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infant stimulation: intelligence

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Sat Feb 20 21:19:29 EST 1999

Long ago (e.g. 40 years ago?) the concept of "critical periods"
developed out of experiments in which animals (cats, usually?) were
deprived of normal pattern vision (translucent goggles? I forget), and
normal pattern vision never developed IF the period of deprivation was
at certain (early) age.  Later work suggested that as little as (if I
recall correctly) one hour per day would suffice for normal

On the OTHER hand, there have been studies with rats in raised in
rather sparsely furnished cages compared with those raised in
"enriched" environments--opportunities for much climbing, exploration,
objects to manipulate, etc.  I believe these studies showed differences
at behavioral, neuroanatomical (histological) and neurochemical levels,
showing an advantage for enriched rearing.

Similar findings have been reported, I believe, for recovery after
brain injury.

It may be true that there is an engineering "safety factor" such that
grossly normal development can occur even under less than optimal
conditions, but I believe differences "within the normal range" can be
found after different kinds of early experience--behaviorally,
certainly, although neuroanatomic/neurochemical studies on humans may
not be able to demonstrate differences at our present level of

Caveat: there is at least anecdotal evidence that TOO MUCH or perhaps
TOO MUCH AND WRONGLY FOCUSED early childhood stiumulation can have
lifeloong detrimental effects.

F. Frank LeFever, Ph.D.
New York Neuropsychology Group

In <nospam-2002990011020001 at iq-ind-as001-219.iquest.net>
nospam at nospm.com (LauraMom) writes: 
>Two ys ago, when my son was a baby, the 
>articles came out in Time/Newsweek (don't
>remember which) in which they concluded
>that as long as the baby was not *deprived*,
>that the baby would get enough stimulation
>for great brain development.  Ie, extra
>stimulation didn't help.  Well, at the time
>I was quite miffed because I'd written the 
>researcher/author a whole list of things that
>I did with my son (she'd requested info from
>misc.kids on what parents did to stimulate babies)
>to stimulate him and, of course, she ignored
>it all in her conclusion....  So I asked here
>what the conclusion was of scientists-if you
>believed that extra stimulation did not enhance
>brain development.  The response was mixed.
>Well, at 3 ys of age, my son is very bright-
>was assessed as having superior non-verbal/
>language skills, around the range of a 5-6 yr
>old.  So, I go back to my original question.
>Is there a scientific basis that extra stimulation
>promotes brain development, or is minimal
>all that matters.  I personally don't buy the
>pre-programmed/genetic bit, but I study
>brain development and environmental
>influences (but at the NT level) so I'm a bit
>biased......  And, of course, I suppose that I want 
>to believe that all the parenting work I put in mattered :)
>I have a lot of opinions on what I did and why
>I think it altered brain development, so if anyone
>is interested, I can share that (NT, etc).  But I was
>going to just throw out the basic question first.

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