Nurture versus Nature
The human brain is a portion of the central nervous system and serves as the control center for movement, sleep, hunger, and virtually everything else vital and necessary to survive. Not only that, but the brain also controls all human emotions from fear and love, to elation and sorrow. It also receives and interprets countless signals from other parts of the body and the outside environment. Summarily, the brain makes us conscious, emotional, and intelligent. It's no wonder that with everything going on in the brain, so much emphasis is placed on its development. We now know, from scientific research, that the brain grows at a rapid rate within the first years of an infant's life. With this information in mind, one can't help but ask how and when THEIR brain developed and did it eventually lead to the person they are this very day?
From birth, nearly every human being brain contains 100 billion neurons and 50 trillion connections. As stated in Begley's "How to Build a Baby's Brain", "The genes the baby carries from the egg and sperm that made him- have already determined the brain's basic wiring." These genes are responsible for breathing, heart rate, and digestive activity. They are the fundamental building blocks of synapses to come. The months subsequent to birth are the most important as to synapse strengthening and growth. It is in these few months that the number of these synapses skyrockets to nearly 1,000 trillion. The only logical explanation for this phenomenon is experience. It is from these experiences that the synapses mature and strengthen. "At 20 months, children of chatty mothers average 131 more words than children of less talkative mothers… the critical factor is the number of times the child hears different words." (Begley, p.31) Hence, the child forms synapses through learning from experience, such as observing their mother in conversation.
The structure of the brain is delicate, especially during the maturation years of development. If the brain is traumatized in any such way within the first years of childhood, those traumatic events will shape the brain as it would have they been jovial ones. These events change the structure of the brain in numerous ways. Though these changes are internal, they have a tremendous outcome on behavior as well. "Trauma elevates stress hormones, such as cortisol, that wash over the tender brain like acid, as a result, regions in the cortex and in the limbic system are 20 to 30 percent smaller in abused children than in normal kids." (Begley, p.20) This 20 to 30 percent difference generates enough anxiety to induce spouts of stress hormones at the slightest thought or reminiscence of a previous traumatic situation. This kind of reaction often causes problems with attention, concentration, and impulsive behavior. The ability to learn can also be altered via early childhood trauma. It is from this trauma that neurotransmitters,...