If it’s safe to admit that sensory stimulation is good for brain development, one can wonder how early does this stimulation need to begin in order to optimize such development.
In July of this year, in Neuron was published a paper that specifically observed the early networks of inter neurons during the first two weeks after birth. The findings suggest that there could be an early critical window for the establishment of healthy sensory responses in adulthood.
Dr. Natalia De Marco Garcia, from the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weil Cornell Medicine, considers that how and when inter neurons develops is important to understand because increasing evidence links abnormal interneuron activity to disorders such as autism and childhood epilepsy.
This study was performed on mice. It is to be known that baby mice are unable to move their whiskers at birth. Their mothers provide external stimulation through touch, which enables movement of the whiskers.
The researchers examined mice that received such stimulation from the get go and mice that did not, early on. The ones that had not received sensory stimulation, early on, as adult mice, showed an impaired ability to distinguish textures by touch.
Dr. De Marco Garcia stipulates that this study paves the way for further research where if it could be possible to observe impairments in interneuron activity in children at earlier stages of life, we might be able to intervene sooner and improve outcomes.