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Environmental & Neurochemical

Factors on Behavior
JENNIFER BERNECHE
EDU417: COGNITIVE STUDIES CAPSTONE
INSTRUCTOR LIENAU
JUNE 14, 2015

Environmental and chemical


factors significantly influence
a childs memory, learning,
and behavior.

Image retrieved from families.naeyc.org

What are neurotransmitters?


Chemicals in the brain that transmit information throughout the
brain and body using nerve cells (neurons).
Essential for memory, learning, and behavior.
The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell the
heart to beat, the lungs to breathe, and the
stomach to digest. (Neurogisitics, 2014)
Unbalanced levels of neurotransmitters can
have adverse affects on concentration, mood,
and sleep.
Image retrieved from www.unyoungabriela@blogspot.com

Two Kinds of Neurotransmitters


Excitatory: Acetylcholine & Dopamine
Stimulate the brain

Inhibitory: Serotonin & (Acetylcholine can also act as an


inhibitor)
Calm the brain
Balance mood
Inhibitory neurotransmitters balance mood and are easily depleted
with the excitatory neurotransmitters or overactive, (Neurogistics,
2014).

Dopamine

Plays a part in controlling motor activity, assists in focus and motivation, and
also helps us to feel good as part of the brain's reward system (Spuhler &
Hauri, 2014).

When we are interested in something we experience higher


levels of dopamine, and therefore learn and retain
information more effectively.

ADD/ADHD and the lack of focus are caused by a lack


of dopamine making it to the synapse,
(Neurogistics, 2014)

Decreased levels of dopamine in various areas of the


brain may result in the muscle rigidity typical of
Parkinsons disease, (Dubuc).
Image retrieved from scienceexplorers.com

Acetylcholine

Triggers muscle contraction and stimulates the excretion of


certain hormones. In the central nervous system, it is involved in
wakefulness, attentiveness, anger, aggression, sexuality, and
thirst, among other things, (Dubuc).

Plays large role in sleep; Enhances REM

Promotes memory and new learning

Alzheimers disease is associated with a lack of acetylcholine in


certain areas of the brain. (Dubuc)

Serotonin
Plays a role in different functions,
such as the regulation of mood,
sleep, body temperature, pain, and
appetite. (Dubuc)
Serotonin imbalance is linked to
impulsive behavior, aggression,
depression, and suicide.
Image retrieved from
psychcentral.com

Environmental Factors
In addition to genetic factors, the environment in
which a person lives, as well as the actions of that per
son, play a role in plasticity, (Michelon, 2014).
Environmental factors such as movement, sleep,
nutrition, and technology affect learning and
memory. (Wolf, 2010).

Movement
Studies have shown that exercise enhances student learning and positively impacts
students emotion and physical well being, (Wolf, 2010).
Movement plays a large role in the learning process by

Increasing flow of oxygen to bloodstream, which increases capillary health and the
growth of plasticity of the frontal lobes. (Wolf, 2010)

Releasing proteins that activate the release of brain-derived


neurotrophic factor, which stimulates neural growth and
learning. (Wolf, 2010)

Generates new cells in the hippocampus, which involves


the storage, consolidation, and retrieval of information.
(Wolf, 2010)
Image retrieved from www.markmoxom.com

Sleep
Behavioral and molecular studies suggest that the off-line processing of
information that occurs during sleep strongly contributes to memory
formation, (Wolf, 2010).
Neural connections are strengthened as we sleep
Sleep seems to support insight, sometimes called the nocturnal aha, (Wolf,
2010).
Research illustrates that sleep deprivation affects brain function and linked
with poor academic performance.
Image retrieved from www.kcts9.org

Nutrition
Recent studies have demonstrated the
important connections between nutrition and
brain development and functions, (Wolf,
2010).
Students who regularly eat a nutritious
breakfast exhibit significantly higher test
scores and academic achievement. (Wolf,
2010).
The efficiency of our brains
neurotransmitters is influenced by food.

Image retrieved from nutritionclinic.ie

Technology
Pros:

Television enhances higher level thinking due to increasingly complex plots,


storylines, and characters, (Wolf, 2010).
Video games promote critical skills, providing feedback, adapting to individual
learners, providing opportunities to practice and master.
Studies of video games that include situations where players work together
have shown that children are able to transfer these skills to other situations,
(Wolf, 2010).

Cons:
Contributes to obesity
Psychological studies show that violent games increase aggressive thoughts,
feelings, and behaviors. (Wolf, 2010)
Lack of attention and focus, over-stimulation, lack of parental interaction

Support Your Childs Healthy Development

Play games that involve movement


Establish a bedtime
Provide nutritious, well balanced meals
Healthy breakfast daily
Limit television and video games
Be cautious of television and video game content
Provide your child with educational games
Spend time together
Read books
Be an active part of your childs education

References:
Dubuc, B. Neurotransmitters. Retrieved on June 15, 2015 from
http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/i/i_01/i_01_m/i_01_m_ana/i_01_m_ana.html

Michelon, P. (2008). Brain Plasticity. How learning changes the brain. Retrieved on june 15, 2015 from
http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/02/26/brain-plasticity-how-learning-changes-your-brain
Napier, C. (2014). How Use Of Screen Media Affects The Emotional Development Of Infants.. Primary Health Care, 24, 18-25.
Retrieved June, 2014, from the ebscohost database.
Neuorgistics. (2014). What are neurotransmitters? Retrieved on June 14, 2015 from
https://www.neurogistics.com/TheScience/WhatareNeurotransmi09CE.asp
Spuhler, I., & Hauri, A. (2013). How Use Of Screen Media Affects The Emotional Development Of Infants . PLoS One, 8, 1-10.
Retrieved June, 2014, from the ebscohost database
Wolf, P. (2010). Brain Matters Translating Research Into Classroom Practice (2nd ed., ). Alexandria, Va.: ASCD, Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development.

References
Image. Child. Retrieved from families.naeyc.org
Image. Exercise. Retrieved from www.markmoxom.com
Image. Neurotransmitter. Image retrieved from www.unyoungabriela@blogspot.com
Image. Nutrition. Retrieved from nutritionclinic.ie
Image. Serotonin. Retrieved from psychcentral.com
Image. Sleep. Retrieved from Image retrieved from www.kcts9.org