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A Look Inside Children's Minds, University of Iowa Study



6/28/2013 7:46:33 AM

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When young children gaze intently at something or furrow their brows in concentration, you know their minds are busily at work. But you're never entirely sure what they're thinking. Now you can get an inside look. Psychologists led by the University of Iowa for the first time have peered inside the brain with optical neuroimaging to quantify how much 3- and 4-year-old children are grasping when they survey what's around them and to learn what areas of the brain are in play. The study looks at "visual working memory," a core cognitive function in which we stitch together what we see at any given point in time to help focus attention. In a series of object-matching tests, the researchers found that 3-year-olds can hold a maximum of 1.3 objects in visual working memory, while 4-year-olds reach capacity at 1.8 objects. By comparison, adults max out at 3 to 4 objects, according to prior studies.

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