Playing with dolls helps children develop empathy.
That's what neuroscientists at Cardiff University in the UK found out in their latest study, published on Thursday (October 1).
The scientists wanted to know what brain areas were active when kids play in different ways.
With neuroimaging technology, the team was able to scan brain activity when children play with dolls versus creative play on a tablet, both by themselves and with playmates.
Here's Dr Sarah Gerson:
"So what we found is that a particular area of the brain that's known to be important for understanding other people and empathy, so understanding other people's emotions, was active when children were playing with dolls and it was active both when children played with dolls with another person, a kind of playmate, and when they played with dolls on their own."
But when the children played on a tablet by themselves, the same social processing brain area wasn't active.
The study was funded by doll manufacturer Mattel - the company behind Barbie dolls and Uno playing cards.
The experiment involved 44 children between the age of 4 to 8.