What’s Going On In There?

By: Lise Eliot, Ph.D.

Reviewed By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.

What's Going On In There?
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Ever since my daughter came into this world, I've been fascinated by her amazing growth rate. Not her physical growth, but her mental growth. Things like her fine motor skill development, and her ability to perceive and communicate with others has always interested me. Fortunately, What's Going On In There? was able to satiate my many curiosities.

Lise Eliot has put together a comprehensive book that describes how the brain and mind develop in the first five years of life. Instead of organizing the book into literal stages based on age (as you might expect), she has organized the chapters into areas of interest. This enabled her to keep the reader focused on one subject, and allowed her to show the entire development process--not just broken up pieces across several chapters. As a reader, and parent, I found this approach refreshing and helpful.

Dr. Eliot appears to have taken great pains to write a book that all parents can understand. For the most part, she achieved her goal. However, there are some concepts and theories that simply can't be explained without some developmental jargon, familiar only to those who have formerly studied human development. Regardless, I do think that most parents will be able to comprehend and learn from most of the book's content.

Some of the major areas of development that parents will learn about include: The Basic Biology of Brain Development; Prenatal Influences on the Developing Brain; The Importance of Touch; Taste, Milk, and the Origins of Food Preference; Motor Milestones; Social-Emotional Growth; The Emergence of Memory; Language and the Developing Brain; Nature vs. Nurture; and How to Raise a Smarter Child.

This book has helped me understand my daughter in a completely different way. It's acted as gateway to understanding why she does what she does, and how she's doing it. It's also given me and my wife a greater perspective on what to expect, and not expect, from our daughter. Most of all, Dr. Eliot has shed light on the extremely fascinating, and dramatic changes, that are occurring in our daughters mind.

About the Author: Lise Eliot, a graduate of Harvard, received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. She has published widely in professional journals, is assistant professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School, and teaches at the Erikson Institute in Chicago. She lives in Lake Bluff, Illinois, with her husband and three young children.

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