Recent advances in functional magnetic resonance imaging have made it possible to examine the development of functional connectivity of the human brain in utero. A review published in the latest issue of “Trends in Cognitive Sciences” explains the importance of this critical period. If you want to learn more you can also visit http://www.bacheletscience.com/
During the prenatal period, the brain undergoes an extraordinary process of development. In week 7 of gestation, the production of neurons begins the astonishing rate of 250,000 per minute. At the end of the second quarter, billions of neurons occur. After this time produced comparatively few.
Another remarkable achievement of the fetal brain growth is the formation of connections between neurons. In the sixteenth week of pregnancy, the neural connections are activated as synapses rapidly form. Given the dramatic change in brain development that occurs before birth, prenatal period is a time window of opportunity and a period of great vulnerability.
A number of research show that the abnormal brain development during fetal life contributes to the development of many neuropsychological disorders. Furthermore, altered brain connectivity seems to be a key feature of several neuropsychiatric disorders. Examining the formation and function of the neural network in this period of extreme plasticity may provide an opportunity to make unique discoveries to help understand and prevent developmental psychopathology in the future.
In recent decades, there has been progress in the knowledge of fetal structural connectivity in post-mortem studies conducted with animals. But less is known about the initiation and maturation of the functional activity of the brain before birth. And what is known comes from resonance studies performed with preterm and infants. Although these studies have provided important data, less is known about the normal development of the brain before birth.