Fetal Brain Scans Reveal “Blueprint” of the Adult Brain – A Spiritual Insight

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Researchers have recently performed fetal brain scans of babies in the womb which has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience. [1] The most significant finding from this research is in regard to the organization of the brain’s neural network. It was discovered the fundamental organization of the brain’s neural pathways is established in utero during the second and third trimesters of fetal development. These findings lay the groundwork for understanding how the prenatal period shapes future brain function. The authors of the research state the following:

“The fetal to neonatal period is well known as a critical stage in brain development. Rapid neurodevelopmental processes establish key functional neural circuits of the human brain. Prenatal risk factors may interfere with early trajectories of connectome formation and thereby shape future health outcomes. Recent advances in MRI have made it possible to examine fetal brain functional connectivity. In this study, we evaluate the network topography of normative functional network development during connectome genesis in utero. Understanding the developmental trajectory of brain connectivity provides a basis for understanding how the prenatal period shapes future brain function and disease dysfunction.” [1]

This research states the key features of the connectome are present in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The interesting aspect of this research is to gain an understanding of the organization of the neural network of the brain and to develop markers for early detection of alterations of brain function. In this study, 105 pregnant women were examined who were between 20 and 40 weeks gestation, by scanning their womb using “functional magnetic resonance imaging” (fMRI) which is a non-invasive technology. This technology allowed researchers to obtain images of the connections forming in fetal brains. Based on this study, researchers found that the second and third trimester fetuses possess a blueprint for the functional connections that adults have. The fetal connectome showed a 61% overlap in motor, visual, auditory and cognitive functions. This research will help to understand how maternal stressors affect the unborn infant, stresses such as alcohol abuse, infections, air pollution, chemicals, and other risk factors that may impact brain connection organization. The regions in the brain that are developing which are related to planning and self-control are of particular interest. These results reveal to us the basic layout of the functional connectome in the human brain has been established much earlier than previously thought.

References

  1. Elise Turk, Marion I. van den Heuvel, Manon J. Benders, Roel de Heus, Arie Franx, Janessa H. Manning, Jasmine L. Hect, Edgar Hernandez-Andrade, Sonia S. Hassan, Roberto Romero, René S. Kahn, Moriah E. Thomason and Martijn P. van den Heuvel, “Functional connectome of the fetal brain,” Journal of Neuroscience 4 November 2019, 2891-18; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2891-18.2019

The spiritual insights we receive from this type of research is related to the Scriptures that speak of fetal development. We read the following according to the book of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:1-9
1:1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 1:2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 1:3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month. 1:4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 1:5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ 1:6 Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth.’ 1:7 But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. 1:8 ‘Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the Lord. 1:9 Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 1:10 ‘See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant.’ (NASB)

The first verse that comes to mind while reading about the fetal research was the word of the Lord to Jeremiah when the Lord spoke of forming Jeremiah in the womb, even before having formed Jeremiah the Lord God Almighty knew Jeremiah. The next Scripture that comes to mind is that of Abraham and Sarah. The Lord promised them a child at a very old age according to Bereshit / Genesis 18:9-14.

Bereshit / Genesis 18:9-14
18:9 Then they said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘There, in the tent.’ 18:10 He said, ‘I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 18:12 Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ 18:13 And the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ 18:14 ‘Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.’ (NASB)

The following are additional scriptures that speak of these same things, the Lord God weaving us and forming us in the womb and of being fearfully and wonderfully made.

Tehillim / Psalms 139:13-16
139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 139:15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 139:16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained (NASB)

Isaiah 44:24
44:24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, ‘I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone (NASB)

Isaiah 49:1-5
49:1 Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me. 49:2 He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver. 49:3 He said to Me, ‘You are My Servant, Israel, In Whom I will show My glory.’ 49:4 But I said, ‘I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord, And My reward with My God.’ 49:5 And now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the Lord, And My God is My strength), (NASB)

Jeremiah 20:15-18
20:15 Cursed be the man who brought the news To my father, saying, ‘A baby boy has been born to you!’ And made him very happy. 20:16 But let that man be like the cities Which the Lord overthrew without relenting, And let him hear an outcry in the morning And a shout of alarm at noon; 20:17 Because he did not kill me before birth, So that my mother would have been my grave, And her womb ever pregnant. 20:18 Why did I ever come forth from the womb To look on trouble and sorrow, So that my days have been spent in shame? (NASB)

