Goo Goo Gaa Gaa

A look inside the baby brain. By: Kendall M.

    A baby brain has about one hundred billion neurons (a neuron is a type of cell that is the functional unit of the nervous system).  That’s a full set.  It also has about one trillion glial cells (cells that protect and nourish the neurons) at birth.  Even with all of these cells, no brain is fully operational, even at birth.  Did you know that you can stimulate your baby’s brain with a variety of activities?  If you want to learn more about your brain as a baby and how it developed, read the rest of this article.

Critical Windows/Periods  

Critical windows/periods are periods of time that are vital for learning things such as speech, hearing, and even sight.  If you don’t learn these skills in the period of time when you are able to, you are likely never to learn them.  Learning one skill can also effect learning other skills.  For example, if you don’t develop a sense of hearing, it will be hard to develop a sense of speech.  All the billions of neurons baby brains have are laid out as circuits to develop vision, language, and movement.  It’s up to the neural activity and connections to develop these areas.  What wires a child’s brain is experience, repetition, and experience.   One thing that would make it hard to develop hearing is getting a disease in your ear before you’re born.  It lowers the probability that your auditory cortex (the part of your brain that helps you to hear) will receive stimuli.  If this happens, a device called a cochlear implant can transmit electrical signals to the auditory cortex, enabling you to hear.


Learning language is an amazing feat, yet extra wiring enables every human to learn it easily by age three when we start to talk spontaneously about things such as perceptions and emotions.  Once we can talk, we also talk about our minds and other’s minds.  Some of our first words are want, no, see, all gone, happy, and sad.  Also, babies often use a word to describe success and failure.  At birth babies know a lot about language. Babies begin to respond to language even before they are born.  Now, I bet you’re wondering when we start to make all those cute baby sounds like “goo goo” and “gaa gaa”, right?  Well, that’s around two months.  Babies up until age 5 months sound alike all over the world.  It is not until babies are 13 months old that a baby’s range of sounds is limited to only his native language. Within eighteen months of life we have a vocabulary of fifty words that we can pronounce and about one hundred more that we can understand.  At age three, our vocabulary has rocketed to about one thousand words.  We also start to construct elaborate sentences.  By age six, we know around six thousand words, an average about of three new words every day since birth.  Saint Augustine (one of the Latin fathers in the early Christian Church; author; bishop of Hippo of North Africa) also had a theory that babies saw things, and saw their parents call it something, and then called it what their parents called it.   The human brain is programmed to learn speech by age seven. If a child does not learn speech by this age, it is unlikely he or she will.  Language development starts at birth and continues rapidly through age seven. Brain Development (physiology)   Our brains start to take shape around the third week of gestation.  Once we’re born, our neurons aren’t well connected.  By age five, our neurons make more connections and our brains are almost completely formed and get no more new neurons.  Every neuron connects to 15,000 others.  Those 15,000 neurons each branching out 15,000 other ways creating well over one quadrillion cellular links total.  Another interesting fact is that up to eight years of age, humans can recover from severe brain surgery (an example would be disconnecting half of your brain).  The cause of this is plasticity.  Plasticity is how well our brain can recover.


Everything you do is controlled by your brain, even your emotions.  At about six weeks, babies start to smile because they’re happy, not just because they are trying everything out.  Two month old babies can experience joy, sadness, envy, and empathy.  Parents can help develop these emotions by providing lots of love and security.  Neglecting a baby can hinder emotional development.


In conclusion, I think that it’s amazing how quickly and easily the baby brain can learn.  It almost seems that babies can learn better than us!  I mean, do you think you could start from scratch and fluently learn a completely new and different language (being able to speak it like you had known it your whole life) in three years, tops?  I don’t think I could.  Just face it; babies are amazing and wired to learn at rapid rates.      

Works Cited

Egan. "The Human Brain." Kids Discover 2007: 2-3. Print.
Gopnik, Alison, Ph. D. The Scientist in the Crib. New York: Publishers, 1999. Print.
Kluger, Jeffrey. "Language and the Baby Brain." Time 2009: 26-31. Print.
Romanek, Trudee. Aha! The Most Interesting Book You'll Ever Read about Intelligence. Tonawanda: Kids Can, 2004. Print.
"20 Ways to Boost Your Baby's Brain Power." Scholastic. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. .
Understanding: The Amazing Brain. Film.
Young, Richard. "Can Machines Learn?" Ask 2007: 24-29. Print.           


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