New research shows children’s brain responses in anticipation of touch

I-LABSPublication, Research

Anticipation is an exercise in focus, a neural preparation that conveys important visual, auditory or tactile information about what’s to come.

New brain research among 6- to 8-year-old children conducted at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) and Temple University shows not only this expectation in real time, but also how anticipation relates to executive function skills.

study published in the November issue of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience specifically examines what happens in children’s brains when they anticipate a touch to the hand, and relates this brain activity to the executive functions the child demonstrates on other mental tasks. The ability to anticipate, researchers found, also indicates an ability to focus. 

The authors believe this is the first study to investigate children’s anticipatory touch using brain measures, and whether individual differences in children’s anticipatory brain responses predict children’s success on other cognitive tasks. And with future work in younger children or that aims to help children learn how to focus and anticipate touch, the researchers suggest the data could lead to interventions designed to develop executive function.

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