Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dendrite!

When I was in high school, I had a teacher who would say, "Dendrite!" every time a student finally "got" something they had been struggling with. Dendrites, in the simplest explanation, are branches off the neurons in your brain that "connect" one though to the next.




So, we watched this show a few days ago called The Science of Babies. Aside from a few comments about evolution, it was really good. All of the kids were interested in it and when it was over they were like, "What? That was so short!" (It was 45 minutes long.)

But then Jake had to know
exactly what they meant by neurons and dendrites and synapses and how could he really have millions of them in his brain. To anyone who has ever tried to explain the workings of the brain to a seven year old, you know how interesting it can be!

I finally got him to understand that there are millions because every time he looks at one thing, say his mom (heehee!), the neuron for "mom" connects to all these other neurons (human, adult, hair, brown, wavy, eyes, blue, tall, jeans, sweatshirt, clothing, chef, teacher, cleaner, nurse, cream soda, Taco Bueno, all the things that he associates with "Mom") So then he went off on other things, like "duck" (bird, beak, feathers, webbed feet, water, fish, oil, waterproof, green, brown, etc) I think he gets it.

I wonder how many new dendrites sprouted in the process of figuring it out.

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