Sunday, July 02, 2006

Links between motor skills and language development in children

A recent study has (again) found a link between motor skills and language development. From the press release:
Youngsters who can lick their lips, blow bubbles and pretend that a building block is a car are most likely to find learning language easy, according to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Psychologists at Lancaster University, led by Dr Katie Alcock, found strong links between these movement, or motor and thinking, or cognitive, skills and children's language abilities.
Speech therapists and pediatricians have known about a link between motor skills and language for some time. In fact, speech therapists use motor skill development games (e.g. the game with the small fish that move around and the minature fishing pole with a magnetic 'hook') in their sessions with children for that reason. It appears to me that the unique bit in this study is probably the correlation between the specific motor skills involving the mouth (i.e. blowing bubbles) and speaking. This make intuitive sense, of course.

So, this is indeed a study result that children can be happy about - chewing bubble gum is good for development!

(Hat tip: ScienceDaily)

PS. As a general point, please remember that finding a link is not the same thing as finding causality. In other words, two things can be related but not caused by each other but instead by something completely different. Statistically discovered "links" can also be due to coincidence if the study is not constructed carefully. More study is usually needed to reach the point where cause and effect are understood.

No comments: