Researchers send a warning to adults: Children notice everything!

on 07 August 2019
Them and us

Sometimes we need to learn to think like a kid, not so much in the sense of being childish, just in a way that allows us to recapture our youthfulness, to regain that innocence and simplicity that comes from a young and uncomplicated brain  . . . 

This research is a peach because it highlights some important information as to why many issues facing adults, have their roots in their developing years. Although this research does not intend to highlight anything other than the unique way children learn, as opposed to how that changes as we transition into adulthood, it is nonetheless very poignant because the same forces are likely at play. When we are young, our developing brain it taking on a vast amount of information, much of which relates to our nonconscious awareness of what we experience and how the brain encodes that into memories. Some of those memories are explicit/declarative (autobiographical/semantic) memories and the others, implicit/nondeclarative (auto/procedural) memories. If we grow up in a loving, caring, sharing, trusting environment, we will have a very different view and approach to life than if we were brought up in a dangerous, violent, unloving, uncaring and mistrusting one. 

For sure most people do not experience either of these extremes but rather a mix of some elements of both. However, perceptually, I believe that the one common component that allows us to sail past the most challenging aspects of life is the emotion we refer to as love. However, for most of us, love has more of a rhetorical or semantic value than it does an emotional one. But life, like love, is a feeling experience and if we don't feel that feeling, the one referred to as love, then we don't receive its life-giving properties. Love, as a chemical experience in the brain and body, is the precursor to an effective life, everything just seems to work better, we are more calm, relaxed and at peace. Generally speaking ego and pride on nonessential and unproductive emotions, the predicates of neediness, possessiveness and controlling behaviours. Our view of life is often so insular and narrow that we need frequent, if not constant, approval, acceptance and validation. Such low self-esteem and self-worth potentially make us emotionally inept or incompetent. 

Many of the clients I have worked with, over the past 19 years, have traced the roots of their life issues all the way back to their childhood. And even though many of them, as adults, can acknowledge that their parents did love them and often agree with how they were raised etc. this newly found cognitive awareness just cannot surpass the emotional component of how their young, immature and undeveloped brain, processed their experience into memories. Essentially, your life experienced is often dictated by how the brain processed childhood experience into memories. You can read about this in a little more detail here: How our brain develops and changes to experience!

In terms of viewing this from a therapeutic perspective, as opposed to a research question on how the neural processing of children, differs from that of adults. Additionally, I hope I have given a different perspective of how childhood attentional focus can evolve or morph into adult emotional issues that make life challenging!

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little sleep and too little by way of clarity! So, to get or take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious mind's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want to make your life feel better, then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life! 

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here or to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research: 

Adults are really good at paying attention only to what you tell them to -- but children don't ignore anything.  That difference can actually help children do better than adults in some learning situations, a new study suggests.

Researchers surprised adults and 4- and 5-year-old children participating in the study by making information that was irrelevant at the beginning of the experiment suddenly important for a task they had to complete. "Adults had a hard time readjusting because they didn't learn the information they thought wouldn't be important," said Vladimir Sloutsky, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University. "Children, on the other hand, recovered quickly to the new circumstances because they weren't ignoring anything. I'm sure a lot of parents will recognize that tendency of children to notice everything, even when you wish they wouldn't."

Sloutsky conducted the study with Nathaniel Blanco, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Ohio State. Their research was published online in the journal Developmental Psychology and will appear in a future print edition. The results show that children tend to distribute their attention broadly, while adults use selective attention to focus on the information they believe is most important, Sloutsky said. "Distributing attention may be adaptive for young children. By being attentive to everything, they gather more information which helps them learn more," Blanco said. In one study, the researchers had 34 adults and 36 4-year-old children take part in a learning task. They were presented with colourful images of "alien" creatures on a computer that had seven identifiable features, including antennae, head and tail.

Participants were told there were two types of creatures, called Flurps and Jalets, and that they had to figure out which ones were which. One feature was always different on Flurps and Jalets -- for example, the Jalets may have a blue tail and the Flurps an orange tail. In addition, the children and adults were told that most (but not all) of the Flurps had a certain type of feature, such as pink antennae. One of the features was never mentioned in the instructions and it did not differ between the types of creatures. This was what the researchers called the "irrelevant feature." After training, participants were shown a series of images of the creatures on the computer screen and indicated whether each one was a Flurp or a Jalet. But halfway through the experiment, the researchers made an unannounced switch: The irrelevant feature became the feature that would determine whether the creature was a Flurp or a Jalet. This feature, which had been the same for both creatures before the switch, was now different.

After the shift, the adults were more confused than the children were -- they were less likely to learn the importance of the new feature. In contrast, children were quick to realize that the formerly irrelevant feature was now the feature that would always reveal the difference between Flurps and Jalets. Adults tried to use the probabilistic rules (such as "most of the Flurps have pink antennae") to guide their choices after the shift. In this study, adults suffered from "learned inattention," Blanco said. They didn't pay attention to the formerly irrelevant feature because they believed it wouldn't be important. Children as young as those in this study often have difficulty focusing attention in the way that the adults did, Sloutsky said.

"The immediate reason is the immaturity of their pre-frontal cortex," he said. "But we believe that distributing attention broadly also helps them learn more," Sloutsky emphasized that adults have no problem distributing attention broadly if necessary. But in many tasks that adults do every day, selective attention is helpful. "It is clear that for optimal performance at most jobs, selective attention is necessary. But distributed attention might be useful when you're learning something new and need to see everything that is going on." 

Story Source:

Materials provided by Ohio State University. Originally written by Jeff Grabmeie. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Warning to adults: Children notice everything: Kids have a learning advantage in some situations, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2019. <>.