More than 20 years ago, psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley discovered what they called the “30 million word gap.” Through family visits, they estimated that children under 4 from lower-income families heard a staggering 30 million fewer words than children from higher-income families. That study was embraced by Hillary Clinton and it spurred a White House conference on the topic, public service announcement campaigns and the creation of at least two outreach organizations. The clear message: Talk to your babies a lot.
But now a team of scientists from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania is questioning whether the quantity of words matters much at all. A study they published last month in the journal Psychological Science found that young 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds who engaged in more conversation at home had more brain activity while they were listening to a story and processing language.
Read the whole story: USNews