New research underscores critical importance of early learning
By Michael Essany
Neuroscientists and researchers are studying the brain like never before.
The list of reasons would take up this entire blog, but suffice it to say, there are untapped worlds of information to learn about how the brain actually works — and how we can make adaptations or design treatments for those people whose “wiring” is faulty.
There’s no group of researchers more eager than those who specialize in the young brain. Understanding how children learn — and what works best and what doesn’t — is a huge field of current study.
Take the recent work at the University of Washington. There, researchers took a peek inside the brain of a 10-year-old girl.
“The experiment involved the young girl lying flat on her back inside a device which looked something like a huge doughnut. While random letters were presented on a video screen and read out, the 10 year-old wrote down the letter that followed in the alphabet, throughout which time a scanner recorded pictures of her neural tissue,” according to an announcement from those behind the study. “Meanwhile UW researchers Virginia Berninger and radiologist Todd Richards studied the results on a computer screen.”
This investigation group is on the leading edge of brain research, striving to understand what goes on inside youngsters’ brains as they learn to speak, listen, read, and write.
What did researchers discover? For one thing, babies aren’t born with the neural paths needed to establish those skills.
“Throughout our infancy, an intricate blending of genetic make-ups in addition to our early good and bad experiences wire our brain’s cells and areas together,” Richards noted. “Then in time, increasingly advanced networks are formed, which either serve to assist or impede future learning and happiness. It’s the brain’s amazing flexibility throughout a youngster’s first five years that prepares them to learn about their world, but at the same time making them vulnerable if they don’t get the chance to learn about reading and writing from their parents at home.”
Though the brain continues to learn, it appears that the best chance for success comes when learning takes place earlier in life than later.
That mirrors technologies pioneered by organizations like Advanced Brain Technologies, which has discovered that certain techniques can boost early childhood learning.
ABT’s inTime listening program has been shown to help people of all ages, including the very young, focus and learn better through a personalized program of listening training and fun movement activities using body, drum, and voice to help accelerate learning and cope with the rhythms of daily life.
Rhythm and sound frequencies appear to be pathways to better learning. It’s the reason, according to researchers, that children who study a musical instrument often perform better in math. It’s all in the way the brain connects information, patterns, sounds, and more.
While inTime supports social and emotional function, auditory processing, communication, executive function, creative expression, motor coordination, stress response, self awareness, and musicality, there is more research to be done on the many ways in which children can benefit from such early intervention.