An average adult human weighing 60 kg has a brain size between 1200 cc – 1400 cc. As compared to that, the brain size of any animal, for example a pig, weighing 60 kg is only 200 cc. Thus, as compared to the weight, humans are the only species whose brain size is disproportionately larger than their body weight. Most of all will think that this is the obvious reason why humans are the present rulers of the planet earth. However, in terms of evolution as a species, a larger brain size has a disadvantage as well. For example, a large brain also requires consuming more energy for maintenance. Take the case of chimpanzees, our closest elatives, whose brain consumes only 8% of total energy as compared to 23% energy intake required for human species. This means that while chimpanzees could find more time to take rest, humans had to consistently look for food to feed their energy sucking brain. And, in case of food scarcity, it only meant lesser chances of survival.
For our present discussion, a large brain size also requires a bigger skull, i.e. a hard-protective cage to keep the soft and delicate brain safe. But this also increases the requirement of widening of female birth canal for giving birth to babies having a larger skull. Complimenting this requirement, with one more uniqueness of human species is our ability to walk on two legs. Walking on two legs not only gave us the advantage of the increase in ability to look farther, thereby expanding the horizon of our surveillance for predators as well as prey but also freed our hands for doing delicate works for making sophisticated tools.
However, it also came with certain disadvantages like more pressure on back bone and neck. In-fact human species still suffers more for making this choice in terms of slip disc and stiff neck, as compared to other animals. However, the other disadvantage is even more severe as it specially affected women. Walking on two legs also required contraction of their birth canal. Now if you combine the larges brain size requirement of having bigger skull with contraction of birth canal, for women requirement to walk on two legs only meant increase in the possibility of death during child birth. It implied that those women who can give birth to a pre-mature baby had a higher chance of survival.
And, the law of natural selection started preferring those women who gave birth to premature babies, resulting in passing their DNA to next generation. herefore, it is no surprise that compared to the babies of all other animals, a human baby when born is more helpless and more dependent. Actually, it’s a nature solution to have a bigger brain size requirement pushing to premature birth. Thus we can understand now why we can’t keep on increasing the brain size, as it comes at the cost of pre mature birth.
Thus, a human baby when born is still like a clay or semi molten glass and half baked, which is yet to be given shape; whereas, other animals’ babies are born fully baked. Therefore, the first five years of child life is the most dramatic stage of child brain development as many of us are already aware that 90% of the brain development happens in these years only.
You can now understand that this gives us a unique opportunity and immense responsibility to craft these years very very delicately and with utmost care. Understand this with the analogy that in the first five years, our work as a parent is to give shape to a molten glass, giving us the opportunity to create any shape which we like. However, if not taken care of properly, this molten glass will take any bad shape too which after getting hardened can’t be altered and hence lays our responsibility to handle this stage carefully. Therefore, there is no surprise that most of the psychologists find the root of any problem from events happening in the early childhood days.
As a parent it is our responsibility to give the best environment to a child where he/she can be moulded into the best possible shape. Choosing the best Preschool/Day care which understands this unique opportunity and is capable of taking this responsibility is a very crucial decision for parents. Being a mother of a 3-year-old kid, I suggest that we need to choose not just any preschool but a specialist in this case. A preschool that understands the difference between just KEEPING a child and NURTURING a child.
Dear parents, keep in touch as in the next blog I will try to dive deep inside the brain of the child, accompanying you in the wonderful journey of the world inside a child’s brain. In case of any query, do write to us on [email protected].