Scientists Find a Goldilocks Effect with Different Story Formats for Kids
Our brains are wired for good stories, starting from childhood. A recent study explored the different faculties of the brain that are stimulated in kids who are exposed to stories across a few different formats – audio, animation, and illustrations. The study was specifically focused on exploring the different language networks activated in kids’ brains. It turns out that some language networks strike the perfect “Goldilocks effect” –some are “just right” for learning, while others are “too hot” or “too cold.”
In the audio-only group, children had a hard time understanding and following a story as it evolved. Those who watched animations, on the other hand, were overstimulated; animations induced a lot of brain activity but there were too few connections in language networks to ensure a proper understanding of the story’s meaning.
Illustrated stories were “just right” in the sense that children had some brain activity plus the support of pictures to assist them in making sense of what they were hearing.
I find it fascinating that a cognitive clue in the form of pictures helps kids build patterns and complete the mental work of understanding a story – animations do the work for them, and audio-only storytelling doesn’t give kids enough of a way in.
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