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Scientists say active early learning shapes the adult brain

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Category: research Video duration: Scientists say active early learning shapes the adult brain

Through the Abecedarian Project, an early education, randomized controlled trial that has followed children since 1971, researchers from Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania have discovered an enhanced learning environment during the first five years of life shapes the brain in ways that are apparent four decades later. Authors of the study include professors Sharon Landesman Ramey, Craig Ramey, and Read Montague of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute of Virginia Tech, and Martha Farah, director of the Center for Neuroscience & Society at Penn. The study appears in the June edition of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

There's a relationship between brain structure and having received five years of high-quality educational, social, emotional, health, and family supports. To our knowledge, this is the first experimental demonstration in humans of something that's well established in an animal literature. But very important because we can assess language development and higher order cognitive processes. So we believe that this opens up a level of new research and a level of advocacy that can be used to help to improve the lives of vulnerable people. These children and now middle age adults are healthier, better adjusted, and report more life satisfaction.