Tag Archives: research

Concordia University study: Long-term benefits of improving your toddler’s memory skills

15 Jan

MedicineNet.com defines working memory in the article, Definition of Working memory:

Working memory is a system for temporarily storing and managing the information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. Working memory is involved in the selection, initiation, and termination of information-processing functions such as encoding, storing, and retrieving data.
One test of working memory is memory span, the number of items, usually words or numbers, that a person can hold onto and recall. In a typical test of memory span, an examiner reads a list of random numbers aloud at about the rate of one number per second. At the end of a sequence, the person being tested is asked to recall the items in order. The average memory span for normal adults is 7 items. http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7143

The University of Pennsylvania researchers studied working memory in a longitudinal study. See, Penn and CHOP Researchers Track Working Memory From Childhood Through Adolescence http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/news/penn-and-chop-researchers-track-working-memory-childhood-through-adolescence

Science Daily reported in Early intervention: New research shows that preschoolers with poor short-term recall are more at risk of dropping out of high school:

If your toddler is a Forgetful Jones, you might want to help boost his or her brainpower sooner rather than later. New research shows that preschoolers who score lower on a memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 12.
“Identifying students who are at risk of eventually dropping out of high school is an important step in preventing this social problem,” says Caroline Fitzpatrick, first author of a study recently published in Intelligence, and a researcher at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre.

She and the study’s other researchers, who are affiliated with the Université Sainte-Anne and Université de Montréal, have suggestions for how parents can help kids improve their memory.

The study examines responses from 1,824 children at age two and a half, and then at three and a half. That data is then compared to the school-related attitudes and results of these children when they hit grade seven.

Results were clear: those that do better on a memory-testing imitation sorting task during toddlerhood are more likely to perform better in school later on — and therefore more likely to stay in school. The imitation sorting task is specifically effective in measuring working memory, which can be compared to a childs mental workspace.

“Our results suggest that early individual differences in working memory may contribute to developmental risk for high school dropout, as calculated from student engagement in school, grade point average and whether or not they previously repeated a year in school,” says Fitzpatrick.

“When taken together, those factors can identify which 12 year olds are likely to fail to complete high school by the age of 21.”
Help at home

“Preschoolers can engage in pretend play with other children to help them practise their working memory, since this activity involves remembering their own roles and the roles of others,” says Linda Pagani of the Université de Montréal, co-senior author.
“Encouraging mindfulness in children by helping them focus on their moment-to-moment experiences also has a positive effect on working memory….” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160112125425.htm

Citation:

Long-term benefits of improving your toddler’s memory skills
Early intervention: New research shows that preschoolers with poor short-term recall are more at risk of dropping out of high school
Date: January 12, 2016

Source: Concordia University

Summary:
Preschoolers who score lower on a memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 12, new research shows. In a new article, the authors offer suggestions for how parents can help kids improve their kid’s memory.

Journal Reference:
1. Caroline Fitzpatrick, Isabelle Archambault, Michel Janosz, Linda S. Pagani. Early childhood working memory forecasts high school dropout risk. Intelligence, 2015; 53: 160 DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2015.10.002

Here is the press release from Concordia University:

The long-term benefits of improving your toddler’s memory skills

Early intervention: a researcher at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre finds that preschoolers with poor short-term recall are more at risk of dropping out of high school

Montreal, January 12, 2016 — If your toddler is a Forgetful Jones, you might want to help boost his or her brainpower sooner rather than later. New research shows that preschoolers who score lower on a memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 12.

“Identifying students who are at risk of eventually dropping out of high school is an important step in preventing this social problem,” says Caroline Fitzpatrick, first author of a study recently published in Intelligence, and a researcher at Concordia’sPERFORM Centre.
She and the study’s other researchers, who are affiliated with the Université Sainte-Anne and Université de Montréal, have suggestions for how parents can help kids improve their memory.

The study examines responses from 1,824 children at age two and a half, and then at three and a half. That data is then compared to the school-related attitudes and results of these children when they hit grade seven.

Results were clear: those that do better on a memory-testing imitation sorting task during toddlerhood are more likely to perform better in school later on — and therefore more likely to stay in school. The imitation sorting task is specifically effective in measuring working memory, which can be compared to a childs mental workspace.

“Our results suggest that early individual differences in working memory may contribute to developmental risk for high school dropout, as calculated from student engagement in school, grade point average and whether or not they previously repeated a year in school,” says Fitzpatrick.

“When taken together, those factors can identify which 12 year olds are likely to fail to complete high school by the age of 21.”
Help at home

“Preschoolers can engage in pretend play with other children to help them practise their working memory, since this activity involves remembering their own roles and the roles of others,” says Linda Pagani of the Université de Montréal, co-senior author.
“Encouraging mindfulness in children by helping them focus on their moment-to-moment experiences also has a positive effect on working memory.”

Pagani also notes that breathing exercises and guided meditation can be practised with preschool and elementary school children. In older kids, vigorous aerobic activity such as soccer, basketball and jumping rope have all been shown to have beneficial effects on concentration and recall.

The researchers note that another promising strategy for improving working memory in children is to limit screen time — video games, smartphones, tablets and television — which can undermine cognitive control and take time away from more enriching pursuits.
“Our findings underscore the importance of early intervention,” says Fitzpatick.

“Parents can help their children develop strong working memory skills at home, and this can have a positive impact on school performance later in life.”

Partners in research: First author Caroline Fitzpatrick is a researcher at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre and a professor of psychology at Université Sainte-Anne. Co-senior author Linda Pagani is a professor at the École de Psychoéducation at the Université de Montréal and a researcher at the Centre de recherche du CHU Sainte-Justine. The study was conducted and supported by the Groupe de recherche sur les environnements scolaires.

Source
Cléa Desjardins
Senior Advisor
Media Relations
514-848-2424 ext. 5068
clea.desjardins@concordia.ca
@CleaDesjardins

Parents can help foster curious kids.

Justin Coulson writes in the article, Raising smart, curious children:

Parents can do several things that will foster curiosity and a love of learning in their children, and help them grow up intellectually stimulated and successful.
• Model a love of learning. Be seen reading, finding answers, and discovering things yourself. Your children will watch and learn from you.
• Embrace the motto “we try new things”. Whether it is a new meal, a new sport, a new holiday destination, or a new way of cleaning the house, let your children know that you want to try new things and discover things you previously did not know much about.
• Teach your children to find answers. When your children ask you a question, rather than answering them directly encourage them to find out for themselves. Point them to references, the Internet, or other useful sources.
• Ask questions. If your child is curious about something, find out why. Encourage discussion. Find out what s/he knows already. When your child makes a statement (about anything) you can ask “why” and have an interesting conversation. Your demonstration of curiosity can be a terrific example to your children
• Be willing to talk. It is often easy for a parent to say “I’ll tell you later”, or “Not now, I’m busy.” Such responses will dampen the enthusiasm and curiosity a child has for a subject. Be being available, your child will be able to pursue a love of learning and all you have to do is facilitate it.
• Provide tools for learning by visiting the library, buying books from the shops, and having access to the Internet available for appropriate learning activities.
• Eliminate the use of rewards for learning. Research shows that the more we reward someone for a task, the less interested they become in the task. When rewards are offered, people generally become more interested in the reward than in the process required to obtain the reward. Instead, encourage curiosity for its own sake….. http://www.kidspot.com.au/schoolzone/Study-tips-Raising-smart-curious-children+4165+304+article.htm

Education is a partnership and parents must help educators foster curiosity in children.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
Albert Einstein

Resources:

How Can Teachers Foster Curiosity?                                                                             http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/06/04/33shonstrom.h33.html

How to Stimulate Curiosity
How to Stimulate Curiosity

Six ways to build greater curiosity in students
http://edge.ascd.org/blogpost/six-ways-to-build-greater-curiosity-in-students

How to Ignite Intellectual Curiosity in Students
http://www.edutopia.org/blog/igniting-student-curiousity-inquiry-method

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American Academy of Pediatrics opposes drug testing in schools

5 Apr

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs? http://archives.drugabuse.gov/Published_Articles/Sally.html The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence lists Signs and Symptoms:

1. Physical and health warning signs of drug abuse
• Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
• Frequent nosebleeds–could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine).
• Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
• Seizures without a history of epilepsy.
• Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
• Injuries/accidents and person won’t or can’t tell you how they got hurt.
• Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
• Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.

