Youngsters Drawn to Sound More Than Pictures

They pay more attention to words so they can develop language skills, study says

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THURSDAY, June 12, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Sound seems to resonate more than pictures when it comes to attracting the attention of young children.

So says an Ohio State University study in the May/June issue of Child Development.

The study found young children preferred and paid more attention to sounds than to visual images when both were presented to them at the same time. Previous studies found that was true in infants, but this is the first study to show similar results in preschoolers, with an average age of 4.

"Adults generally prefer visual information if they have the choice. But if you want to get the attention of young children, sounds are generally more effective than pictures if the sounds and pictures have equal interest," study co-author Vladimir Sloutsky, a professor at the Center for Cognitive Science, says in a news release.

Young children are more attuned to sounds than visuals because the preference for sounds helps them learn language, Sloutsky explains.

While visual scenes are quickly processed by the brain, it takes time to process words and sounds. Words and sounds are also events that pass quickly, while scenes and objects are often stationary.

"So you have these things working against language. If auditory information isn't given some preference, why would toddlers even attend to learning language," Sloutsky says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about hearing.

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, May 2003

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