Making snacks stimulates kids’ brains: study

Kyodo News

Parents and children making hotcakes and other snacks together not only satisfy their appetites but also facilitate development of the children’s brains because of a favorable effect on the prefrontal area, according to a study by an academic and a major confectionary maker.

The findings are based on joint research by Ryuta Kawashima, a professor at the Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer of Tohoku University, and Morinaga & Co.

Kawashima focused on the prefrontal area near the forehead for the key role it plays in thinking, creativity, motivation, powers of concentration and the ability to learn and communicate.

Measuring changes in blood flow, he probed the prefrontal area activity of 43 children from kindergarten age through sixth grade as they made hotcakes and other snacks with their parents.

The study found that the prefrontal area became active when the children used devices to mix the dough and roll it out. It was also confirmed that the area reacted strongly to such processes as breaking eggs and decorating with chocolate.

By age bracket, the most active were third- and fourth-graders.

“The area became most active when the children used their fingertips and were excited. The work should neither be too easy or difficult, but cake-making may be a proper challenge level for third- and fourth-graders,” Kawashima said.

He also carried out a survey on about 390 university students aged 20 to 22 and found that those with experience of making snacks with parents when they were children have feelings of happiness stronger when grown up than those without such experiences.