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Training Aimed at the Pre-Frontal Cortex Helps Schoolkids


Narrator:    This is Science Today. Small children are not able to control yelling out or crying when they feel angry, but at some point they do learn to hold their emotions in check. Psychologist Silvia Bunge of the University of California, Berkeley says that's the pre-frontal cortex in action. Bunge has been studying children ages six to eighteen, to learn more about how this front part of the brain controls impulsivity and how an adolescent's ability to reason about novel problems changes over development.

 What we do is we have subjects lie down in a scanner and we project images or sounds and we have them respond to questions that we ask them by pressing one of several buttons. Children come in at several time points and we measure their behavior and their brain structure and brain function and we see which of those factors best predict long-term outcomes in terms of achievement in school.

    Preliminary results indicate that training aimed at the pre-frontal cortex improved elementary schoolchildren's scores on reason tests, by controlling their impulses. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.