NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Preschool Activity Increases Kids' Brain Power

October 23, 2000

According to a new study, high-quality preschool programs cause changes in brain biology that have been linked to future school success and less criminal behavior.

The report, by neuroscientist Adrian Raine of the University of Southern California, was presented to the Society for Psychophysiological Research. Raine matched 100 three-year-olds with 100 others who had equal measures of brain arousal and altertness.

  • One group got two years of top-notch preschool with mental stimulation, exercise, medical exams and healthy food.
  • The rest attended standard day care.
  • They were tested at age 11, and those in the enriched program showed significantly less slow brain-wave activity, indicating greater mental maturity and alertness.
  • They also showed more brain arousal, which is significant because those with lower brain arousal are far more likely to commit criminal activity by early adulthood.

The study was done on Mauritius, an island east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, with children on the same economic level as poor U.S. children.

Source: Marilyn Elias, "Outstanding Preschool Boosts Brain Activity," USA Today, October 23, 2000.


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