Portal de Boas Práticas em Saúde da Mulher, da Criança e do Adolescente


The Timing and Quality of Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain …

Tipo de Mídia: Documento .PDF DownloadVisualizar

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2007). The Timing and Quality of Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain Architecture: Working Paper 5. http://www.developingchild.net.

The foundations of brain architecture are established early in life through a continu-ous series of dynamic interactions in which environmental conditions and personal experiences have a significant impact on how genetic predispositions are expressed. Because specific experi-ences affect specific brain circuits during specific developmental stages—referred to as sensitive periods—it is vitally important to take advantage of these early opportunities in the developmen-tal building process. That is to say, the quality of a child’s early environment and the availability of appropriate experiences at the right stages of development are crucial in determining the strength or weakness of the brain’s architecture, which, in turn, determines how well he or she will be able to think and to regulate emotions.

Just as in the construction of a house, cer-tain parts of the formative structure of the brain need to happen in a sequence and need to be ad-equate to support the long-term developmental blueprint. And just as a lack of the right materi-als can result in blueprints that change, the lack of appropriate experiences can lead to altera-tions in genetic plans. Moreover, although the brain retains the capacity to adapt and change throughout life, this capacity decreases with age.10-12 Thus, building more advanced cogni-tive, social, and emotional skills on a weak ini-tial foundation of brain architecture is far more difficult and less effective than getting things right from the beginning.

The exceptionally strong influence of early experience on brain architecture makes the early years of life a period of both great opportunity and great vulnerability for brain development. An early, growth-promoting environment, with adequate nutrients, free of toxins, and filled with social interactions with an attentive care-giver, prepares the architecture of the develop-ing brain to function optimally in a healthy environment.14,15 Conversely, an adverse early environment, one that is inadequately supplied with nutrients, contains toxins, or is deprived of appropriate sensory, social, or emotional stimu-lation, results in faulty brain circuitry.7,16-19 Once established, a weak foundation can have detri-mental effects on further brain development, even if a healthy environment is restored at a later age.The considerable susceptibility of the young, developing brain to the synergistic effects of environment and experience has enormous im-plications for policymakers, parents, and soci-ety. An abundance of scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that critical aspects of brain archi-tecture begin to be shaped by experience before and soon after birth, and many fundamental aspects of that architecture are established well before a child enters school.

Nevertheless, despite increasing public in-vestment in K-12 education, there remains a persistent tolerance in our society for poor quality care and education in the early child-hood period. In this context, scientific evidence indicates that for children to reach their full potential, communities need to support the capacity of all families to provide a variety of stimulating and appropriate experiences in the earliest years, when a child’s brain is optimally programmed to benefit from specific types of experiences, and then build on that sturdy brain foundation through continuous exposures to high quality, age-appropriate experiences throughout the later school-age years.

Disponível Em: <https://developingchild.harvard.edu/>