Bryan Kolb: Plasticity in the developing brain

Tuesday, 1 September, 2015 - 11:30 to 13:00
Neocortical development represents more than a simple unfolding of a genetic blueprint but rather represents a complex dance of genetic and environmental events that interact to adapt the brain to fit a particular environmental context. As the brain develops it progresses through a series of stages beginning prenatally and continuing through gestation, infancy and childhood, adolescence, and well into the third decade. The developing normal brain shows a remarkable capacity for plastic changes in response to a  wide range of preconceptual,  prenatal, and postnatal experiences.  This review will examine the many ways in which early experiences alter brain development, including environmental events such as sensory stimuli, early stress, psychoactive drugs, parent-child relationships, peer relationships, intestinal flora, and diet.  This sensitivity of the brain to early experiences has important implications for understanding neurodevelopmental disorders as well as the effect of behavioural and medical interventions in children and adolescents.