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How the Mind Grows from Conception to College: Welcome to Your Child's Brain
By Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., and Sam Wang, Ph.D., published by Bloomsbury 2011

Understanding what really goes through a child’s mind as an infant, in school and during adolescence is a major mystery for most parents, educators and most people who work with kids. The book we recommend this month, How the Mind Grows from Conception to College:  Welcome to Your Child’s Brain, can be a valuable reference to help explore brain development from birth to early adulthood, and to dispel myths and misinformation with practical advice, revelations and reliable science.  

Neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang explain the facets and functions of the developing brain, discussing subjects such as sleep problems, language learning, gender differences, the role of stress, and the effects of poverty. They dispel common myths about the value of educational videos for babies, IQ as best predictor of academic success, the correlation between breastfeeding and intelligence and many others.  “Together, we scoured the technical literature, studying many hundreds of papers in neuroscience, psychology, medicine and epidemiology,” explain the authors. They then synthetized and interpreted this vast literature to clarify the science, expose myths and include practical tips, to help anyone dealing with children and youth  know when to worry, how to respond, and when to relax.

The book’s foreword is written by Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, her work is being implemented by the Children’s Aid Society community schools and several other initiatives across the country.  In her words “I expect it to become an invaluable reference book to help families and educators explore children’s development, whenever questions and issues arise.”  

Sam Wang is an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton. Sandra Aamodt is a former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience.