Researchers at the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit have shown that the attention networks in the brains of children become more coordinated following intensive practice of working memory, the ability to hold in mind and manipulate information which is vital for learning. Jessica Barnes and Duncan Astle used magnetoencephalography – a technique for measuring electrical brain activity – to detect significant changes in the coordination of brain networks following training even though the children were simply resting in the scanner with their eyes closed. Connectivity within networks involved in the control of attention increased significantly, and proportionately to the extent to which the child’s memory improved. These findings provide an important step towards understanding how a child’s brain activity and, potentially, abilities to learn may be enhanced through training.
Astle, D.E, Barnes, J.J., Baker, K., Colclough, G.L., and Woolrich, M.W. (2015) Cognitive Training Enhances Intrinsic Brain Connectivity in Childhood. Journal of Neuroscience, 35 (16), 6277– 6283. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4517-14.2015
Open access article link: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/16/6277.full