Focusing on executive functions in kindergarten leads to lasting academic improvements

An educational approach focused on the development of children's executive functions - the ability to avoid distractions, focus attention, hold relevant information in working memory, and regulate impulsive behavior - improved academic learning in and beyond kindergarten, according to a new study by researchers at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Physically fit kids have beefier brain white matter than their less-fit peers

A new study of 9- and 10-year-olds finds that those who are more aerobically fit have more fibrous and compact white-matter tracts in the brain than their peers who are less fit. “White matter” describes the bundles of axons that carry nerve signals from one brain region to another. More compact white matter is associated with faster and more efficient nerve activity. 

The team reports its findings in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 

Brain regions ‘tune’ activity to enable attention

Attention deficits in brain injury have been thought of as a loss of the resources needed to concentrate on a task. However, this study shows that temporal alignment of responses in different brain areas is also a very important mechanism that contributes to attention and could be impaired by brain injury.

Connections in the brains of young children strengthen during sleep, CU-Boulder study finds

Researchers looked at differences in brain activity during sleep as the children got older and differences in brain activity of each child over a night’s sleep. They found that connections in the brain generally became stronger during sleep as the children aged. They also found that the strength of the connections between the left and right hemispheres increased by as much as 20 percent over a night’s sleep.