Researchers assigned 4 year olds to watch Spongebob or the slower-paced educational cartoon Caillou for nine minutes, or to draw freely with markers. Immediately after, the kids took mental function tests to see how well they solved problems, followed rules, and remembered what they were told, for example. SpongeBob viewers performed significantly worse than their peers, according to findings published today in Pediatrics. Only 15 percent passed the problem-solving task, for example, compared with 35 percent of Caillou viewers and 70 percent of those who spent time drawing. Fast-paced shows revolving around unrealistic events are likely detrimental because they overstimulate the brain, making it harder to maintain focus, plan, organize, and control inappropriate behaviors, the researchers speculate.