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November 15, 2006, 4:47 AM CT

Enriching Education For Disadvanted

Enriching Education For Disadvanted
While studies have shown that disadvantaged children benefit from high-quality preschool programs, they would benefit even more if they had additional tutoring and mentoring during their elementary and high school years, as per research at the University of Chicago.

Scientists have previously noted that a number of of the advantages children receive from preschool experiences begin to wane as they continue through school. A study by James Heckman, a Nobel-Prize winning economist at the University of Chicago and an expert on early childhood education, now shows for the first time that systematic interventions throughout childhood and adolescence could sustain the early gains and build on them.

"Childhood is a multistage process where early investments feed into later investments. Skill begets skill; learning begets learning," wrote Heckman in the paper, "Investing in our Young People." Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, co-wrote the paper with Flavio Cunha, a graduate student in economics at the University of Chicago. The study is being released in Washington, D.C. November 15 as part of a larger report by America's Promise Alliance's titled Every Child, Every Promise: Turning Failure into Action.

The scholars studied data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth to estimate a model that would describe how different inputs contribute to the accumulation of abilities. They used the model to predict the outcomes of children born to disadvantaged mothers when the children received a variety of extra learning assistance. In particular, they simulated the potential outcome of continued high-quality interventions beyond preschool.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 14, 2006, 4:53 AM CT

Sibling relationships reflect family dynamics

Sibling relationships reflect family dynamics
Most children in the United States grow up with sisters and brothers. Connections that commonly last a lifetime, these relationships can be strained at times, particularly during childhood. New research concludes that sibling ties are best understood in the context of their families, and that efforts to improve relationships should take into account not just the siblings, but the family as a whole.

This research also observed that, overall, sisters feel closer to their siblings than do brothers, and that relationships between sisters and brothers become closer in later adolescence. Further, for all siblings, discord is highest when the first-born child is about 13 and the second-born is about 10.

As published in the November/December 2006 issue of the journal Child Development, scientists at Pennsylvania State University interviewed mothers, fathers, and first- and second-born children in 200 white, working- and middle-class, two-parent families. During the course of the study, first-born children ranged from 10 to 19 years of age, with an average age of 12 at the start of the study and 17 at the end. Second-born children ranged from 7 to 17 years of age during the study, with an average age of 9 at the start and 15 at the end.

Among the study's key findings are:........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 14, 2006, 4:30 AM CT

Young Children Don't Believe Everything They Hear

Young Children Don't Believe Everything They Hear
Childhood is a time when young minds receive a vast amount of new information. Until now, it's been thought that children believe most of what they hear. New research sheds light on children's abilities to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

Through conversation, books, and the media, young children are continually exposed to information that is new to them. Much of the information they receive is factual (e.g., the names of the planets in the solar system), but some information is not based in truth and represents nonexistent entities (e.g., the Easter bunny). Children need to figure out which information is real and which is not. By age 4, children consistently use the context in which the new information is presented to determine whether or not it is real.

That's one of the major findings in new studies conducted by scientists at the Universities of Texas and Virginia and reported in the November/December 2006 issue of the journal Child Development.

In three studies, about 400 children ages 3 to 6 heard about something new and had to say whether they thought it was real or not. Some children heard the information defined in scientific terms ("Doctors use surnits to make medicine"), while others heard it defined in fantastical terms ("Fairies use hercs to make fairy dust"). The scientists observed that children's ability to use contextual cues to determine whether the information is true develops significantly between the ages of 3 and 5.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 13, 2006, 7:56 AM CT

Peer And Family Support For Cancer Survivors

Peer And Family Support For Cancer Survivors
Adolescent and young adult cancer patients rank support from family, friends and other cancer survivors as high priority healthcare needs, as per a new University of Southern California study. Reported in the recent issue of CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, the study reveals this traditionally underserved population of 15-29 year-old cancer survivors feels that socially connecting with other cancer-afflicted peers of the same age may in some cases be more beneficial than receiving support from family and friends, contrary to what their physicians believe.

