Child Development

Child Development

Research: Viruses flourish in healthy gut : Get rid of germ-phobia


One more evidence to cure our germ-phobia. Viruses and bacteria are everywhere. They are harmless. They are doing their duties. They are helping and participating in the sustenance of the universe.

Problem is with us. Our crimes of not following routine as per changes in age, season and region. Intellectual errors or प्रज्ञाअपराध as known in the world of Ayurveda, is the root cause of our so called bacterial and viral infection.

In case of children, infections are due to normal errors in their growth. As a parent, we must provide them environment where self-healing becomes quick (Fresh Air, boiled water, Rich organic food, stress-free family life, isolation from noisy environment, exposure to mother nature). Lack of such environment leads to critical situations. Be vigil, cure before it becomes critical. Only cure if self-helping.


Viruses flourish in guts of healthy babies

Bacteria aren’t the only nonhuman invaders to colonize the gut shortly after a baby’s birth. Viruses also set up house there, according to new research atWashington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Bacteria aren’t the only nonhuman invaders to colonize the gut shortly after a baby’s birth. Viruses also set up house there

All together, these invisible residents are thought to play important roles in human health.

The study, published online Sept. 14 in Nature Medicine, reports data from eight healthy infants and is one of the first surveys of viruses that reside in the intestine. The investigators analyzed stool samples to track how the babies’ bacterial gut microbiomes and viromes changed over the first two years of life.

The picture that emerged may be worthy of a wildlife documentary: It includes the discovery of viral strains new to science and suggests a dynamic ecosystem of interacting organisms, including predators and their prey.

“We are just beginning to understand the interplay between all the different types of life within our gut,” said senior author Lori R. Holtz, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics. “They are not stand-alone communities. We also are seeing that the environment of the infant gut is extremely dynamic, which differs from the relative stability that has been shown in adults.”

“We were surprised that right from the beginning quite a diversity of viruses was found in the gut,” said Holtz,

The earliest stool samples were taken at 1-4 days of life, and even at this early time point, Holtz noted, viruses were present.

“We were surprised that right from the beginning quite a diversity of viruses was found in the gut,” said Holtz, also a pediatric gastroenterologist who treats patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “It prompts the question — where do these viruses come from? We don’t know yet whether diet, method of the baby’s delivery or other environmental influences play a role.”

Child Planning and Autism: Prevent at roots

Autism Img src:
Img src:

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life.

Communication skills, mental skills, social skills are all related to मन. Disturbed मन is closely associated with Vayu Prakruti. Typical health problems include headaches, hypertension, dry coughs, sore throats, earaches, anxiety, irregular heart rhythms, muscle spasms, lower back pain, constipation, abdominal gas, diarrhea, nervous stomach, menstrual cramps, premature ejaculation and other sexual dys-functions, arthritis. Most neurological disorders are related to Vata imbalance.

Technological distractions, toxic food, sexual indulgence at early age is turning youth into VATA heavy individuals. So most youth at the age of progeny generation are Vata heavy. So do their children. On top of it, infants receive tons of Toxins in Vaccines. So Apana is always aggravated. This is results in unimagined mental disorders.

Ideally, in newborn, due to their grown requirement, Kapha is predominant over Pitta and Vayu is never predominant.

Prevent at conception
Prevent at conception

Some suggestions for newly wed couples.

1) Be at peace always before you plan for child. No mental agitation of any kind. No office stress. No relation issues. No family quarrels.

2) Be cheerful. Remain more in nature. Cultivate your motherly qualities before you actually become mother and father.

3) Eat more and more Kapha-pradhan food. And less Vayu-pradhan food.

4) Avoid late night movies, parties and have regular sound sleep. Follow same during pregnancies.

5) Processed food, toxins, stale food will aggravate Vayu so avoid it.

All these suggestions to follow at least 6 months before you plan for a baby.

Child Development : Role of Nature



Forest, not urban habitat, is the eternal spring of knowledge. If your city is not blessed by forest near by, if you do not visit forests more often, your children will forever remain aloof from real schooling.

Sensory development can happen best when children spend maximum time with mother nature. There is entire life ahead to learn how to interact with our modern world. Why waste critical childhood?

On top of it, future demands more sensitive and nature-loving generation.Someone needs to take care of havoc created by us 😉.

