Brain Plasticity

In the diagrams below you can see how the brain is organised into separate, but highly interconnected areas. Each area controls a specific function of the body or mind. Under the surface, there are millions of neurons that connect with each other. The visual area at the back of the brain must connect with the hearing area and the verbal areas and the motor and touch areas. It is only when they connect well and can send message quickly that we can easily combine all or our senses, memories and thinking skills to act in the world.

Premmies often have gaps in these connections that make learning more difficult.  At Raising Premmies we use brain plasticity to plug those gaps and make new connections that are necessary for basic cognitive skills. 

The miracle of brain plasticity

"Your brain - every brain - is a work in progress. It is 'plastic'. From the day we're born to the day we die, it continuously revises and remodels, improving or slowly declining, as a function of how we use it"

If a brain is exercised properly, anyone can grow intelligence, at any age, and potentially by a lot. Or you can just let your brain idle - and watch it slowly, inexorably, go to seed like a sedentary body.
Read more at:

Experiences build brain architecture - see the movie

Improving children’s early environment can prevent initial difficulties from destabilizing mental health later in life - see the movie

·        BookIn the Beginning: The Brain, Early Development and Learning. By Michael C. Nagel

  • Infants  who receive sensitive, secure and nurturing care in their first year of life are less likely than other children to respond to minor stresses by producing cortisol (a stress hormone that can impair neurological development and brain function during early development
  • Children with chronically high levels of cortisol have greater cognitive, social and motor development delays than other children 
  •  Children with a history of secure attachment are less likely to demonstrate behavioural problems when encountering stress
  •  Children are born learning and learning takes place before they are born
  • Learning is when neurons start communicating with each other – ie hardwiring
  • After birth the rate of neural hardwiring increases exponentially as the child responds to the environment or – begins learning
  •  By their 3rd birthday, the child’s neural activity is twice that of an adult and lasts that way until adolescence
  • Experiences in those early stages have a major influence on the neuroachitecture of the brain
  •  Sensory experiences in utero and early years determine how biological pathways develop and function, which then influence intelligence, literacy, behaviour, mental and physical health

Did you know that the brain becomes what the brain does?

Premmies who were born at less than 33 weeks of gestation were found to have MORE  (than normal) connections in the brain areas associated with the face, lips, jaw, tongue and throat. This is probably because babies who are born early have to learn to feed early.

The same study found that there were fewer connections in other parts of the cortex (the wrinkled grey bit around the edge of the brain). This lack of connections may explain why premmies are more likely to have developmental problems.Yet the same process that increased connectivity in the feeding parts of the brain – plasticity – will continue its wonderful influence way past  these early weeks of life. We know that most components of brain development, including connectivity, can improve with the right environmental motivations.

Reference: Toulmin, H. et al., Specialization and integration of functional thalamocortical connectivity in the human infant. PNAS, 2015 DOI:10.1073/pnas.1422638112 


Other great sites on neuroplasticity- the premmie's friend