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  • Sarina Shirazee

Neuroplasticity & Early Intervention

From birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops more than at any other time in life. At first, the brain produces more synapses than it needs (structures that connect neurons, the cells which fire each time the brain receives information). An infant has around 50 trillion synapses. By the age of 3, they have around 1000 trillion - their brain grows rapidly and is like a sponge - neurons and synapses fire at every single piece of information the brain receives.⠀

Shortly after 2-3 years of age, a process called "synaptic pruning" occurs, where a child's brain starts to refine and cut down these synapses significantly, based on life experiences. Connections used regularly are preserved and become stronger, while those that are not used are removed. The more a child experiences something, the more likely it is to stick in their brain and influence the rest of their childhood. This is why the early years are so important. ⠀

This is also where early intervention comes in. It is because of the brain's plasticity, or ability to change, that before the age of 5, early intervention is so important. It is during this critical period that we have the best chance of making lifelong changes. After early childhood, the number of synapses decreases steadily, which means that learning new skills (or re-learning skills) becomes a lot more difficult. This is why it takes four times as long to intervene in year 4 as it does in kindy. The brain doesn't have the same ability to change.


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