Brain connectivity in children is increased by the time they spend reading books and decreased by the length of exposure to screen‐based media

Horowitz-Kraus f, T., & Huttonc, J. (2017). Acta Pediatrica, doi: 10.1111/apa.14176. [IF=2.580].

Aim: This study compared the time spent using screen‐based media or reading on the functional connectivity of the reading‐related brain regions in children aged 8–12.

Methods: We recruited 19 healthy American children from a private school in Cincinnati, USA, in 2015‐6 after advertising the study to parents. The parents completed surveys on how many hours their children spent on independent reading and screen‐based media time, including smartphones, tablets, desktop or laptop computers and television. The children underwent magnetic resonance imaging that assessed their resting‐state connectivity between the left visual word form area, as the seed area, and other brain regions, with screen time and reading time applied as predictors.

Results: Time spent reading was positively correlated with higher functional connectivity between the seed area and left‐sided language, visual and cognitive control regions. In contrast, screen time was related to lower connectivity between the seed area and regions related to language and cognitive control.

Conclusion: Screen time and time spent reading showed different effects on functional connectivity between the visual word form area and language, visual and cognitive control regions of the brain. These findings underscore the importance of children reading to support healthy brain development and literacy and limiting screen time.