The basic architecture of the brain is constructed through a process that begins early in life and continues into adulthood. Simpler circuits come first and more complex brain circuits build on them later.
Genes provide the basic blueprint, but experiences influence how or whether genes are expressed. Together, they shape the quality of brain architecture and establish either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the learning, health, and behavior that follow.
Plasticity, or the ability for the brain to reorganise and adapt, is greatest in the first years of life and slightly decreases with age. Advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains, for better or for worse. Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation.