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While adults focus their attention, children see everything: study

Medical X-Press – Jeff Grabmeier

“Although adults can beat children at most cognitive tasks, new research shows that children’s limitations can sometimes be their strength. In two studies, researchers found that adults were very good at remembering information they were told to focus on, and ignoring the rest. In contrast, 4- to 5-year-olds tended to pay attention to all the information that was presented to them – even when they were told to focus on one particular item. That helped children to notice things that adults didn’t catch because of the grownups’ selective attention.”(more)

Language learning aids attention, study says

Know Ridge Staff Writer

“Mental agility can be boosted by even a short period of learning a language, a study suggests. Tests carried out on students of all ages suggest that acquiring a new language improves a person’s attention, after only a week of study. Researchers also found that these benefits could be maintained with regular practice.”(more)

New Duke study: Early attention skills most consistent predictor of academic success

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Maureen Downey

“A new Duke University study suggests problems paying attention in school in early childhood can foreshadow academic challenges later, including graduating from high school. Such students are 40 percent less likely to graduate, according to the study…The study confirms what many teachers have pointed out on the blog: Patterns are set early. Teachers often say they can predict in fifth grade which students will fail to finish high school…With this study, researchers examined early academic, attention and socioemotional skills and how each contributed to academic success into young adulthood. They found early attention skills were the most consistent predictor of academic success.”(more)

The government says kids need an hour of movement a day. Actually, they need a lot more.

The Washington Post – Valerie Strauss/Angela Hanscom

“Movement equals health is one of those equations as indisputable as the sun equals light. But there are two important variables that rarely factor into this formula: the type of movement and how much. For children, it’s a lot more than you think. The U.S. government’s recommendation of 60 minutes of vigorous movement a day for children, combined with healthy eating, is great for decreasing the risks of obesity and heart disease, among other chronic diseases. But children today have symptoms of other alarming problems, such as weaker bones and muscles, emotional instability and anxiety, surprising episodes of aggression, the inability to focus and pay attention, and problems “sitting still” compared to children of just two decades ago. Know what helps with all of these? Movement. And a lot of it!…Children need at least three hours of outdoor play on a daily basis in order to foster healthy sensory and motor development. Children need opportunities to go upside down, climb trees, run as fast as they can, use their imagination, test their strength, care for each other’s scraped knees, roll, climb, balance and even spin in circles. All of these activities use their brain, activate their muscles both big and small, and engage the senses. This lays the foundation for being able to pay attention, listen and learn in a classroom setting.”(more)

Infants Learn to Pay Attention (or Not) From Watching Mom and Dad

Smithsonian.com – Brian Handwerk

“Your infant child is watching what grabs your attention—so perhaps it’s time to put down that phone and focus on the toy of your baby’s choice. Doing so may boost the kid’s brain development, and chances of future success, by teaching him or her how to keep their own attention focused on the task at hand, a new study shows. Infants pay more attention to objects while playing when their caregivers do the same, but their eyes wander when a parent’s own gaze is distracted. The findings, published today in Current Biology, suggest that caregiver attention can aid in the development of sustained attention span in very young kids…Studies in kids from age 1 through grade school have shown that greater attention spans, even at a very young age, are a good predictor of future achievement. Focused attention also helps key cognitive achievements such as problem solving and language acquisition.”(more)

Short-term language learning aids mental agility, study suggests

Medical Xpress – Staff Writer

“Mental agility can be boosted by even a short period of learning a language, a study suggests. Tests carried out on students of all ages suggest that acquiring a new language improves a person’s attention, after only a week of study. Researchers also found that these benefits could be maintained with regular practice…This improvement was found for all ages, from 18 to 78 years…Lead researcher, Dr Thomas Bak of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences said the results confirm the cognitive benefits of language learning. He said: “I think there are three important messages from our study: firstly, it is never too late to start a novel mental activity such as learning a new language. Secondly, even a short intensive course can show beneficial effects on some cognitive functions. Thirdly, this effect can be maintained through practice.””(more)