Scientists have shown for the first time that concentration skills may be trainable in infants as young as 11 months.
Concentration training for babies
A study by researchers in the Department of Psychological Sciences, revealing that babies as young as 11 months can be taught to concentrate, was published in the journal Current Biology on 1 September 2011. The article led to widespread media interest, with pieces appearing in the Mirror, Telegraph, and a range of overseas outlets, and provoked a great deal of online debate.
Research suggests that good concentration abilities are vital for early learning, both during language acquisition and for later learning in academic settings. The team from Birkbeck developed computerized concentration training that works by tracking infants’ eye movements, and used computer tasks to train babies at having more control over what they pay attention to and what they ignore. The results revealed that a short training period led to improvements in the infants’ ability to sustain their attention, potentially boosting their learning abilities.
Professor Mark Johnson, head of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, where the research was carried out, commented: 'Our results indicate that at the very beginning of life, in early infancy, certain cognitive skills may be trainable. If the effects of training prove robust over the longer term, methods such as ours may have applications as interventions aimed at improving key learning skills in babies at risk of poor outcomes.'
- Want to find out more? Read the full Birkbeck news story
- Visit the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development website