2. Behavioral signs of drug abuse
• Drop in attendance and performance at work or school; loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise; decreased motivation.
• Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.
• Unusual or unexplained need for money or financial problems; borrowing or stealing; missing money or valuables.
• Silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
• Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
• Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities).

3. Psychological warning signs of drug abuse
• Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
• Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
• Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
• Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appearing lethargic or “spaced out.”
• Appearing fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.
Signs and symptoms of Drug Dependence:
Drug dependence involves all the symptoms of drug abuse, but also involves another element: physical dependence.
1. Tolerance: Tolerance means that, over time, you need more drugs to feel the same effects. Do they use more drugs now than they used before? Do they use more drugs than other people without showing obvious signs of intoxication?
2. Withdrawal: As the effect of the drugs wear off, the person may experience withdrawal symptoms: anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting; insomnia; depression; irritability; fatigue or loss of appetite and headaches. Do they use drugs to steady the nerves, stop the shakes in the morning? Drug use to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms is a sign of addiction.
In severe cases, withdrawal from drugs can be life-threatening and involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation. These symptoms can be dangerous and should be managed by a physician specifically trained and experienced in dealing with addiction.
3. Loss of Control: Using more drugs than they wanted to, for longer than they intended, or despite telling themselves that they wouldn’t do it this time.
4. Desire to Stop, But Can’t: They have a persistent desire to cut down or stop their drug use, but all efforts to stop and stay stopped, have been unsuccessful.
5. Neglecting Other Activities: They are spending less time on activities that used to be important to them (hanging out with family and friends, exercising or going to the gym, pursuing hobbies or other interests) because of the use of drugs.
6. Drugs Take Up Greater Time, Energy and Focus: They spend a lot of time using drugs, thinking about it, or recovering from its effects. They have few, if any, interests, social or community involvements that don’t revolve around the use of drugs.
7. Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences: They continue to use drugs even though they know it’s causing problems. As an example, person may realize that their drug use is interfering with ability to do their job, is damaging their marriage, making problems worse, or causing health problems, but they continue to use…. https://ncadd.org/learn-about-drugs/signs-and-symptoms

Remember, these are very general signs, specific drugs, narcotics, and other substances may have different signs, it is important to know the specific signs.

Kathryn Doyle of Reuters wrote in Experts caution against random drug testing in schools:

Schools should not be using random drug tests to catch or deter drug abusers, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises in an updated policy statement.

The Academy recommends against school-based “suspicionless” drug testing in the new issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Identifying kids who use drugs and entering them into treatment programs should be a top priority, but there is little evidence that random drug testing helps accomplish this, said Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the adolescent substance abuse program at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the new policy statement…

Scientifically, the best way to test the value of random drug tests would be to put some kids into a drug testing program and others not, in a single school, but practically, that is difficult to accomplish. Instead, researchers have compared schools with drug testing programs to similar schools without them – and found mixed results.

One study did find a short-term reduction in kids’ self-reported drug use at a school with random testing, but the kids were followed for a relatively short period and reductions in use applied only to the drugs included in the testing. This is a problem since most drug testing panels do not include alcohol, Levy said.
“It’s possible that you do get some prevention out of these programs, but on the other hand it seems very expensive, very invasive, and has pretty limited results,” she said.

Adolescent drug use is usually sporadic, so even a kid who does use illegal substances may easily pass a random annual test and then feel comfortable to use freely for the rest of the year, she said.

Drug tests can result in false positives, and even a true positive says nothing about frequency or quantity of drug use, according to Ken C. Winters of the psychiatry department at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, who is not in the AAP.
http://newsdaily.com/2015/03/experts-caution-against-random-drug-testing-in-schools/#eI8U6EOrbeuGbOZZ.99

Citation:

• From the American Academy of Pediatrics
Adolescent Drug Testing Policies in Schools
1. Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, FAAP,
2. Miriam Schizer, MD, MPH, FAAP,
3. COMMITTEE ON SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Abstract
More than a decade after the US Supreme Court established the legality of school-based drug testing, these programs remain controversial, and the evidence evaluating efficacy and risks is inconclusive. The objective of this technical report is to review the relevant literature that explores the benefits, risks, and costs of these programs.

Here is the AAP statement:

AAP Opposes In School Drug Testing Due to Lack of Evidence
3/30/2015
Drug testing can be useful for pediatricians and other health care providers to assess substance use or mental health disorders in adolescents, but random drug testing in schools is a controversial approach not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

In an updated policy statement and technical report, “Adolescent Drug Testing Policies in Schools,” in the April 2015 Pediatrics (published online March 30), the AAP encourages and supports the efforts of schools to identify and address student substance abuse, but recommends against the use of school-based drug testing programs, often called suspicionless or random drug testing.

Proponents of random drug testing refer to potential advantages such as students avoiding drug use because of the negative consequences associated with having a positive drug test results, while opponents of random drug testing agree that the disadvantages are much greater, and can include deterioration in the student-school relationship, confidentiality of students’ medical records, and mistakes in interpreting drug tests that can result in false-positive results.

The AAP recommends against the use of school-based drug testing programs because of limited evidence of efficacy and potential risks associated with this procedure. Pediatricians support the development of effective substance abuse services in schools, along with appropriate referral policies in place for adolescents struggling with substance abuse disorders.
# # #

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Opposes-In-school-Drug-Testing-Due-to-Lack-of-Evidence.aspx

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (Institute) has some great information about drug testing. In Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Testing in Schools, the Institute discusses drug testing.

Why test teenagers at all?

Teens are especially vulnerable to drug abuse, when the brain and body are still developing. Most teens do not use drugs, but for those who do, it can lead to a wide range of adverse effects on the brain, the body, behavior and health.
Short term: Even a single use of an intoxicating drug can affect a person’s judgment and decisonmaking—resulting in accidents, poor performance in a school or sports activity, unplanned risky behavior, and the risk of overdosing.
Long term: Repeated drug abuse can lead to serious problems, such as poor academic outcomes, mood changes (depending on the drug: depression, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis), and social or family problems caused or worsened by drugs.
Repeated drug use can also lead to the disease of addiction. Studies show that the earlier a teen begins using drugs, the more likely he or she will develop a substance abuse problem or addiction. Conversely, if teens stay away from drugs while in high school, they are less likely to develop a substance abuse problem later in life….
Is random drug testing of students legal?
In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court broadened the authority of public schools to test students for illegal drugs. Voting 5 to 4 in Pottawatomie County v. Earls, the court ruled to allow random drug tests for all middle and high school students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. The ruling greatly expanded the scope of school drug testing, which previously had been allowed only for student athletes.
Just because the U.S. Supreme Court said student drug testing for adolescents in competitive extracurricular activities is constitutional, does that mean it is legal in my city or state?
A school or school district that is interested in adopting a student drug testing program should seek legal expertise so that it complies with all federal, state, and local laws. Individual state constitutions may dictate different legal thresholds for allowing student drug testing. Communities interested in starting student drug testing programs should become familiar with the law in their respective states to ensure proper compliance. http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/drug-testing/faq-drug-testing-in-schools

The primary issue is whether students have privacy rights.

