5 Stages of Human Brain Development

Throughout the lifetime of the human brain it continues to undergo changes. I cannot stress the importance of each stage and how we need to nourish and protect our brain growth from 0 to 100 and hopefully beyond!

Let’s review each of the five stages of human brain growth:

Stage 1: 0 to 10 months 

  • Neurons and connections growing.
  • Pregnant woman should stay as stress-free as possible, take folic acid, B6 & B12, stimulate this young developing brain with sounds and sensations. Mother should avoid toxins, cigarettes, heavy metals, alcohol, drugs.

Stage 2: birth to 6 years

  • Development of voluntary movement, reasoning, perception, frontal lobes active in development of emotions, attachments, planning, working memory, and perception. A sense of self is developing and life experiences shape the emotional well being.
  • By age six, the brain is 95% its adult weight and peak of energy consumption.
  • Caregivers need to provide nurturing environment and daily individualized communication. Negative or harsh treatment may come with emotional consequences in the future.

Stage 3: 7 to 22 years

  • The neural connections or ‘grey’ matter is still pruning, wiring of brain still in progress, the fatty tissues surrounding neurons or ‘white’ matter increase and assist with speeding up electrical impulses and stabilize connections. The prefrontal cortex is the last to mature and it involves the control of impulses and decision-making.
  • Therefore, teenagers need to learn to control reckless, irrational and irritable behavior. Avoiding drugs, alcohol, smoking, unprotected sex and substance abuse.

Stage 4: 23 to 65 years

  • Finally, the brain reaches its peak power around age 22 and lasts for 5 more years. Afterwards, it’s a downhill pattern. Last to mature and the first to go are the brain functionality of executive control occurring in the prefrontal and temporal cortices. Memory for recalling episodes start to decline, processing speed slows and working memory is storing less information.
  • Best approach is to stay mentally active, learn new things, stay physically active and eat a very healthy diet. Avoid toxins, cigarettes, alcohol and mind-altering drugs.

Stage 5: older than 65 years

  • Brain cells are lost in the critical areas such as the hippocampus responsible for processing memories.
  • Learn new skills, practice meditation to promote neutral emotions, exercise to improve abstract reasoning and concentration.
  • Avoid stress or incorporate stress reducing meditation and exercises.
  • Eat a healthy diet with foods to nourish one’s level of dopamine.

Did you know that certain foods like sugar can set off a cascade of brain changes.

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Leave A Reply (20 comments So Far)

  1. Bob Collins
    5 years ago

    Very good info, well laid out. I will be sharing it lots as I teach court-ordered parenting classes for divorcing parents of minors. These divorcing parents still ass-u-me that their children will not be disturbed by their divorce as long as Mom and Dad are happily divorced.
    Fifteen years into teaching this series (and 25 into teaching stepparents) I am still finding fresh information to share.
    Thank you for your work and for sharing your knowledge.

  2. Doug P
    4 years ago

    I’m over 65, good to know it’s not hopeless.

    • Nancy Guberti
      4 years ago

      Yes Doug, it’s not hopeless.

  3. Fred Meade
    4 years ago

    does the practice of mindfulness change us differently at different stages of our life?

    • Nancy Guberti
      4 years ago

      Hi Fred, There has been some research showing positive impacts on brain with mindfulness of meditation and yoga. Since the human brain is extremely plastic and establishes new neural connections daily, the practice needs to be reinforced and consolidated through our behavior.

  4. Lowell Ergen
    3 years ago

    I would like to ask the author of this article a question. My son had a stroke at 3 months old, he also has Down syndrome and is non-verbal. He was put on phenobarbital and that stopped the seizures he was having because of the stoke. He was on the medicine for a year. He is currently 26 years old and around 21 years of age he developed a problem where occasionally he would sweat excessively, and have jerky movements, like seizures, and it seemed he couldn’t control the movements. He saw a number of doctors and specialists, but no one could diagnose what was going on. He was put on a drug to help with anxiety and depression but I took him off of those drugs after about 3 years. They seemed to have a lessening effect for him. He is now on CBD gummies and that seems to have reduced his episodes of sweating and jerky movements. My question : Would there be a relationship between the stoke he had as an infant and the brain maturing in a person’s 20’s. Would the maturing of the brain send signals that might be hitting the stoke area, causing his condition?

  5. amelia
    3 years ago

    Hi, I would love to include this article as part of my research in my uni dissertation, was just wondering if you knew the publication date (just the year) and am i correct that Nancy Guberti is the author?

  6. amelia s
    3 years ago

    Hi, I would love to include this article as part of my research in my uni dissertation, was just wondering if you knew the publication date (just the year) and am i correct that Nancy Guberti is the author?

    • Nancy Guberti
      3 years ago

      Yes, Nancy Guberti wrote the article and published Feb 19, 2012

  7. Bob Charlton
    3 years ago

    Excellent summary of the process of brain development. I would love to see this updated with the recent developments in our knowledge of neuroplasticity.

    We CAN continue to grow new neural networks well into an advanced age. We are NOT at the mercy of our genes. Stroke victims who lose certain capabilities can grow new pathways in the brain and cam regain lost capabilities.

    Look into the research of David Feinstein, PhD; Dawson Church, PhD; Bruce Lipton; PhD; and the HeartMath Institute. Read the research and decide for yourself.

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