Does life experience change the structure and development of the brain?

The effects of maternal nutrition, exercise and substance use play a significant role on an infant’s development. Early childhood experiences literally shape the architecture of the developing brain. Early stimulation sets the stage for how children will learn and interact with others, and loving relations with caring adults cause synapses to grow and existing connections to get stronger. Creative play is also a central activity in the lives of healthy children. Play helps children weave together all the elements of life as they experience it, and it is an outlet for the fullness of their creativity.

The research program at the CCBN provides us with a glimpse of the complex activity that occurs within the brain during infancy and throughout childhood. Areas of emphasis include the influence of genetic-environmental interaction factors on temperament, learning, cognition, and social and group behaviour in the developing organism and the relationship between play, behavioural progression and adult social competency.