I imagine an ideal school in our time, where there are no whiteboards, no laptops, no internet for at least half term of the year, spread equally in 12 months, in forest.

What is happening right now? 1-2 day picnic in artificially designed gardens 🙂. That is it about exposure to mother nature! 😀


Role of Eye contacts in parenting

Most parents in this era are occupied , even when they are at home. They hooked to either laptop or mobile or TV. While they are hooked to gadgets, they continue doing conversations with family members, including kids. And then they claim spending good amount of time with family and kids.

When the adult and infant are looking at each other, they are signalling their availability and intention to communicate with each other

Really?What is missing here? Is it quality time?

Eye contact is missing. It is reduced. Major flaw in imparting संस्कार! There is no brain to brain connection! There is no mind-mind connection! Shallow conversations don’t transfer


Eye gazing



Eye contact with your baby helps synchronise your brainwaves

When a parent and infant interact, various aspects of their behaviour can synchronise, including their gaze, emotions and heartrate, but little is known about whether their brain activity also synchronises – and what the consequences of this might be.

Brainwaves reflect the group-level activity of millions of neurons and are involved in information transfer between brain regions. Previous studies have shown that when two adults are talking to each other, communication is more successful if their brainwaves are in synchrony.

Researchers at the Baby-LINC Lab at the University of Cambridge carried out a study to explore whether infants can synchronise their brainwaves to adults too – and whether eye contact might influence this. Their results are published today in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The team examined the brainwave patterns of 36 infants (17 in the first experiment and 19 in the second) using electroencephalography (EEG), which measures patterns of brain electrical activity via electrodes in a skull cap worn by the participants. They compared the infants’ brain activity to that of the adult who was singing nursery rhymes to the infant.

In the first of two experiments, the infant watched a video of an adult as she sang nursery rhymes. First, the adult – whose brainwave patterns had already been recorded – was looking directly at the infant. Then, she turned her head to avert her gaze, while still singing nursery rhymes. Finally, she turned her head away, but her eyes looked directly back at the infant.

As anticipated, the researchers found that infants’ brainwaves were more synchronised to the adults’ when the adult’s gaze met the infant’s, as compared to when her gaze was averted Interestingly, the greatest synchronising effect occurred when the adults’ head was turned away but her eyes still looked directly at the infant. The researchers say this may be because such a gaze appears highly deliberate, and so provides a stronger signal to the infant that the adult intends to communicate with her.

In the second experiment, a real adult replaced the video. She only looked either directly at the infant or averted her gaze while singing nursery rhymes. This time, however, her brainwaves could be monitored live to see whether her brainwave patterns were being influenced by the infant’s as well as the other way round.

This time, both infants and adults became more synchronised to each other’s brain activity when mutual eye contact was established. This occurred even though the adult could see the infant at all times, and infants were equally interested in looking at the adult even when she looked away. The researchers say that this shows that brainwave synchronisation isn’t just due to seeing a face or finding something interesting, but about sharing an intention to communicate.

To measure infants’ intention to communicate, the researcher measured how many ‘vocalisations’ infants made to the experimenter. As predicted, infants made a greater effort to communicate, making more ‘vocalisations’, when the adult made direct eye contact – and individual infants who made longer vocalisations also had higher brainwave synchrony with the adult.

Speaker gaze increases information coupling between infant and adult brains


When infants and adults communicate, they exchange social signals of availability and communicative intention such as eye gaze. Previous research indicates that when communication is successful, close temporal dependencies arise between adult speakers’ and listeners’ neural activity. However, it is not known whether similar neural contingencies exist within adult-infant dyads. Here, we used dual-electroencephalography to assess whether direct gaze increases neural coupling between adults and infants during screen-based and live interactions. In Experiment 1 (N=17), infants viewed videos of an adult who was singing nursery rhymes with (a) Direct gaze (looking forward); (b) Indirect gaze (head and eyes averted by 20 degrees); or (c) Direct-Oblique gaze (head averted but eyes orientated forward). In Experiment 2 (N=19), infants viewed the same adult in a live context, singing with Direct or Indirect gaze. Gaze-related changes in adult-infant neural network connectivity were measured using Partial Directed Coherence. Across both experiments, the adult had a significant (Granger)-causal influence on infants’ neural activity, which was stronger during Direct and Direct-Oblique gaze relative to Indirect gaze. During live interactions, infants also influenced the adult more during Direct than Indirect gaze. Further, infants vocalised more frequently during live Direct gaze, and individual infants who vocalized longer also elicited stronger synchronisation from the adult. These results demonstrate that direct gaze strengthens bi-directional adult-infant neural connectivity during communication. Thus, ostensive social signals could act to bring brains into mutual temporal alignment, creating a joint-networked state that is structured to facilitate information transfer during early communication and learning.