Your Debate.com summarizes the pros and cons of School Drug Testing:

PRO 1
The main purpose of random school drug testing is not to catch kids using drugs, it to keep them from ever using them. Once their using drugs its harder for them to break their addiction. With many employers drug testing its very important for a kid’s future not to use drugs. Drug use is responsible for many crimes. Its worth the inconvenience for all our future.
CON 2
One of the fundamental features of our legal system is that we are presumed innocent of any wrongdoing unless and until the government proves otherwise. Random drug testing of student athletes turns this presumption on its head, telling students that we assume they are using drugs until they prove to the contrary with a urine sample.
CON 3
“If school officials have reason to believe that a particular student is using drugs, they already have the power to require that student to submit to a drug test,” said ACLU-NJ Staff Attorney David Rocah.
CON 4
The constitutional prohibition against “unreasonable” searches also embodies the principle that merely belonging to a certain group is not a sufficient reason for a search, even if many members of that group are suspected of illegal activity. Thus, for example, even if it were true that most men with long hair were drug users, the police would not be free to stop all long haired men and search them for drugs.
PRO 5
Peer pressure is the greatest cause of kids trying drugs. If by testing the athletes or other school leaders, we can get them to say no to drugs, it will be easier for other kids to say no.
CON 6
Some also argue that students who aren’t doing anything wrong have nothing to fear. This ignores the fact that what they fear is not getting caught, but the loss of dignity and trust that the drug test represents. And we should all be afraid of government officials who believe that a righteous cause warrants setting aside bedrock constitutional protections. The lesson that our schools should be teaching is respect for the Constitution and for students’ dignity and privacy, not a willingness to treat cherished constitutional principles as mere platitudes. http://www.youdebate.com/DEBATES/school_drug_testing.HTM

See, What Are the Benefits of Drug Testing?http://www.livestrong.com/article/179407-what-are-the-benefits-of-drug-testing/

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self-esteem.

Resources:

Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base

http://www.crchealth.com/troubled-teenagers/teenage-substance-abuse/adolescent-substance-abuse/signs-drug-use/

Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/drugsofabuse/a/driug_abuse20.htm?r=et

Al-Anon and Alateen

http://al-anon.alateen.org/

National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information

http://www.samhsa.gov/

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a very good booklet for families What is Substance Abuse Treatment?

http://www.samhsa.gov/kap

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a web site for teens and parents that teaches about drug abuse NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse

http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

University of Illinois and Princeton University study: Stereotypes that women are not as brilliant as men result in gender inequity in academia

15 Jan

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader wrote in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening…
While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.
How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.
Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions….http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

Stephanie Castillo reported in the Medical Daily article, Gender Inequality In Academia Stems From Assumption Women Aren’t As Brilliant As Men:

A new study published in the journal Science continues to support the idea gender inequality exists in academia.

According to researchers from the University of Illinois and Princeton University, women are underrepresented in academic fields, such as the sciences, the humanities, social sciences, and math, because of stereotypes. Namely, the idea is that women’s intellectual abilities are inferior to those of men. Cue the eye rolling.

The study surveyed more than 1,800 graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty members across 30 academic disciplines, asking them the qualities required for success in their fields. When it came to the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), as well as the humanities and social sciences, women were underrepresented because of the premium practitioners put on brilliance.

“We’re not saying brilliance — or valuing brilliance — is a bad thing. And we’re not saying women are not brilliant or that being brilliant isn’t helpful to one’s academic career. Our data don’t address that,” Andrei Cimpian, lead study author and psychology professor at Illinois, explained in a press release. “What they suggest is that conveying to your students a belief that brilliance is required for success may have a differential effect on males and females that are looking to pursue careers in your field.”

Cimpian’s explanation held up after he and his team tested for three additional hypotheses regarding female underrepresentation: one, women avoid working long hours; two, it’s harder for women to break into these highly selective fields; and three, men simply outnumber women “in fields that require analytical, systematical reasoning.” Neither of these was able to predict women’s representation in academia as well as brilliance.

But, just because Cimpian’s study didn’t address the idea “women aren’t brilliant” or “being brilliant isn’t helpful” doesn’t mean it’s not a thing. Because if it were true no one is saying or making these assumptions, there would be more women in academia. Cimpian himself said there’s no convincing evidence men and women differ intellectually in ways that would be relevant to their success working in science — it’s mainly the perceived or presumed differences between women and men.

The idea women are “inferior” to men started somewhere, so where should we be looking in order to come up with the solution? One study published in the journal Life Science Education suggested the classroom…http://www.medicaldaily.com/gender-inequality-academia-stems-assumption-women-arent-brilliant-men-317984

Citation:

Science 16 January 2015:
Vol. 347 no. 6219 pp. 262-265
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261375

  • Report

Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines

  1. Sarah-Jane Leslie1,*,,
  2. Andrei Cimpian2,*,,
  3. Meredith Meyer3,
  4. Edward Freeland4

+ Author Affiliations

  1. 1Department of Philosophy, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
  2. 2Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA.
  3. 3Department of Psychology, Otterbein University, Westerville, OH 43081, USA.
  4. 4Survey Research Center, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
  1. *These authors contributed equally to the work.

The gender imbalance in STEM subjects dominates current debates about women’s underrepresentation in academia. However, women are well represented at the Ph.D. level in some sciences and poorly represented in some humanities (e.g., in 2011, 54% of U.S. Ph.D.’s in molecular biology were women versus only 31% in philosophy). We hypothesize that, across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, because women are stereotyped as not possessing such talent. This hypothesis extends to African Americans’ underrepresentation as well, as this group is subject to similar stereotypes. Results from a nationwide survey of academics support our hypothesis (termed the field-specific ability beliefs hypothesis) over three competing hypotheses.

  • Received for publication 17 September 2014.
  • Accepted for publication 25 November 2014.

Related Web Sites

Read the Full Text

The editors suggest the following Related Resources on Science sites

In Science Magazine

  • Perspective Social Science Gender inequality in science
    • Andrew M. Penner

Science 16 January 2015: 234-235.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6219/262.short

Here is the press release from the University of Illinois:

Public Release: 15-Jan-2015 Study supports new explanation of gender gaps in academia

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It isn’t that women don’t want to work long hours or can’t compete in highly selective fields, and it isn’t that they are less analytical than men, researchers report in a study of gender gaps in academia. It appears instead that women are underrepresented in academic fields whose practitioners put a lot of emphasis on the importance of being brilliant – a quality many people assume women lack.

The new findings are reported in the journal Science.

The research, led by University of Illinois psychology professor Andrei Cimpian and Princeton University philosophy professor Sarah-Jane Leslie , focused on a broad swath of academic disciplines, including those in the sciences, the humanities, social sciences and math.

The researchers focused on the culture of different fields, reasoning that stereotypes of women’s inferior intellectual abilities might help explain why women are underrepresented in fields – such as physics or philosophy – that idolize geniuses.

The team surveyed more than 1,800 graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty members in 30 academic disciplines and, among other things, asked them what qualities were required for success in their fields. Across the board, in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (the so-called STEM fields), as well as in the humanities and social sciences, women were found to be underrepresented in those disciplines whose practitioners put a premium on brilliance.

