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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET CHAPTER ONE So far the answers to these questions are . . . “Yes.” “Yes, and . . .” “Yes, but we have failed to do so.” Piaget’s observations have been completely validated by mod- ern brain research not available to Piaget himself. (Rapid growth in synaptic density in human infants was first identified in the 1980s [Bruer 2014].) The human brain in early childhood engages in intense activity in which essentially it wires itself. Brain cells are connected. Pathways are developed. The quality of the child’s early experiences determine how well and how thoroughly the wiring is completed; however, at around age five or six, at exactly when Piaget said the change would occur, the job is for the most part over, for better or worse, especially in those parts of the brain responsible for language development. The developing brain that from birth takes in information at lightning speed from multiple and simultaneous sources becomes at age six the linear brain that each of us brought with us to first grade and that we are still using to decipher this chapter. And the specific experiences and conditions that support healthy brain development in early childhood? Well, certainly adequate nutrition is a primary need for the developing brain, as is rich sen- sory input, including physical touch, and an environment reason- ably free from toxins and trauma. An adult can endure long periods of isolation and deprivation and can suffer all sorts of emotional and physical trauma, and still experience full recovery once more favorable conditions are restored. The developing brain from birth to five, however, cannot, and any number of risk factors can cause damage that is very difficult to overcome (Center on the Develop- ing Child 2007). 6 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL