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Nov 2008 issue

Cognitive and Emotional Development of the pre-born & new

born baby- Part 1
Prof.Lakshman Madurasinghe- Consultant Psychologist and author of “ Clinical

The bond between parents and babies is one of the strongest forces in nature. Romances
come and go, but once you've fallen for your baby, you're probably hooked for life.
I have heard many mothers say that: having her in my life is such a joy: From the first
time I held her in my arms, I have had this fierce bond with her, a connection which
started even before she was born: She looks like me when I was her age, and I feel
strongly that she was meant to be a part of our family.

The love you feel for your baby isn't just cultural -- it's a basic part of your makeup.
Scientists have now discovered that parents are hardwired to love their babies. Even if
you're a little nervous about parenthood, you'll almost certainly rise to the occasion. After
all, biology is on your side.

Is the pre-born child conscious?

Many authorities believe that there is a level of consciousness in the pre-born child.
Many physicians today counsel mothers and fathers to talk to their baby, while it is yet in
the mother’s body; parents are encouraged to read to their coming offspring, and to play
soothing music for the child. There is a strong feeling among some professionals that
even a degree of “learning” may take place in the womb. Numerous persons within the
medical field believe that human “awareness” begins in the womb—perhaps a
considerable while before the time of birth.

Value of music

All babies react to loud noises from outside the womb by the seventh month, or even
earlier. The noises might have to be pretty loud to overcome the noise within. A baby
hears his mother’s heartbeat, her blood flowing, her digestion and even her lungs filling
and emptying. And the insulation of skin, fat and fluid between the inside world and the
outside reduces outside sounds by about 30 decibels. It must be hard to concentrate on
Mozart sometimes! Still, newborns have demonstrated preferences for music and stories
they have heard in the womb and even for the language they heard while in utero. Not
surprisingly, they have a strong preference for their mother’s voice over all other voices,
though they prefer it modified to simulate how it sounded when they were still in the

• Music enhances your child's intellectual development. Dr. Frances Rauscher, from the
University of Wisconsin, says that music "helps improve children's ability to reason
abstractly, by strengthening neural firing patterns of the brain that are relevant to both
musical and spatial cognition."

• Most music teachers will tell you that music encourages self-expression and self
confidence. As a non-verbal language, music can convey a complexity of emotions, and
offers a means of expression to a shy or diffident child who finds it hard to communicate
through speech

According to baby Recommend site sources music is very relaxing for both you and your
baby when listening to music with your baby or when playing music to your baby during
pregnancy. Whilst music tastes are very subjective, it is widely believed that listening to
easy-listening and classical music can be very calming. It is also reported that it will give
your baby a greater appreciation of music and improve their creative and cognitive skills.
Obviously the jury is out regarding how intelligent it will make your baby!

One of the famous music productions is Baby Einstein: Lullaby Classics

It offers 17 tracks and over 35 minutes of classical music that will calm any restless
baby. One of the important differences between this CD and the others is that the music is
not orchestrated.

Other well know ones are Mozart or Beethoven for Babies all available with Amzaon.

A few years ago, one of Great Britain’s leading brain scientists, Baroness Greenfield, a
professor of neurology at Oxford University, and the director of the Royal Institution,
raised some English eyebrows when she insisted that fetuses are “conscious” before birth.

Brain development inside the womb

A growing foetus in the womb develops at lightning speed. Nevertheless, it takes most
babies an additional three months to "wake up" and become active partners in the

According to Dr.Restac MD., The future brain and nervous system first become apparent
at about four weeks, when a portion of the outer ectoderm thickens to form a spoon-
shaped structure only one cell thick known as the neural plate. A groove known as the
neural groove runs the length of the neural plate, dividing it into right and left halves.

Even at this early stage of development the future brain possesses three defining
characteristics. It is polarized (the head end is wider than the remainder of the neural
plate), bilaterally symmetrical (divided into right and left halves separated by the neural
groove), and regionalized (the wide end of the spoon will become the brain, while the
narrow end will develop into the spinal cord).

Next, the two sides of the neural plate fuse to form a tube from which emerge three
swellings: The forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. Over the ensuing months in the womb
these three swellings enlarge, bend and expand to form the major divisions of the adult
nervous system; from top down the cerebrum, the midbrain, the thalamus and
hypothalamus, the cerebellum and the spinal cord.

Scientists who study the brain during its earliest period marvel at the clockwork precision
by which the genes issue instructions for growth and development. But even as it begins
to form, the brain remains highly dynamic. And the environment of the embryo plays a
crucial role in how the brain will finally turn out.
According to neuroscientist Mary Beth Hatten, a development biologist at Rockefeller
University in New York, "The embryo itself provides the environment that interacts with
the genes. It's teeming with chemicals, and its very shape has an influence on the brain.
And as the brain grows it also creates an environment that interacts with the genes and
can lead to changes in how the brain will eventually develop. Thus the brain is a dynamic
organ right from the beginning."

As it develops, the brain's most dramatic alteration over time is the exceptional growth of
the forebrain, which gives rise to the cerebral hemispheres. When the brain is viewed
from the side, only three of its major structures are visible: the brain stem, the
cerebellum, and the cerebral hemispheres. All other structures are hidden by the vastly
expanded cerebral hemispheres, which represent 85 percent of the brain by weight.

In addition to their large size, the hemispheres are remarkable for their highly wrinkled,
convoluted appearance. At five months of age the cerebral hemispheres appear as smooth
as billiard balls. Four months later they look more like the two halves of a gnarled

"If one looks at the brain of the developing infant in utero, it's really quite smooth, but
during the last 12 weeks of prenatal development the brain folds in on itself," says
Michael Rivkin of the department of neurology at Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass.
"By the end of the pregnancy the surface of the infant brain consists of a landscape of
hills and valleys, technically referred to as gyri and sulci. By the time the infant is born,
its brain looks like the brain of an older child or young adult."

Why does the brain fold in on itself and undergo such a dramatic change in appearance?
Think of the last time you packed a suitcase. Folding your clothes allowed you to enclose
a comparatively large surface of your wardrobe within the fixed confines of the suitcase.
A similar situation exists in the brain: A large surface area can be crammed into the fixed
volume of the human skull only by wrinkling and enfolding. "The surface of the brain
folds in on itself as a way of accommodating an increasing surface area without changing
the intracranial volume into which it has to fit," says Rivkin.

The human brain grows at a rapid pace during the late stages of fetal development and the
docosahexanoic acid content of the fetal brain increases three to five times during the
final trimester of pregnancy and triples during the first 12 weeks of life. The first 12 to 18
months of life are when the brain requires fatty acids to set the foundations for cognition
and visual acuity.

Research studies have also shown that infants taking formula enriched with
docosahexanoic acid scored significantly higher on mental development tests . It is
noteworthy that while all of the study participants had normal physical development and
were equally able to solve simple mental problems, it is noteworthy that when given a
more complex mental challenge, the children on the docosahexanoic acid scored better.
According to nutrition expert, Barbara Levine, Ph.D., R.D., Director of Human Nutrition
at the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, "Researchers have long recognized the far-
reaching significance of docosahexanoic acid for the mental and visual development of
infants, and we are so pleased to now see the emergence of key clinical data supporting
this important cause.