University of California Santa Barbara study: Environmental intervention can raise general intelligence, but the effects aren’t permanent

20 Mar

Because of changes in family structure and the fact that many children are now being raised by single parents, who often lack the time or resources to care for them, we as a society must make children and education a priority, even in a time of lack. I know that many of the conservative persuasion will harp on about personal responsibility, yada, yada, yada. Moi promotes birth control and condoms, so don’t harp on that. Fact is children, didn’t ask to be born to any particular parent or set of parents.

Jonathan Cohn reported about an unprecedented experiment which occurred in Romanian orphanages in the New Republic article, The Two Year Window. There are very few experiments involving humans because of ethical considerations.

Nelson had traveled to Romania to take part in a cutting-edge experiment. It was ten years after the fall of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose scheme for increasing the country’s population through bans on birth control and abortion had filled state-run institutions with children their parents couldn’t support. Images from the orphanages had prompted an outpouring of international aid and a rush from parents around the world to adopt the children. But ten years later, the new government remained convinced that the institutions were a good idea—and was still warehousing at least 60,000 kids, some of them born after the old regime’s fall, in facilities where many received almost no meaningful human interaction. With backing from the MacArthur Foundation, and help from a sympathetic Romanian official, Nelson and colleagues from Harvard, Tulane, and the University of Maryland prevailed upon the government to allow them to remove some of the children from the orphanages and place them with foster families. Then, the researchers would observe how they fared over time in comparison with the children still in the orphanages. They would also track a third set of children, who were with their original parents, as a control group.

In the field of child development, this study—now known as the Bucharest Early Intervention Project—was nearly unprecedented. Most such research is performed on animals, because it would be unethical to expose human subjects to neglect or abuse. But here the investigators were taking a group of children out of danger. The orphanages, moreover, provided a sufficiently large sample of kids, all from the same place and all raised in the same miserable conditions. The only variable would be the removal from the institutions, allowing researchers to isolate the effects of neglect on the brain….

Drury, Nelson, and their collaborators are still learning about the orphans. But one upshot of their work is already clear. Childhood adversity can damage the brain as surely as inhaling toxic substances or absorbing a blow to the head can. And after the age of two, much of that damage can be difficult to repair, even for children who go on to receive the nurturing they were denied in their early years. This is a revelation with profound implication—and not just for the Romanian orphans.

APPROXIMATELY SEVEN MILLION American infants, toddlers, and preschoolers get care from somebody other than a relative, whether through organized day care centers or more informal arrangements, according to the Census Bureau. And much of that care is not very good. One widely cited study of child care in four states, by researchers in Colorado, found that only 8 percent of infant care centers were of “good” or “excellent” quality, while 40 percent were “poor.” The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found that three in four infant caregivers provide only minimal cognitive and language stimulation—and that more than half of young children in non-maternal care receive “only some” or “hardly any” positive caregiving. http://www.tnr.com/article/economy/magazine/97268/the-two-year-window?page=0,0&passthru=YzBlNDJmMmRkZTliNDgwZDY4MDhhYmIwMjYyYzhlMjg

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children.

Science Daily reported in IQ and fade-out effect: Environmental intervention can raise general intelligence, but the effects aren’t permanent:

Scientists have long agreed that we humans are a complex combination of our inherited traits and the environments in which we are raised. How the scales tip in one direction or the other, however, is still the subject of much debate.

To better understand the nature versus nurture question, UC Santa Barbara psychologist John Protzko analyzed an existing study to determine whether and how environmental interventions impacted the intelligence levels of low birth weight children.

The key finding: Interventions did raise intelligence levels, but not permanently. When the interventions ended, their effects diminished over time in what psychologists describe as “the fadeout effect.” The research is highlighted in the journal Intelligence.

“Certain environmental interventions can raise general intelligence,” said Protzko, a postdoctoral scholar in the META (Memory, Emotion, Thought, Awareness) Lab in UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. “It’s not just pushing scores around on a test; it’s deep changes to underlying general intelligence. The fadeout effect, however, applies the same way.” Scientists make a distinction between IQ scores, a quantitative measure of intelligence, and general intelligence, which reflects underlying cognitive abilities.

Protzko reviewed the results of the Infant Health and Development Program involving 985 children, all of whom experienced an intense and cognitively demanding environment during the first three years of their lives. Three main interventions had been employed to ameliorate the negative effects of being born at low birth weight.

At age 3, the children were given the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales as a baseline measure of their intelligence. At ages 5 and 8 — at least two years after the interventions had ended — they were again given intelligence tests.