Infants, Sleep and Samadhi

I never wake up / wake up someone before 100 minutes from sleeping time. Let there be at least 1 cycle completed.

People often feel amazed when leaders like Modi ji work tirelessly with less sleep. The reason being is efficient management of REM sleep. Or rather sleep slots of 90 minutes.

If you sleep for 3 hrs (2 90 minutes slots) and little more. You can be better regains and fresh compare to someone sleeping 8- 9 hours without managing 90 minutes slots (Deep sleep + Rem sleep cycles)


Many of us strives to realize the state of Samadhi while in awake state but all efforts are futile without following the regime.

Only possible for all type, Kaliyugi glimpse of being connected with the source, supreme consciousness, is sleep. Specific REM sleep. If you have sound sleep, if you know art of sleeping then REM slot is the period when you may have opportunity to realize the self. Provided you have good enough clean mind. If the mind is not clean from all types of lusts (greed, arrogance, fame the 12 mental stool -shared in past), it is difficult to achieve. Eventhough, REM is critical sleep period.


Kids below 5 are God personified (until they develop Ego. Nowadays, it happens very early. Around 3) . They remain in REM state for longer during sleep. Since they have longer sleep span, they experience more REM states in one night compare to adults.

One suggestion I always give to fellow young parents of infants and toddler is: NEVER EVER COMPROMISE Child’s sleep! Sleep is their growth accelerating state. Sleep is their medicine. Since they are in rapid growth stage, maximum cellular changes happen. During sleep, this process is regularized. Sleep is when they form new memories. Sleep is when they learn new concepts. Sleep when they grow. So, zero tolerance for sleep.

Most of kid’s sleep is REM sleep. Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep, REMS) is a unique phase of mammalian sleep characterized by random movement of the eyes, low muscle tonethroughout the body, and the propensity of the sleeper to dream vividly.

A newborn baby spends more than 80% of total sleep time in REM. Infants spend more time in higher REM sleep than adults. The proportion of REM sleep then decreases significantly in childhood.

Usually, REM sleep happens 90 minutes after you fall asleep. The first period of REM typically lasts 10 minutes. Each of your later REM stages gets longer, and the final one may last up to an hour. Your heart rate and breathing quickens.
As per research [1],

“REM sleep acts like the chemical developer in old-fashioned photography to make traces of experience more permanent and focused in the brain,”
“Experience is fragile,” he said. “These traces tend to vanish without REM sleep and the brain basically forgets what it saw.”


Frank said young brains, including those of human children, go through critical periods of plasticity – or remodeling – when vision, speech, language, motor skills, social skills and other higher cognitive functions are developed.

The study suggests that during these periods, REM sleep helps growing brains adjust the strength or number of their neuronal connections to match the input they receive from their environment, he said.

My suggestions to parents (based on my parenting and sleep management experience so far)

1) SLEEP first. All your adult activities (TV, Mobile, Whatsapp, Work, Fun, Movies, Marriages) can wait, SLEEP cannot wait.
2) Avoid travelling as much as possible for first 5 years. Let kid enjoy sound sleep in his/her daily sleeping room. No frequent changes.
3) Try to reach home before Kid’s regular sleep time.
4) From age 0 to age 20 – Avoid all stimulants like antidepressant medicines, steroid, alcohol, smoking, high sugary diet (Imagine teens addicts! Critical REM compromise! )
5) Avoid brain stimulant medications for child
6) Sleep must accompanied by parent.


REM sleep critical for young brains; medication interferes

REM sleep critical for young brains; medication interferes

Domestic Violence and Parenting



Domestic violence at home, quarrel in front of kids, verbal shouting on phone – they all shape your kid’s mental sphere. Avoid all severe verbal exchanges! Not even when kids are sleeping! Not even when they are at school! They are intelligent and sensitive enough to detect and grasp family stress! And when it goes beyond kid’s stress handling capacity, they fall sick.

And forget scolding kids below 10! They are not mature enough for you so called disciplined life!

