The Brain Science of Early Childhood


Five Numbers to Remember:

  • 700 New Neural Connections Created Per Second in the Earliest Years of Life
  • At 18 months Vocabulary Disparities Start to Appear
  • 90 - 100% Chance of Developmental Delays When Young Children Experience 6 - 7 Risk Factors
  • 3:1—The Odds of Adult Heart Disease After 7 - 8 Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • $4 - $9 – Returned for Every Dollar Invested in Early Childhood Programs

  • These stats are courtesy of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

Tools to Help You Deliver the Neuroscience Message

The neuroscientific research on the early brain is one of the most compelling bodies of evidence for investing in young children. Conveying this message broadly is critical to building support for early childhood policies and programs. Yet it can be difficult to find experts to speak on this topic, or for lay speakers to convey the findings on their own. To address this challenge, ReadyNation, with the help of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, offers a variety of ways for lay speakers to present this data.

1. Annotated PowerPoint (12 - 15 minutes). This PowerPoint presentation uses vivid slides and embedded, short (90 second) videos to present the story of the developing brain. Slides are heavily annotated so that the presentation can be delivered by a lay person. Click here to view the presentation. It is available to anyone – if you'd like to use this PowerPoint, please contact us at Note that the actual PowerPoint is a large (100+MB) file. The PDF draft version of the presentation does not include the annotations, but the final PowerPoint will include the annotations for each slide.

We will send two versions of the Powerpoint: one that includes, at the end, a single slide relating the brain science to the economic evidence, and one without, if that information is covered elsewhere in your event.

We hosted a webinar on using the brain science presentation. Click here to listen to the audio from that event. The presentation used the PowerPoint above.

Alternatively, the following videos can simply be shown on their own to convey this message. This set of talking points can be used to frame any of the videos:

2. "InBrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development" (4 minutes) – featuring Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Center on the Developing Child.

3. "Stimulating Minds and Protecting Brains" (9 minutes) – featuring Dr. Jack Shonkoff's presentation at NBC's Education Nation event

4. "Brain Hero" (3 minutes) – An animated video from Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

5. "Brain Builders" (4 minutes) – an animated video from Invest In US, a project of the First Five Years Fund

6. "Savings Brains, a Grand Challenge." (9 minutes) - a short video from Grand Challenges Canada

In addition, the Center on the Developing Child has four one-page briefs that go into detail on different areas of the development of the brain in the first five years of life:

We hope these are useful for you. Please e-mail any feedback to us at

Your voice is key to protecting and strengthening effective investments in children and youth.