Baby’s Brain Power
For all people, even adults, learning happens according to a power function. With a few exposures to a new piece of information, initial learning happens very quickly. After seeing that information a number of times, the pace of learning slows. A baby’s brain, however, is specially primed to learn quickly and efficiently and to build upon prior knowledge. The more things a baby is exposed to, the more he is able to learn.
The Chemical Component Our brain facilitates quick learning by releasing chemicals that make it easy to store the information and access it the next time we are exposed to it. The reason learning slows the more time we are exposed to the same piece of information is because the release of these chemicals slows. The increase in learning power triggered by the release of these chemicals is called an increase in long term-potential, or LTP. The effect of LTPs is exceptionally large for infants, making it even easier for your baby to create strong memories of things, even if they are exposed to them only once or twice. For example: • The first time your baby sees a cat, it makes a huge impression on him. He suddenly has the beginnings of a concept of “cat”.
• The next time he sees a cat, he will not only notice it, but will also pick up on a critical new piece of information about cats: they walk in addition to sit, or they run when you try to pet them.
• You, on the other hand, who have seen thousands of cats in your lifetime, look at yet another cat, and add almost nothing to your knowledge of cats.
The high LTP of infants is simply another excellent reason to provide early exposure to a wide variety of experiences, including the feel of sand, the smell of an orange and the sound of a beautiful song; but keep in mind that even though children learn things quickly, repeated exposure strengthens the connections in the brain – that’s why your child will ask you to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? 100 times.