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Brain development in the early years

By birth: most children have 100 billion active brain cells, and these have made about 50 trillion connections with other brain cells and other parts of the body.

In first month of life: As a baby's senses react to her environment, she develops new "synaptic" connections at the phenomenal rate of up to 3 billion a second.

In the first six months: Baby will babble using all the sounds in all the languages of the world, but she will then learn to talk using only the sounds and words she picks up from her environment, particularly from her parents. Her brain will discard the ability to speak in languages she does not hear.

By eight months: A baby's brain has about 1,000 trillion connections (1,000,000,000,000,000)! After that the number of connections begins to decline-unless the child is exposed to stimulation through all her senses.

By age ten years or so: about half the connections have died off in the average child, but that still leaves about 500 trillion that last through most of life.

Up to age 12: "The brain is now seen as a super-sponge that is most absorbent from birth to about the age of 12. It is during this period, and especially the first three years, that the foundations for thinking, language, vision, attitudes, aptitudes and other characteristics are laid down. Then the windows close, and much of the fundamental architecture of the brain is completed."**

* Summarized from various sources, many of them quoted by Ronald Kotulak in Inside The Brain, published by Andrews and McMeel, Kansas City, Missouri.

** The exact quote is from Robert Kotulak's own summary.