“We’re not saying brilliance – or valuing brilliance – is a bad thing,” Cimpian said. “And we’re not saying women are not brilliant or that being brilliant isn’t helpful to one’s academic career. Our data don’t address that. What they suggest is that conveying to your students a belief that brilliance is required for success may have a differential effect on males and females that are looking to pursue careers in your field.”

The team also tested three other hypotheses that might help explain women’s underrepresentation in some fields: one, that women avoid careers that require them to work long hours; two, that women are less able than men to get into highly selective fields; and three, that women are outnumbered by men in fields that require analytical, systematical reasoning.

“We found that none of these three alternative hypotheses was able to predict women’s representation across the academic spectrum,” Leslie said. “A strong emphasis on brilliance among practitioners of particular fields was the best predictor of women’s underrepresentation in those fields.”

The researchers are still investigating whether women are actively avoiding fields that focus on cultivating brilliant individuals, or if practitioners in those fields are discriminating against women based on their beliefs about women’s aptitudes. A combination of the two is certainly plausible, Cimpian said.

“There is no convincing evidence in the literature that men and women differ intellectually in ways that would be relevant to their success across the entire range of fields we surveyed,” Cimpian said. “So it is most likely that female underrepresentation is not the result of actual differences in intellectual ability – but rather the result of perceived or presumed differences between women and men.”

###

Editor’s notes:

To reach Andrei Cimpian, call 217-333-0852; email acimpian@illinois.edu.

The paper, “Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines” is available to members of the media from scipak@aaas.org.

How classes are taught and how girls and woman are encouraged makes a huge difference in the fields women choose for their education and work.

Phoebe Parke of CNN wrote in the article, Ask the experts: How do we get girls into STEM?

  1. “The toys and games that young girls play with mold their educational and career interests; they create dreams of future careers.” says Andrea Guendelman, co-founder of Developher

  2. “Introduce girls early to role models of other women In STEM” suggests Regina Agyare, founder of Soronko Solutions….

  3. “It’s important to engage girls in STEM at an early age and keep them interested.” adds Patty L. Fagin, PhD, Head of School at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.

  4. “There’s no magic recipe for getting girls into STEM, but we know early and positive exposure makes an impact.” Karen Horting, CEO and Executive Director at the Society of Women Engineers told CNN….

  5. “Start them young.” is Michelle Sun, Founder and CEO of First Code Academy‘s advice….

  6. “I believe one on one mentoring programs with accomplished female STEM professionals will help bring girls in to the STEM field.” says Adeola Shasanya who recently co-founded Afro-Tech Girls and works at the Lagos State Electricity Board as an Electrical Engineering and Renewables Consultant….

  7. Haiyan Zhang, Innovation Director at Lift London, Microsoft Studios believes confidence is key; “Insatiable curiosity and the self confidence to make change in the world — two qualities that are key to instil in the female innovators of the future….

  8. “Women are the future of technology and today’s technology is fun and cool.” says Weili Dai, President and Co-founder of Marvell Technology Group

  9. “Time and again, I hear from women who chose their STEM career because they were inspired by a successful woman who proved it could be done.” adds Suw Charman-Anderson, Founder of Ada Lovelace Day….

  10. “To get more girls in STEM let’s go for collective action…” says Julie Kantor, Chief Partnership Officer at Million Women Mentors

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/27/world/europe/how-to-get-girls/

It is going to take a variety of strategies which include mentoring, exposure to what is now considered nontraditional fields and encouragement of girls and women not only entering nontraditional fields, but staying the course.

Related:

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls

https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

Girls and math phobia

https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers

https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?

https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

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University of California San Francisco study: Dozens of genes associated with autism

29 Oct

The number of children with autism appears to be growing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides statistics on the number of children with autism in the section Data and Statistics:

Prevalence

  • It is estimated that between 1 in 80 and 1 in 240 with an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an ASD. [Read article]

  • ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, yet are on average 4 to 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls.  However, we need more information on some less studied populations and regions around the world. [Read article]

  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with an ASD with an approximate prevalence of 0.6% to over 1%. A recent study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. [Data table ]

  • Approximately 13% of children have a developmental disability, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.  [Read article] http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

In order for children with autism to reach their full potential there must be early diagnosis and treatment.

Science Daily reported in Dozens of genes associated with autism in new research:

Two major genetic studies of autism, led in part by UC San Francisco scientists and involving more than 50 laboratories worldwide, have newly implicated dozens of genes in the disorder. The research shows that rare mutations in these genes affect communication networks in the brain and compromise fundamental biological mechanisms that govern whether, when, and how genes are activated overall.

The two new studies, published in the advance online edition of Nature on October 29, 2014, tied mutations in more than 100 genes to autism. Sixty of these genes met a “high-confidence” threshold indicating that there is a greater than 90 percent chance that mutations in those genes contribute to autism risk.

The majority of the mutations identified in the new studies are de novo (Latin for “afresh”) mutations, meaning they are not present in unaffected parents’ genomes but arise spontaneously in a single sperm or egg cell just prior to conception of a child.

The genes implicated in the new studies fall into three broad classes: they are involved in the formation and function of synapses, which are sites of nerve-cell communication in the brain; they regulate, via a process called transcription, how the instructions in other genes are relayed to the protein-making machinery in cells; and they affect how DNA is wound up and packed into cells in a structure known as chromatin. Because modifications of chromatin structure are known to lead to changes in how genes are expressed, mutations that alter chromatin, like those that affect transcription, would be expected to affect the activity of many genes.

One of the new Nature studies made use of data from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), a permanent repository of DNA samples from nearly 3,000 families created by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Each SSC family has one child affected with autism, parents unaffected by the disorder and, in a large proportion, unaffected siblings. The second study was conducted under the auspices of the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), an initiative supported by the National Institute of Mental Health that allows scientists from around the world to collaborate on large genomic studies that couldn’t be done by individual labs.

“Before these studies, only 11 autism genes had been identified with high confidence, and we have now more than quadrupled that number,” said Stephan Sanders, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF, co-first author on the SSC study, and co-author on the ASC study. Based on recent trends, Sanders estimates that gene discovery will continue at a quickening pace, with as many as 1,000 genes ultimately associated with autism risk.

“There has been a lot of concern that 1,000 genes means 1,000 different treatments, but I think the news is much brighter than that,” said Matthew W. State, MD, PhD, chair and Oberndorf Family Distinguished Professor in Psychiatry at UCSF. State was co-leader of the Nature study focusing on the SSC and a senior participant in the study organized by the ASC, of which he is a co-founder. ”There is already strong evidence that these mutations converge on a much smaller number key biological functions. We now need to focus on these points of convergence to begin to develop novel treatments….”                                                                                                                            http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141029141223.htm

Citation:

Dozens of genes associated with autism in new research

Date:             October 29, 2014

Source:         University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Summary:

Two major genetic studies of autism, involving more than 50 laboratories worldwide, have newly implicated dozens of genes in the disorder. The research shows that rare mutations in these genes affect communication networks in the brain and compromise fundamental biological mechanisms that govern whether, when, and how genes are activated overall.

