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Sat. May 18th, 2024

New research suggests that talking to infants and toddlers can promote brain development

The University of East Anglia's researchers have discovered a strong correlation between infants' and toddlers' early brain development and speech listening.

According to University of East Anglia research, parents who communicate to their infants or toddlers unintentionally promote brain development. Talking to your little one even briefly helps mould their developing brain. The Journal of Neuroscience was the first journal to publish their findings.

In order to better understand the structure of developing brains, UEA researchers analysed tens of thousands of hours of linguistic data collected from infants and toddlers who were wearing tiny recording devices during MRI scans.

163 infants and toddlers were part of the study, which demonstrated that chatting to early children can help with their brain development.

Talking and language development

Myelin, a substance that surrounds nerves and facilitates speedy and effective electrical impulse transmission. The study, which featured 163 infants and toddlers, showed that talking to young children can aid in their brain development.

Researchers discovered that two-and-a-half-year-olds who heard more speech in daily life had more myelin in language-related parts of their brains, which is likely to support more sophisticated language processing, according to the study’s authors.

According to main researcher Prof. John Spencer from the University of East Anglia’s School of Psychology, children’s brains grow extremely quickly in the first two years of life, reaching roughly 80% of an adult brain’s volume by the age of two. An insulating coating known as myelin surrounds the nerves in the brain and is composed of proteins and fatty substances.

Spencer used the analogy of a hosepipe with several holes to clarify what Myelin is and how it supports brain development. Myelin acts like duct tape on a hosepipe; by protecting neuronal fibres, it increases the amount of “signal” that can go from one part of the brain to another.

One of the first studies to demonstrate the connection between speech perception and early brain development is that of the UEA. Prior research found a similar link in four to six-year-olds, but the results we found bring this association far earlier in development. In fact, in children as young as six months old, scientists even discovered links between language input and brain shape.

By Parvathy Sukumaran

Parvathy Sukumaran is a Content Creator and Editor at JustCare Health. She is an Educator and a Language Lecturer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education and an M.A in English Literature. She is passionate about writing, archaeology, music and cooking.

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