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This series looks at human brain development over the lifespan. Program One includes physiologic information about brain cells, and early attempts by scientists to understand the functions of the various segments of the brain. The program then discusses more recent findings with the advent of scanning techniques such as MRI, functional MRI, and PET scans. There is an overview of the science of brain mapping and how this is assisting in understanding normal and abnormal brain function. Studies relating mirror neuron function to the development of autism are discussed.
The second program in the series addresses the concepts of nature and nurture, and how the physiologic structures of the brain and brain function are shaped by life experience. Specific concepts covered include plasticity, neuroplasticity, brain pruning, and constrained vs. non-constrained periods of sensitivity to various types of brain development. These concepts are made clear using examples related to speech and to visual development. The program includes a segment on how information gathered through scientific studies is now being used to assist children at risk for school failure.
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