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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Toddlers and Projects: Some Definitions  that development in infants and toddlers operates in more complicated ways than early theorists believed. In habituation studies, infants’ responses to new and familiar experiences are measured through multiple physical factors, such as suck- ing rates or eye movements. This research has produced a compelling body of evidence that infants and young toddlers represent abstract symbols (or precursors) and organize schemes and hypotheses earlier than previously believed (Flavell, Miller, and Miller 2001). And electronic imaging of brain activity has explored the ways that positive and negative experiences can influ- ence the development of emotional processing, sensory integration, and abstract thinking (Perry and Szalavitz 2006). Brain research has confirmed Piaget’s idea that the pathways in the brain divide and mul- tiply based on how children use them. But it has also deepened our understanding of how different experiences can concentrate brain development in different sectors. The brain not only adds pathways to the areas that receive the most exercise but also prunes pathways in the areas that are not used. If children experience a great deal of stress, the reptilian brain and lower limbic system will experience greater activity and hence greater development. So high activity and development in the lower brain means lower levels of development in the higher brain, just as a preoc- cupation with one kind of learning or exploring may inhibit exploration and development in other realms. The implications of these discoveries are significant: •• •• Teachers can and should focus on providing a supportive and positive emo- tional environment in order to foster children’s use of the developing higher brain. •• Development of higher brain functions in toddlers relies on comfort and security, as well as on exploring the links between senses, feelings, and ideas. Teachers can support brain development by appealing to different centers of the brain—language, motor, auditory, and visual, for example—to promote COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Photo 1.5 13