Cognitive Development and Children’s Health


The issue of cognitive development is a highly complex one and is related to a lot of other fields of study. Thus, the given review of four articles shows that cognitive development may be predetermined by health-related problems like epilepsy, as well as extrinsic factors like the environment, or social factors like stress or bilingualism.

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Mapping the Landscape of Cognitive Development in Children with Epilepsy

The article at hand was written by Kellermann, T. S., Bonilha, L., Lin, J. J., & Hermann, B. P. in 2015. The researchers presume that children who do not suffer from any health-related issues impove their language skills, memory, speed of psychomotor reaction, and executive function gradually, without disruptions. On the contrary, children having epilepsy have substantial problems with cognitive development. It is aggravated by the fact that the impact of epilepsy on the brain is rather a vague sphere of study. The authors’ hypothesis is that children’s epilepsy may interfere with the normal course of cognitive development, which is revealed in distorted interactions of various domains within the cognitive network.

The study investigated 67 girls and 60 boys suffering from epilepsy as compared to 80 healthy children. All the participants were approximately the same age (about 12 years old) and had no significant differences in social status and their parents’ education or intelligence level. The focus group had no other diseases except epilepsy and went to regular schools. The participants with autism and other disorders were excluded from the study. The selected children had to complete 23 cognitive tests, which evaluated their memory, intelligence, language proficiency, reaction speed, etc. Then a matrix was applied to identify the corelation of theircognitive skills. The researchers came to the conclusion that healthy children’s cognitive network featured well-defined modules, whereas children with epilepsy demonstrated chaotic cognitive organization. However, the study was limited by the exclusion of external factors that were equal for both groups. This approach is not new for developmental psychology; however, it may be implemented in further research that will aim at alleviating the impact of the disease on children’s development.

Green Spaces and Cognitive Development in Primary Schoolchildren

The article was written by Dadvand, P., Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J., Esnaola, M., Fornsa, J., Basagaña, X., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., Rivasa, I., Lypez-Vicentea, M., Pascuala, M., Suf, J., Jerrett, M. Querole, X., & Sunyera J. In 2015. The authors hypothesize that primary school children who spend more time in the open and are exposed to green spaces at school and at home increase thereby their cognitive development indicators, which can be proved by performing correlative analysis.

As far as the methods are concerned, the researches analyzed the cognitive skills of 2,593 schoolchildren aging from 7 to 10 years from 36 schools situated in Barcelona. Computer tests were used to assess changes in memory and attention levels every three months. Multi-level modeling was implemented in order to identify how green space may enhance cognitive development.

The results of the study proved the beneficial effect of green space on children. The authors came to the conclusion that regular exposure to greenness reduced inattentiveness and impoved the working memory of the participants. However, the main limitation of the study is that these results could have been achieved by the reduction of air pollution. Thus, further research is necessary in other settings. This study is unique in its attempt to link cognitive development to exposure to a certain space.

Effects of Early Life Stress on Cognitive and Affective Function: an Integrated Review of Human Literature

The article was written by Pechtel, P., & Pizzagalli, D. A. in 2011. The authors’ hypothesis is that early life stress can have negatieve consequences for further cognitive and emotional development. Thus, their goal was to sum up the results of the studies concerning normative development and then use them as a framework for assessing deviations caused by stress.

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The method used in the study is literature review. The authors analyze recent works on brain development and focus on studies that examine negative impact early stress in life has on cognitive and affective functions. All the correctled information is integrated and the findings are compared and discussed.

The results of the review proved that parts of the brain that have prolonged developmental trajectory are considerably affected by early stress with can lead to a number of disfunctions in cognition. However, the authors also conclude that in comparison to distortions of affective functioning that can hardly be fixed, cognitive functions are likely to recover. The limitation of the study is its oversimplified approach to brain fuctions devision. Further research on the topic may include gender-, age-, and region specific consequences of early stress.

The Cognitive Development of Young Dual Language Learners: a Critical Review

The article was written by Barac, R., Bialystok, E., Castro, D. C., & Sanchez, M. In 2014. The authors hypothesize that the proper synthesis of the studies concerning bilingual preschool children’s cognitive abilities could help identify the gaps in theoretical foundation and bridge them. This, in its turn, could clarify what specific methods and stratefies should be applied in educational programs created for bilingual students.

The method used is literature review: online databases were searched and 2657 references were selected. However, after a thorough analysis, only 102 articles were selected by the authors as they corresponded to the purposes of the present study.

The result of the study proved that the significant advantages in congnitive skills development that bilingual children have over monolingual preschool kids. They show quicker reaction and better memory. However, the authors admit that the study is limited by English articles only. Besides, they specify that futher research is necessary to identify non-verbal factors that improve congnitive development.


Barac, R., Bialystok, E., Castro, D. C., & Sanchez, M. (2014). The cognitive development of young dual language learners: A critical review. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(4), 699-714.

Dadvand, P., Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J., Esnaola, M., Fornsa, J., Basagaña, X., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., Rivasa, I., Lypez-Vicentea, M., Pascuala, M., Suf, J., Jerrett, M. Querole, X., & Sunyera J. (2015). Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(26), 7937-7942.

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Kellermann, T. S., Bonilha, L., Lin, J. J., & Hermann, B. P. (2015). Mapping the landscape of cognitive development in children with epilepsy. Cortex, 66, 1-8.

Pechtel, P., & Pizzagalli, D. A. (2011). Effects of early life stress on cognitive and affective function: an integrated review of human literature. Psychopharmacology, 214(1), 55-70.

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