How does the brain develop
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How Does the Brain Develop? PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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How Does the Brain Develop?. Everything we do, feel and say from infancy to the end of life reflect the functioning of our brain. How is the brain organized?. The Neuron. The neuron is the basic building block of the nervous system They are often grouped in bundles called nerves.

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How Does the Brain Develop?

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How Does the Brain Develop?

Everything we do, feel and say from infancy to the end of life reflect the functioning of our brain

How is the brain organized?

The Neuron

  • The neuron is the basic building block of the nervous system

    • They are often grouped in bundles called nerves.

  • There are billions and billions of neurons throughout the body

4 parts of the neuron

  • Dendrites are specialized to receive signals from neighboring neurons and carry them back to the cell body

  • Thin, bushy-like structures that receive information from outside the neuron

  • Relays the information into the cell body

The Neuron

  • The Cell body contains the cell nucleus

  • The cell body relays the information down to the axon

The structure of a neuron

  • Axon: A thin, long structure that transmits signals from the cell body to the terminal buttons.

    • The axon is wrapped in myelin, a fatty sheath that allows it to transmit information more rapidly.

Once the information hits the Terminal button, it is transmitted outside the cell by neurotransmitters, which reside in the axon terminal.

The Neuron

Fun Facts

  • Average number of neurons in the human brain

    • 100 billion

  • Average number of neurons in an octopus brain

    • 300 million

  • Rate of neuron growth during development of a fetus (while in the womb)

    • 250,000 neurons per minute

The information shoots from one end of the neuron to the other.

How do neurons communicate?

Electrical Communication

  • Action potential is an electrical current sent down the axon initiates the release of neurotransmitter.

  • The activity within the neurons is electrical. This current causes the neuron to “fire”

  • When an action potential moves down the axon, it causes the release of neurotransmitters

Synaptic transmission

  • The neurons don’t actually touch each other, there is a gap between one neuron and the next called Synapses.

    • Thespace between neurons

  • Information must be transmitted across the synapse to other neurons via the neurotransmitters.

Presynaptic Neuron

Postsynaptic Neuron


  • Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that reside in the axon terminals

  • They communicate to other neurons by binding to receptors on neighboring neurons

What observations can you make about the brain?

Brain Development

  • The wrinkled outer area of the brain is called the CerebralCortex-

  • The cortex regulates many of our functions that we think of distinctly human.

  • Your personality, ability to carry out plans, certain types of thinking, memory, sensory activity.

Looking at the Brain

  • The exterior covering (cortex) of the brain is wrinkled which increases the surface area of the brain

  • The brain is divided into 2 hemispheres

    • Right and left hemispheres

The Corpus Callosum connects these hemispheres and allows communication from one side of the brain to the other.

Corpus Callosum

The beginning of the brain can be traced to the period of the zygote

Approximately 3 weeks after conception a groups of cells form a flat structure called the neural plate

The neural plate folds to form a tube that ultimately becomes the brain and spinal cord

3 week old zygote

Early Brain Development

  • In the months after birth the brain grows rapidly, producing billions of neurons, dendrites and axons, as well as synapses reaching its peak around the infant’s first birthday.

    -In the first 2 years the brain increases in size from 25% to 75% of its adult weight

  • Soon after synapses soon to gradually disappear a phenomenon known as synaptic pruning.

    -This process is the brain’s way of “weeding out” the unnecessary connections between neurons.

Brain growth and development

  • There is a fivefold increase in the number of dendrites in cortex from birth to age 2 years, as a result approximately 15,000 new connections may be established per neuron.

    • This is called “Transient exuberance”

  • These connections are necessary because thinking and learning require many connections between many parts of the brain

  • Experience is vital for brain formation

If cells are unused they atrophy and are rededicated to other senses. Underused neurons, like synapses are inactivated by pruning process

When children suffer brain damage, cognitive processes are usually impaired; these processes often improve gradually showing the brain’s plasticity

The brain’s organization is somewhat flexible and if damaged the brain can make new connections

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