The temperaments of young children may partly explain why some enjoy watching television more than others, according to a new scientific study.

New research published Aug. 5 in the journal Infancy indicates that the brain responses of 10-month-old babies could predict whether or not they'll enjoy watching TV six months later. In other words, a baby's temperament may partly explain their attraction to television.

“The sensory environment around babies and young children is really complex and crowded, but the ability to pay attention to something is one of the first stages of development in babies,” commented Dr. Teodora Gliga, co -author of the study and researcher at the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom). “Even before they can ask questions, children differ considerably [among themselves] in their motivation to explore their surroundings and to be interested in new sounds or sights. We wanted to find out why babies seem to be so different in the way that they seek out new visual sensory stimulation - such as being attracted to shiny objects, vivid colors or moving pictures on television, ”he said. she indicated.

“There have been various theories to explain these differences, some suggesting that less sensitive infants will seek less stimulation, others suggesting that some infants simply process information faster - an ability that might cause them to seek out new stimulation more. frequently ”, detailed the researcher. “In this study, we provide support for a third theory by showing that a preference for novelty causes some infants to seek more varied stimulation,” she added.

Interesting results to better understand the effects of early exposure to screens

Using electroencephalography, the recording of brain activity in toddlers using electrodes, the team was able to study the brain activity of 48 babies aged 10 months. 'they were watching a 40 second sequence of the Disney Fantasia movie. The researchers then observed how babies' brain waves reacted to random interruptions in the video with a suddenly flashing black-and-white checkerboard image on the screen.

As the video footage was repeated, the researchers expected the children to come to know it and therefore lose interest in it, and focus more on the checkerboard. But in fact, some children became interested in the checkerboard pattern when they had not finished memorizing the video footage. Others, on the other hand, remained focused on the video footage even though there was not much to be learned from it.

“It was very interesting that the brain responses at 10 months, indicating how quickly infants shifted their attention from the repeated video to the checkerboard, predicted whether they would like to watch fast paced TV shows six months later” , commented Dr. Gliga. “These findings are important to the ongoing debate on early television exposure, as they suggest that children's temperaments may cause differences in television exposure”.

The research team is now working to understand how the early environment of toddlers can support their learning and cognitive development.