Once you are parent, you must make sure cheerful and healthy home environment! 🙂 I have seen many parents of my age utterly careless about this.

Watch your words and actions in front of kids below 12! Does not matter, your kid or anyone’s. No violence.

Generation of Spiritually empty-bellied children



Spiritually empty-bellied child is just little better than unfortunate Autistic child or malnourished child. Their miseries in later life would be unbearable for them as well as Society.

Instead of initiating these innocent kids to higher motives of the life, they are succumbed to narcissist type mental disorders very early.

Fashion shows. Dance shows. All in name of personality development! 😀 Biggest possible irony of child development!

Journey must start from within instead outside.

Bottom up approach (brick by brick, build) and not the top down (destruct, realize and repair mind)

Train your child to seat with scriptures. Do not hamper their spiritual growth for the sake of your modern and atheist delusion.

To begin with, for 3-4 years old (Pre-KG), it is good idea to introduce Devas and Asuras concept to them by visual introduction to Hindu Deities, Asuras, Festivals through videos, art and crafts.

Facilitate them to recognize basic patterns and conventions about deities. To not to disturb their short attention span, use more colors and visuals. Using visuals only. No chanting, no memorization. (If they pick up chanting by mimicking you, it is great! But don’t force before Upanayan age)

So, whether your child goes to International School or Govt. School in slum of metro, State board, Central board, whatever; do introduce them gradually to Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Purana. Don’t worry about bread-earning skills, they are easy to pick up!

First 100 days, Sanskar and Gut Immunity

First 100 days (~4 months) are critical. We Indians only do निष्क्रमण संस्कार after 100 days. After 100 days in home, we take out child and introduce outer univese, The Sun, The moon, Trees, River, Lake and of course relatives.

निष्क्रमण संस्कार इस संस्कार का फल विद्वानों ने आयु की वृद्धि बताया है- निष्क्रमणादायुषो वृद्धिरप्युद्दिष्टा मनीषिभि:।ये संस्कार शिशु के जन्म के चौथे चा छठे महीने में किया जाता है। सूर्य तथा चंद्रमा आदि देवताओं का पूजन कर शिशु को उनके दर्शन कराना इस संस्कार की मुख्य प्रक्रिया है। हमारा शरीर पृथ्वी, जल, अग्नि, वायु और आकाश, जिन्हें पंचभूत कहा जाता है, से बना है। इसलिए पिता इस संस्कार में इन देवताओं से बच्चे के कल्याण की प्रार्थना करते हैं।

जन्म के चौथे मास में निष्क्रमण-संस्कार होता है। जब बच्चे का ज्ञान और कर्मेन्द्रियां सशक्त होकर धूप, वायु आदि को सहने योग्य बन जाती हैं। सूर्य तथा चंद्रादि देवताओं का पूजन करके बच्चे को सूर्य, चंद्र आदि के दर्शन करना इस संस्कार की मुख्य प्रक्रिया है।
यूंकि बच्चे का शरीर पृथ्वी, जल, तेज, वायु तथा आकाश से बनता है, इसलिए बच्चे का पिता इस संस्कार के अंतर्गत आकाश आदि पंचभूतों के अधिष्ठाता देवताओं से बच्चे के कल्याण की कामना करते हुए कहता है-
शिवे ते स्वां द्यावापृथिवी असंतापे अभिश्रियो।
शं ते सूर्य आ तपतुशं वातो वातु ते ह्रदे।
शिवा अभि क्षरन्तु त्वापो दिव्या पयस्वती:।।

अर्थात् हे बालक! तेरे निष्क्रमण के समय द्युलोक तçाा पृथिवीलोक, कल्याणकारी सुखद एवं शोभास्पद हों। सूर्य तेरे लिए कल्याणकारी प्रकाश करें। तेरे ह्रदय में स्वच्छ कल्याणकारी वायु का संचरण हो। दिव्य जल वाली गंगा-यमुना आदि नदियां तेरे लिए निर्मल स्वादिष्ट जल का बहन करें। (via

Nishkraman Sanskar
Nishkraman Sanskar

The first 100 days are crucial.

During this 100 days, child is groomed in known प्राणिक signatures of mother and other family members. No strangers please. Read Man is known by the company he keeps : We all have individual microbial cloud to know more. This helps child to acquire only known healthy familiar bacteria!

