In the last post, I mentioned the process of synaptic pruning and the idea that synapses not stimulated by environmental input are lost. Which got me thinking about the awesome power that lies within our hands as parents we can control which connections our childs brain maintains, by the experiences and environment that we expose them to.
So after reeling a little from this thought, I decided to do a little more thinking, and a little more reading to see whether I was being overly melodramatic, or whether there was some truth in that thought.
What I came up with was YES to an extent, the experiences and environment that we expose our children to, in the early stages, can influence what connections they maintain within their brain. In fact, it has been widely thought that an enriched environment, or lack there of, can effect not only the development that is based upon experience, like the ability to play a musical instrument or ride a skateboard, but also the development that is more universal, like hand-eye co-ordination or the specific cultural elements (like handshakes in our society) that are commonplace within the environment that the infant is developing amongst.
Scared? Dont be! Research suggests that to create an appropriately stimulated environment for an infant or child that is normally developing, what you really need to do is to expose them to the everyday environment that lives and breathes all around them.
From the colours and patterns on their toys and the sound of your voice when you read to them, to the many, many hugs and tickles that excited parents cannot resist, all of this creates the stimulation our children need for healthy development.