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Working with Infants I 13 NDS The Role of the Neurodevelopmental Specialist and the Infant Brain Research The human brain is the most complex machine in the universe. Implication If you are working with the most complex machine in the world, how can you not be important? Research There are more cells in an infant’s brain than there are stars in our Milky Way. That’s about 100 billion brain cells. Implication Your job is to get those brain cells moving by encouraging interactions with infants. Research The infant’s brain is not wired for learning at birth. Implication If something is not complete, it has the potential to be complete. (Really look at the importance of the next two research points.) Research The foundational networking of the brain’s synapses is nearly complete after Research The amount of connections in an infant’s brain can increase or decrease by 25 percent depending on the environment and stimulation the child does or doesn’t receive in the first three years. Implication You can positively or negatively affect an infant by what you do and don’t do. Research An infant’s first experiences imprint the child’s genetic blueprint. That means that every interaction and experience from you or other adults has the capacity to help the brain develop to its fullest capacity. Implication You need to know what you can do to make sure that happens. How will you interact? What will you say? How will you support the child? (The next two topics cover infant learning and positive interactions.) Research An infant’s early experiences are critical to the child’s later intellectual and emotional potential. Implication You help lay the foundation for what’s to come! Research The neural circuits that are consistently turned on over time will be strengthened. Implication You help to strengthen those circuits with conversation, reading books, nurturing, and really everything you do. Cells that fire together, wire together. understanding infants rapid brain development during the first three years of life. Implication Since the brain develops the most during the first three years of life, your interactions with and responses to infants literally help to lay that foundation. Can you say, “NDS”?