Study Why We Learn Faster As Children

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The notion that children learn faster than adults is often attributed to factors like having more time, greater focus on specific tasks, and a reduced fear of making mistakes. However, the differences extend to the structural and chemical composition of their brains. Newborns enter the world with a sparse network of connections among their approximately 100 billion neurons. As they grow, experiences shape and reinforce neural connections, with the types of connections influenced by the child's environment.

Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child highlights that during a baby's early years, over 1 million neural connections are formed every second, emphasizing the profound impact of experiences on brain development. Even as children age, specific characteristics of their brains continue to confer advantages.

Research conducted by Brown University and the University of Regensburg delved into the role of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger, in the learning process. GABA plays a crucial role in stabilizing learning by preventing interference from newer information. The study involved 13 children (ages 8 to 11) and 14 adults (ages 18 to 35). The findings revealed a significant spike in GABA concentrations in children's brains during learning, persisting even after the learning session concluded. This phenomenon allowed children to swiftly stabilize their newly acquired knowledge. In contrast, adults did not exhibit changes in GABA levels, indicating a more fragile state of learning for an extended period after training.

In behavioral experiments, children demonstrated an ability to resist interference from newer information shortly after learning, showcasing their efficiency in knowledge retention compared to adults. Co-author Takeo Watanabe emphasized, "Our results show that children of elementary school age can learn more items within a given period of time than adults, making learning more efficient in children."


1- What does the Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child emphasize about neural development during a baby's early years?

2- What role does gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) play in the learning process?

3- According to the text, what advantage did children show in behavioral experiments compared to adults?


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Parts of this lesson are based on: An article Engoo Daily News..