Brain and Behavior

Brain Development

What are critical periods?

The brain does not remain equally plastic throughout the lifespan. There are critical periods where the most growth takes place. The peak of synaptic growth occurs within the first two years of life but synaptogenesis continues at a rapid pace for the first ten years of life. If we think of how much learning takes place within the first two years of life—a child learns to walk, talk, manipulate objects, and begins to understand the social world—it is not surprising that this is a peak period of brain growth. Children also remain extremely open to learning throughout the first decade; they learn to ride bicycles, follow societal rules, and read and write. If these tasks are not learned in childhood, it becomes much more difficult to learn them later on.


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