Critical conditions in infancy: A psychological perspective

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The theme is elaborated that the human infant is a psychobiological creature in whom brain-behavior relations are of paramount importance. The cerebral cortex matures at a rapid rate prenatally and immediately after birth, during which time the sensory channels are functional. The infant is capable of experiencing environmental stimulation and of learning. Experience in fact potentiates neural growth and neurobehavioral maturation. Brain-behavior relations travel a 2-way street. Adverse perinatal experiences may jeopardize later development through damaging brain and other nervous system tissues, but also through compromising the efficacy of experience. Crib death and other first-year crises may result from aberrations of behavioral development. Moreover, the conspiracies of congenital and experiential defects and hazards that eventuate in infants' learning disabilities have not been sufficiently explored as the precursors of later debilities. (44 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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