Essays on Science and SocietyNeuroscience

Building connections

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Science  04 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6312, pp. 558
DOI: 10.1126/science.aak9763

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Much of a child's first year is spent asleep, punctuated by the occasional feeding, fit, or flatulence. The serenity is only skin deep, as a flurry of action goes on beneath. The brain is building itself at a frantic pace during this year, forming millions of synapses per second. Remarkably, speed does not incur a cost in precision—children reach their first birthday with specific, largely mature patterns of connectivity already formed, ready to become terrible at 2. How the brain manages this remarkable feat is not altogether clear.