Conversation and Brain Development

By now, you may have seen the viral video of comedian D.J. Pryor and his 18-month old son sitting on their couch having a little chat.  If not, check out the video here:

While the father-son duo is adorable and the video is good for a laugh, it is also an example of parent-child interaction that is beneficial to a child’s brain development.  Really!  A recent study from York University showed that infants who are exposed to adult conversation have greater cognitive abilities.  The study found a link between children who heard higher quantities of adult speech and their nonverbal reasoning and linguistic development.  The researchers also found that children who interacted with adults who used a diverse vocabulary knew a greater variety of words themselves. 

In another study, MIT scientists found that conversation between an adult and a child appears to change the child’s brain, and that these “conversational turns” actually accounted for more of the differences in brain physiology and language skills than just exposure to more words.  These studies suggest that by regularly engaging in conversations with their young children, parents can positively influence their children’s brain and language development.