Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Undesirable Brain Development Driven by Excess TV Viewing

Let us deal with this.  The word damage is nonsense here.  What has happened is that an excess of a specific type of stimuli produces a developing bias in the brain that may also be undesirable.  In fact it appears that is in fact the case in this particular case but also fails to address the underlying failure of our society.

Our whole process of child rearing and child stimulation is ad hoc and primitive and hugely unsatisfactory producing a wide range of underdeveloped mental abilities.  About the only thing we get right is to insist on sufficient sleep.  We probably have little choice.

The TV is acting as a child minder and it does not up the pace on driving stimulation.  This alone needs to be better thought out at the least.  At least Sesame Street tries.

The fact remains that the development of the child needs to be systematized from infancy, through puberty and early maturation in order to optimize the innate human potential.  My own experience included good luck, parental good choices, personal good choices, fortuitous healthy obsessions, and an excellent teacher or two at the right time who was prepared for me.  That is a long list and parental forethought can only go so far.  It also needs institutional support and structures in community and school.  As many agree we do come up short often here.

We have actually seen a degradation of performance driven by faulty institutional agendas that have yet to be addressed.  Of course, they will be, but sooner would be better.

Children who watch too much TV may have 'damaged brain structures'

The more time a child spends watching TV, the more profound the changes
It leads to more grey matter in the regions around the frontopolar cortex area of the brain -towards the front and side of the head

PUBLISHED: 18:03 GMT, 10 January 2014 | UPDATED: 18:04 GMT, 10 January 2014

Watching too much television can change the structure of a child's brain in a damaging way, according to a new study.

Researchers found that the more time a child spent viewing TV, the more profound the brain alterations appeared to be.

The Japanese study looked at 276 children aged between five and 18, who watched between zero and four hours TV per day, with the average being about two hours.

Too much TV can change the structure of a child's brain in a way which can lead to lower verbal intelligence

MRI brain scans showed children who spent the most hours in front of the box had greater amounts of grey matter in regions around the frontopolar cortex - the area at the front of the frontal lobe.

But this increased volume was a negative thing as it was linked with lower verbal intelligence, said the authors, from Tohoku University in the city of Sendai.
They suggested grey matter could be compared to body weight and said these brain areas need to be pruned during childhood in order to operate efficiently.

‘These areas show developmental cortical thinning during development, and children with superior IQs show the most vigorous cortical thinning in this area,’ the team wrote.

They highlighted the fact that unlike learning a musical instrument, for example, programmes we watch on TV ‘do not necessarily advance to a higher level, speed up or vary’.

‘When this type of increase in level of experience does not occur with increasing experience, there is less of an effect on cognitive functioning,’ they wrote.


Children who watch the most TV have the most profound changes to their brain structure
The authors said the impact of watching TV on the ‘structural development’ of the brain has never before been investigated.

‘In conclusion, TV viewing is directly or indirectly associated with the neurocognitive development of children,’ they wrote.

‘At least some of the observed associations are not beneficial and guardians of children should consider these effects when children view TV for long periods of time.’

The children in the study were an almost even split between girls and boys.

The findings, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, highlighted an association between TV viewing and changes in the brain but do not prove that TV definitely caused the changes.

Scientists also cannot be sure whether missing out on activities such as reading, playing sports or interacting with friends and family as a result of watching TV could be behind the findings, rather than TV being directly to blame.

But they did say that the frontopolar cortex area of the brain has previously been associated with ‘intellectual abilities'.

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