Credits By: Science Times
Researchers from the United States and Germany have delved into the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) to shed light on the connection between a child’s brain activity during rest and their intelligence later in life. The BEIP study in the early 2000s observed the cognitive development of abandoned children in Romania, comparing those raised in institutional care with those in foster or home care. It revealed that institutionalized children had lower IQ scores at 18.
The latest research establishes a link between brain wave patterns and IQ scores in the same dataset. The scientists found that how a child’s brain behaved during rest, particularly slow-wave activity, could influence their cognitive development over the long term. Slow waves are associated with pruning unnecessary neural connections, optimizing the brain’s efficiency in mental tasks. However, too much or prolonged slow-wave activity due to insufficient emotional support and cognitive stimulation can negatively impact neurocognitive development.
The study, led by the University of Maryland, involved an IQ assessment of 202 18-year-olds from the Bucharest study. The results showed that those with lower IQ scores displayed more slow-wave activity during their toddler years. This correlation suggests that resting brain activity can mediate the effects of institutional rearing and foster care placement.
Researchers note that slow brain waves are sensitive to environmental factors, including poverty or sociocultural disadvantages. This study marks the first time a connection has been made between slow-wave brain activity in childhood and long-term cognitive outcomes in young adulthood. Although more extensive studies are required to confirm this link, neuroscientists hope that one day, brain wave analysis in infancy will enable early identification of children at risk of cognitive difficulties and facilitate targeted interventions for better outcomes in the future.