The results showed that the interventions had raised the children’s general intelligence at age 3. However, by age 5 the increases were no longer evident. According to Protzko, this demonstrates that the fadeout effect applies to general intelligence…..                                                                             https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160314151645.htm

Citation:

IQ and fade-out effect: Environmental intervention can raise general intelligence, but the effects aren’t permanent

Date: March 14, 2016

Source: University of California – Santa Barbara

Summary:

A psychologist shows that while environmental intervention can raise general intelligence, the effects aren’t permanent.

Journal Reference:

  1. John Protzko. Does the raising IQ-raising g distinction explain the fadeout effect? Intelligence, 2016; 56: 65 DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2016.02.008

Here is the press release from UC Santa Barbara:

Nature Versus Nurture

A psychologist shows that while environmental intervention can raise general intelligence, the effects aren’t permanent

By Julie Cohen

Monday, March 14, 2016 – 10:15

Santa Barbara, CA

Scientists have long agreed that we humans are a complex combination of our inherited traits and the environments in which we are raised. How the scales tip in one direction or the other, however, is still the subject of much debate.

To better understand the nature versus nurture question, UC Santa Barbara psychologist John Protzko analyzed an existing study to determine whether and how environmental interventions impacted the intelligence levels of low birth weight children.

The key finding: Interventions did raise intelligence levels, but not permanently. When the interventions ended, their effects diminished over time in what psychologists describe as “the fadeout effect.” The research is highlighted in the journal Intelligence.

“Certain environmental interventions can raise general intelligence,” said Protzko, a postdoctoral scholar in the META (Memory, Emotion, Thought, Awareness) Lab in UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. “It’s not just pushing scores around on a test; it’s deep changes to underlying general intelligence. The fadeout effect, however, applies the same way.” Scientists make a distinction between IQ scores, a quantitative measure of intelligence, and general intelligence, which reflects underlying cognitive abilities.

Protzko reviewed the results of the Infant Health and Development Program involving 985 children, all of whom experienced an intense and cognitively demanding environment during the first three years of their lives. Three main interventions had been employed to ameliorate the negative effects of being born at low birth weight.

At age 3, the children were given the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales as a baseline measure of their intelligence. At ages 5 and 8 — at least two years after the interventions had ended — they were again given intelligence tests.

The results showed that the interventions had raised the children’s general intelligence at age 3. However, by age 5 the increases were no longer evident. According to Protzko, this demonstrates that the fadeout effect applies to general intelligence.

He also noted that this difference in intelligence at ages 3 and 5 underscored another issue: causality. One theory regarding the development of intelligence suggests that the trait can be correlated between two ages because there is a causal connection: Intelligence at one age causes intelligence at another age.

“However, my analysis starts to bring evidence to the idea that intelligence may not be the causal factor we suppose it to be from the correlation work — at least not in children,” Protzko explained. “It’s unlikely that given an increase in intelligence, I would live my life any differently than I do right now. This work will have to be done in adults to really pull that apart, but I think that this analysis starts to bring evidence against that idea of causality.”

This is the second of two papers Protzko has published on the fadeout effect. Both highlight the unidirectional reaction model, which suggests that intelligence can adapt to meet increased environmental demands but when those demands are no longer present, it returns to its previous level.

“Raising IQ is not an instance of raising test scores with no concomitant effects on the latent underlying intelligence,” Protzko said. “While both IQ scores and general intelligence can be raised through targeted environmental interventions, any gains are not permanent and fade over time.

Nonetheless, he noted, his analysis doesn’t indicate that interventions aimed at enhancing intellectual development are useless or doomed to fail. “I believe it is still a good thing to intervene and try to change the trajectory for these children,” he said.

Contact Info: 

Julie Cohen
(805) 893-7220
julie.cohen@ucsb.edu

– See more at: http://www.news.ucsb.edu/2016/016561/nature-versus-nurture#sthash.qVhkHruG.dpuf

Moi has never met an illegitimate child, she has met plenty of illegitimate parents. People that are so ill-prepared for the parent role that had they been made responsible for an animal, PETA would picket their house. We are at a point in society where we have to say don’t have children you can’t care for. There is no quick, nor easy fix for the children who start behind in life because they are the product of two other people’s choice, whether an informed choice or not. All parents should seek positive role models for their children. For single mothers who are parenting boys, they must seek positive male role models to be a part of their son’s life. Boys and girls of all ages should think before they procreate and men should give some thought about what it means to be a father before they become baby daddy.

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