Back-and-forth exchanges boost children’s brain response to language

Article Summary:

While the “talk gap” has been a significant indicator of language development of young children, new studies echo the importance of conversational turns in communication. The study indicated that the numbers of conversational turns between children and caretakers accounted for differences in language skills, suggesting that parents should be making an effort to talk “with” their child rather than simply talking “to” them.

Using LENA technology, MIT researchers were able to gather data on the number of words spoken by the child, number of words spoken to the child, and the number of times that the conversation “turned” between caretaker and child. Researchers found that “the conversational turn-taking seems like the thing that makes a difference, regardless of socioeconomic status,” and that all children benefit from interactive conversation. Researchers suggest exploring methods of encouraging conversational turns through specific and targeted suggestions to parents. The journal article can be found here.