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Kids Not Wired for Slo-Mo

Youngsters' brains better at gauging fast-moving objects, research shows

FRIDAY, May 13, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who think they're going easy on young children when they throw them especially slow balls aren't necessarily pitching to their child's strengths.

Neurological researchers in Canada report that children may have more trouble hitting those soft lobs because their brains aren't wired for slow motion.

"When your throw something slowly to a child, you think you're doing them a favor by trying to be helpful. Slow balls actually appear stationary to a child," McMaster University psychology professor Terri Lewis explained in a prepared statement.

In their research, Lewis and her colleagues found that speeding up pitches actually enabled children to more accurately judge the speed of the ball. There are a number of reasons for this, Lewis said.

"Our brain has very few neurons that deal specifically with slow motion and many neurons that deal with faster motion," she explained. "Even adults are worse at slow speeds than they are at faster speeds. The immature neurons in a child's brain make a child especially poor at judging slow speeds.

"Immaturity disadvantages the few neurons that are responsible for seeing slow speeds more so than the many neurons responsible for seeing faster speeds," Lewis said. "Once the brain develops to maturity, it becomes more adept at handling slow speeds."

The study will appear in the July issue of the journal Vision Research.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about child growth and development.

SOURCE: McMaster University, news release, May 4, 2005
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