Nature | Article

Synaptic, transcriptional and chromatin genes disrupted in autism

Nature

(2014)

doi:10.1038/nature13772

Received

18 May 2014

Accepted

18 August 2014

Published online

29 October 2014

Abstract

  • Abstract•

The genetic architecture of autism spectrum disorder involves the interplay of common and rare variants and their impact on hundreds of genes. Using exome sequencing, here we show that analysis of rare coding variation in 3,871 autism cases and 9,937 ancestry-matched or parental controls implicates 22 autosomal genes at a false discovery rate (FDR) < 0.05, plus a set of 107 autosomal genes strongly enriched for those likely to affect risk (FDR < 0.30). These 107 genes, which show unusual evolutionary constraint against mutations, incur de novo loss-of-function mutations in over 5% of autistic subjects. Many of the genes implicated encode proteins for synaptic formation, transcriptional regulation and chromatin-remodelling pathways. These include voltage-gated ion channels regulating the propagation of action potentials, pacemaking and excitability–transcription coupling, as well as histone-modifying enzymes and chromatin remodellers—most prominently those that mediate post-translational lysine methylation/demethylation modifications of histones.                                                                                   http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13772.html

Here is the press release from the University of California San Francisco:

Dozens of Genes Associated with Autism in New Research

Functions of Newly Identified Genes Converge on a Few Important Biological Processes

By Pete Farley on October 29, 2014 | Email | Print

Two major genetic studies of autism, led in part by UC San Francisco scientists and involving more than 50 laboratories worldwide, have newly implicated dozens of genes in the disorder. The research shows that rare mutations in these genes affect communication networks in the brain and compromise fundamental biological mechanisms that govern whether, when, and how genes are activated overall.

The two new studies, published in the advance online edition of Nature on October 29, 2014, tied mutations in more than 100 genes to autism. Sixty of these genes met a “high-confidence” threshold indicating that there is a greater than 90 percent chance that mutations in those genes contribute to autism risk.

The majority of the mutations identified in the new studies are de novo (Latin for “afresh”) mutations, meaning they are not present in unaffected parents’ genomes but arise spontaneously in a single sperm or egg cell just prior to conception of a child.

The genes implicated in the new studies fall into three broad classes: they are involved in the formation and function of synapses, which are sites of nerve-cell communication in the brain; they regulate, via a process called transcription, how the instructions in other genes are relayed to the protein-making machinery in cells; and they affect how DNA is wound up and packed into cells in a structure known as chromatin. Because modifications of chromatin structure are known to lead to changes in how genes are expressed, mutations that alter chromatin, like those that affect transcription, would be expected to affect the activity of many genes.

One of the new Nature studies made use of data from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), a permanent repository of DNA samples from nearly 3,000 families created by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Each SSC family has one child affected with autism, parents unaffected by the disorder and, in a large proportion, unaffected siblings. The second study was conducted under the auspices of the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), an initiative supported by the National Institute of Mental Health that allows scientists from around the world to collaborate on large genomic studies that couldn’t be done by individual labs.

“Before these studies, only 11 autism genes had been identified with high confidence, and we have now more than quadrupled that number,” said Stephan Sanders, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF, co-first author on the SSC study, and co-author on the ASC study. Based on recent trends, Sanders estimates that gene discovery will continue at a quickening pace, with as many as 1,000 genes ultimately associated with autism risk.

“There has been a lot of concern that 1,000 genes means 1,000 different treatments, but I think the news is much brighter than that,” said Matthew W. State, MD, PhD, chair and Oberndorf Family Distinguished Professor in Psychiatry at UCSF. State was co-leader of the Nature study focusing on the SSC and a senior participant in the study organized by the ASC, of which he is a co-founder. ”There is already strong evidence that these mutations converge on a much smaller number key biological functions. We now need to focus on these points of convergence to begin to develop novel treatments.

Autism, which is marked by deficits in social interaction and language development, as well as by repetitive behaviors and restricted interests, is known to have a strong genetic component. But until a few years ago, genomic research had failed to decisively associate individual genes with the disorder.

The two new studies highlight the factors that have radically changed that picture, State said. One is the advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS), which allows researchers to read each of the “letters” in the DNA code at unprecedented speed. Another is the establishment of the SSC; a 2007 study had suggested that de novo mutations would play a significant role in autism risk, and the SSC was specifically designed to help test that idea by allowing for close comparisons between children with autism and their unaffected parents and siblings. Lastly, collaborative initiatives such as the ASC are enabling teams of researchers around the world to work closely together, pooling their resources to create large datasets with sufficient statistical power to draw valid conclusions.

The large research teams behind each of the two new studies used a form of NGS known as “whole-exome” sequencing, a letter-by-letter analysis of just the portion of the genome that encodes proteins.

In November 2013, a study led by A. Jeremy Willsey, a graduate student in State’s lab, showed that the functional roles of the nine high-confidence autism risk genes that had then been discovered all converged on a single cell type in a particular place in the brain at a particular time during fetal development. Willsey is a co-author on both of the new Nature studies, which State believes will further accelerate our understanding of how the myriad of genes involved in autism affect basic biological pathways in the brain.

“These genes carry really large effects,” State said. “That we now have a bounty of dozens of genes, and a clear path forward to find perhaps hundreds more, provides an incredible foundation for understanding the biology of autism and finding new treatments.”

UCSF is the nation’s leading university exclusively focused on health. Now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as a medical college, UCSF is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

It is imperative that ALL women receive prenatal care particularly poor and those women at risk of difficult pregnancies. Early diagnosis of autism gives the child the best chance of achieving their potential.

Related:

Autism and children of color                                                                                                                                                                                       https://drwilda.com/tag/children-of-color-with-autism/

Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine study: Kids with autism more likely to be bullied                                     https://drwilda.com/2012/09/06/archives-of-pediatrics-and-adolescent-medicine-study-kids-with-autism-more-likely-to-be-bullied/

Father’s age may be linked to Autism and Schizophrenia                                                                                                     https://drwilda.com/2012/08/26/fathers-age-may-be-linked-to-autism-and-schizophrenia/

Chelation treatment for autism might be harmful                                                                                                                                                  https://drwilda.com/2012/12/02/chelation-treatment-for-autism-might-be-harmful/

Journal of American Medical Association study: Folic acid may reduce autism risk                                               https://drwilda.com/tag/folic-acid-in-pregnancy-may-lower-autism-risk/

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University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign study: ADHD kids may benefit with FITKids exercise intervention

21 Oct

Moi wrote in ADHD coaching to improve a child’s education outcome:
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry discusses the primary symptoms of ADHD in the article, What Is ADHD:

The primary symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.
Hyperactive children always seem to be in motion. A child who is hyperactive may move around touching or playing with whatever is around, or talk continually. During story time or school lessons, the child might squirm around, fidget, or get up and move around the room. Some children wiggle their feet or tap their fingers. A teenager or adult who is hyperactive may feel restless and need to stay busy all the time.
Impulsive children often blurt out comments without thinking first. They may often display their emotions without restraint. They may also fail to consider the consequences of their actions. Such children may find it hard to wait in line or take turns. Impulsive teenagers and adults tend to make choices that have a small immediate payoff rather than working toward larger delayed rewards….

ADHD News has a synopsis of the ADHD news     http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/categories/adhd

https://drwilda.com/2012/03/31/adhd-coaching-to-improve-a-childs-education-outcome/

Julia Lawrence of Education News reported about a Quebec study in the article, Study: ADHD Drugs Don’t Improve Academic Performance in Kids:

Shirley S. Wang of The Wall Street Journal writes about one such study published in June which looked at academic outcomes of Quebec students prescribed ADHD drugs like Ritalin and Adderall over a span of 11 years. Researchers concluded that boys who were taking drugs academically underperformed peers with the same symptoms who were not medicated. The working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research also reported that girls who took ADHD drugs had higher incidence of emotional problems than ones who did not.

“The possibility that [medication] won’t help them [in school] needs to be acknowledged and needs to be closely monitored,” says economics professor Janet Currie, an author on the paper and director of the Center for Health & Wellbeing, a health policy institute at Princeton University. Kids may not get the right dose to see sustained benefits, or they may stop taking the medication because side effects or other drawbacks outweigh the benefits, she says.

