Babies and Adults in Play


According to the ASHA Wire (May 2020), a study from Princeton University suggests that babies and parents experience similar brain activity during play.  According to the article which was published in Psychological Science, “the study found that during live, natural interactions of play, measurable connections occurred in the neural activity of adults and babies. Participants included 18 children (ages 9–15 months) and their parents. During the first part of the experiment, the child sat on their parent’s lap and interacted face-to-face with an adult researcher directly—playing with toys, singing nursery rhymes, or reading. In the second part, the adult researcher interacted with another adult, leaving the child to play with their parent off to the side.” They found that during one-on-one play, the babies’ brains and adults’ brains synchronized in several areas, including the prefrontal cortex—a part of the brain involved in learning and executive functions.

Interestingly, results from this study showed that infant neural pathways were slightly more efficient than their adult parents’ neural pathways, suggesting that even at the infant level, kids have the capacity to lead play and can intrinsically signal to their parents which toys they want and which words they want parents to be modeling.

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