Issues

Cognitive Development: Before and After Birth Myths and Realities

cognitive development

Cognition simply means the process of thinking and learning with knowledge and experience. In today’s rapidly developing era, cognitive skills render the power to live a happy and healthy life. But despite so many myth-busting articles available, the existence of cognition is often associated with certain myths. Cognitive skills

  • Are God-gifted; i.e., they exist from the birth
  • Can be developed over time; irrespective of their prenatal development
  • Can only be developed until a certain age, as 60

And the list continues…..

Here in the following article, we intend to explore the answers to many such rational queries.

What is cognitive development?

To begin with, one must understand, what is cognitive skill and how does it affect the individuals? Among the variety of available literature on cognitive skills, it is most simply defined as how an individual perceives the world and acts accordingly. It is the set of mental abilities or processes which are connected to nearly each human action.

Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills that enable an individual to execute any task from the simplest to the most complex ones. They involve the mechanisms of how one learns, remembers, solves problems, and pay attention, rather than with any actual prior knowledge.

For instance, memory skills rely mainly on parts of the temporal lobes and parts of the frontal lobes (behind the forehead). The given figure shows the different parts of the human brain responsible for different cognitive skills.

brain lobes

Effects of Cognitive Impairment

Neuroscientists have discovered that people with cognitive impairment have noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, which include memory and thinking skills. The deterioration further increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. The visible manifestations may include social avoidance of family and friends, annoyance for no reasons, lack of confidence and energy levels, etc.

Cognition: Inherited or Adopted

Now that’s a brain explanation and it gives us a fair idea about how important is cognition for a healthy life. But let us resolve the million dollars question: Is it God gifted or can be improved even after birth?If the answer is Yes! then what is the age until which it can be worked upon?

Answers to these intriguing questions can probably be improvised logically as follows: God is everywhere and controls all our activities (those who believe) as Super Power (as may be connotated). But in true sense, cognitive skill of a child is a gift from the mother to her child which continuously flows as per biological terms along with another natural and genetically complex phenomenon. A baby’s brain development begins even when the baby is in its mother’s womb. As documented in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son learnt the technique to enter the Chakravyuha while in his mother Subhadra’s womb when Arjun narrated. It is said that before Arjuna would tell her the way to get out she fell asleep and the child could not listen to it. It is not claimed to be 100% true, but, corroborates with the fact that a child’s cognitive skills are developed much before birth. The good news is to help your baby develop a healthy brain, it is advisable to stay happy, have positive attitude, stay in positive environment, read good books, do little permissible exercises, and stay active during pregnancy. Here, the question arises what is the relation between happiness and cognitive skills?

Human brain has two memories

a) hippocampus (erasable memory),

b) amygdala (non-erasable memory which stores all negative data), when we are happy amygdala can’t secret juice which effects cognitive skills.

For children, in their early years of development, we ought to choose the right kind of games, and activities which help in skill development. One of the severe impacts, the busy parents today can have on their children is that they are often overlooked and left out in the company of electronic gadgets like smartphones, Tabs, video games, etc. But,let us take a pause and think, are these gadgets helpful or harmful, which can destroy a child’s future completely.Research says that the radiations of smartphones, Tabs, laptops,etc.,can be the main cause of various diseases/disorders in their tender age, and have huge negative impact on their cognitive skills. Here, food also plays a vital role on a child’s brain development. Adding severity to the grave situation, the easily available junk food which mostly contains taste enhancers that most of the kids like today are tough to digest and do more harm than help to the kids.

Children are blessings of nature, but what if a child is not healthy physically and mentally, will it not be a problem to himself/herself and others? So, for better future, it’s extremely important to take care our child and help them in right direction to develop a healthy active brain.

It is actually very easily achievable. We must encourage our children to get involved in different types of indoor, outdoor and innovative games, and tasks that involve thinking, etc. People at large have this misconception that only studies and good score cards should be the only focus in life and pressurise our kids but in reality pressure never gives pleasure and if pleasure is missing then nothing stores as knowledge. Another very common myth is, in higher classes kids should concentrate only on studies, no co-curricular or extracurricular activities. But the fact is co-curricular (project based learning, etc.), extracurricular (like music, dance, art, exercise,martial art, swimming, etc.) are the booster of our brain. These helps increase the cognitive skills which help the child to grab the curricular concept very quickly. Music and mathematics is a magical combination;music makes patterns in our brain which help to understand any tricky problem very quickly even it can help to learn new things during sleep as well.

Improvement of cognitive skills is not time bound. One can easily improve it throughout life, even in the age of 90—100 years.. The URLs mentioned below shall guide the readers, “How to improve cognitive skills?”. The easiest way to improvise cognitive skills, is to do some changes weekly in your daily routine, try out new recipes (all genders), do regular exercise, eat right, sleep on time, etc.

Interestingly, the retirement age assigned by the government for most organizations is sixty years, which might also be based on the myth that post-sixty years, new neurons do not generate and people start losing their cognitive skills. For certain jobs, this is true to a certain extent but for research oriented or non-monotonous jobs, this doesn’t hold true.In organizations, where an individual is posed to same kind of work, it is thought that few brain parts stop getting pulse stimulations and start forgetting their activities. But in some jobs, where each day there are new tasks, new challenges to face daily,individuals stay active throughout. Afore-mentioned explanation doesn’t intend to discriminate between any kind of job. It is an deliberate attempt to exemplify that whatever may be the job demands, we need to pledge for our good physical and mental. For both, dependency on others is unmanageable and makes the life miserable. We all must hope, pray and seek a happy and healthy life.

About the author

Kusumika Krori Dutta is an Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Electronics

Kusmika Krori Dutta

About Kusmika Krori Dutta

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: