Infant learning and brain development is fragile and contingent upon numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The most critical time frame for infant brain development is from the second trimester to the first three months of life (Marshall, 2011). During this time, neural pathways are forming, areas of the brain are maturing, and brain development is rapid. From infancy until the age of 3 years, neural pathways are still being formed in response to stimulation and for this reason, it is extremely important for caregivers and parents to be aware of the many factors that can influence brain development in infants (Marshall, 2011).
Common beliefs regarding infant learning tend to focus on the issue of breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding. The vast majority of speculation in the media is directed toward this controversy. For example, a “study published in the journal Pediatric Health found that premature infants fed a formula enhanced with extra protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper and several micronutrients performed better on IQ tests than preemies who had been fed either regular formula or breast milk” (Miller, 2008). This very well may be true, however, popular psychology generally negates the vast number of other factors that are crucial to infant learning.
There is copious current research on the topic of infant learning that covers a wide range of topics. Among the most prevalent are sleep patterns, environmental factors, social development, cognitive memory, language learning, and association.
Newborn infants sleep an average of 16 to 18 hours each day (So, Adamson & Horne, 2007). Because of the rate at which infants are able to retain informat...
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...tion on this subject, it is difficult to narrowly focus on a single factor and obtain necessary information. The biggest problems with the reviewed studies are the small sample sizes, the lack of information regarding the demographics of the test subjects, and the broad subject matter of the experiments.
Infancy is a special time of growing, learning, and awareness. At no other time in the human life is the brain so awakened to stimuli and neural pathways at such a rapid rate. While popular psychology narrowly focuses on the common issue of how to best feed the child, the current research covers everything from cognitive development related to cultural awareness to nap patterns and memory function. While research on this topic of ample, much is left to be discovered about how the brain develops in this fragile, new state of life known as infancy.
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