What makes children thrive?

It is genetics, IQ, wealth or education?

About The Film

Carlota Nelson, in her ground-breaking documentary, answers these questions in an enlightening globe-trotting journey about what truly helps make children realize their full potential.

BRAIN MATTERS reveals that learning begins way before children go to school and that it’s the experiences children are exposed to that determine their chances for future success. Everyday situations such as play, relationships, language and nutrition are examined with a fresh scientific approach, aiming at a set of brain boosting skills and activities that can provide every child with the opportunity to thrive.

Through interviews with cutting edge researchers, scientists, economists, families and educators, BRAIN MATTERS explores the so called “miracle years”, a critical period of our lives that no one remembers, in a profound new way – emphasizing how the first few years are the greatest opportunity we have to give children the best start in life.

The Filmmakers

Carlota Nelson

Carlota Nelson is an accomplished Madrid-based filmmaker and director of the groundbreaking feature documentary, Brain Matters, a film that explores the development of the brain in early childhood. She is a member of The Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences of Spain. Her documentary work has spanned global social and cultural topics, including art and apartheid in South Africa, censorship in Kuala Lumpur, and recidivism in America’s women’s prisons. Her first feature documentary, Anclados, premiered across Europe in 2010 to significant acclaim. The film tells the story of the crew of a Russian trawler quarantined in a Spanish port following the collapse of the Soviet Union. To learn more about Nelson, please visit IMDB

Steven J. Posner

Steven J. Posner is a producer of Brain Matters, a groundbreaking documentary film that explores the development of the brain in early childhood. Steven has been deeply involved in all aspects of the film’s production, including financing, story development, production leadership, marketing, partnerships and distribution. Prior to his work on Brain Matters, Steven co-founded and served as Chief Business Officer of Future Lighthouse, a leading international Virtual Reality storytelling studio. To learn more about Posner, please visit IMDB

Director´s Notes

Genesis Foundation

The Genesis Foundation is a dynamic, driven and proactive not-for-profit institution dedicated specifically to transforming the way Colombian children learn.  Established over a decade ago, the Genesis Foundation draws from a unique network of benefactors in Colombia and beyond to support programs designed to deliver quality education to underserved Colombian youth, allowing them the opportunity to more fully develop the tools, knowledge and training necessary for success, contributing to a more just and equal society in the process. To learn more about the Genesis Foundation, please visit https://www.genesis-foundation.org/home and follow the foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

Advisory Board

During our research phase, we traveled the world to meet, learn and listen to some of the most important and influential Early Childhood Development researchers, advisors, scientists and educators.

As we began compiling the research and translating the science, we asked the following distinguished brains to help guide us throughout the process of making the film.

We could not have made Brain Matters without their continued support, feedback, time and generosity – from the initial rough drafts of the script to the latest version of the edited film. We are forever indebted to this amazing group of people who are dedicated to making this world a better one.

John Ashton

John Ashton

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Professor John Ashton is one of the leading public health doctors in the United Kingdom and Senior Public Health Consultant for WHO (World Health Organization) and co-founder of Global Healthy Cities Network.

Clancy Blair

Clancy Blair

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Clancy Blair is a developmental psychologist and Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. He is known for his research on the development of emotional self-regulation in children.

David Fitzpatrick

David Fitzpatrick

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Dr. Fitzpatrick is Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director of the Max Planck Florida Institute of Neuroscience. His scientific contributions have earned him international recognition as a leader in systems neuroscience, with a focus on the functional organization and development of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex — the largest and most complex area of the brain, whose functions include sensory perception, motor control, and cognition.

Ellen Galinsky

Ellen Galinsky

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Ellen Galinsky is the Chief Science Officer at the Bezos Family Foundation where she also serves as executive director of Mind in the Making. In addition, she is a senior research advisor for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and president of Families and Work Institute. Her life’s work revolves around identifying important societal questions as they emerge, conducting research to seek answers, and turning the findings into action. She strives to be ahead of the curve, to address compelling issues, and to provide rigorous data that can affect our lives.

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

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Kathy Hirsh-Pasek is Professor of Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she directs the Temple University Infant Language Laboratory. Much of Hirsh-Pasek’s work has been dedicated to bridging the gap between developmental and educational research and applications and consults worldwide on educational policy and works with children’s media, the toy industry, children’s museums and children’s libraries.

Patricia Kuhl

Patricia Kuhl

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Patricia Katherine Kuhl is a Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences and co-director of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington. She specializes in language acquisition and the neural bases of language, and she has also conducted research on language development in 
autism and computer speech recognition.

Dave Lawrence

Dave Lawrence

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David Lawrence Jr.  is the former publisher of The Miami Herald and the Detroit Free Press. He currently serves as chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida, aimed at making children the state’s top priority for investment. His memoir, “A Dedicated Life: Journalism, Justice and a Chance for Every Child,” was published in 2018.

Sebastian Lipina

Sebastian Lipina

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Sebastián J. Lipina is Director of Applied Neurobiology (UNA, CEMIC- CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fellow of the Center for Neuroscience and Society (CNS, University of Pennsylvania, USA), Co-director of the Mind, Brain and Education School (Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture, Italy) and Consultant of the Panamerican Health Organization, UNICEF and UNDP.

Charles A. Nelson III

Charles A. Nelson III

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Charles A. Nelson III is an American neuroscientist and psychologist. Nelson is the Director of Research in the Division of Developmental Medicine, Director of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Richard David Scott Professor of Pediatric Developmental Medicine Research at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Nelson has also focused his research efforts on the development of memory and the ability to recognize facial expressions of emotion in infants and young children. Recently, Nelson was recognized for his on-going research with infants and children at high risk for developing autism spectrum disorder.

Al Race

Al Race

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Al Race is Chief Knowledge Officer and Deputy Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The Center catalyzes local, national, and international innovation in policy and practice for children and families, especially those facing serious adversity.  Al’s focus is on how to use the knowledge generated by the Center’s work to transform the landscape in which science-based innovation for children and families can thrive.

Craig Ramey

Craig Ramey

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Craig Ramey is co-founder of The Abecedarian Project and his program of research centers on the role of experience – across the human lifespan – in the development of competence and robust health. His approach relies largely on experimental interventions in education, psychology, and pediatrics that provide rigorous tests of plausible developmental mechanisms of stability and change within dynamic, multilayered ecologies.

Collaborating Institutions

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