Sunday, June 9, 2013

Critical Periods

I'm learning quite a lot about brain development from Einstein Never Used Flashcards.

For example, there are two types of behaviors learned by the brain. Experience-expectant and experience-dependent. Experience-expectant behaviors are things the brain is biologically and evolutionarily wired to expect to learn. Behaviors like seeing things, hearing language, and moving limbs. If the brain is no...t stimulated in these areas at an early age, the skills will not develop properly. We see this in cases of extreme neglect, like the 1970 case of Genie, who was isolated in her room from ages 2-13 and never able to develop effective language skills. There seems to be a "critical period" by when these behaviors need to develop in order to develop properly.

Experience-dependent behaviors like reading, chess, gymnastics, music, etc (anything we are not biologically wired to need to learn to survive), however, do not have a "critical period". I'll say that again- THEY DO NOT HAVE A "CRITICAL PERIOD". Sure, it may be slightly easier to learn certain skills at age 5 versus age 30, but that doesn't mean it can't be learned at age 30 or even 50.

So the next time you hear someone telling you about the "critical" years in which you need to expose your children to x,y, or z to boost your child's brain development for future success, know that they are skewing research in order to sell you something. Rushing early learning can actually lead to neurological "crowding" in which information competes for synaptic connections, possibly decreasing the size and number of unspecified brain regions that may be necessary for creativity in adolescent and adult years.

1 comment:

  1. I can see myself referring to experience-dependent learning a LOT in the future.