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Heroes

How an infant's brain works is pretty simple and pretty genius.

A three-minute look at how babies process life and how our thinking evolves as adults.

As a mom who's new to this babies thing, I'm in constant wonder — always thinking about what's going on in that little noggin.

Will what I'm doing, saying, and exposing my child to affect them in the future? That's a big yep. According to Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl, co-director at the University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, while our mini me's may not be able to express it, what we do from the moment that we become parents leaves an imprint.

Dr. Kuhl, who is also a neuroscientist, talks about this in "The Amazing Brains of Babies," a three-minute look at infants' brain development, produced by National Geographic.


It's simple, Dr. Kuhl explains. Newborns come ready to learn.

According to her research, some of which is spelled out in a paper she wrote called "Born to Learn: Language, Reading, and the Brain of the Child," for babies, the thinking process is super-quick. By age 3, a toddler's brain has twice the amount of connectivity as the adult brain. Wowsers! And as infants, all of that brain activity is in overdrive. Dr. Kuhl says:

"The infant brain is coding all the time. They're trying to understand 'What are the signals that mean I'm going to be fed? What are the signals that mean I'm going to be loved and touched?' The baby's learning that 'When I give the merest hint of a smile, my parents go gaga.' ... They're computational geniuses."


As children develop and become "fully wired," their brains naturally trim off the extra stuff.

"Quite literally like a rose bush, pruning some connections helps strengthen others. This pruning process continues to sculpt an individual's brain until the end of puberty," Dr. Kuhl details in her paper. Toddler brains are also deeply affected by socialization. In "The Amazing Brains of Babies," she explains:

"This computational genius takes place through the social channel that codes the most frequent things that happen in their world. And built into that is the drive to do the things that we do so that they can be like us."
— Dr. Kuhl




To help our little ones maximize their brain power, Dr. Kuhl encourages parents and teachers to support their innate sense of curiosity because as we mature, that's what's needed the most.

"As adults, we have lost some of the creativity of youth. ... We're less enthralled by novelty. In fact, our brains tend to keep us on the narrow, in-the-box thinking. And we can already see the decline in the ability to learn like that at 7."
— Dr. Kuhl

Geez — 7?! How babies soak up knowledge and eventually grow into the intellectuals of tomorrow are deeply affected by all the odd and interesting sensory connections that happen before they can even form sentences. Such interesting factoids for parents, caretakers and teachers. Go babies, go!

To hear more about what may be going on in those cute little minds, check out "The Amazing Brains of Babies" below.


Want more? You can also watch Dr. Kuhl's TED Talk about "The linguistic genius of babies."

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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