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ERIC Number: ED563293
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 7
Family-Based Training Program Improves Brain Function, Cognition, and Behavior in Lower Socioeconomic Status Preschoolers
Pakulak, Eric; Stevens, Courtney; Bell, Theodore A.; Fanning, Jessica; Klein, Scott; Isbell, Elif; Neville, Helen
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Over the course of several years of research, the authors have employed psychophysics, electrophysiological (ERP) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to study the development and neuroplasticity of the human brain. During this time, they observed that different brain systems and related functions display markedly different degrees or "profiles" of neuroplasticity. Most relevant for the application of research in cognitive neuroscience to the design of education interventions are results showing that some systems are highly modifiable by experience and are dependent on experience but only during particular time periods ("sensitive periods"). In such systems they also observed Systems that are most modifiable (i.e., display more neuroplasticity) display both enhancements in the deaf and blind, and greater vulnerability in those with or at risk for developmental disorders. One system that displays this profile is sustained selective attention. Considerable evidence documents the central role of selective attention in all aspects of learning and memory, and school readiness in particular (for review, see Stevens & Bavelier, 2012). Selective attention is a highly malleable system that is both enhanced in remaining modalities following sensory deprivation, shows deficits in developmental disorders and in typically developing children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds and that can be increased in both typically and non-typically developing children following computerized training (Stevens & Neville, 2009; Stevens, Lauinger, & Neville, 2009; Stevens, et al., 2008). Guided in part by these findings, the authors developed and assessed an eight-week, family-based training program designed to improve lower SES preschool children's academic readiness and, centrally, selective attention. 141 3-5 year-old children enrolled in Head Start (HS) and their parents participated in the current study which took place at the Brain Development Laboratory at the University of Oregon and Head Start sites in Lane County, Oregon. The training program, Parents and Children Making Connections: Highlighting Attention (PCMC-A), included both a child-directed component, as well as a family-based, parent directed component. Parents attended eight weekly, two-hour small-group classes that occurred in the evenings or on weekends at HS sites, and their children participated in concurrent small group training activities. Results show that a program that targets child attention using a family-based model involving children and their parents is highly effective in changing children's neurocognitive function as well as their parents' caregiving behaviors in the relatively short timeframe of eight weeks. The evidence presented here suggests that programs that target multiple pathways, including parents and the home environment, have the potential to narrow the large and growing gap in school readiness and academic achievement between higher and lower SES children. Two figures are appended.
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Oregon
What Works Clearinghouse Reviewed: Meets Evidence Standards without Reservations