How the brain develops, grows, and learns throughout our lives

28 March 2018

A two-minute animated introduction to brain development
A two-minute animated introduction to brain development

The human brain is a fascinating organ – indeed, some have called it the most complex object in the universe. Numerous researchers have investigated how the brain grows, learns and develops over the course of our lives.

Several of these researchers have shared their exciting findings on BOLD, writing blog posts or talking about their findings. But is it possible to condense the most important facts about brain development into a two-and-a-half-minute video? That would indeed be a daunting task!

Instead, our aim is to give you some idea of the complexity of brain development. Perhaps it will also motivate you to learn more about this intriguing topic!


Video produced by Kurzgesagt for BOLD – Blog on Learning and Development.

Script by Nora Raschle and Sabine Gysi.

Powered by the Jacobs Foundation.


  1. The size of the brain increases rapidly early in life and stabilizes in early adolescence. The brain is proportionally larger compared to total body weight the smaller we are. The first year the brain takes up 10% of total weight, while in adulthood the brain takes up 2% of total body weight. The brain consists of more gray matter in infancy than in early childhood and adolescence. White matter on the other hand is steadily increasing from infancy to adulthood. The development of synapses is following a U-shaped curve: We start out with few connections, followed by a period of increasing network-forming and then a periode of synapse-elimination.

  2. Based on the video below and the lecture on brain development, describe the general order in which different cortical regions develop in childhood and adolescence.
    First, after the child is born, the genes play the most important role in assembling the brain structures. Then the environment starts to work together with the genetic makeup.
    The first 3-4 years of life: perceptual and centrate (?) systems in the brain become more specialized.
    Age 22-25: Most areas have fully matured, but the brain will never become static.

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