The baby brain: Learning in leaps and bounds

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The baby brain: Learning in leaps and bounds

By Knowable Magazine

Every baby’s brain has a nearly infinite potential to learn and thrive, coupled with an exquisite vulnerability to adverse experiences, starting in utero. By the time a child reaches kindergarten, their brain has more than doubled in size, on average. But, as any parent will tell you, every child reaches such milestones on their own schedule.

On Thursday, March 23, join Knowable Magazine and Annual Reviews for a live, virtual conversation with leading developmental cognitive neuroscientist Damien Fair and Zero to Three’s Miriam Calderón, a national expert in early education policy. Find out what brain scan studies that follow infants from pregnancy to preschool and beyond are revealing about “typical” brain development, as well as neurodivergent conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This event is for anyone who cares about brain health and wants to know more about how to set kids up for success — from parents to pediatricians, childcare professionals and teachers.

Damien Fair, Cognitive Neuroscientist, University of Minnesota

Damien Fair directs the Masonic Institute of the Developing Brain at UMN, where he uses neuroimaging techniques like fMRI to study how different areas of the brain communicate with each other as babies grow into young children, then teenagers. Fair is interested in how adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and stressors such as inflammation and maternal depression affect the developing brain. In 2012, he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and in 2020 he was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow. Fair serves on the editorial board of the Annual Review of Psychology.

Miriam Calderón, Chief Policy Officer, Zero to Three

Miriam Calderón leads federal and state policy development at Zero to Three, a US nonprofit organization that promotes the healthy development of infants and toddlers. Previously, she was deputy assistant secretary for early learning in the Biden administration and advised the Obama administration on early learning policy. Calderón also has served as early learning system director for the state of Oregon, director of early childhood education at District of Columbia Public Schools and associate director of education policy at the UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), a Hispanic civil rights organization, where she focused on early education policy for Latinx, immigrant and dual-language learner children.

Emily Underwood, Science Content Producer, Knowable Magazine

Emily Underwood has been covering science for over a decade, including as a neuroscience reporter for Science. She has a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University, and her reporting has won national awards, including a 2018 National Academies Keck Futures Initiatives Communication Award for magazine writing.

This event is part of an ongoing series of live events and science journalism from Knowable Magazine and Annual Reviews, a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society.

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