The 5 senses for kids Foundation Annual Prize of Scientific Research

We know that multi-sensoryity is important. However, it is difficult to study. There are many studies that focus on a single sense. But we know less about the interactions between multiple senses and the neural system.“Prof. Anne Didier.

The 5 Senses for Kids Foundation Annual Prize of Scientific Research aims to encourage this new field of research. We interviewed Professors Anne Didier and Roland Salesse, members of the French Neuroscience Society, to talk about it in detail.

What is the role of the French Neuroscience Society?

Prof. Anne Didier and Roland Salesse: “The French Neuroscience Society is a non-profit scientific association. Its aim is to “promote the development of research in all areas of neuroscience.“It brings together French-speaking researchers in all fields of neuroscience, from the public or private sector, regardless of their nationality.

It facilitates interactions between researchers.

It also aims to promote the dissemination of scientific knowledge for the education and training of young researchers, as well as public information

It organises the Brain Awareness Week in France. This annual event allows the general public to share recent discoveries in the field of neuroscience

Why did 5 Senses For Kids Foundation partner with the French Society for Neuroscience to award a scientific prize?

Pr Anne Didier and Roland Salesse: “For 5 Senses For Kids Foundation, the aim is to encourage research and initiatives on the development of multisensoriality in early childhood. A favourable initial multisensory experience is one of the conditions for the harmonious development of young children

And of course, in this harmonious development, there is the harmonious development of the brain.

This is where neuroscience helps to understand the mechanisms of this development and to promote their realisation. In addition, the French Society for Neuroscience has a wide range of expertise in all neural phenomena to usefully advise 5 Senses For Kids Foundation and assemble a panel of experts to evaluate the research submitted. It can measure the scientific impact of the candidates’ work.

The partnership also allows for the restitution of multisensoriality in relation to the whole development and evolution of the brain not only in early childhood, but throughout life. The French Society for Neuroscience provides this very broad general scientific culture in relation to multisensoriality.

Finally, it is a way for the French Society for Neuroscience to make scientific results known, to promote research and its applications in life. It is a great way to promote scientific discoveries and knowledge in a societal context, in order to contribute to the development of children

It should be noted that over the last 20 years, brain imaging has developed a lot. We can collect data on the functioning of children’s brains, including in utero, which we did not have access to before. We can also follow the eyes of babies (witheye tracking) to see how they explore the world. This allows us to learn more about their cognitive development.”

What is the state of research on multisensoriality?

Prof. Anne Didier and Roland Salesse: “Vision and hearing are the senses favoured by both the human species and Western culture. Scientific knowledge of these senses has inspired research on the others (the number of senses is probably not limited to 5; proprioception, balance, self-awareness…). This is how we saw the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded in 2004 to Linda Buck and Richard Axel for their discovery of olfactory receptors in 1991. The discovery of taste receptors followed 10 years later and the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discovery of touch receptors (ironically, the last award goes to the sense that probably develops first in utero).

Most of this research shows that sensory stimulation is essential for the development of the senses and the brain regions that process sensory information. This development shows important, if not critical, phases in the development of all the senses and their coordination with each other and with higher functions.

We know, for example, that if we deprive the eye of sensory stimulation, during certain phases of development, certain visual skills are permanently lost.

Another example is that we are doing cochlear implants in babies earlier and earlier. Researchers have realised that if we wait, the auditory system develops without sound stimulation and some functions cannot be recovered afterwards.

In her book “Music First”, Claudia Kespy-Yahi also talks about research that shows that children in all countries are born with a very wide frequency range of auditory perception. And then this range eventually narrows according to the frequencies used in the mother tongue.

Finally, coordination between the senses is essential. A remarkable example is the development of language, which requires the coordination of hearing, motor control and cognition.

In everyday life from birth, multisensoriality is also used, for example, to find one’s way around in space (proprioception, vision, balance), to recognise the people around one (sight, hearing, smell), to interact socially (all the senses!), but much remains to be done to understand the underlying cerebral mechanisms and how they are harmoniously implemented during the first months of life

Proprioception is the perception, whether conscious or not, of the position of different parts of the body.
Cochlear implants are devices that record sound and convert it into electrical impulses that are sent directly to the auditory nerve.

What is the aim of the Scientific Prize?

Prof. Anne Didier and Roland Salesse: “Research on development shows the importance of bringing together the ‘right’ physiological conditions, which often depend on the ‘right’ psycho-socio-economic and cultural conditions in the family environment. The role of institutions, particularly day-care centres, is to take this knowledge into account in order to create an environment that is favourable to children’s development and, if necessary, to remedy the impact of a less favourable environment.

A Scientific Prize is of course a reward for research work or educational initiatives. But it also has a media impact that highlights important scientific data. It raises awareness among the public and decision-makers in order to create the right conditions for the success of the the first 1000 days and the first 3000 days.

How does the Scientific Prize work?

To find out the details of the Prize, go to the application page.

It will tell you:

  • What you can win,
  • Who can apply,
  • How the applications will be examined,
  • The deadline for applications.