TV linked to flabby brains

They don’t call it the boob tube for nothing:  TV viewing time is correlated with  changes in the brain, according to a Japanese study of children between the ages of five and 18. The more kids watch, the more gray matter builds up at the front of the frontal lobe. That’s brain flab, wrote researchers in Cerebral Cortex. It’s linked to lower verbal intelligence.

However, it’s not clear that watching TV caused the changes. Heavy TV viewing may crowd out other activities, such as playing, reading or talking with friends and family.  Perhaps not-so-bright kids are more likely to become TV addicts.

About Joanne


  1. I can’t get to the full study, though I found the abstract online. First, it’s just correlation. The number of subjects was very small–less than 300–for such a wide, sweeping conclusion.

    Grey matter is not “brain flab.” That’s probably just the effect of transmitting research results through newspaper reporters.

    “The more dense the gray matter in a particular region of the brain, the more intelligence or skill the brain’s owner is likely to have. People with unusually high levels of intelligence or unique skills tend to have notably high levels of gray matter in the parts of their brains which correlate to their ability.”

    This could be a question of the tests administered to the subjects. Could the subjects have had lower verbal abilities, but higher spatial ability? Then again, it really was too small a study to make any conclusions.