There is a lot of interest in brains and child development. Some years ago it was mirror neurons. Today it is epigenetics. Interesting indeed, but we all know that planting a seed in sand or not watering the begonias will retard growth and even kill the plant. We are not separate from the environment. We breathe it, ingest it. We live in a constant reciprocal relationship with the environment and our body and brain reflects this.

For the next few days we will be featuring six full interviews with five international and acclaimed neuroscientists and researchers. Featured programs are, as you know, open to everyone. Membership in the Academy is not required. Each will be live for two days. Enjoy.

Themes: 
brain
brain development

Distractions from What Is Real

Have you noticed? It’s getting pretty wacky out there: joggers bumping into street signs while texting. People seem generally stressed, not that this is new, just more, and it shows. The ice sheets are melting. Some predict “stratification” of the polar oceans will trigger a slowdown or even eventual shutdown of the circulation in the Atlantic Ocean and a weakening of another circulation system in the southern ocean. Isn’t a ‘shutdown of circulation’ what happens in a heart attack - of the planet?

Themes: 
language
children as teachers

Youth Suicides in America

Youth Suicides in America

Abstract: This post and the accompanying full PDF documents the relationships between cultures with high infant and early childhood nurturing defined by affectionate touch, extended breastfeeding and accepting attitudes towards pleasure with low suicide rates and cultures with low infant and early childhood nurturing; weaning ages of less than 2.5 years and punishing pleasurable behaviors with high suicide rates. High early nurturing = low childhood suicide and homicides. Low early nurturing = high childhood suicide and homicides.  

James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
BioBehavioral Systems

Themes: 
suicide
nurturing

Breastfeeding Bonding Prevents Infant Mortality And Suicide

The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. I think everyone in the world, to a large or small extent, has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime, guilt ~ and there is the story of mankind. John Steinbeck, East of Eden, 1952

Breastfeeding bonding and baby-carrying bonding are the first events of life, which the newborn/infant/child learns about love and non-violence. Love is first learned at the breast of mother and by being carried on her body ~ like in utero, where the first lessons of being connected with mother are learned.

Themes: 
abuse-neglect
bonding
brain
breastfeeding
culture
pleasure
pregnancy

Never pick a fight with a toddler

Outside our gallery on a busy tourist sidewalk a frustrated three year old sits on the ground and refuses to budge. Her mother is furious. “No,” shouts the little one. “Get up right this minute!” Again, “No,” cries the toddler. The mother reaches down, grabs the now screaming girl by the legs, holds her up-sided-down and shakes her violently, while the raging woman’s husband and older child stand by - saying nothing. This is what happens when we pick a fight with a toddler. No one wins and the collateral damage, long term, is crippling. What goes around – comes around. Maybe not right away, at age ten or fifteen or twenty five.

Themes: 
avoiding conflect
Original Play
parenting

Beyond Being Patient

Being patient implies waiting for something. Though passive, there still seems to be an effort, and deeper still perhaps even subtle conflicts. Because of this, I don’t like being patient with Carly. Being patient isn’t good enough.

It rained today. Carly stomped out in her rain boots, sloshed to the car and knocked on the door. ‘Do you want in,’ I asked. She nodded and I opened the door. Carly crawled up the driver’s seat and began turning all the knobs like the pilot of a 747. Playing with the knobs was not on my list. I thought I had other things to do. It became clear. I had a choice. I could sit there and be patient or I could surrender and, to use a phrase, ‘be here now.’

More with Robbie Davis-Floyd, PhD

Having known Robbie for twenty plus years I assure you that our recent interview is powerful. Here is how it begins. “I started asking questions…”

Themes: 
Birth As A Cultural Initiation

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