Brain Architecture: Laying the Foundation
By Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
Why are the early years of a child's life so important for brain development? How are connections built in the brain, and how can early brain development affect a child's future health? This episode of The Brain Architects dives into all these questions and more. Contents Podcast Panelists Additional Resources Transcript First, Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child, explains more about the science behind how brains are built—their architecture—and what it means to build a strong brain. This is followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Judy Cameron, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh; Debbie LeeKeenan, an early childhood consultant and former director of the Eliot-Pearson Children's School at Tufts University; and Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, the global chief and senior advisor for the Early Childhood Development Program Division at UNICEF. These panelists discuss the practical side of building brain architecture, and what any parent or caregiver can do to help give children's brains a strong foundation. Download the episode and subscribe now! Panelists Dr. Pia Rebello Britto Dr. Judy Cameron Debbie LeeKeenan Additional Resources Resources from the Center on the Developing Child Key Concepts: Brain Architecture Video: Experiences Build Brain Architecture Deep Dive: Gene-Environment Interaction A Guide to Executive Function Resources from Our Panelists Dr. Pia Rebello Britto Articles Black, Maureen M., et al., ‘Early Childhood Development Coming of Age: Science through the life course’, The Lancet, series 0140-6736, no. 16, 4 October 2016, p.4. https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(16)31389-7.pdf Web Resources UNICEF: 29 Million Babies Born into Conflict in 2018 UNICEF: Early Childhood Development UNICEF: Early Moments Matter UNICEF: Pollution: 300 Million Children Breathing Toxic Air Dr. Judy Cameron The Brain Architecture Game Working for Kids Debbie LeeKeenan Organizations Anti-bias Leaders in Early Childhood Education National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) PEPS: Program for Early Parent Support Books Daly, L & Beloglovsky, M. (2014) Loose Parts: Inspiring Play In Young Children, Red Leaf Press. Luckenbill, J. Subramaniam, A. & Thompson, J. (2019) This is Play: Environments and Interactions that Engage Infants and Toddlers, Washington D.C., NAEYC. Masterson, M and Bohart, H. (2019) Serious Fun: How Guided Play Extends Children’s Learning, Washington D.C., NAEYC. Rogoff, B. (2003) The Cultural Nature Of Human Development, Oxford University Press. Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, the new podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I'm your host, Sally Pfitzer. Our center believes that advances in science can provide a powerful source of new ideas that can improve outcomes for children and families. We want to help you apply the science of early childhood development to your everyday interactions with children, and take what you're hearing from our experts and panels and apply it to your everyday work. In today's episode, we're going to dive into the concept of brain architecture and learn a little bit more about the science behind it. We'll learn why the early years are really important for brain development, and think about how connections are built in the brain, and what a strong or weak foundation in the brain can mean for a child's future health and development. Here to help us explain brain architecture is Dr. Jack Shonkoff, professor of child health and development, and director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Welcome, Jack. Jack: Hey, Sally. Good to be here. Sally: We have a lot of questions to dive into today, but first, can you explain where the idea of brain architecture came from?