Why drugs that claim to improve concentration, focus and emotional control don’t lead to academic improvement is a question that has puzzled researchers for some time — and answering the question could be the key to effective ADHD treatment in children. Finding an effective treatment regime could help a lot of kids; according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 2.7 million children currently on ADHD drugs of some kind in the United States alone.

http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/study-adhd-drugs-dont-improve-academic-performance-in-kids/#sthash.HkASci3N.dpuf

This study is in accord with research from Yale University.

Geneva Pittman of Reuters wrote in the article, Be cautious of mind-altering drugs for kids: doctors:

Focusing on stimulants typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, researchers said the number of diagnoses and prescriptions have risen dramatically over the past two decades.

Young people with the disorder clearly benefit from treatment, lead author Dr. William Graf emphasized, but the medicines are increasingly being used by healthy youth who believe they will enhance their concentration and performance in school.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1.7 percent of eighth graders and 7.6 percent of 12th graders have used Adderall, a stimulant, for nonmedical reasons.
Some of those misused medicines are bought on the street or from peers with prescriptions; others may be obtained legally from doctors.

“What we’re saying is that because of the volume of drugs and the incredible increase… the possibility of overdiagnosis and overtreatment is clearly there,” said Graf, from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

In their statement, published in the journal Neurology, he and his colleagues say doctors should not give prescriptions to teens who ask for medication to enhance concentration against their parents’ advice. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/13/us-medications-kids-idUSBRE92C17H20130313

A University of Illinois study indicates that exercise might be an effective therapy.

James Hamlin wrote in the Atlantic article: Exercise Is ADHD Medication:

Physical movement improves mental focus, memory, and cognitive flexibility; new research shows just how critical it is to academic performance.

Mental exercises to build (or rebuild) attention span have shown promise recently as adjuncts or alternatives to amphetamines in addressing symptoms common to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Building cognitive control, to be better able to focus on just one thing, or single-task, might involve regular practice with a specialized video game that reinforces “top-down” cognitive modulation, as was the case in a popular paper in Nature last year. Cool but still notional. More insipid but also more clearly critical to addressing what’s being called the ADHD epidemic is plain old physical activity.

This morning the medical journal Pediatrics published research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. The findings, according to University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues, “demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.” If it seems odd that this is something that still needs support, that’s because it is odd, yes. Physical activity is clearly a high, high-yield investment for all kids, but especially those attentive or hyperactive. This brand of research is still published and written about as though it were a novel finding, in part because exercise programs for kids remain underfunded and underprioritized in many school curricula, even though exercise is clearly integral to maximizing the utility of time spent in class…..                                                                                                                       http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/exercise-seems-to-be-beneficial-to-children/380844/?single_page=true

Citation:

Effects of the FITKids Randomized Controlled Trial on Executive Control and Brain Function

  1. Charles H. Hillman, PhDa,
  2. Matthew B. Pontifex, PhDb,
  3. Darla M. Castelli, PhDc,
  4. Naiman A. Khan, PhD, RDa,
  5. Lauren B. Raine, BSa,
  6. Mark R. Scudder, BSa,
  7. Eric S. Drollette, BSa,
  8. Robert D. Moore, MSa,
  9. Chien-Ting Wu, PhDd, and
  10. Keita Kamijo, PhDe

+ Author Affiliations

1.     aDepartment of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; 2.     bDepartment of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; 3.     cDepartment of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas; 4.     dDepartment of Exercise Science, Schreiner College, Kerrville, Texas; and 5.     eSchool of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of a physical activity (PA) intervention on brain and behavioral indices of executive control in preadolescent children.

METHODS: Two hundred twenty-one children (7–9 years) were randomly assigned to a 9-month afterschool PA program or a wait-list control. In addition to changes in fitness (maximal oxygen consumption), electrical activity in the brain (P3-ERP) and behavioral measures (accuracy, reaction time) of executive control were collected by using tasks that modulated attentional inhibition and cognitive flexibility.

RESULTS: Fitness improved more among intervention participants from pretest to posttest compared with the wait-list control (1.3 mL/kg per minute, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.3 to 2.4; d = 0.34 for group difference in pre-to-post change score). Intervention participants exhibited greater improvements from pretest to posttest in inhibition (3.2%, 95% CI: 0.0 to 6.5; d = 0.27) and cognitive flexibility (4.8%, 95% CI: 1.1 to 8.4; d = 0.35 for group difference in pre-to-post change score) compared with control. Only the intervention group increased attentional resources from pretest to posttest during tasks requiring increased inhibition (1.4 µV, 95% CI: 0.3 to 2.6; d = 0.34) and cognitive flexibility (1.5 µV, 95% CI: 0.6 to 2.5; d = 0.43). Finally, improvements in brain function on the inhibition task (r = 0.22) and performance on the flexibility task correlated with intervention attendance (r = 0.24).

CONCLUSIONS: The intervention enhanced cognitive performance and brain function during tasks requiring greater executive control. These findings demonstrate a causal effect of a PA program on executive control, and provide support for PA for improving childhood cognition and brain health.

Key Words:

  • Accepted July 25, 2014.

After-school exercise program enhances cognition in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds

Date:         September 29, 2014

Source:           University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Summary:

A nine-month-long, randomized controlled trial involving 221 prepubescent children found that those who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day after school saw substantial improvements in their ability to pay attention, avoid distraction and switch between cognitive tasks, researchers report.

Here is the press report from the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign:

After-school exercise program enhances cognition in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds

Email Share

9/29/2014 | Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor | 217-333-5802; diya@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A nine-month-long, randomized controlled trial involving 221 prepubescent children found that those who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day after school saw substantial improvements in their ability to pay attention, avoid distraction and switch between cognitive tasks, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

Fitness, cognitive function and brain function improved in children in the FITKids exercise intervention group, researchers report. | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Half of the study subjects were randomly assigned to the after-school program and the rest were placed on a wait list. All participants underwent cognitive testing and brain imaging before and after the intervention.

“Those in the exercise group received a structured intervention that was designed for the way kids like to move,” said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman, who led the study. “They performed short bouts of exercise interspersed with rest over a two-hour period.”

The intervention, called FITKids, was based on the CATCH exercise program, a research-based health promotion initiative that was initially funded by the National Institutes of Health and now is used by schools and health departments across the U.S.

The children in the FITKids exercise group wore heart-rate monitors and pedometers during the intervention.

“On average, kids’ heart rates corresponded with a moderate-to-vigorous level of exercise intensity, and they averaged about 4,500 steps during the two-hour intervention,” Hillman said. The children were active about 70 minutes per day.

As expected, fitness increased most in the intervention group over the course of the study.

“We saw about a six percent increase in fitness in children in the FITKids intervention group,” Hillman said. Fitness improved less than one percent in the wait-list control group, he said.

Children in the exercise group also demonstrated substantial increases in “attentional inhibition,” a measure of their ability to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. And they improved in “cognitive flexibility,” which involves switching between intellectual tasks while maintaining speed and accuracy. Children in the wait-list control group saw minimal improvements in these measures, in line with what would be expected as a result of normal maturation over the nine months, Hillman said.

“Kids in the intervention group improved two-fold compared to the wait-list kids in terms of their accuracy on cognitive tasks,” he said. “And we found widespread changes in brain function, which relate to the allocation of attention during cognitive tasks and cognitive processing speed. These changes were significantly greater than those exhibited by the wait-list kids.

“Interestingly, the improvements observed in the FITKids intervention were correlated with their attendance rate, such that greater attendance was related to greater change in brain function and cognitive performance,” Hillman said.

