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The World Bank Group
This chapter explores aspects of the brain literature that pertain to public health interventions, programs, and policy approaches to protecting, augmenting, and maximizing the healthy development of the brain by (1) outlining the essential characteristics of brain development; and (2) discussing a variety of research on brain development changes associated with public health. The relevance of this research, conducted predominantly in high-income countries (HICs), requires consideration, with a view to its applicability in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The brain behaves as an ever-changing system whose structure and function reflect, at any given time, both the endowment of the genome and the investment opportunities available in various environmental contexts, including educational systems, public health policies, and specific intervention programs. As knowledge of the brain’s developmental trajectories accumulates, the extent of the brain’s modifiability, especially in response to targeted interventions, will prove clearer, helping to guide the development of intervention approaches.