People tend to either acclaim or blame nature for being the source of each person’s strengths or weaknesses. However, many people do not understand the concept of the brain’s plasticity; the idea that changes occur in the organization of the brain as a result of environment, or nurture. Depending on the trait in question, either nature or nurture, or both, can affect the brain’s development of that characteristic. Prenatal brain development often leads many traits to be based on both nature and nurture.
Adoption and Twin studies have allowed behavioral geneticists to learn more about how the prenatal environment verses simple heredity effect the development of people. Identical twins, separated at birth were given tests that measure their intelligence, personality, heart rate, and brain waves; their results appeared virtually identical. However, further studies have proved that identical twins reared together have greater similarities then separated identical twins do. Therefore, even though nurture plays a role in similarly due to prenatal brain development, nature also makes a slight difference.
The illegal use of dugs during pregnancy also effect prenatal brain development. Drugs consumed during pregnancy can have a detrimental affect on the baby. The baby can be born too small or too soon, have withdrawal symptoms, birth defects, or learning and behavioral problems. This shows that in this care the nurture in the womb has a greater affect then genetics on the baby. The acquisition of a first language is purely based on nurture. It is proven that any child can learn any language with the same about of facility if learnt at the appropriate time.
However, any language acquired after this period of time if stored in a different area of the brain, thus the child can never fully master it. Many epilepsy patients are inclined to have a hemispherectomy due to incessant seizures. When a left side hemispherectomy is conducted, the patient is partially disabled on the right side of their body. However, when this procedure is preformed on children, the child is likely to be able to adapt to its effects due to the increases plasticity of a child’s brain. There have been studies that show that there are no significant long-term effects on memory, personality, or humor after the procedure.
This shows that regardless of the conditions put on the brain, it is likely to continue with what it was meant to achieve. Experiments on animals have been conducted to test the effects of nature and nurture on the brain. An experiment on rats tested whether or not experience effects brain development. The study raised a group of rats with friends in a lively environment while isolating some. The isolated rats had smaller brains then the rats with friends. Another experiment was conducted on ferrets to see if the part of the brain meant of vision, the occipital lobe, was the only place vision could take place.
A scientist rewired the brains of ferrets so that visual signals were sent to the temporal lobe instead of the occipital lobe. The result was that these ferrets had 20/60 vision; they could see. This proved that nurture can change brain development, but only to a certain extent; the ferrets did not have perfect, 20/20, vision. Nature and nurture work together in forming an individual. All aspects of life, from prenatal brain development to surgeries that may remove parts of the brain, are formed through both nature and nurture. It is the plasticity of the brain that allows these two things to work together.
Courtney from Study Moose
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