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Is it possible a simple raisin test administered to toddlers could predict their academic achievement and attention issues at age 8?

Rubin, Julia Jäkel, Julia Jäkel erforscht die kognitiven Leistungen von Frühgeborenen im Grundschulalter. Bei Veröffentlichung des Bildmaterials ist als Bildnachweis © RUB, Foto: Schirdewahn zu nennen. .
Julia Jaekel, professor of child and family studies.

According to a joint study from researchers at UT and the University of Warwick, and University of Brighton in the UK, gauging how long a twenty-month-old can wait to pick up a raisin can be linked to what that child’s attention and learning capacity will be at 8 years old.

“This new finding is a key piece in the puzzle of long-term underachievement after preterm birth,” said Julia Jaekel, lead author of the study and UT assistant professor of child and family studies.

In the study, researchers show that preterm toddlers cannot inhibit their behavior and don’t do as well in school as their full-term peers seven years later.

Data were collected as part of the prospective Bavarian Longitudinal Study which began in Germany in 1985 and is still underway. During the study, 558 children born at twenty-six to forty-one weeks gestation were assessed for self-control once they were twenty months old.

The toddlers were given a raisin that was placed under an opaque cup within easy reach. After three training runs, toddlers were asked to wait sixty seconds before they were told they could eat the raisin.

Around age eight, the same children’s attention skills were evaluated by a team of psychologists and pediatricians. Academic achievement—including mathematics, reading and spelling/writing—was assessed utilizing standardized tests.

The findings concluded that the lower the gestational age, the lower a toddler’s inhibitory control—and the more likely those children would have poor attention skills and low academic achievement at eight years old.

“An easy, five-minute raisin game task represents a promising new tool for follow-up assessments to predict attention regulation and learning in preterm and term-born children,” said Dieter Wolke, primary investigator of the Bavarian Longitudinal Study and professor at the University of Warwick. “The results also point to potential innovative avenues to early intervention after preterm birth.”

The study will appear an upcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,