Led by Brad Zebrack, Ph.D., M.S.W. of the University of Southern California School of Social Work in Los Angeles, scientists conducted a comprehensive survey with oncologists, psychology experts, nurses, social workers and young adult cancer survivors to better characterize the needs of this patient population and rank them in terms of importance.

As per Dr. Zebrack, "health professionals and survivors value highly the support of family and friends. However, meeting other young people who share a common experience becomes an opportunity for young adult cancer patients and survivors to address common concerns, such as coping with uncertainty about one's health and future, feelings of being alone and isolated, body changes, sexuality and intimacy, dating and relationships, and employment issues".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 13, 2006, 7:45 AM CT

Psychological Needs Of Breast Cancer Patients

Psychological Needs Of Breast Cancer Patients
Almost half of newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer are found to have clinically significant emotional distress or symptoms of psychiatric disorders before therapy is begun, as per a new study reported in the recent issue of CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society. The study reveals that while virtually all of the women admitted to,experiencing some level of emotional distress, 47 percent met clinically significant screening criteria for emotional distress or a psychiatric disorder, including major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Studies have shown that significant emotional distress, including mood disorders and related functional impairments, afflict up to one-third of breast cancer survivors for up to 20 years after therapy. However, little was previously known about the baseline psychological status of newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer.

To help characterize pre-treatment psychological status, Mark T. Hegel, Ph.D. of the Department of Psychiatry and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center of Dartmouth Medical School and his colleagues conducted psychiatric and functional screening of 236 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

Their findings indicate that almost one in two women met clinically significant criteria for emotional distress or a psychiatric disorder. The most common problem was moderate to severe emotional distress (41 percent). The most usually reported source of distress was correlation to the cancer diagnosis (100 percent), followed by uncertainty about therapy (96 percent) and concern about physical problems (81 percent). Twenty-one percent of women met criteria for psychiatric disorders, including major depression (11 percent) and PTSD (10 percent). These women also demonstrated significant declines in daily functioning that were due to the emotional disorders. Treatment for their cancer had still not begun.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 5:13 AM CT

Memories: It's All In The Packaging

Memories: It's All In The Packaging
Scientists at UC Irvine have observed that how much detail one remembers of an event depends on whether a certain portion of the brain is activated to "package" the memory.

The research may help to explain why sometimes people only recall parts of an experience such as a car accident, and yet vividly recall all of the details of a similar experience.

In experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers were able to view what happened in the brains of subjects when they experienced an event made up of multiple contextual details. They observed that participants who later remembered all aspects of the experience, including the details, used a particular part of the brain that bound the different details together as a package at the time the event occurred. When this brain region wasn't activated to bind together the details, only some aspects of an event were recalled. The findings are reported in the current issue of Neuron.

"This study provides a neurological basis for what psychology experts have been telling us for years," said Michael Rugg, director of UCI's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and senior author of the paper. "You can't get out of memory what you didn't put into it. It is not possible to remember things later if you didn't pay attention to them in the first place".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:33 AM CT

How Genes Affect Antipsychotic Drug Response?

How Genes Affect Antipsychotic Drug Response?
Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy are attempting to discover how genes determine how well an antipsychotic medicine works in adults and children and the side effects it will cause.

Risperidone, a popular "atypical" antipsychotic medication, is used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Jeffrey Bishop, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, is examining the effects of one gene, catechol-o-methyltransferase, on brain activity, cognition and symptom response to the drug.

The study is being done in adults who are experiencing their first episode of schizophrenia who are treated with risperidone for six weeks as part of UIC's First Episode Program.

"Allowing patients with schizophrenia an increased chance at medicine response literally could change their lives," Bishop said.

"While we know a great deal about the pharmacology of antipsychotics like risperidone, there is still much to learn about their influence on cognition and brain function, as well as how genetics affect overall medicine response," he said.