The study did not distinguish improvements that were the result of increased fitness from those that might stem from the social interactions, stimulation and engagement the children in the intervention group experienced, Hillman said.

“Other research at Georgia Regents University led by Catherine Davis has actually used social and game-playing as their control group, and showed that the cognitive effects of their physical activity intervention are above-and-beyond those that are gained just through social interactions,” he said.

The FITKids program is designed to get children socially engaged in exercise, which is part of what makes it an effective intervention, Hillman said.

“The fact is that kids are social beings; they perform physical activity in a social environment,” he said. “A big reason why kids participate in a structured sports environment is because they find it fun and they make new friends. And this intervention was designed to meet those needs as well.”

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health funded this research.

Editor’s note: To reach Charles Hillman, call 217-244-2663; email chhillma@illinois.edu.

The paper, “Effects of the FITKids Randomized Controlled Trial on Executive Control and Brain Function,” is available online or from the U. of I. News Bureau.

Physically fit children are not only healthier, but are better able to perform better in school. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Reference Links:

Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Executive Summary

http://edgefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Edge-Foundation-ADHD-Coaching-Research-Report.pdf

Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Full Report

http://edgefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Edge-Foundation-ADHD-Coaching-Research-Report.pdf

ADHD and College Success: A free guide

http://www.edgefoundation.org/howedgehelps/add-2.html

ADHD and ExecutiveFunctioning

http://edgefoundation.org/blog/2010/10/08/the-role-of-adhd-and-your-brains-executive-functions/

Executive Function, ADHD and Academic Outcomes

http://www.helpforld.com/efacoutcomes.pdf

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests

https://drwilda.com/2012/05/08/louisiana-study-fit-children-score-higher-on-standardized-tests/

If you suspect that your child might have ADHD, you should seek an evaluation from a competent professional who has knowledge of this specialized area of medical practice.

Related:

Studies: ADHD drugs don’t necessarily improve academic performance

https://drwilda.com/2013/07/14/studies-adhd-drugs-dont-necessarily-improve-academic-performance/

ADHD coaching to improve a child’s education outcome

https://drwilda.com/2012/03/31/adhd-coaching-to-improve-a-childs-education-outcome/

An ADHD related disorder: ‘Sluggish Cognitive Tempo’

https://drwilda.com/2014/04/12/an-adhd-related-disorder-sluggish-cognitive-tempo/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©

http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©

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American Institutes for Research study: Gender imbalances among stem PhDs

1 Oct

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader writes in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening…
While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.
How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.
Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions….http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in the article, Report Examines Fields With Highest Gender Imbalances Among Ph.D.’s:

The researchers examined gender balances in 135 academic fields: 55 in the so-called STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and 80 non-STEM fields. They determined overrepresentation by comparing whether the gender breakdown of doctoral-degree recipients in a particular field was more skewed than the gender makeup of bachelor’s-degree recipients in that field.
The paper says that the STEM-related fields were slightly less likely than other fields to have an underrepresentation of women with Ph.D.’s.
Among the 55 STEM-related fields, men were overrepresented in 74.5 percent and women were overrepresented in 25.5 percent. Among the other 80 fields, men were overrepresented in 77.5 percent and women were overrepresented in 22.5 percent.
“There is a considerable loss of female candidates between the bachelor’s and doctoral degrees,” Mr. Gillen said in a news release about the findings. “If we want gender equity at the doctoral level, efforts need to be made earlier in students’ academic pathways and sustained throughout their doctoral education.”
Following are the top five fields in which men are overrepresented among doctoral-degree recipients, according to the report:
1. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services
2. Missions/Missionary Studies and Missiology
3. Law
4. Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences, General
5. Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods
Following are the top five fields in which women are overrepresented among doctoral-degree recipients, according to the report:
1. Forestry (Non-STEM)
2. Slavic, Baltic, and Albanian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
3. Forestry (STEM)
4. Fine and Studio Arts
5. Information Science/Studies
Bottom Line: Men are overrepresented in about three-quarters of the fields studied, while women are overrepresented in about one-quarter. Out of the 135 fields analyzed, women were slightly less likely to be underrepresented in STEM fields. http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/report-examines-fields-with-highest-gender-imbalances-among-ph-d-s/87109?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

Here is the article brief:
Moi believes that good and gifted teachers come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and both genders. Teachers are often role models and mentors which is why a diverse teaching profession is desirable.

30 Sep 2014
Brief
Exploring Gender Imbalance Among STEM Doctoral Degree Recipients
Andrew Gillen
Courtney Tanenbaum
Gender imbalance in doctoral education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields raises important questions about the extent to which women experience differential access, encouragement, and opportunity for academic advancement. Through primary school and middle school, girls and boys typically indicate an equal interest and demonstrate equivalent levels of achievement on several science and mathematical indicators, but girls’ interest in pursuing scientific degrees and careers wanes by high school.
Accurately identifying the nature of the imbalance is an important first step in addressing it. The alternate method used in this brief to account for the gender breakdown among undergraduate degree recipients provides a more reliable gauge of gender imbalance at the doctoral level.
Key results from using this alternate method are as follows:
• ——Men are overrepresented in about three quarters of academic fields and women are overrepresented in about one quarter of academic fields.
• STEM fields are slightly more gender-balanced than non-STEM fields.
• Among STEM fields, and often in contrast to conventional wisdom, biological and biomedical sciences and the physical sciences show the greatest overrepresentation of males and engineering was roughly gender-balanced.
This brief is one in a series produced by AIR to promote research, policy, and practice related to broadening the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM doctoral education and the workforce.

Moi believes that good and gifted teachers come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and both genders. Teachers are often role models and mentors which is why a diverse teaching profession is desirable.

Related:

Girls and math phobia https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?
https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning

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Australian study: Frequent marijuana use among those under 17 may result in lower educational achievement

23 Sep

Often children who evidence signs of a substance abuse problem come from homes where there is a substance abuse problem. That problem may be generational. eMedicineHealth lists some of the causes of substance abuse:

Substance Abuse Causes
Use and abuse of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs may begin in childhood or the teen years. Certain risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood to abuse substances.
Factors within a family that influence a child’s early development have been shown to be related to increased risk of drug abuse.
o Chaotic home environment
o Ineffective parenting
o Lack of nurturing and parental attachment
Factors related to a child’s socialization outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse.
o Inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom
o Poor social coping skills
o Poor school performance
o Association with a deviant peer group
o Perception of approval of drug use behavior http://www.emedicinehealth.com/substance_abuse/article_em.htm

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self-esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs? http://archives.drugabuse.gov/Published_Articles/Sally.html

Simon Makin reported in the Scientific American article, Does Marijuana Harm the Brain?

