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Published: April 2, 2024

What are the 7 stages of brain development

Pediatricians often tell new parents that a baby's brain is like a sponge, soaking up everything around them. Research shows that the early years, from birth to age 5, are crucial for brain development. During this time, every interaction, even small ones, shapes their brain and future. 

Here in this blog, we’ll delve into the 7 stages of brain development that shape early cognitive growth. Firstly, during neurogenesis, new neurons are generated. Then, cell migration leads to cells moving within the brain. Next, cell differentiation transforms stem cells into specialized cells. Cell maturation follows, setting the foundation for brain connections. Synaptogenesis, forming synapses, is crucial for communication. Building strong neural connections in early childhood is pivotal for lifelong success.

While genes provide the blueprint, the environment is equally important. A nurturing environment positively influences brain development, even if the genetic blueprint isn't perfect. Attentive parenting and good nutrition are key factors in helping a child's brain grow and develop properly.

Read More Blog: What are the 5 importance of child psychology?

What are the 7 stages of brain development?

You're about to explore the 7 stages of brain development, including neurogenesis, cell migration, cell differentiation, cell maturation, and synaptogenesis. These stages are crucial for forming the brain's complex network of connections.

7 stages of brain development


During early brain development, neurogenesis progresses through seven distinct stages, each crucial for shaping the foundation of cognitive abilities.

Neurogenesis refers to the process of new neurons being generated from neural stem cells. These neural stem cells divide into progenitor cells, which then differentiate into neuroblasts (that turn into neurons) or glioblasts (that turn into glial cells).

This intricate process occurs primarily in the ventricles of the brain and is guided by chemical signals like neurotrophic factors. Epidermal Growth Factor triggers the transformation of stem cells into progenitor cells, while Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor prompts progenitor cells to become neurons.

Understanding neurogenesis is essential as it lays the groundwork for the intricate neural network that underpins all cognitive functions.

Cell Migration

In understanding the 7 stages of brain development, you must delve into the intricate process of cell migration within the neural network. Cell migration is a crucial stage where cells move to their required locations within the developing brain. This movement is essential for forming the complex structures and connections that enable proper brain function.

Cells can migrate through passive displacement or along radial glial cell paths. Passive cell displacement involves layering from the inside, while radial glial cells guide cell movement. Understanding how cells migrate to their designated positions is fundamental in shaping the architecture of the brain and ensuring that different regions develop correctly.

Cell Differentiation

At the core of brain development are the 7 stages, with cell differentiation pivotal in shaping brain architecture and function. During cell differentiation, stem cells become specialized cells like neurons or glial cells through chemical signals, creating the diverse cell types needed for a healthy, functional brain network.

Cell Maturation

What are the 7 stages marking cell maturation in brain development?

Cell maturation involves neural stem cells dividing into progenitor cells, which differentiate into neurons or glial cells. Neurotrophic factors like Epidermal Growth Factor and Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor support this process. This occurs from 7 weeks to 5 months, forming the brain's intricate network.


As we explore brain development, cell maturation sets the foundation for intricate connections. Synaptogenesis, forming synapses between neurons, is crucial, driven by experiences and stimuli. Early interactions influence these connections, highlighting the importance of positive environments. Enriching experiences and nurturing relationships support healthy brain function and learning in children.

Cell Death And Pruning

In understanding the 7 stages of brain development, delve into the intricate process of cell death and pruning as it shapes neural connections and refines cognitive functions. During this stage, excess neurons and synapses are eliminated through apoptosis, optimizing brain function. Pruning strengthens important connections and eliminates unnecessary ones, enhancing neural circuit efficiency. This selective elimination allows the brain to become more specialized in processing information, essential for optimal cognitive development and adaptive learning. Embrace this natural process as it paves the way for a well-functioning, highly interconnected brain.


