What is Neurodevelopment?
Neurodevelopment is the growth and development of the central nervous system based on experiences received through our senses . Our nervous systems are constantly developing and changing. The most intense period of neurodevelopment is from conception until around 3 years of age but this process continues throughout our entire lifespan . With each new experience, sensory neurons are activated, or “fire”. Neurons that fire together form a bond, or “wire” together, creating a neural pathway.
In order to process sensory information efficiently, it is important for the various areas of the brain to wire together. This happens when different areas of the brain are activated simultaneously and their neural pathways become strong and well integrated. As each new experience strengthens neural pathways and the brain areas become wired together, it takes less and less effort to process information from the senses. We develop the ability to appraise, filter, compare, contrast, and categorize a vast amount of simultaneous sensory input into coherent information, and to generate an appropriate response – all within an instant.
Neural processing is the foundation of learning. Without it we cannot develop motor skills or our speech, communication and social behaviour.
Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a child’s neural pathways don’t develop as neatly or completely as they should, resulting in slow, disorganized or impaired neural processing. This creates a difference in development, which often results in the child being diagnosed with a developmental disability.
Sensory Integrative Dysfunction is a term used to describe a brain that cannot process input from the senses efficiently. It is one of the defining characteristics of children with a developmental disability. When neural pathways do not develop in a typical fashion, it leads to challenges in learning, performing countless everyday tasks, and behaviours.