Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College

Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College

by Sandra Aamodt, Sam Wang


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How children think is one of the most enduring mysteries-and difficulties-encountered by parents. In an effort to raise our children smarter, happier, stronger, and better, parents will try almost anything, from vitamins to toys to DVDs. But how can we tell marketing from real science? And what really goes through your kid's growing mind-as an infant, in school, and during adolescence? Neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang (who is also a parent) explain the facets and functions of the developing brain, discussing salient subjects such as sleep problems, language learning, gender differences, and autism. They dispel common myths about important subjects such as the value of educational videos for babies, the meaning of ADHD in the classroom, and the best predictor of academic success (hint: It's not IQ ). Most of all, this book helps you know when to worry, how to respond, and, most important, when to relax. Welcome to Your Child's Brain upends myths and misinformation with practical advice, surprising revelations, and real, reliable science. It's essential reading for parents of children of any age, frominfancy well into their teens.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608199334
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 09/04/2012
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., is the former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience, the leading scientific journal in the field of brain research. During her career, she has read over five thousand neuroscience papers, given lectures at many universities, and attended over forty scientific meetings in ten countries. Her science writing has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, El Mundo, and the London Times. She lives in Northern California with her husband. Sam Wang, Ph.D., is an associate professor of neuroscience at Princeton University. He has published over fifty articles on the brain in leading scientific journals and has received numerous awards. His research and analysis has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and he has made numerous television and radio appearances, including on National Public Radio. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife and daughter.

Table of Contents

Foreword Ellen Galinsky xi

QUIZ How Well Do You Know Your Child's Brain? xiii

Introduction The Brain That Builds Itself xviii

Part 1 Meet Your Child's Brain

Chapter 1 The Five Hidden Talents of Your Baby's Brain 2

Ages: Birth to One Year

Myth: If anything goes wrong, Mom is to blame

Chapter 2 In the Beginning: Prenatal Development 10

Ages: Conception to Birth

Practical tip: Less stress, fewer problems

Practical tip: Eat fish during pregnancy

Chapter 3 Baby, You Were Born to Learn 24

Ages: Birth to Two Years

Myth: Breast-feeding increases intelligence

Practical tip: Guided practice can accelerate motor development

Chapter 4 Beyond Nature Versus Nurture 32

Ages: Conception to College

Footprints on the genome

Culture can drive evolution

Part 2 Growing Through a Stage

Chapter 5 Once in a Lifetime: Sensitive Periods 40

Ages: Birth to Fifteen Years

Brain food

The limits of brain plasticity

Chapter 6 Born Linguists 48

Ages: Birth to Eight Years

Practical tip: Teach foreign languages early in life

Chapter 7 Beautiful Dreamer 55

Ages: Birth to Nine Years

Practical tip: How to get your baby to sleep

What children dream about

Chapter 8 It's a Girl! Gender Differences 63

Ages: Birth to Eighteen Years

Practical tip: Broadening your child's abilities

Chapter 9 Adolescence: It's Not Just About Sex 73

Ages: Twelve Years to Twenty Years

Myth: Adolescents have a longer day-night cycle

Part 3 Start Making Sense

Chapter 10 Learning to See 82

Ages: Birth to Five Years

Practical tip: Outdoor play improves vision

Speculation: Modern life is changing our brains

Chapter 11 Connect with Your Baby Through Hearing and Touch 91

Ages: Third Trimester to Two Years

Practical tip: Protect your child from noise, starting before birth

The neuroscience of snuggle

Chapter 12 Eat Dessert First: Flavor Preferences 100

Ages: Second Trimester to Two Years

Practical tip: Getting your child to eat spinach

Practical tip: Worried about your child's weight?

Part 4 The Serious Business of Play

Chapter 13 The Best Gift You Can Give: Self-Control 112

Ages: Two Years to Seven Years

Practical tip: Imaginary friends, real skills

Practical tip: Learning two languages improves cognitive control

Chapter 14 Playing for Keeps 121

Ages: Two Years to Eighteen Years

Play in adult life

Chapter 15 Moving the Body and Brain Along 131

Ages: Four Years to Eighteen Years

Practical tip: Protect your child from head injuries

Chapter 16 Electronic Entertainment and the Multitasking Myth 137

Ages: Birth to Eighteen Years

Speculation: Does Internet use reduce empathy?

Practical tip: Baby videos do more harm than good

Part 5 Your Child as an Individual

Chapter 17 Nice to Meet You: Temperament 146

Ages: Birth to Twenties

Why you're turning into your mother

Myth: Birth order influences personality

Chapter 18 Emotions in the Driver's Seat 155

Ages: Birth to Early Twenties

Myth: The right hemisphere is the emotional side

Self-control promotes empathy

Chapter 19 Empathy and Theory of Mind 163

Ages: One Year to Five Years

Older siblings speed a child's theory-of-mind development

Imitation in the brain

Chapter 20 Playing Nicely with Others 170

Ages: Birth to Early Twenties

Stereotyping and socialization

Practical tip: Promoting conscience

Part 6 Your Child's Brain at School

Chapter 21 Starting to Write the Life Story 180

Ages: Two Years to Eighteen Years

Practical tip: The best study habits

Babies forget faster

Chapter 22 Learning to Solve Problems 188

Ages: Two Years to Eighteen Years

Practical tip: Social rejection reduces IQ

Chapter 23 Take It from the Top: Music 196

Ages: Birth to Nine Years

Myth: The Mozart effect

Practical tip: The benefits of music and drama

Chapter 24 Go Figure: Learning About Math 204

Ages: Birth to Early Twenties

Practical tip: Stereotypes and test performance

Chapter 25 The Many Roads to Reading 211

Ages: Four Years to Twelve Years

Practical tip: Reading at home

The causes of dyslexia

Part 7 Bumps in the Road

Chapter 26 Hang in There, Baby: Stress and Resilience 220

Ages: Third Trimester to Eighteen Years

Practical tip: Dandelion and orchid children

Chapter 27 Mind-Blindness: Autism 230

Ages: One Year to Four Years

Speculation: Are feral children autistic?

Practical tip: Behavioral therapy is helpful if started early

Chapter 28 Old Genes Meet the Modern World: ADHD 240

Ages: Eight Years to Eighteen Years

Practical tip: Spotting untrustworthy treatments

Myth: The all-powerful brain scan

Chapter 29 Catch Your Child Being Good: Behavior Modification 248

Ages: One Year to Twelve Years

Practical tip: Getting to good

Myth: Praise builds self-esteem

Chapter 30 A Tough Road to Travel: Growing Up in Poverty 256

Ages: Conception to Eighteen Years

Epidemiology is hard to interpret

Acknowledgments 265

Glossary 267

Notes 274

References 286

Index 309

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