Introducing myelogenesis, a crucial stage in brain development that enhances neural connections and optimizes cognitive functions. Myelogenesis forms myelin, insulating nerve fibers and speeding up electrical signal transmission. This process ensures efficient communication within the brain, leading to improved learning, memory, and overall brain function.

brain development by age 5 jpg | New Jersey Pediatric Neuroscience Institute

Brain Development Stages In Early Childhood Chart

Understanding the stages of brain development in early childhood through a comprehensive chart provides valuable insights into cognitive growth and learning milestones: 

Age Range Brain Development Milestones Key Influences & Importance
Birth to 3 Years - Brain doubles in size, forming millions of new connections per second
- By age 2-3, toddlers have about 1,000 trillion synapses
- Rapid growth period
- Parental interactions play a crucial role in forming neural connections
- Trusting relationships with caregivers are essential
2 to 3 Years - Synaptic pruning begins, refining neural connections
- Development of cognitive abilities
- Experiences shape empathy, kindness, and intelligence
- Parenting significantly influences focus and brain development
General Notes - Proper nutrition supports synaptic connections and cognitive functions - Investing in early childhood brain development sets a foundation for lifelong learning and success
- Well-loved, cared for, and nurtured environments positively impact brain development

the brain story

This chart highlights the crucial stages and factors influencing early childhood brain development, emphasizing the importance of nurturing and supportive environments for cognitive growth.



Parent/Child Relationship Impact On Brain Development

Transitioning from the foundational understanding of brain development stages in early childhood, explore how the parent-child relationship profoundly influences the shaping of neural connections and cognitive abilities.

The interactions between parents and children have a significant impact on brain development. Positive and loving relationships with caregivers are essential for fostering empathy, kindness, and intelligence in children. Through these relationships, neural connections are formed, leading to synaptic pruning based on experiences.

Parenting plays a critical role in shaping a child's brain development and focus. Well-loved and cared for children tend to grow into successful adults. The neural connections in a child's brain develop based on the level of parental kindness and happiness exhibited.

Therefore, nurturing a strong and supportive parent-child relationship is crucial for optimal brain development, setting the stage for lifelong success and well-being.

Child Brain Development Timeline

Embark on a journey through the stages of a child's brain development timeline, witnessing the intricate growth and formation of neural connections that shape their cognitive abilities.

In the early years, a baby's brain grows rapidly, doubling in size within the first year and reaching 80% of adult size by age 3. By age 5, it's already 90% developed. Newborns have all the brain cells they'll ever have, making the connections between these cells crucial for future learning and development.

During early childhood, approximately one million new connections are formed every second, highlighting the importance of this period in shaping brain architecture through daily experiences. Positive interactions with parents and caregivers play a vital role in building these brain connections, emphasizing the significance of a supportive and stimulating environment for a child's cognitive growth.

Trusting relationships and nurturing interactions during this critical time lay the foundation for a child's lifelong learning and success.

Brain Development Timeline

Bridging The Nutritional Gap For The Brain With Rich Supplements

How can rich supplements help bridge the nutritional gap for optimal brain development in children? Ensuring proper nutrition is crucial for supporting synaptic connections and cognitive functions. Supplements rich in essential nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, iron, and zinc play a vital role in brain function and development. While whole foods are essential, they may not always provide the necessary nutrients for optimal brain growth. Nutrient deficiencies can have lasting negative effects on brain function, making supplements a valuable addition to a child's diet.

Specific nutrients found in supplements support distinct brain functions, aiding in cognitive development. For instance, Kids Brain Boost smoothie offers a nutrient-packed option to enhance brain health. By incorporating these supplements into a child's diet, you can provide the additional support needed for optimal brain development. Remember, balanced nutrients are key to supporting overall brain health and ensuring that children have the best foundation for future learning and success.


The seven stages of brain development highlight the crucial role that everyday experiences and nurturing relationships play in shaping cognitive abilities. Your brain grows rapidly in the early stages of life, forming essential connections that lay the foundation for future learning. By providing enriching experiences and a supportive environment, you can optimize brain growth and set the stage for lifelong cognitive development. Embrace the significance of early childhood brain development and the impact it has on your future learning potential.

For more information and expert guidance, contact the NJ Pediatric Neuroscience Institute today and give your child the best start in life.

Brain teaser! Here's a trivia tidbit: The brain continues to develop well into our twenties. Let's support every step of that journey! #TriviaTuesday#NJPNInstitute

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