A baby's brain is a mystery whose secrets scientists are just beginning to unravel. The mystery begins in the womb -- only four weeks into gestation the first brain cells, the neurons, are already forming at an astonishing rate: 250,000 every minute. Billions of neurons will forge links with billions of other neurons and eventually there will be trillions and trillions of connections between cells. Every cell is precisely in its place, every link between neurons carefully organized. Nothing is random, nothing arbitrary.
One way a newborn is introduced to the world is through vision. The eyes and the visual cortex of an infant continue to develop after birth according to how much stimulation she can handle. What happens to the brain when a baby is born with a visual abnormality? Infant cataracts pose an interesting challenge to scientists: How to remove the visual obstruction without compromising brain development.
In response to the demands of the world, the baby's brain sculpts itself.
When we are babies, our brains are more open to the shaping hand of experience than at any time in our lives. In response to the demands of the world, the baby's brain sculpts itself. Scientists have begun to understand how that happens, but as Neurologist Carla Shatz says, "There's a great mystery left. Our memories and our hopes and our aspirations and who we love all of that is in there encoded in the circuits. But we only have the barest beginnings of an understanding about how the brain really works."
THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN
, a David Grubin Production, reveals the fascinating processes involved in brain development across a lifetime. The five-part series, which will premiere nationally on PBS in winter 2002, informs viewers of exciting new information in the brain sciences, introduces the foremost researchers in the field, and utilizes dynamic visual imagery and compelling human stories to help a general audience understand otherwise difficult scientific concepts. A startling new map of the human brain has emerged during the past decade of neuroscience research, contradicting much of what was previously believed. Narrated by Blair Brown and directed by David Grubin, this series tells stories through a mix of personal histories, expert commentary, and cutting-edge animation. Viewers learn startling new truths about the brain as they journey inside about this complicated organ.