Watching too much television can actually cause harmful changes to a child's brain structure, according to a study conducted by researchers from Tohoku University in Japan and published in the journal Cerebral Cortex. The more television watched, the more severe the changes.
"TV viewing is directly or indirectly associated with the neurocognitive development of children," the researchers wrote. "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 researchers conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on the brains of 276 children between the ages of five and 18, evenly split between girls and boys. The children and their caregivers provided detailed information about how much time each child spent watching television per day. The amount of television viewed varied between zero and four hours per day, averaging about two.
The researchers found that the more time that children spent watching television, the more gray matter that they had in the region at the anterior of the frontal lobe known as the frontopolar cortex. And while this might sound like a good thing, higher IQs and higher verbal intelligence have actually been linked with a thinner frontopolar cortex both in this study and in prior ones.
"These areas show developmental cortical thinning during development, and children with superior IQs show the most vigorous cortical thinning in this area," the researchers wrote.brain ] [ television ]