Bishop says the project will serve as a first step toward a comprehensive pharmacogenetic analysis of metabolic pathways affecting response to the drug. He was presented with an award for new researchers from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy for the project.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 9:16 PM CT

Social Exclusion Changes Brain Function

Social Exclusion Changes Brain Function
Poor Bridget Jones. At the beginning of the first film about her diary and life, the character, played by actress Rene Zellweger, is fat and alone in her apartment where she mimes one of the great self-pitying song hits of all time: "All by Myself." But Bridget's problem may be more than skin deep.

In new research, published in the current online issue of the journal Social Neuroscience, scientists from the University of Georgia and San Diego State University report for the first time that social exclusion actually causes changes in a person's brain function and can lead to poor decision-making and a diminished learning ability.

"Our findings indicate that social rejection can be a powerful influence on how people act," said W. Keith Campbell, a psychology expert who led the research. The new research is the first to examine subjects' brain patterns following social exclusion using the magnetoencephalography (MEG) technique.

Other authors of the paper include Jean Twenge of San Diego State University; Brett Clementz and Jennifer McDowell, also psychology faculty members at UGA; and UGA graduate students Elizabeth Krusemark, Kara Dyckman and Amy Brunnell.

Scientists have known for a long time that there is a link between social exclusion and the failure of self-control. For instance, people who are rejected in social situations often respond by abusing alcohol, expressing aggression or performing poorly at school or work. (Bridget Jones chooses "vodka and Chaka Khan.").........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 9:00 PM CT

Traditional Books Provide Parent-child Interaction

Traditional Books Provide Parent-child Interaction
Parents and pre-school children have a more positive interaction when sharing a reading experience with a traditional book as opposed to an electronic book or e-book, according scientists at Temple University's Infant Laboratory and Erikson Institute in Chicago. This shared positive experience from traditional books characteristically promotes early literacy skills.

The scientists presented the findings of their study, "Electronic books: Boon or Bust for Interactive Reading?" on Nov. 3 as part of the Boston University Conference on Language Development.

The first-of-its-kind study was conducted by Julia Parish-Morris, a graduate student in developmental psychology at Temple University, and Molly F. Collins, assistant professor at Erikson Institute. Parish-Morris and Collins collaborated with Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, the Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology and director of the Temple Infant Lab.

"It is very obvious from the media, from toy stores and bookstores that electronic learning products are becoming very, very popular," said Parish-Morris. "Parents are really buying into the idea that electronic media is essential to their children's development".

Parish-Morris recruited 19 children ages 3-5, along with their parents, at Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum; Collins recruited 14 at the Chicago Children's Museum.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 8:50 PM CT

About Reading Difficulty

About Reading Difficulty
At least one in three children in this country has difficulty learning to read. Research shows that children's aggressive behavior and reading difficulties during early elementary school years are risk factors for adolescent problem behaviors such as delinquency, academic failure, and substance use. Oregon Research Institute (ORI) researchers recently received high marks for their work to reverse this trend.

An evaluation of a reading program for elementary students conducted by ORI researchers has been identified as the only study in the country that met the highest standards for research on programs for English language learners. The What Works Clearinghouse, in their review of research on effective interventions for English language learners, identified the reading program used in ORI's Schools and Homes in Partnership (SHIP) project as having potentially positive effects on the reading achievement of English language learners.

"This is quite an honor for us," notes ORI scientist Barbara Gunn, Ph.D., who directed the study. "Eventhough there are a number of studies of the effectiveness of instructional practices, few are well-designed experimental evaluations and even fewer focus on effective approaches for teaching beginning readers."

As teachers face growing requirements to improve academic outcomes for their students it is very important that scientists give them the information they need to make knowledgeable decisions on programs and approaches to use in their classrooms. This research was unique because it used the highest standards set for educational research and demonstrated that this kind of study can be done in schools across the state.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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