Database provides strategies to nurture toddler minds

January 30, 2013

A new data-structure system lead by Steinhardt doctoral candidate John Protzko and supervised by Steinhardt professors Joshua Aronson and Clancy Blair called “Database of Raising Intelligence” seeks to evaluate and compile the most effective ways to raise a child’s intelligence.

The database, launched earlier this month, allows parents to search for recommendations easily. “Database of Raising Intelligence” contains a wide variety of ideas ranging from attending quality preschools to adding fish oil to diets.

By relying on third-party studies, the group evaluates which methods are most effective.

“Only the highest quality randomized trials with agreed upon measures of intelligence are included so we can best understand what works,” said Protzko.

Overall, the database focuses on effective dietary and environmental methods of boosting intelligence. Methods include preschool and interactive reading where parents engage children interactively as they read to them.

“[We] know that intelligence can be developed,” said Aronson. “Now it remains to be seen which methods work best for whom at what stage of development. To do that you need to combine the results from all the available studies,”

Dietary measures suggested include adding Omega-3 fatty acids to the diets of pregnant women. These supplements were found to raise a child’s IQ by more than 3.5 points when taken by their mothers while they were pregnant.

Protzko said the inspiration for the project came to him four years ago, during his first year as a Ph.D. student. He is confident the technology required for the kind of massive pooling of resources the database represents could not have been achieved 15 years ago, and he looks forward to continuing his research.

“It is a massive project that will not only keep me busy for years, but as more information is learned the findings can be updated,” Protzko said. “Some things we thought raise intelligence may turn out to be ineffective, some things we weren’t sure of may turn out to work. It’s a living project in a way.”

A version of this article appeared in the Jan. 30 print edition. Sue Sie Park is a staff writer. Email her at university@nyunews.com.

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