Luke 1:36
1:36 ‘And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. (NASB)

Luke 1:44
1:44 ‘For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. (NASB)

These Scriptures speak to us of what is real, the Lord God formed us in our mother’s womb, breathed the nishmat chayim (נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים), the breath of life, into our lungs, and has numbered all the days of our lives. Every breath that we take, every beat of the heart, and every moment of our lives has been set, established, and sustained by God, whether we are a child of God or not. The breath of life is a gift of God to all mankind whether one believes in the God of Israel or not.  The interesting point of this research is man has learned how to peer into the human body and study this creative process of God. This research concludes the major human neural pathways are already developed by the second trimester of fetal development. This reveals to us how God’s hand is upon our lives, even from birth, so we do not have to be in fear. David wrote, “If I make my bed in Hell, behold, you are there.” (Tehillim / Psalm 139:8) David states God’s presence is everywhere, in the good times and the bad, even in the secret place. This is how all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) as Paul spoke about, because the Lord God and His love for us is with us at all times. The Lord God spoke to Moshe saying ג וָאֵרָא אֶל-אַבְרָהָם אֶל-יִצְחָק וְאֶל-יַעֲקֹב בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי וּשְׁמִי יְהֹוָה לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם: 6:3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord (YHVH), I did not make Myself known to them. (NASB) The way the text is written, the Lord God Almighty is revealing Himself in a new way to His people. The Lord said, וָאֵרָא אֶל -בְרָהָם אֶל -יִצְחָק וְאֶל -יַעֲקֹב בְּאֵל שַׁדּ ָי שׁוְּ מִי יְהֹוָה לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם  “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name, YHVH, I did not make myself known to them” it is interesting how God says He “appeared” (va’era) to the Patriarchs as “El Shaddai” (אֵל שַׁדּ ָי) and had not made His name (יְהֹוָה, YHVH) known to them (Shemot / Exodus 6:2-3). During Moshe’s encounter with God at the burning bush he explicitly requested to know God’s Name so that he could authenticate the messenger and the message God is giving him to speak to the children of Israel. The Lord responded saying אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁ ר אֶהְיֶה “ehyeh asher ehyeh.” According to the NASB this phrase is translated as “I AM WHO I AM” since the word is derived from the verb Haya (היה, “to be,” “to exist”) indicating that God is the source of all life. The Targum Onkelos writes יד וַאֲמַר יְיָ לְמשֶׁ האֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה ימַר לִבְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶהְיֶה שְׁ לָחַנִּי לְוַתְכוֹןוַאֲמַר כִּדְנַן תֵּ: giving a word for word reproduction from the Torah אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁ ר אֶהְיֶה “ehyeh asher ehyeh.” It is believed that the letters of the name are an acronym for the words “hayah,” “hoveh,” “v’yihyeh,” (היה הוה ויהיה) meaning “the One who was, the One who is, and the One who always shall be” note that each word is derived from the verb Haya (היה, “to be”) indicating the eternal nature of God. By using this name God is declaring His existence. God’s revelation of Himself provides for us a framework within which we are able to begin to comprehend who He is. These things speak to us about the Name of the Lord (יְהֹוָה) his eternal presence and love (Shemot / Exodus 3:14, 34:6-7). In the Apostolic Writings, Yeshua said, “I go to prepare a place for you,” (John 14:3) and this means that his presence and love are waiting on us no matter what lays ahead. The idea of worrying is causing one to think on the absence of God’s presence rather than believing He is present. Jeremiah spoke saying, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for healing peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This research that reveals to us the detailed nature of the human brain, of the neural structures that are formed at such an early age, we can take comfort knowing that our Heavenly Father sees and knows us, and how important each of us are to Him. This is His Shalom, His peace that He gives us. What we are being taught by this research is how God has wired us from the beginning of our lives.

