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I took a class last semester that I viewed in light of this same biblical passage: In the last ten years, brain imaging has provided some additional information to "answer" this question. These studies show that the infant's brain has billions more synapsis than our adult brains. The "training" of the pathways is done by the "use it or lose it" system... so what we repeatedly expose, teach, or require of the child creates a brain pathway... like a sapling that is "trained" a certain direction, and whose branches are pruned to shape the overall tree. Those synapsis that are repeated most and most often, become the deepest patterns of thought upon which the child-to-adult will act. However, we have found that our brains can continue to grow, even after age 24, which is when the brain "officially" finishes normal development ... so a child-to-adult can create some new pathways, but these "new" branches are built upon whatever network was already there ... they are "departed from" which implies separated, but are built upon (they don't come from the brand new cells that migrated frm the brain stem in the development of the womb)... so, when he is old... he will not depart from whatever was trained in his/her brain when he was a child. The new development can be seen as a new limb coming from the trunk... and the more often the new thought-behavior is rehearsed, the thicker/stronger that new limb might be... but there is often a process of "regression" from the lesser developed branches when we get old... regression back to the childlike behavior that was "trained up in us" (ie., spoiled brat children tend to make spoiled brat elderly patients; polite children tend to make polite elderly patients... even if both had "diverted" during mid-years). Brain scans from the Amen clinic show that the brain that received parenting that was strong on discipline (even harsh/abuse discipline, which I'm not recommending) is better developed than those parented under permissive/lax approaches. Add to this what we might glean from the story of the prodigal Son which says that "when he came to his senses, he looked back on his Father's house and saw"... though he had obviously made some behavior choices that came out of thoughts that were abberant to his Father's teaching (sounds like human self will - and the fact that the last part of the brain to develop is the "executive functioning" part - that gives us the abilty to make judgments and put the brakes on our impulses... hence an explanation for the aliens we have to live with called teenagers)... the prodigal coming back to his senses seems to indicate that the prodigal had some kind of training to come back to... how can he "come back to" something that wasn't there in the first place. So. Parents. God gives us many stern reminders that we need to actively train our children. Yes. They may act on self-willed (or society-endorsed) thoughts that we didn't "train" them with and chose behaviors and lifestyles that we are concerned about. But if we don't train them, the hopes of them coming back are greatly diminished if not impossible (brain research is clear that there are developmental windows of opportunity). And... one more thing... from what I learned about infant brain development... I would not have any "artificial" noise(media) in my house for the first three years of my children's lives if I had it to do over again. (We had very little TV/games based on my parental/Christian objections to most media content.... but I would have NONE now based on the noise-brain-training issues alone.) We are training generations of children to develop brains that deem "normal functioning" with arcade-type atmospheric stimulus... no wonder these little ones can't sit still in class... unless, that is, they have a teacher who can send as many visual and auditory signals at them at once as can a TV, video game, etc. Should we then wonder why there is such an appetite for drama in our society?


Thanks for the information Debra. I have long thought that our newest generation has difficulty listening in class because there is so much noise in their homes.


I agree about brain scans. It seems neuroscience is both helping us understand brain development and the things we can do or can't do to help while also proving that sometimes inheritance is the cause of behavior---not just personal choice. Some people are just not wired properly. The ramifications are only now beginning to be speculated about.

You know the motivation for my own personal interest in the matter.

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