November 10, 2010

“What Babies Want” – An exploration of the Consciousness of Infants

From: WhatBabiesWant.com

DVD Documentary starring Charlie Rose, Noah Wyle, and Joseph Chilton Pearce.

What Babies Want is an award winning documentary film that explores the profoundly important and sacred opportunity we have in bringing children into the world. Filled with captivating stories and infused with Noah Wyle’s warmth as narrator, the film demonstrates how life patterns are established at birth and  before. The documentary includes groundbreaking information on early development as well as appearances by the real experts: babies and families.

Research is now showing us that our society is a product of how we welcome and raise our children. When babies are welcomed with love and warmth and given the immediate opportunity to bond with parents,  they develop minds that are coherent and flexible, ready in turn to make compassionate and meaningful connections with others as they grow.

As we learn how early relationships shape the structure and function of the brain, we are also gaining a new appreciation of the wisdom of ancient cultures that understood the importance of welcoming children before, during and after the moment of birth.

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November 2, 2010

Fear in Love: Attachment, Abuse, and the Developing Brain

From: The Dana Foundation

Editor’s note: Why do abused children attach and remain attached to abusive parents? In this article, Dr. Regina Sullivan explains how her research with rat pups has led to greater understanding of the infant brain, and how negative early experiences can cause long-term genetic, brain, behavioral, and hormonal changes that can affect not only the abuse victim but also the victim’s descendants.

Many parents have absolute faith that, with the right kind of stimulation, they can give their child an educational advantage. Conscientious mothers play Mozart to the baby in the womb, take their toddlers to Mommy and Me dance classes, and work their way through preschool applications as daunting as those for medical school. Yet even with the wide range of advantages available for infants today, many people are still surprised when I tell them that the way they treat their children will actually change the structure and circuitry of the child’s brain.

Click here to read the entire article

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November 22, 2007

Morality starts young

The key to successful social interactions is the ability to assess others’ intentions — be they friend or foe. A new study in 6- and 10-month-old infants shows that humans engage in social evaluations even earlier than was thought, before they can use language. The infants could evaluate actors on the basis of their social acts — they were drawn towards an individual who helps an unrelated third party to achieve his or her goal, and they avoided an individual who hinders a third party’s efforts to achieve a goal. The findings support the claim that precursors to adult-like social evaluation are present even in babies. This skill could be a biological adaptation that may also serve as the foundation for moral thought and action later in life.

Editor summary in Nature

Nature article by Hamlin, Wynn & Bloom

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October 18, 2007

How Schizophrenia Develops: Major Clues Discovered

schizo.jpegSchizophrenia may occur, in part, because of a problem in an intermittent on/off switch for a gene involved in making a key chemical messenger in the brain, scientists have found in a study of human brain tissue. The researchers found that the gene is turned on at increasingly high rates during normal development of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in higher functions like thinking and decision-making — but that this normal increase may not occur in people with schizophrenia.

The gene, GAD1, makes an enzyme essential for production of the chemical messenger, called GABA. The more the gene is turned on, the more GABA synthesis can occur, under normal circumstances. GABA helps regulate the flow of electrical traffic that enables brain cells to communicate with each other. It is among the major neurotransmitters in the brain.

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September 3, 2007

Birth and sleep content

altered states,development,dreaming — thomasr @ 3:33 am

pregnant.jpegThe conception and birth of a child are emotional events that influence the dreams of most new mothers. In a surprisingly high number of cases, this influence reflects negative aspects of maternal responsibility, depicting the new infant in dreamed situations of danger and provoking anxiety in the mother that often spills over into wakefulness. Furthermore, these kinds of dreams are also accompanied by complex behaviors by new moms such as motor activity, speaking and expressing emotion, according to a study published in the September 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

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August 15, 2007

Toddlers are capable of introspection

toddlermirror1.jpgPreschoolers are more introspective than we give them credit for, according to new research by Simona Ghetti, assistant professor of psychology at UC Davis.

Ghetti and her co-investigator, Kristen Lyons, a graduate student in psychology at UC Davis, will present their findings Friday morning, Aug. 17, at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.

Scientists have demonstrated that dolphins, monkeys and even rats can engage in some form of “metacognition,” or an awareness of their own thought processes. But developmental psychologists have assumed that human children do not develop this capability before about age 5.

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October 1, 2006

Is consciousness socially constructed?

mother-child.jpgIn a new theory published in New Ideas in Psychology, consciousness is suggested to be the result of discourse. In other words, consciousness is socially constructed. It would be interesting to know how the author avoids a circularity in how the learning of a common thought, e.g. in development. For example, a child pointing at something which is later named by the caregiver already presupposes a conscious thought. This problem is also known for theories of thought as the internalization of speech, e.g. in the early work of Lev Vygotsky.

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