The purpose of the this study is to examine and describe the way that the developing brain responds to differently paced audiovisual content, specifically through the lens of brain wave activity. Participants, ages 5–10 years old, viewed a clip from a fast-paced film, a slow-paced film, or nothing while undergoing a QEEG. Observations from the data and implications drawn are primarily based on the comparison of the participants’ brain wave activity to a norming database and to that of the other participants.
While the effect of audiovisual media on the brain, and especially developing brains, has been examined before, the specific construct of pacing is one that has received little attention. This study poses the question of how fast-paced audiovisual content, a prominent feature in current screen media, may affect brainwave activity. To answer this question, an experimental design that has not yet been seen in related literature has been presented. Thus, the learning objective here is to consider a novel design and approach to the research question and identify improvements to be made and directions for related research in the future.
Results of this study indicated very different responses to the audiovisual media presented, differing both by the pacing of the content presented and reported ADHD diagnosis. One of the most interesting outcomes of this study was in the comparison of the two participants with reported ADHD diagnosis. The participant with ADHD who watched no audiovisual content showed dysregulation of brainwave activity, as might be expected by the participant profile. The participant with ADHD that watched fast-paced content, however, reflected fairly normalized brainwave activity. One possible explanation for this is that the fast-paced audiovisual content had a similar effect on the brain as stimulant medication, resulting in the normalized functioning observed. Should further research support this hypothesis, then it would be possible to develop new treatment that simulates the effect of stimulant medication that can be delivered by a wider number of practitioners. Thus, the learning objective here would be the potential for new treatment modalities for counselors to use in engaging with clients who are affected by ADHD.
In seeing the differences between the brainwave activity of the participants watching different types of programming, the effect that audiovisual media has on the brain is highlighted. When considering the developing brain, we must consider that anything done to affect change in the brain will utilize the brain's plasticity to create permanent change. It can be reasoned that the over-presentation of fast-paced audiovisual media during the years where the brain is most plastic may ultimately cause the brain to strengthen the pathways that are responsible for seeking new stimulation, resulting in a person who is constantly attending to new stimulus around them in the search for stimulation. While this would not be an overarching explanation for attention problems, it may help in the conceptualization of some cases where certain criteria are met. This conceptualization of some attention problems is one that allows for certain prevention measures to be taken in the early stages of development. Thus, the learning objective here would be a novel approach to psychoeducation for parents to reduce risk factors for attention problems in their children.