At present, few scientific data are available regarding the development of cognitive functions in healthy children. For the first three years of our study, we will therefore advance basic research using MRI to primarily investigate brain morphology, brain functions, and the development of cognitive functions in children. At the same time, we will examine which types of lifestyles and family member relationships will enrich a child’s spirit, using questionnaire surveys and cognitive function tests to determine the relationship between cognitive function development in children and the various environmental factors surrounding children today.
As we build a brain database of healthy children, we have been clarifying what is considered normal brain development in children [Ref. 1, 2, 3, 4]. We also identified the brain structures associated with children’s cognitive styles and abilities [Ref. 5, 6]. Furthermore, we’ve shown some evidence that lifestyle can influence a child’s brain structures. One example of this is the correlation between children’s sleep duration and gray matter volume in the hippocampus [Ref. 7, 8].
It is expected that the studies performed by our research division will help complete the basic theory for a new and practical teaching and learning system, which will facilitate children’s sound development and growth, as well as improve their appetite for learning, ability to think logically, their creativity, their intellectual curiosity, and their spirit of inquiry. It is also expected that our study will help clarify the mechanism of developmental disorders by comparing brains having a developmental disorder with the normal brains in our database.
- [Neuroscience-based proposal of a lifestyle preparing children’s brains for sound development]
We propose a lifestyle based on brain science which will set up children’s brains for sound development. To do so, we begin by clarifying the correlation between a child's lifestyle and changes after three years in their brain structures, brain functions, and cognitive abilities. The study will be conducted using our three-year longitudinal database which includes functional MRI, structural MRI, psychological tests, and lifestyle data.
- [Development of a learning system based on age-appropriate brain development]
Using functional MRI we are investigation the volume of age-appropriate gray matter and white matter in the brain. The volume appropriate for a given age is calculated using infant brain structural MRI and easy exercises, such as calculations and memorization. Other cognitive tests are also conducted to identify age-appropriate brain development. The goal of the study is to use these findings to help complete the basic theory for a new and specific teaching and learning system, which will improve children’s appetite for learning, their ability to think logically, their creativity, their intellectual curiosity, and their spirit of inquiry.