18 JUL 2011 by ideonexus

 How Brains Grow Into Bodies

Brain wiring begins with the outgrowth of axons. Once a newborn neuron has migrated, planting its cell body in a permanent position, it sends out a fine axon shoot with an enlarged tip known as a growth cone. At the end of the growth cone are about a dozen long tentacles that shoot out in all directions and act like radar, picking up all manner of navigational signals. They feel out the best-textured surfaces, sniff around for chemical cues, and even use tiny electrical fields to help the axo...
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Best description yet of the synaptic "pruning" human brains go through as the brain wires up to the body and best reason yet for why children should have rich, mentally-nourishing environments in which to grow so that their synapses don't get unnecessarily pruned, resulting in smaller brains.