Between the 19th and 21st week of fetal development the unborn child can hear, move around and even swallow. And despite what Planned Parenthood would like people to think there is no neat division between children in the womb and children after they are born. Brain development, for example, begins in the third gestational week and continues into late adolescence.
In fact, it is especially instructive to look at brain development in order to appreciate how much dramatic change is going on before a child is born. According to cognitive scientists Joan Stiles and Terry L. Jernigan, “[b]y the end of embryonic period the rudimentary structures of the brain and the central nervous system are established…” Stiles and Jernigan further explain that “[t]he early fetal period, which extends to approximately mid gestation, is a critical period in the development of the neocortex.” Many neurons have migrated to their positions in the neocortex by this time and “have begun to form essential brain networks for information processing.”
To learn more about the amazing development of the brain, read “The Basics of Brain Development” by Stiles and Jernigan or see this video – Grey Matters: From Molecules to Mind – in which Professor Stiles lays out in fascinating detail the development of the brain from the embryonic period into adolescence.