Human Brain Biology - Development of Frontal Lobes Prior to Adolescence
Misunderstood Brain Biology
Some incorrect information about human anatomy appears on the Internet and can do some harm. In order to find the most correct and relevant related data, look at websites for major universities and medical colleges or the Mayo Clinic. All of these sites provide email addresses to actual professional scientists to query when questions arise beyond the presentations on the websites.
It is important to know the sources of information and their educational and/or professional backgrounds before believing online health and medical posts.
One inaccuracy that surfaces online now and again has two parts:
- Teenagers' frontal lobes are not connected to the rest of their brains and
- Frontal lobes are totally non existent from birth to the latest teen years.
Neither assertion is correct. In fact, even the newborn human infant needs these brain parts in order to live.
The frontal lobe of your baby's brain is just behind her forehead. It handles all her thinking, and voluntary behavior such as walking, speech, and other.— www.babycentre.co.uk - Your baby's brain: the frontal lobe
Brain Biology Poses Life and Death Information
Let me provide my background for writing this Hub.
First, I completed AP Biology in grade 8 and proficiency-tested out of Freshman Biology in college. Next, I earned a masters degree in preventive medicine. Then, I tutored biology for several years and taught high school level biology for 10 years. Still, for this Hub I referenced recognized authorities in brain biology and neurology.
The references and my experience tell me that babies are born with frontal lobes.
Those not having frontal lobes suffer from a congenital birth defect or defects that break the hearts of their families and can often end in fatality. In the nomenclature of brain mapper Barbara Houk, MD/Psychiatrist, those brains without frontal lobes are broken.
In teaching biology, I was intrigued by the myth some students believed that rats grow into bats - always. In fact, they never do so. However, the healthy child without any frontal lobes is, as Stephen Colbert might say, a mythier myth.— Patty Inglish
Frontal Lobe in an Infant's brain
Evidence From a Practicing Neurologist
The following comment was provided on the medical communications website Just Answer; Neurology by
Dr. Frank, Board Certified Physician in Neurology with an MD and a PhD. Board Certified General Adult Neurologist, with experience in experimental neuroimaging and neurodiagnostics.
Note: Dr. Frank's Medical License was verified in 2012 by a leading third-party verification service.
In answer to a write-in question:
Your son really could not be born without both frontal lobes, and have normal speech and dexterity. Congenital absence of the frontal lobes would leave a severe form of disability.— Dr. Frank, Board Certified Physician in Neurology
Evidence From Autopsy
The evidence that the brains of older human fetuses and newborn infants have frontal lobes comes from surgical dissection upon autopsy and amasses from centuries of autopsies. While I was not exposed to human infant autopsies, I saw pictures of them. I was required to participate in dissection of embryonic and fetal animals, in which I witnessed frontal lobes present before birth.
Thus, we have standard biological instruction, autopsy evidence, and dissection evidence that even human fetuses possess frontal lobes.
Largest Lobe Of The Brain
The frontal lobe is the largest lobe on either side of the human brain. However, it is possible for a person to live with one frontal lobe instead of two.
Evidence From the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The NIH classifies any missing frontal lobe in any fetus or person after birth as a Brain Malformation. Such conditions occurring before birth usually happen at or soon after conception. The malformations can be caused by either genetics or by environmental products such as chemicals, drugs (even prescribed medications), radiation exposure, infections (like measles), and perhaps some other items -- You might have heard of some others in the news.
A couple of malformations of the brain that are fatal include those in which the embryo's brain does not split into two halves or hemispheres. In anencephaly, an infant comes to birth without a forebrain (cerebrum/frontal lobes) and without part of the skull and scalp. Most of these infants are still born or die within hours or perhaps a few days. While those that live do so for a short time, they are blind and deaf, and never become conscious. In holoprosencephaly, the embryo's forebrain does not divide into two halves either partially or completely and the set of problems in this condition range from cleft palate to death.
Infants need frontal lobes, Children need frontal lobes before age 13.
From NIH: Cephalic Disorders Fact Sheet. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cephalic_disorders/detail_cephalic_disorders.htm Retrieved January 5, 2014.
Changes In Adolescence
What happens at age 13? -- Probably an increased rate and amount of myelination, the formation of insulation for brain nerves with the substance myelin, including in the frontal lobes. Myelin covers the nerves and makes connections in the brain. Myelination occurs in the womb and through the 20s, according to the body of human brain research literature.
Frontal Lobes - Human Brain Myelination Mapped in Infants
Myelination in the infant's brain from birth to age 12 months was first accomplished on January 20 2011 by Sean C. L. Deoni, PhD, et.al.; Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry in the UK.The entire brain, including frontal lobes, is undergoing myelination during the first year after birth and even before, especially in such areas as the brain stem and cerebellum.
The team thinks it can use the data collected to develop ways of treating conditions stemming from problems with myelination, possible even autism spectrum disorders.
A Simplified Timeline for Frontal Lobe Development
Brain begins to develop
Week 35 of gestation
A good-sized pair of frontal lobes are evident. Myelination begn weeks or months ago.
Weeks 36+ of Gestation
.The frontal lobes have increased dramatically in size
The brain is about 25% of adult size and will grow, including frontal lobes.
Age 6 months - 12 months
A dramatic increase in size of the frontal lobes is clear as the overall brain grows.
Approximately Age 13
A jump in myelin production may be evident at this time.
The frontal lobes may be complete in their development at this time.
The Important Frontal Lobe
Frontal Lobes Can be Damaged
Damage to the Frontal Lobes can result in many conditions, according to the NIH, some of which are in the simplified list below:
- Apathy, lack of motivation, and/or personality changes.
- Euphoria and possibly inappropriate humor/attitude.
- Memory problems.
- Movement problems, slowed down movements.
- Some behaviors that mimic psychopathic or sociopathic behaviors.
- Speech problems, including mutism (inability or lack of motivation to speak), abnormal grammar and syntax, stilted speech, echolalia (repeating what is heard), difficulty remembering and using words, and others.
- Other difficulties.
A lot can go wrong if we lose our frontal lobe functions. We need those brain parts - or at least one of them - all of our lives.
Some Additional Information About the Brain
- Glen Campbell , Memory Loss and Traumatic Brain Injury
In private practices & rehabilitation settings, I appreciated opportunities to see many head trauma/memory patients with a treatment team. Many people regain memories and cognitive function over time.
- Listen to Music - It Can Save the Brain and Make It Grow
Educational and medical research agree with extensive findings of major universities and the Kennedy Center for the Arts. This research shows that music, the arts, and speaking to infants and young children - and even the brain damaged adult and olde
© 2015 Patty Inglish
More by this Author
Universities offer many services past the classroom in order to support the local community. Free education & activities provided for Seniors and Youth are excellent opportunities for local residents.
The local library can save one's sanity by offering a bit of peace and quiet and some entertaining program. Working parents are happy that the library is another world - one that can keep children engaged and safe after...
The early US Space Program was all male, but the USSR had a female cosmonaut. Since the 1950s, so many women have been involved in aerospace activities that they have their own museum in Ohio!