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Why some children stick their tongues out to think


There is a very typical custom that many children and adults adopt almost without thinking: biting or biting your tongue to think, concentrate, or do an activity that requires your full attention.

It is common to see them with their tongues sticking out to the side, twisted or looking for their lips without hardly appreciating that they are doing it, well, this simple, everyday and mundane act has an explanation. This is the extraordinary reason why some children stick out their tongues to think.

Every time my young son has to do an activity that requires his full attention, he sticks out his tongue practically without noticing that he is doing it. It is a trait inherited from his father who in turn inherited it from his and this from his mother. And the data we have reaches here. It is a curious gesture that they only perform when they are doing an activity that requires a lot of concentration but, curiously, it is not reading or watching television, but activities that require fine or gross motor coordination. What is the reason for this custom?

In 2000, the Canadian psychologist and neuroanatomist Adele diamond published a study (Close Interrelation of Motor Development and Cognitive Development of Cerebelum and Prefrontal Cortex)in which it revealed that there was a greater relationship than previously thought between the body's motor development and cognitive development. That is, it revealed that motor and cognitive functions were linked in the brain.

Dr. Diamond found that the brain regions involved in the process of language, both to form new words and to perform the act of speaking, including movements that include tongue and face, are related and, in some cases, are the same.

What does this mean? That when we carry out a cognitive process such as paying attention or putting memory into operation, motor functions such as moving a foot, pressing the retractable button of the pen or biting the tongue, can be linked.

What's more, in 2015 a group of researchers published the studySlip of the tongue: Implications for evolution and language develpment. In it, they studied the language tendencies of children and appreciated that some types of tasks related to non-verbal communication, such as stacking pieces, watering, wrapping a gift or drawing, were prone to those who are prone to sticking out their tongues. to concentrate, do it. But, Why stick out your tongue and not cross your fingers?

The tongue is one of the areas with the most nerve endings, in fact, it is the strongest muscle in the entire human body. The tongue contains several types of sensors that inform the brain about what is happening in the mouth and is in constant activity so that the teeth do not bite it and cause damage or to prevent you from swallowing it.

When we are focused, the tongue tends to move inside the mouth sending stimuli to the brain. Some people, adults and children, what they do is pull it aside or bite it, so the brain focuses on the task they want to do and keep the tongue quiet.

That is to say, the tongue has such an intensity of movements, that it is not only activated just to eat or speak. Even when we are not talking, it makes small, almost imperceptible movements. All of this movement provides constant information to the brain to be alert, even when the brain is trying to focus on something else.

Therefore, the main theory that explains why some adults and children bite their tongues to think is that By immobilizing it, they reduce the amount of stimuli so that they do not interfere with their attention and concentration.

Other curiosities associated with biting your tongue to concentrate is that:

- The children tend to do it much more than adults.

- The tongue does not stick out to a greater extent in fine motor tasks such as writing or drawing, but rather faster-paced ones that involve elements of communication with the hands.

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