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Research shows link between better sleep in infancy, later increases in executive function

Stephanie CarlsonA new study published in Child Development by Stephanie Carlson, associate professor in the Institute of Child Development, and her colleagues suggests that infant sleep is related to later increases in executive function. Children who got a greater proportion of their sleep during the night at 12 and 18 months of age performed better on concurrent and later executive function tasks, particularly those involving impulse control. These relations held over and above relations with socioeconomic status, general cognitive ability, and prior executive function.

This research provides new insights about the role of sleep in brain and cognitive development in infancy, suggesting that adequate nighttime sleep in infancy may be essential to fostering the brain development necessary for growth in executive functioning. The research was highlighted in the NY Times Year in Ideas 2009. Visit the Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience (DSCN) lab website to learn more about professor Carlson's research.

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