Reading at age four can help brain mature fast: Study

Parents, please note! The right time to introduce your kids to books is when they are four. According to a new research, if children are surrounded by books at age four a part of their brain involved in language and thought develops quicker by the age of 18 or 19.

Access to educational toys, trips to the zoo and amusement parks can also help.
However, if introduced at the age of eight, these books and treats seem to have little impact on the brain, suggesting the age of four is a critical time in its development. The University of Pennsylvania study comes amid concern that youngsters are abandoning books in favour of TV and computer games.

The research has excited scientists because it the first to show how small differences in a normal upbringing affect the brain. The US researchers visited the homes of 64 children, whose parents had a similar socio-economic status, when they were aged four and again aged eight. They noted things such as access to books and toys. About 15 years after the first visit, the children underwent brain scans.

These showed that in children who had access to books and educational toys and went on trips at the age of four, parts of the brain were thinner - which is a good thing in terms of development.

However, in children who had access to books and educational toys and went on trips around the age of four, several parts of the brain were thinner and the teenagers did better on tests of language comprehension.

The effect of particularly noticeable in a region called lateral left temporal cortex, which sits near the surface of the brain, just above the ear, and plays a role in language and thought. “These findings provide powerful evidence that even relatively minor variations within the normal range of home experience can affect brain development over a lifetime,” lead author Brian Avants said.

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