How does learning to code affect your child's brain?

The correlation between learning to code, and developing logical and mathematical abilities is clear and well established in academic literature. You can read more about it here. This lineage of research has now evolved to asking - what happens in the brain when they read & write code?

Coding is becoming an increasingly vital skill. As more people learn how to code, neuroscientists are beginning to unlock the mystery behind what happens in people’s brains when they “think in code”.

Code comprehension activates similar parts of the brain as solving math or logical problems

Coding requires the programmer to interpret keywords, variables, functions, and combine them to extract meaning from those statements. The statements are then combined into a mental representation of the entire program that makes intuitive sense.

Researchers MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Studies have studied the brain activity of subjects performing code comprehension tasks using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and found that the code comprehension activates the multiple demand system, which tends to be engaged in cognitively challenging tasks such as solving math of logical problems. Interestingly the multiple demands system is only activated by code comprehension rather than the underlying content problem.

The pattern of brain activation during coding also involves both the the left and right brain hemispheres rather than predominantly left hemisphere during math and logic problems. This raises the possibility that coding also activates the linguistic parts of the right brain, however data here is inconsistent to form any strong conclusions.

Brain activation is similar in a drag and drop interface or a text based coding language like Python

Surprisingly, the brain activation results are consistent between drag-and-drop languages (Lego EV3 / Scratch) and Python! Despite the differences in nature of the coding languages, similar pathways in the brain are triggered.

Teaching drag-and-drop coding to kids has many similar benefits to that of an actual coding language, without going through the frustrations and complexities of syntax. This is great news for parents looking to exposure their younger children to coding.


The Logic Coders is a coding school for kids aged 6-16 in Singapore

Locations: City Square Mall #06-05 / Parkway Centre #13-07

We offer term-time and holiday programs using the Lego EV3 Robotics platform and Python

Learn more at: