How kids 'memorize' facts revealed
A new study has provided an insight into how the brains of children help them to memorize facts and math skills.
According to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, new brain-imaging research gave the first evidence drawn from a longitudinal study to explain how the brain reorganizes itself as children learn math facts. A precisely orchestrated group of brain changes, many involving the memory center known as the hippocampus, are essential to the transformation.
Dr.Vinod Menon said that this work sheds light on the dynamic changes that occur over the course of cognitive development in each child and it was found that the hippocampal and prefrontal contributions to memory-based problem-solving during childhood didn't look anything like what they would have expected for the adult brain.
The scientists also saw changes in the degree to which the hippocampus was connected to other parts of children's brains, with several parts of the prefrontal, anterior temporal cortex and parietal cortex more strongly connected to the hippocampus after one year. Crucially, the stronger this connection, the greater was each individual child's ability to retrieve math facts from memory.
Menon further added that the hippocampus was providing a scaffold for learning and consolidating facts into long-term memory in children and in adults this scaffold was not needed because memory for math facts has most likely been consolidated into the neocortex.
The research also showed that, although the adult hippocampus was not as strongly engaged as in children, it seemed to keep a backup copy of the math information that adults usually draw from the neocortex.
The study is published online in Nature Neuroscience.
(Posted on 18-08-2014)