A universal philosophy of life is how a person makes his or her choices in life based upon one’s vision and expectation of a future good. This suggests that every person on this planet lives by a philosophy that speaks towards the future. Due to sin, this has led to people living for the moment, the immediate gratifications, thrills, fast foods, and mindless entertainment. This is the idea Paul spoke about when he said, “Let’s eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:23) Some people live for family, or for others, but ultimately, without the Lord God of Israel, our Heavenly Father, all of these things will ultimately not satisfy the soul. The reason being, our Father has wired us from the beginning of our lives to have a relationship with Him, beginning with our development in the womb. The neural wiring the researchers are observing is the very wiring that causes us to experience discontent when our heart’s deepest need goes unmet. This is why philosophers have asked over and over again what is the meaning of life? The fact of the matter is as we probe the inner workings of the human bodies, even of our unborn children, we realize there is a spiritual dimension to our reality. Our lives are not simply based on causality, something that is determined by matter and motion. There is One God, the Creator God, who is a personal Creator and Ruler over all that exists. God is not just the sustainer of creation, He is also transcendent being above creation. This is how the Name of God (YHVH) is being portrayed to us, He is, He was, and He will be! The Lord is God, He is over all space and time, King, Lord, and Master over all. The Lord God is all knowing, He is in control, and all of human history is a controlled process that leads to a final and ultimate outcome. Notice how the outcome of Human history, the essential point we can extract from history is this conflict that occurs between good and evil. This is why the Apostles spoke of “the children of darkness” vs. “the children of light” (Ephesians 5:8, Collosians 1:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:5) and Yeshua referred to it as a conflict between the Kingdom of God (מַלְכוּת אֱלהִים) and the kingdom of Satan. (John 8:34-6)

The Scientific research into fetal development, and the new finding within the second trimester the fetal connectome showed a 61% overlap in motor, visual, auditory and cognitive functions to what we see in adults, reveals to us how we are in fact as David wrote, Tehillim / Psalms 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. (NASB). The Lord God Almighty created us innocent in the beginning, but this world has corrupted us in sin. Through God’s Messiah, we are given the right to become children of God. We must be careful though not to let the light that God has given us to become darkness (Luke 11:35). The love of God and His forgiveness is the answer to our fears. We have a wonderful hope in a powerful God who created us, weaved us together, and that hope gives us courage to persevere in this life, to run the race, to hold on to the truth of God according to the Scriptures. This is the hope of God’s salvation. The meaning of “Salvation” is to be set free from the “law of sin and death” and then to be transformed and made new such that we are able to truly love God and others. This concept of loving God and loving others is not about self-willpower or the zeal of man. What we find in the Shema (Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:4-10) is not about what I can do but rather it is about what God can do in our lives (see John 1:13). The assumption that human actions are sufficient to merit eternal life (i.e., through performing loving acts) is rooted in the problem of sin and death. The “law of sin and death” (תּוֹרַת הַחֵטְא וְהַמָּוֶת) operates on this principle which leads one to dissalusionment and then discontentment and fear because one is attempting to attain eternal life on one’s own and when failure occurs, we realize we cannot stand before a holy God. The basic principle here is when one believes he or she can merit eternal life by means of his or her own efforts, one is relating to God as Judge (אֱלהִים) rather than as Savior (יהוה). We must be humble before God, and broken before Him, coming to Him on His terms in order to be forgiven. These concepts of brokenness, humility, and death are what the cross represents, Yeshua hanging upon the cross, being cursed of God so that we may have eternal life. This is the beginning of the law of righteousness to all who believe, and out being called to follow in the footsteps of the Messiah. We believe in Yeshua, and the Lord God counts it as righteousness to us. The Lord then creates in us a new heart, and gives us His Spirit empowering us to overcome sin, and to seek His righteousness in our lives. We believe in and serve a powerful God who is able to do all things. Truly loving God as written in the Shema, with all the heart, soul, and strength is impossible without the help of God in our lives. These things require sacrifice and death in order to impart life to us who were once spiritually dead. When we place our faith in the One true God in heaven, and in Yeshua His Messiah, something impossible happens, the Lord God in heaven changes us, He transforms us into the likeness of His Son. Just as the Lord God creates the key features of the connectome in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy laying down the framework for motor, visual, auditory, and cognitive functions that go on into adulthood, He also lays down the permanent framework in the inner man with the desire to love God, love our neighbor, and walk in the ways of righteousness. Remember, knowing the truth is not the same thing as living it. The Creator God puts within our hearts to not just a desire to know Him, but also to have a desire live according to His Word!

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!