Free «Critical Periods in Development» Essay Sample

Critical period in brain development refers to the most sensitive stage in establishing of the brain architecture of an individual. The topic covers effects the environment and personal experiences have on the development of mind. Environment issues of mother-infant relation are also considerable; this is because language development relies widely on the relationship that is existent between the new born and the mother. Studies have revealed that early childhood years have a profound effect in the development of the brain and the behaviors of an individual. The period between zero and six years is the most critical in the psychological brain development. The environmental exposure of a child during this age determines emotional and intelligence capacity of the child’s brain for the rest of his or her life. This is so because constant interactions with environment and personal experiences affect certain parts of the brain. Therefore, it is essential for guardians and parents to make good use of this sensitive phase to enhance brain psychological development. Different scenarios produce varying results in the building of the brain architecture. Children's exposure to relatively favorable environments while in their first years of life is vital. These children can think and control their feelings better than those who are in unfavorable conditions. This implies that the child’s environmental condition and experiences are a determinant of the emotional and mental characteristics of the child in the later years (Fox et al., 2010; Tottenham et al., 2010).

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This topic uses themes and theories to help people understand psychological development of the brain. The first theme is biology versus environment; this explanation seeks to unearth the effect of the environment and biological genetic composition in the brain development process. This theme aims at assisting people to understand what does contribute to the growth of human brain; is it the genetic factor, the environmental factor or both of them. The theory argues that the environment alters genetic composition of mind altering the mental building process. The second theme is psychosexual stages theory that sub-divides development stages into oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. The third theory is that of continuity versus discontinuity, which argues that brain development process is continuous with varying levels of development within different stages. The fourth is the psychodynamic view (Feud 1856-1939), which suggests that individuals pass through various developmental stages, which require resolving unconscious conflicts between social expectations and biological drives. The fourth is the attachment theory, which suggests that social attachment gained after birth affects infants' brain development (Skuse, 1984). Research conveys fundamental knowledge through the use of observational methods.

The research tries to explain and answer questions about main themes of psychological development by laying more emphasis on the biological versus environmental theme and the attachment theory. The cases in four articles show the research involving institutionalized children. Some people prefer to take children to foster homes in the early age, while others prefer to take older children, and the rest prefer to leave them in the institutions. The results were put in comparison against each other after about forty two months. Those who found their place in foster families in the early age had developed greater thinking capacity. They manage their emotions better than other two groups. This example explains to a greater extent how social attachment and environment affect an individual’s growth pattern. Those in the institutions do not get a chance to form social attachment to any person; this is because there are many care givers in the children’s home. This slows their development process and weakens their ability to control their emotions. On the other hand, those who found their place in foster families while still young tend to develop social attachment early in life hence a better chance to grow emotionally and mentally. This builds on their confidence and gives them a chance to grow psychologically while still in their sensitive period; and as a result, they can handle their emotions well. Another possible reason for variance in behavior between the groups is personal experiences. A child who has close ties with an adult is more likely to learn fast on how to relate with others and control emotions; this could have placed those taken in by families at a better position to learn how to manage their feelings. The results attest to the fact that emotional attachment, experiences and environmental conditions affect brain architecture (Nelson et al., 2007; Tottenham et al., 2010).

Learning the development of brain is vital as it assists to gain a comprehensive insight of psychological development as a whole. This is through the study of how mental and emotional development of an individual takes place in phases. A person is most sensitive to changes in the environment when still in the early years of life. Skipping any part of the development may lead to future emotions and intelligence issues. However, the process is continuous and does not stop even after passing the age of six years. This implies that brain development occurs throughout a person’s life. In relation to psychological development study as a whole, a child’s development assists one to understand different patterns of behavior exhibited by people. This, in turn, leads to social harmony and peaceful coexistence as one has an idea as to why people conduct themselves as they do.

In conclusion, the most critical stage in a child’s development is the first three years since this is the time when the brain of a child starts to development. A good environment for an infant will lead to proper development of emotional and intelligence parts of the brain. This will aid the child to think clearly and control his or her emotions.


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