1. ITV Report

Babies and toddlers take part in major UEA study looking at brain development

  • Video report by ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward

Around 150 babies and toddlers in Norfolk have been taking part in a new research programme looking at how our brains develop.

The local children have been undergoing cognitive tests which analyse how they think, remember and pay attention, and how these things change as they get older.

The tests look at speech, learning, play and behaviour and the children wear trackers to measure their sleep and activity.

The study is being led by the University of East Anglia in Norwich and it's hoped that it will enable researchers to identify any potential problems that may arise in later life, such as behavioural issues at school.

The babies and their families were treated to a picnic at UEA on Saturday. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"We can track individual differences in working memory by about four months of age and then look at how children change month by month," Lead researcher Professor John Spencer told ITV News Anglia.

"We can measure these differences in working memory in infancy and data shows they predict school performance 11 years later.

"So, that sets up the idea that if we could understand how working memory works, we could potentially intervene with 'at-risk' kids and improve school outcomes 11 years down the line."

As a thank you, the team at UEA laid on a picnic on campus on Saturday lunchtime for the children and their families involved in the study.

The children are monitored as soon as they enrol on the study, and are then assessed again over the following two years.

The project started in late 2016 and is due to run until 2021.