This story is from the category Education
Date posted: 08/10/2005
Scientists have revealed the results of a study stating that specialised interactive computer programs designed to train areas of the brain improved healthy youngsters' ability to pay attention.The research sheds light on how a normal youngster's brain pays attention.
At issue is "executive attention," the ability to tune out distractions and pay attention only to useful information.
The capacity develops between the ages of 3 and 7, said University of Oregon psychologist Michael Posner, who has studied cognitive development by measuring electrical signals from the brains of pre-schoolers and young children.
There's great individual variation among healthy children and adults, and problems with this particular attention-paying neural network may be one of many involved in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Posner and colleagues at Cornell University's Weill Medical College wondered if it's possible to speed this network's normal development.
They adapted computer exercises used to train monkeys for space travel into games for 4- and 6-year-olds: For five days, the youngsters progressed from a game that moved a cat in and out of grass to more complex tasks, such as choosing the largest number amid deliberate distractions.
The researchers measured the children's brain activity with electroencephalographs and administered tests of attention and intelligence before and after the training; some children also underwent genetic testing.
The brains of the 6-year-olds showed significant changes after the computer training compared with untrained playmates that watched videos. The work was reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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