The human mind is one of the most complex structures in the universe. Even in early infancy, it is capable of taking in a wide variety of inputs. Still, in our early years, we’ve only unlocked a small portion of its potential. Our brains actually continue to develop into our twenties. Accordingly, the U.S. Government embraces a definition of youththat continues until we turn 25. Nurturing the development of young minds to stay healthy through adulthood is a primary goal of SAMHSA’s Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health)and the Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation.
Neurons on the Move
Until recently, it was assumed that the movement of neurons—the brain cells that carry messages—into the cerebral cortex occurred entirely during fetal development, as happens in other animals. However, a study published in the journal Science on October 6, 2016 suggests that neurons actually continue to migrate into the brain through the first 7 months after birth. To some neuroscientists, this discovery underscores the importance of positive, healthy experiences during infancy. The migration occurs in an area of the brain associated with thinking, emotional development, and executive function, so it is especially important to make sure we support the process. SAMHSA is investing in efforts to lessen the impact of emotional disturbance and mental illness on America’s youth.
[For more of this story, written by Paolo del Vecchio, go to https://blog.samhsa.gov/2016/1...-start/#.WEoSvLIrKOW]