A&O – DEVELOPMENT of the BRAIN – Synaptic overgrowth and pruning

CONNECTIONS in the nervous system

Synaptic Pruning


CONNECTIONS are at the center of our inquiries.  And arguably, “MEANING” derives from CONNECTEDNESS between and within phenomena (or traits) at every level of organization from the subatomic to the cosmic.  They are between entities–parts and wholes–that are very remote but are also often highly intimate: ART and SCIENCE, Like all intertwined, co-constituted or mutually affecting constellations of traits, exist and evolve in DIALECTICAL relationship.



Early Development of the Nervous System:

“One of the grand strategies nature uses to construct nervous systems is to overproduce neural elements, such as neurons, axons and synapses, and then prune the excess. In fact, this overproduction is so substantial that only about half of the neurons mammalian embryos generate will survive until birth.”  …  “1979 … Peter Huttenlocher …demonstrated that this excess production and pruning strategy actually continues for synapses long after birth.  … he showed that synapses … proliferate after birth, reaching twice their neonatal levels by mid- to late childhood, and then decrease precipitously during adolescence. … These changes at the synapse level cause neural restructuring that very likely has important consequences for normal and abnormal brain function.”   (Read the entire (brief) article on-line at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-is-synaptic-pruning-important-for-the-developing-brain/  (Irwin Feinberg for Scientific American MIND, May 1 2017 comments on “Why Is Synaptic Pruning Important for the Developing Brain?”)



Between ages 11 and 17, children’s brain waves reduce significantly while they sleep, a new study found. Scientists think this change reflects a trimming-down process going on inside teenagers’ brains during these years, where extraneous mental connections made during childhood are lost.” …  “The fact that there are more connections [in a child’s brain] allows things to be moved around,” Campbell told LiveScience. “After adolescence, that alternate route is no longer available. You lose the ability to recover from a brain injury, or the ability to learn a language without an accent. But you gain adult cognitive powers.”  (Read Clara Moskowitz’s report for Live Science,  March 23, 2009. “Teen Brains Clear Out Childhood Thoughts.” on line at: https://www.livescience.com/3435-teen-brains-clear-childhood-thoughts.html)