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Nov 2008 issue

Cognitive and Emotional Development of the pre-born & new born baby- Part 1 Prof.Lakshman Madurasinghe- Consultant Psychologist and author of “ Clinical Psychology� The bond between parents and babies is one of the strongest forces in nature. Romances come and go, but once you've fallen for your baby, you're probably hooked for life.


I have heard many mothers say that: having her in my life is such a joy: From the first time I held her in my arms, I have had this fierce bond with her, a connection which started even before she was born: She looks like me when I was her age, and I feel strongly that she was meant to be a part of our family. The love you feel for your baby isn't just cultural -- it's a basic part of your makeup. Scientists have now discovered that parents are hardwired to love their babies. Even if you're a little nervous about parenthood, you'll almost certainly rise to the occasion. After all, biology is on your side.

Is the pre-born child conscious? Many authorities believe that there is a level of consciousness in the pre-born child. Many physicians today counsel mothers and fathers to talk to their baby, while it is yet in the mother’s body; parents are encouraged to read to their coming offspring, and to play soothing music for the child. There is a strong feeling among some professionals that even a degree of “learning” may take place in the womb. Numerous persons within the medical field believe that human “awareness” begins in the womb—perhaps a considerable while before the time of birth.

Value of music All babies react to loud noises from outside the womb by the seventh month, or even earlier. The noises might have to be pretty loud to overcome the noise within. A baby hears his mother’s heartbeat, her blood flowing, her digestion and even her lungs filling and emptying. And the insulation of skin, fat and fluid between the inside world and the outside reduces outside sounds by about 30 decibels. It must be hard to concentrate on Mozart sometimes! Still, newborns have demonstrated preferences for music and stories they have heard in the womb and even for the language they heard while in utero. Not surprisingly, they have a strong preference for their mother’s voice over all other voices, though they prefer it modified to simulate how it sounded when they were still in the womb. • Music enhances your child's intellectual development. Dr. Frances Rauscher, from the University of Wisconsin, says that music "helps improve children's ability to reason abstractly, by strengthening neural firing patterns of the brain that are relevant to both musical and spatial cognition." • Most music teachers will tell you that music encourages self-expression and self confidence. As a non-verbal language, music can convey a complexity of emotions, and offers a means of expression to a shy or diffident child who finds it hard to communicate through speech According to baby Recommend site sources music is very relaxing for both you and your baby when listening to music with your baby or when playing music to your baby during pregnancy. Whilst music tastes are very subjective, it is widely believed that listening to


easy-listening and classical music can be very calming. It is also reported that it will give your baby a greater appreciation of music and improve their creative and cognitive skills. Obviously the jury is out regarding how intelligent it will make your baby! One of the famous music productions is Baby Einstein: Lullaby Classics It offers 17 tracks and over 35 minutes of classical music that will calm any restless baby. One of the important differences between this CD and the others is that the music is not orchestrated. Other well know ones are Mozart or Beethoven for Babies all available with Amzaon. A few years ago, one of Great Britain’s leading brain scientists, Baroness Greenfield, a professor of neurology at Oxford University, and the director of the Royal Institution, raised some English eyebrows when she insisted that fetuses are “conscious� before birth.

Brain development inside the womb A growing foetus in the womb develops at lightning speed. Nevertheless, it takes most babies an additional three months to "wake up" and become active partners in the relationship. According to Dr.Restac MD., The future brain and nervous system first become apparent at about four weeks, when a portion of the outer ectoderm thickens to form a spoonshaped structure only one cell thick known as the neural plate. A groove known as the neural groove runs the length of the neural plate, dividing it into right and left halves. Even at this early stage of development the future brain possesses three defining characteristics. It is polarized (the head end is wider than the remainder of the neural plate), bilaterally symmetrical (divided into right and left halves separated by the neural groove), and regionalized (the wide end of the spoon will become the brain, while the narrow end will develop into the spinal cord). Next, the two sides of the neural plate fuse to form a tube from which emerge three swellings: The forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. Over the ensuing months in the womb these three swellings enlarge, bend and expand to form the major divisions of the adult nervous system; from top down the cerebrum, the midbrain, the thalamus and hypothalamus, the cerebellum and the spinal cord. Scientists who study the brain during its earliest period marvel at the clockwork precision by which the genes issue instructions for growth and development. But even as it begins to form, the brain remains highly dynamic. And the environment of the embryo plays a crucial role in how the brain will finally turn out.


According to neuroscientist Mary Beth Hatten, a development biologist at Rockefeller University in New York, "The embryo itself provides the environment that interacts with the genes. It's teeming with chemicals, and its very shape has an influence on the brain. And as the brain grows it also creates an environment that interacts with the genes and can lead to changes in how the brain will eventually develop. Thus the brain is a dynamic organ right from the beginning." As it develops, the brain's most dramatic alteration over time is the exceptional growth of the forebrain, which gives rise to the cerebral hemispheres. When the brain is viewed from the side, only three of its major structures are visible: the brain stem, the cerebellum, and the cerebral hemispheres. All other structures are hidden by the vastly expanded cerebral hemispheres, which represent 85 percent of the brain by weight. In addition to their large size, the hemispheres are remarkable for their highly wrinkled, convoluted appearance. At five months of age the cerebral hemispheres appear as smooth as billiard balls. Four months later they look more like the two halves of a gnarled walnut. "If one looks at the brain of the developing infant in utero, it's really quite smooth, but during the last 12 weeks of prenatal development the brain folds in on itself," says Michael Rivkin of the department of neurology at Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass. "By the end of the pregnancy the surface of the infant brain consists of a landscape of hills and valleys, technically referred to as gyri and sulci. By the time the infant is born, its brain looks like the brain of an older child or young adult." Why does the brain fold in on itself and undergo such a dramatic change in appearance? Think of the last time you packed a suitcase. Folding your clothes allowed you to enclose a comparatively large surface of your wardrobe within the fixed confines of the suitcase. A similar situation exists in the brain: A large surface area can be crammed into the fixed volume of the human skull only by wrinkling and enfolding. "The surface of the brain folds in on itself as a way of accommodating an increasing surface area without changing the intracranial volume into which it has to fit," says Rivkin. The human brain grows at a rapid pace during the late stages of fetal development and the docosahexanoic acid content of the fetal brain increases three to five times during the final trimester of pregnancy and triples during the first 12 weeks of life. The first 12 to 18 months of life are when the brain requires fatty acids to set the foundations for cognition and visual acuity. Research studies have also shown that infants taking formula enriched with docosahexanoic acid scored significantly higher on mental development tests . It is noteworthy that while all of the study participants had normal physical development and were equally able to solve simple mental problems, it is noteworthy that when given a more complex mental challenge, the children on the docosahexanoic acid scored better.


According to nutrition expert, Barbara Levine, Ph.D., R.D., Director of Human Nutrition at the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, "Researchers have long recognized the farreaching significance of docosahexanoic acid for the mental and visual development of infants, and we are so pleased to now see the emergence of key clinical data supporting this important cause.

The bond between parents and babies is one of the strongest for  

Prof.Lakshman Madurasinghe- Consultant Psychologist and author of “ Clinical Psychology” The bond between parents and babies is one of the s...

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