The Claim
Casual cannabis use harms young people’s brains.
The Facts
A study found differences in the brains of users and nonusers, but it did not establish that marijuana use caused the variations or that they had any functional significance.
The Details
Researchers at Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School conducted MRI scans of two groups of 20 young adults ages 18 to 25. One group reported using marijuana at least once a week, smoking 11 joints a week on average, whereas the other had used it less than five times total and not at all during the last year. Neither group had any psychiatric disorders, and the users were psychiatrically assessed as not dependent on the drug.
The study focused on two brain regions involved in processing rewards, the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. These areas create pleasurable experiences of things such as food and sex, as well as the high associated with drugs, and have been shown to change in animals given THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis.
The researchers found that cannabis users had more gray matter density in the left nucleus accumbens and left amygdala, as well as differences in the shape of the left nucleus accumbens and right amygdala. The left nucleus accumbens also tended to be slightly larger in users. They concluded that recreational cannabis use might be associated with abnormalities in the brain’s reward system. News reports have proclaimed that scientists have shown that even casual cannabis use harms young people’s brains.
The Caveats
The most obvious problem with leaping to that conclusion is that the scans were conducted at only one point. This approach can compare the two groups, but it cannot prove cannabis caused any differences between them—or even that the differences represent changes over time. They could be preexisting variations, or cannabis use and brain changes may both be related to a third factor, such as tobacco (although the study did attempt to take levels of smoking into account)…..
Reality Check—Cannabis use has been found to:
• Cause dependence, at some point in their lives, in about 9 percent of people who try it.
• Impair various aspects of cognitive function, particularly memory. Impairments can remain for several days. One study showed that performance returns to nonusers’ levels after 28 days of abstinence, but evidence is mixed about how long the impairments last.
• Potentially reduce the volume of the hippocampus, which is critical for memory—but only after heavy and prolonged use. The evidence linking cognitive impairments to specific brain changes is inconclusive, and the degree to which such changes are reversible is hotly debated. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-marijuana-harm-the-brain/

Science Daily reported a longitudinal study from Australia and New Zealand.

In Frequent cannabis use in adolescence linked with reduced educational attainment, other problems in young adults, Science Daily reported:

Individuals who are daily users of cannabis before age 17 are over 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a degree compared to those who have never used the drug, new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal shows. The large meta-analysis also indicates that daily users of cannabis during adolescence are seven times more likely to attempt suicide, have an 18 times greater chance of cannabis dependence, and are eight times as likely to use other illicit drugs in later life.
“Our findings are particularly timely given that several US states and countries in Latin America have made moves to decriminalize or legalize cannabis, raising the possibility that the drug might become more accessible to young people”, says Richard Mattick, study author and Professor of Drug and Alcohol Studies at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, in Australia.
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug globally and recent statistics have shown that in some countries adolescents are starting cannabis use at a younger age and more adolescents are using cannabis heavily. In England, 4% of 11-15 year olds report cannabis use in the past month, roughly 7% of US high-school seniors are daily or near-daily cannabis users, and in Australia, around 1% of 14-19 year olds are daily users of the drug, whilst 4% use weekly.
In this study, a team of Australian and New Zealand researchers combined individual-level data on up to 3765 participants who used cannabis from three large, long-running longitudinal studies to find out more about the link between the frequency of cannabis use before the age of 17 years (never, less than monthly, monthly or more, weekly or more, or daily) and seven developmental outcomes up to the age of 30 years (completing high school, obtaining a university degree, cannabis dependence, use of other illicit drugs, suicide attempt, depression, and welfare dependence)….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140909192001.htm

Citation:

Frequent cannabis use in adolescence linked with reduced educational attainment, other problems in young adults
Date: September 9, 2014

Source: The Lancet
Summary:
Individuals who are daily users of cannabis before age 17 are over 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a degree compared to those who have never used the drug, new research shows. The large meta-analysis also indicates that daily users of cannabis during adolescence are seven times more likely to attempt suicide, have an 18 times greater chance of cannabis dependence, and are eight times as likely to use other illicit drugs in later life.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.
Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis
Dr Edmund Silins PhD a Corresponding AuthorEmail Address, L John Horwood MSc c, Prof George C Patton MD d g, Prof David M Fergusson PhD c, Craig A Olsson PhD d e g h, Delyse M Hutchinson PhD a, Elizabeth Spry BA d, Prof John W Toumbourou PhD d e, Prof Louisa Degenhardt PhD a d f i, Wendy Swift PhD a, Carolyn Coffey PhD d, Robert J Tait PhD j k, Primrose Letcher PhD g, Prof Jan Copeland PhD b, Richard P Mattick PhD a, for the Cannabis Cohorts Research Consortium†

Summary

Background

Debate continues about the consequences of adolescent cannabis use. Existing data are limited in statistical power to examine rarer outcomes and less common, heavier patterns of cannabis use than those already investigated; furthermore, evidence has a piecemeal approach to reporting of young adult sequelae. We aimed to provide a broad picture of the psychosocial sequelae of adolescent cannabis use.
Methods

We integrated participant-level data from three large, long-running longitudinal studies from Australia and New Zealand: the Australian Temperament Project, the Christchurch Health and Development Study, and the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study. We investigated the association between the maximum frequency of cannabis use before age 17 years (never, less than monthly, monthly or more, weekly or more, or daily) and seven developmental outcomes assessed up to age 30 years (high-school completion, attainment of university degree, cannabis dependence, use of other illicit drugs, suicide attempt, depression, and welfare dependence). The number of participants varied by outcome (N=2537 to N=3765).

Findings

We recorded clear and consistent associations and dose-response relations between the frequency of adolescent cannabis use and all adverse young adult outcomes. After covariate adjustment, compared with individuals who had never used cannabis, those who were daily users before age 17 years had clear reductions in the odds of high-school completion (adjusted odds ratio 0•37, 95% CI 0•20—0•66) and degree attainment (0•38, 0•22—0•66), and substantially increased odds of later cannabis dependence (17•95, 9•44—34•12), use of other illicit drugs (7•80, 4•46—13•63), and suicide attempt (6•83, 2•04—22•90).

Interpretation

Adverse sequelae of adolescent cannabis use are wide ranging and extend into young adulthood. Prevention or delay of cannabis use in adolescence is likely to have broad health and social benefits. Efforts to reform cannabis legislation should be carefully assessed to ensure they reduce adolescent cannabis use and prevent potentially adverse developmental effects.

Funding

Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council.
Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis : The Lancet Psychiatry National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis : The Lancet Psychiatry
Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. By – Dr Edmund Silins PhD, L John Horwood MSc, Prof George C Patton MD, Prof David M Fergusson PhD, Craig A Olsson PhD, Del…
View on http://www.thelancet.com
b National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia
c Christchurch Health and Development Study, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
d Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
e School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia
f School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
g Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
h Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
i Department of Global Health, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
j National Drug Research Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
k Centre for Research on Ageing Health and Wellbeing, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Corresponding Author Information Correspondence to: Dr Edmund Silins, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
† Other members listed at end of paper

What Steps Should a Parent Take?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a series of questions parents should ask http://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com/content/default.aspx?pud=a8bcb6ee-523a-4909-9d76-928d956f3f91
If you suspect that your child has a substance abuse problem, you will have to seek help of some type. You will need a plan of action. The Partnership for a Drug Free America lists 7 Steps to Take and each step is explained at the site. http://www.drugfree.org/intervene
If your child has a substance abuse problem, both you and your child will need help. “One day at a time” is a famous recovery affirmation which you and your child will live the meaning. The road to recovery may be long or short, it will have twists and turns with one step forward and two steps back. In order to reach the goal of recovery, both parent and child must persevere.

Related:

University of Washington study: Heroin use among young suburban and rural non-traditional users on the https://drwilda.com/2013/10/13/university-of-washington-study-heroin-use-among-young-suburban-and-rural-non-traditional-users-on-the-increase/

Resources

Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base http://www.crchealth.com/troubled-teenagers/teenage-substance-abuse/adolescent-substance-abuse/signs-drug-use/

Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse
http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/drugsofabuse/a/driug_abuse20.htm?r=et

Is Your Teen Using?
http://www.drugfree.org/intervene

Al-Anon and Alateen http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/

WEBMD: Parenting and Teen Substance Abuse http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/teen-substance-abuse-choosing-a-treatment-program-topic-overview

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a very good booklet for families What is Substance Abuse Treatment? http://store.samhsa.gov/home

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a web site for teens and parents that teaches about drug abuse NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

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