"The takeaway for parents in this study is that they should engage more when reading with their child, ask questions, have them turn the page, and interact with each other," the lead author of the study John Hutton, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre, US was quoted by IANS.
According to the study published in the journal PLOS ONE, this reinforces the value of "dialogic reading", where the child is encouraged to actively participate. It was also noted that simply speaking the words aloud may not be enough to improve cognitive development in preschoolers.
"In turn, this could fuel brain activation -- or 'turbocharge' the development of literacy skills, particularly comprehension, in preschool-aged children," Hutton said.
For the study, the experts studied MRI scans of 22 four-year old girls to analyse the link between engagement and verbal interactivity during a mother-child reading session. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) found significantly greater brain activation in four-year-old children who were more highly engaged during story listening, suggesting a novel improvement mechanism of engagement and understanding.
"Our findings underscore the importance of interventions explicitly addressing both parent and child reading engagement, including awareness and reduction of distractions such as cellphones, which were the most common preventable barrier that we observed," Hutton said.
Children who exhibited greater interest in the narrative showed increased activation in right-sided cerebellar areas of the brain, thought to support cognitive skill acquisition and refinement via connection to language, association and executive function areas.
Inputs from IANS