The Seattle team surveyed more than 1,000 families in February 2006 and found that infants between 8 and 16 months who regularly watched Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby videos knew substantially fewer words -- six to eight out of 90 -- than infants who did not watch them, according to parental reports. The deficit, which increased with each hour of video viewing, was not seen among babies who watched other programming, such as "Sesame Street" or "SpongeBob SquarePants" or adult shows such as "Oprah."
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, is the first to examine the impact of videos that have been heavily promoted as educational, according to lead author Frederick J. Zimmerman, a University of Washington associate professor of public health and pediatrics. Zimmerman called the negative effect "large and significant" but said the study stopped short of establishing a causal connection.
I would expect babies to learn more from interacting with humans since interactions provide feedbacks on what they do.
What is striking to me about a story like this one is the lengths that some people will go to try to boost the mental development of little Johnnie and Jill. Imagine what parents will do once real mental boosting biotechnologies become available. A drug that boosts IQ by 10 points if taken for several years during childhood would be a big seller. But at least in some of the Western industrialized countries getting such drugs approved will be very difficult. The problem of how to prove safety is enormous. This leads me to expect bigger IQ boosts will happen in less developed countries which lack big drug regulatory agencies.
Much bigger IQ boosts will become available via genetic tinkering at the time of conception. The use of multiple embryos with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (aka PIGD or PGD) to choose the potentially smartest embryo will a face fewer regulatory obstacles than the use of gene therapy to modify embryo genes. But the latter will offer far greater potential for intellectual boosting once scientists identify all the genetic variations that influence intelligence and once embryo genetic engineering techniques become fairly mature and safe.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2007 October 09 05:21 PM Brain Development|