So primitive that they keep Desi Gau’s gobar and mutra at all Sanskar ceremonies. So that their infants get Gau mata’s blessings and build foundation of healthy प्राणमय शरीर.
“And our study emphasises that in that first 100 days the structure of the gut microbiome seems to be very important in influencing the immune responses that cause or protect us from asthma.”
Oh Hindus? So primitive they are! They know very well how to avoid Asthama and other immune disorders ! So primitive and fanatic. 🙂

Reclaim and revive dharma!


Children exposed to 4 key bacteria are less likely to develop asthma, study finds

Children who acquire four kinds of gut bacteria in the first three months of their lives can be protected from developing asthma, according to new research.

The four bacteria, called FLVR (Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia), are naturally acquired by most babies through exposure in their home surroundings. However, some infants miss out, and it’s those children who are at most risk of developing asthma, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

“And our study emphasises that in that first 100 days the structure of the gut microbiome seems to be very important in influencing the immune responses that cause or protect us from asthma.”

Early infancy microbial and metabolic alterations affect risk of childhood asthma

Asthma is the most prevalent pediatric chronic disease and affects more than 300 million people worldwide. Recent evidence in mice has identified a “critical window” early in life where gut microbial changes (dysbiosis) are most influential in experimental asthma. However, current research has yet to establish whether these changes precede or are involved in human asthma. We compared the gut microbiota of 319 subjects enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study, and show that infants at risk of asthma exhibited transient gut microbial dysbiosis during the first 100 days of life. The relative abundance of the bacterial genera Lachnospira,Veillonella, Faecalibacterium, and Rothia was significantly decreased in children at risk of asthma. This reduction in bacterial taxa was accompanied by reduced levels of fecal acetate and dysregulation of enterohepatic metabolites. Inoculation of germ-free mice with these four bacterial taxa ameliorated airway inflammation in their adult progeny, demonstrating a causal role of these bacterial taxa in averting asthma development. These results enhance the potential for future microbe-based diagnostics and therapies, potentially in the form of probiotics, to prevent the development of asthma and other related allergic diseases in children.

Con Cough Syrup : Ban on popular syrup, too risky for children


I was recently listening well-known pediatrician’s lectures (DR Yashwant amdekar from Mumbai). In one of the lectures, he said “Cough syrup is useless. It never works.”

Now, there is circular by The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging parents and health providers to stop giving codeine, well-known cough syrup, to children!

Sharing old note on different but most abused cough syrup i.e. Dextromethorphan

Cough is Nature’s mechanism to expel what is not meant to be in our lungs. So must we suppress a cough? No! (Except certain conditions) I will share here in future, cough management in children.

PS: Dextromethorphan and codeine, both are antitussive (cough suppressant) drugs but different. Ban is on codeine. However, Dextromethorphan is also ineffective and mere placebo.

Cough Syrup?
Cough Syrup?

Dextromethorphan is an antitussive (cough suppressant) drug. It is most abused drug for dry nocturnal cough in pediatric patients in india and usa as per my pediatrics friends. It is one of the active ingredients in many over-the-counter cold and cough medicines, including generic labels and store brands, Benylin DM, Mucinex DM, Robitussin, NyQuil, Dimetapp, Vicks, Coricidin, Delsym, TheraFlu, and others.

Recent (7 years old! 🙂 ) study paper was discussed in pediatrics conference last week by top pediatricians of the Nation. And I feel it as a welcome sign when my ped doc friends are discussing and sincerely thinking to replace Dextromethorphan by honey. I appreciate their brave baby step.

So many future kids will receive true form healing without side effects of idiotic chemical pharma medicines!

They were stunned when I shared with them that 1 year or more old honey will act like a magic pill! 🙂. They never heard of potency date of the medicine. They were taught expiry dates only 🙂.



AAP Report Says Codeine Too Risky For Kids, Urges Restrictions on Use

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging parents and health providers to stop giving codeine to children, calling for more education about its risks and restrictions on its use in patients under age 18. A new AAP clinical report in the October 2016 issue of Pediatrics, “Codeine: Time to Say `No,’” cites continued use of the drug in pediatric settings despite growing evidence linking the common painkiller to life-threatening or fatal breathing reactions.

