Bedtime stories may foster brain buildout supporting reading readiness in kids

Bedtime stories may foster brain buildout supporting reading readiness in kids
Highlights

A new study has shown association between reading to young children and brain activity.Author John Hutton said that they are excited to show, for the first time, that reading exposure during the critical stage of development prior to kindergarten seems to have a meaningful, measurable impact on how a child\'s brain processes stories and may help predict reading success.

A new study has shown association between reading to young children and brain activity.Author John Hutton said that they are excited to show, for the first time, that reading exposure during the critical stage of development prior to kindergarten seems to have a meaningful, measurable impact on how a child's brain processes stories and may help predict reading success.

Hutton added that of particular importance are brain areas supporting mental imagery, helping the child "see the story" beyond the pictures, affirming the invaluable role of imagination.
Professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and advocacy groups have encouraged parents to read to their children from birth to foster early learning and create connections in the brain that promote language development. Direct evidence of effects on the brain, however, were not previously available.
Researchers studied 19 healthy preschoolers aged 3-5 years old, 37 percent of whom were from low-income households and each child's primary caregiver completed a questionnaire designed to measure cognitive stimulation in the home. The kids then underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measured brain activity while they were listening to age-appropriate stories via headphones.
Results showed that greater home reading exposure was strongly associated with activation of specific brain areas supporting semantic processing the extraction of meaning from language. These areas are critical for oral language and later for reading.
Brain areas supporting mental imagery showed particularly strong activation, suggesting that visualization plays a key role in narrative comprehension and reading readiness, allowing children to see the story. This becomes increasingly important as children advance from books with pictures to books without them, where they must imagine what is going on in the text, added Hutton.
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