Child Development: Neuroscience and psychology hand by hand for the understanding of human development

Monday, 11 de March de 2019

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Studying child development is something motivated by one big paradigm: Understanding the formation of the nervous system over the first few years of life. This means understanding how the processing of the most diverse activities of the nervous system such as language, communication, processing of emotions, memory, etc., work. More importantly, there is an important social aspect to this type of study since these findings may result in public policies for education.

It is also worth remembering that this study implies as much to understand pictures for those with autism as the "normally" developed children. In this context, these two scenarios act as two complementary avenues, since the "normal" individuals help us understand what happens in cases of disorder, just as the latter work together to understand what the "normal" development picture would be.


The great landmark for child development in psychology was Piaget, with his theory of knowledge. Over the years, his theory was shaped by the advance on new discoveries associated with neuroscience and also in the field of psychology itself. In this regard, communication was a fundamental pillar because it involves understanding how infants and young children receive information, how they process it, and how they react to it.

The post-Piaget period was defined by different perspectives on how child development occurs. One of these perspectives focuses on infants and young children's innate ability to slowly incorporate new findings based on their experiences. In this case behavioral and communication changes would be the result of environmental events and their own maturation. In opposition to this idea, there is a connection, which believes that the individual is a "blank sheet" whose experiences actively shape his development. There is also a third perspective, the so-called theory-theory. It presents an intermediate idea between the two extremes. Thus, children have a vast innate repertoire, which is extremely influenced by their environmental experiences.

It seems a bit distant from neuroscience, doesn't it? In fact, psychology and neuroscience are interested in many common problems. Therefore, it is always important to address them so that one can contribute to the other. Below we will talk a little about what neuroscience already knows about this topic.



From birth, we have suffered numerous changes in our nervous system. Unlike other mammals, our survival still depends actively on our parents or guardians. What happens is that our nervous system is not yet fully developed; thus, our synaptic connections are still forming very intensely in the first years of life. In this way, we establish our early cognitive skills and probably also shape great aspects of our personality.
In structural terms, it is worth mentioning that in the first years of life myelinization of the axons, an essential process for the transmission of the Action Potentials in the neurons take place. In addition, we also know through magnetic resonance (read more about imaging techniques here and here) that there is increased white mass throughout childhood. Thus, there is a correlation between cognitive development and increased white mass throughout the child's growth. There are also those who suspect that changes in these processes of our nervous system may end up resulting in dyslexia and other disorders related to learning. Several authors have already shown that the development of the reading ability associates with changes in temporal-parietal, temporal-occipital and ventral-frontal regions.

We mentioned that this topic has everything to do with education right? If you want to read more about other researches that can contribute a lot to education, click here!

Now comes the challenge for researchers: how to reconcile so many different insights and information to understand a theme as complex and as socially relevant as child development?
BrainSupport always recommends that your scientific research takes place such that it gets as close to reality as possible (after all, if we are to help Latin American researchers unravel the mysteries of consciousness, we must put research in the most natural context possible, this is why we observe human consciousness emerge)!
There are several solutions that may help us make observations in environments closer to the reality of our daily life. Here, we highlight solutions for behavioral studies offered by Mangold International: video recording equipment and software (Portable Labs and VideoSync) and analysis software such as INTERACT.


Do you want help with thinking about how to insert your project in this environment? Contact us!

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Mila Pamplona

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