In research that gives new meaning to the term "boob tube," a new study has found that watching too much television can actually cause structural damage to a developing child's brain.
The Daily Mail
reports Japanese researchers who studied 276 boys and girls, aged 5 to 18 years, and found the more time they spent viewing TV, the more profound the brain alterations appeared to be.
The participants watched between zero and four hours of television per day, with the average being about two hours. MRI brain scans showed those who spent the most hours in front of the TV had greater amounts of grey matter in regions around the frontopolar cortex — the area at the front of the frontal lobe — linked to lower verbal intelligence.
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The brain scientists, from Tohoku University in the city of Sendai, suggested grey matter is comparable to body weight and that these brain areas need to be "pruned" during childhood in order to operate efficiently.
Unlike learning a new skill, such as playing a musical instrument, watching television does not improve "cognitive functioning" and may in fact have the opposite effect.
"In conclusion, TV viewing is directly or indirectly associated with the neurocognitive development of children," they said. "At least some of the observed associations are not beneficial and guardians of children should consider these effects when children view TV for long periods of time."
The findings were published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.
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