Mum Daily

What I Learnt From a Brain Development Expert

Today I revisited my notes from a Compass Australia seminar where Nathan Wallis from XFactor Education in New Zealand was speaking.  He is an expert in brain development and I found him extremely interesting. I took pages and pages of notes. In reviewing them, I circled several take-aways:

When it comes to human behaviour 30% is nature, 70% is nurture.

  • Genes are the template for human behaviour and dictate 30% of human behaviour.  This is the nature element.
  • The transcript you gather through life activates which genes you use.   These experiences make up 70% of human behaviour.
  • Unlike animals, human beings are highly adaptive.  70% of the brain is highly flexible.
  • Adolescence between 11- 20 years old shut down for renovations. They are less capable of controlling their emotions because they have less access to that part of the brain.
  • Your brain stem needs to be calm in order to access your pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for higher level thinking and emotional maturity.  Parents think raising their voice will get better results. It actually causes young people to shut down, literally.
  • Young people’s triggers and points of stress are determined in the first three years of their lives. Keeping babies calm aids stronger brain development in the right areas.
  • A child needs emotional engagement in order to access their pre-frontal cortex. Educating a child without emotional engagement is almost impossible.
  • Emotional engagement is critical. Teenagers actually have to feel something in order to learn.  This has made me even more determined to tell relevant stories when I speak.
  • When young people are stressed they can’t access their higher thinking, meaning learning can be very challenging for those with significant life stresses.
  • What a teenager does will form the neuro basis that will be easiest for them to access as an adult. It forms strong pathways which are easy to revisit.

What did you learn from this brain development expert? 

THANK YOU to everyone who has been passing these blog posts on, and for all your kind emails about their impact on your family.  If you have a topic you would like me to blog about email me at and I will respond to it as soon as I can.