Among young children who engaged in regular conversation with adults, the researchers found stronger connectivity in brain regions that are critical for language. Image courtesy of Romeo et al, Journal of Neuroscience.
Researchers from MIT monitored parents over a weekend, recording how much they spoke to their children, then scanned the youngsters' brains.
In 1995, a highly influential study revealed that children from higher-income families are exposed to about 30 million more words compared to children from lower-income families.
It has been thought that a child's exposure to language could predict their linguistic and cognitive skills and later academic achievements.
The research, which focused on children aged four to six, highlights the importance of back-and-forth conversations.
"Our findings show that the information highways between the language regions of the brain were stronger in children who took turns talking with their parents, and the greater connectivity held true independent of socioeconomic status", said Dr. Rachel Romeo, postdoctoral research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital and lead author of the study, in an interview with ABC news.
Children who took more turns in back-and-forth conversation with their parents had stronger connections between the brain regions responsible for comprehension and production of speech, and also scored higher on verbal skills tests, the study found.