An opioid drug used for decades in prescription pain medicines and over-the-counter cough formulas, codeine is converted by the liver into morphine. Because of genetic variability in how quickly an individual’s body breaks down the drug, it provides inadequate relief for some patients while having too strong an effect on others.  Certain individuals, especially children and those with obstructive sleep apnea, are “ultra-rapid metabolizers” and may experience severely slowed breathing rates or even die after taking standard doses of codeine.


Codeine: Time To Say “No”

Codeine has been prescribed to pediatric patients for many decades as both an analgesic and an antitussive agent. Codeine is a prodrug with little inherent pharmacologic activity and must be metabolized in the liver into morphine, which is responsible for codeine’s analgesic effects. However, there is substantial genetic variability in the activity of the responsible hepatic enzyme, CYP2D6, and, as a consequence, individual patient response to codeine varies from no effect to high sensitivity. Drug surveillance has documented the occurrence of unanticipated respiratory depression and death after receiving codeine in children, many of whom have been shown to be ultrarapid metabolizers. Patients with documented or suspected obstructive sleep apnea appear to be at particular risk because of opioid sensitivity, compounding the danger among rapid metabolizers in this group. Recently, various organizations and regulatory bodies, including the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the European Medicines Agency, have promulgated stern warnings regarding the occurrence of adverse effects of codeine in children. These and other groups have or are considering a declaration of a contraindication for the use of codeine for children as either an analgesic or an antitussive. Additional clinical research must extend the understanding of the risks and benefits of both opioid and nonopioid alternatives for orally administered, effective agents for acute and chronic pain.

Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents.



To compare the effects of a single nocturnal dose of buckwheat honey or honey-flavored dextromethorphan (DM) with no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infections.


A survey was administered to parents on 2 consecutive days, first on the day of presentation when no medication had been given the prior evening and then the next day when honey, honey-flavored DM, or no treatment had been given prior to bedtime according to a partially double-blinded randomization scheme.


A single, outpatient, general pediatric practice.


One hundred five children aged 2 to 18 years with upper respiratory tract infections, nocturnal symptoms, and illness duration of 7 days or less.


A single dose of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored DM, or no treatment administered 30 minutes prior to bedtime.


Cough frequency, cough severity, bothersome nature of cough, and child and parent sleep quality.


Significant differences in symptom improvement were detected between treatment groups, with honey consistently scoring the best and no treatment scoring the worst. In paired comparisons, honey was significantly superior to no treatment for cough frequency and the combined score, but DM was not better than no treatment for any outcome. Comparison of honey with DM revealed no significant differences.


In a comparison of honey, DM, and no treatment, parents rated honey most favorably for symptomatic relief of their child’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty due to upper respiratory tract infection. Honey may be a preferable treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection.

Sleep and Rest : Critical Role


SLEEP IS CRITICAL in child development. Sleep deprived children face difficulties in learning.

Babies and young children make giant developmental leaps all of the time. Sometimes, it seems, even overnight they figure out how to recognize certain shapes or what the word “no” means no matter who says it.

But wait! Our parents are selfish. They want their late night entertainment – cricket, movies and talks! So children too develop habit of sleeping at late night.


Sleep deprivation! And all unfortunate learning delays!

Take care of sleep!



From Learning in Infancy to Planning Ahead in Adulthood: Sleep’s Vital Role for Memory

Babies and young children make giant developmental leaps all of the time. Sometimes, it seems, even overnight they figure out how to recognize certain shapes or what the word “no” means no matter who says it. It turns out that making those leaps could be a nap away: New research finds that infants who nap are better able to apply lessons learned to new skills, while preschoolers are better able to retain learned knowledge after napping.

“Sleep plays a crucial role in learning from early in development,” says Rebecca Gómez of the University of Arizona. She will be presenting her new work, which looks specifically at how sleep enables babies and young children to learn language over time, at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) annual meeting in Boston today, as part of a symposium on sleep and memory.

“We want to show that sleep is not just a necessary evil for the organism to stay functional,” says Susanne Diekelmann of the University of Tübingen in Germany who is chairing the symposium. “Sleep is an active state that is essential for the formation of lasting memories.”

A growing body of research shows how memories become reactivated during sleep, and new work is shedding light on exactly when and how memories get stored and reactivated. “Sleep is a highly selective state that preferentially strengthens memories that are relevant for our future behavior,” Diekelmann says. “Sleep can also abstract general rules from single experiences, which helps us to deal more efficiently with similar situations in the future.”

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