I thought there were moms who were crazy for worrying about where their kids were going to college… when the kids weren’t even in preschool yet. Well, a new study at the University of London may make these moms look like they’ve waited too long.
In the study, recently published in Current Biology, researchers found that even babies can be trained to concentrate, which might mean that eventually they’ll do better in school. The study looked at a group of 42 typically developing 11-month-olds over 15 days. One group was trained by giving them rewards for concentrating—for instance, animated butterflies would fly across a computer screen as long as the babies looked at them and ignored other distracting objects that appeared. The control group simply watched TV. After several sessions, researchers found that the babes in the trained group could pay attention for longer than the controls.
Professor Mark Johnson, head of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck (where the research was conducted) said, “Our results indicate that at the very beginning of life, in early infancy, certain cognitive skills may be trainable. If the effects of training prove robust over the longer term, methods such as ours may have applications as interventions aimed at improving key learning skills in babies at risk of poor outcomes.”
So, yes, apparently there are things parents can do to improve their babies’ concentration, including reading to them or teaching them sign language. Sigh. Can’t we just cuddle our babies and sing to them? Or will that doom them to working behind the counters of fast food restaurants for the rest of their lives? What do you think?