University of Rochester researchers say they have made an important breakthrough. For the last three years, researchers have studied the brain waves of children and adults as they watched an episode of Sesame Street. They then would give the children math tests to see if they were learning anything. More than two dozen children and 20 adults were part of the study. For 20 minutes they would be in an MRI scanner as Sesame Street was aired. That allowed researchers to map neural activity across the entire brain while they watched the show. What they found was that the kids who showed similar brain activity to the adults did better on the math tests.
"So it doesn't advocate television watching, but it shows that while children are watching educational television that there is an academic cognitive processing that is taking place," researcher Jessica Cantlon said.
Researchers hope that this study helps to diagnose and treat learning disabilities among children. The hope is also that future studies will use real-world activities like educational television to help monitor brain activity.