Thursday, May 17, 2007

If You Give a Child a Cookie... When Does Self-Control Happen?

If you offer a young child the option of 1 cookie now or 2 after 15 minutes, he or she will usually try to wait for 15 minutes, but then ask for the second before the time is up. It's a good thing that neuroscientists are interested in knowing more about what normal neurodevelopment is like because the alternative is to call everything a disease.

Functional neuroimaging is shaking us all up a little. We all knew that children were different from adults, but many of us had no clue how different they were (for example, see below). It's exciting to see that educational leaders are also waking up to the importance of understanding learning within an accurate framework of child development. Both the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development are calling for stronger training in normal child and adolescent development. From Education Week, "Teacher education programs are so focused on content knowledge that they often fail to provide adequate preparation on child and adolescent development..."

It's also heartening to see the next step that Dr. Bunge and others are looking to understand: "An important future direction is to determine the extent to which observed age differences in brain activation reflect hard developmental constraints as opposed to a lack of experience with a give type of task or cognitive strategy..."

Researchers from Florida suggest the general trend for improving self-control into young adulthood is positive: "While the first decade of life is critical to its development, we now know that the period of adolescence remains important as well."

We're going to take a long weekend - be back blogging on Monday, May 21st.

Neurodevelopment of Working Memory and Cognitive Control pdf
Teacher Colleges Urged to Pay Heed to Child Development
Wikipedia: If you give a mouse a cookie
Parents may have longer to influence kids' self-control

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