Brain Architecture: Early Childhood Brain Development

While genes provide the brain’s basic blueprint, experiences shape the process that determines whether a child’s brain structure will have a strong or weak foundation for future learning, behavior and health. Brain development is greatest at very young ages.


During the early years, billions of neurons connect to wire our brains for motor skills, emotions, logic and memory. Circuits that process basic information are wired first: Sensory pathways for vision and hearing, and language and higher cognitive function have greatest growth in the first year of life. Plasticity, or the ability for the brain to reorganize and adapt, is greatest in the first years of life and decreases with age. These connections grow at a warp speed and are made stronger through use. Like building a house, they provide the scaffolding for more complex circuits. And those that are used get stronger, while those that aren’t used fade away. With repeated use, the connections become more efficient and link to other parts of the brain. Learning is faster, more effortless and more fun than it will ever be again.

To learn more about Brain Development and related research, check out these short videos produced by the Harvard Center for the Developing Child.

Please follow the work of the Maine Children’s Growth Council to find out how you can help lay the foundation for your child and for Maine’s future. Contact us today for more information.