"Research suggests that differences in attentional control abilities emerge early in development and that children with better attentional control subsequently learn better in academic settings," said Sam Wass of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London.In other words, infants that can more readily concentrate on a specific object while ignoring other distractions are better equipped to learn. To test this theory, researchers observed 42 eleven-month-old infants on 5 occasions over 15 days. The cognitive abilities of each child were tested at the beginning and end of the 15 day period. Half of the babies watched TV, while the other half explored images on a computer screen. The latter half were tested to see how long they could watch a butterfly that flew only as long as they kept their eyes on it, meanwhile other distracting elements appeared on the screen.
Results showed that, “trained infants rapidly improved their ability to focus their attention for longer periods and to shift their attention from one point to another. They also showed improvements in their ability to spot patterns and small but significant changes in their spontaneous looking behavior while playing with toys”.
Consequently, the ability to stay focused on a task or to quickly shift attention can facilitate learning and social interactions, which can significantly impact abilities later in life.
Although the plasticity of the infant brain might allow training to occur at an earlier age, it remains a mystery whether infants might lose their novel skills just as quickly as they were learned.
Infants Trained to Concentrate Show Added Benefits
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