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August 21, 2007, 5:19 PM CT

Nonmedicinal treatment for preschoolers with ADHD

Nonmedicinal treatment for preschoolers with ADHD
Non-medicinal interventions are highly effective in preventing the behavioral and academic problems linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as per a five-year study led by scientists at Lehigh Universitys College of Education.

The study, titled Project Achieve and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), was the largest of its kind focusing on children aged 3 to 5 who have shown significant symptoms of ADHD. It also involved scientists from Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa.

The researchers, led by George DuPaul, professor of school psychology at Lehigh; Lee Kern, professor of special education at Lehigh; and Dr. John Van Brakle, chair of the pediatrics department at Lehigh Valley Hospital, studied 135 preschool students with ADHD symptoms. They reviewed the effectiveness of early intervention techniques in helping children decrease defiant behavior and aggression, while improving academic and social skills.

The studys results are reported in a special series on ADHD in the most recent issue of School Psychology Review. Published by the National Association of School Psychology experts, the quarterly is the worlds second-largest peer-evaluated psychology journal.

Early identification and intervention are essential, but there has been a lack of research on how to identify and intervene effectively with these children during their preschool years, said Thomas Power, editor of the journal and program director with the Center for Management of ADHD at The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 20, 2007, 6:59 AM CT

How Air Force women are handling the stress

How Air Force women are handling the stress
About 20 percent of Air Force women deployed during the Iraq war report that they are experiencing at least one major symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as per a University of Michigan survey of 1,114 servicewomen.

The scientists also assessed the prevalence of family-work conflicts among the military women surveyed, and analyzed the impact of these conflicts on mental health and job functioning.

"We were surprised to find that work-family conflict is an independent and significant predictor of PTSD, above and beyond combat exposure," said Penny Pierce, a colonel in the Air Force Reserve Program, who presented preliminary findings from the survey at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. "This finding is important because there are things we can do to help minimize work-family stress and the toll it is taking on women in the military".

Conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense through the TriService Nursing Research Program, the survey is part of a research study that's ongoing headed by Pierce, an associate professor in the U-M School of Nursing and a faculty associate at the ISR and ISR research professor Amiram Vinokur.

"Since the Gulf War, the role of women in combat has been a subject of heated debate," said Pierce. "This study is the latest attempt to assess the impact of deployment-related stressors, including family separation, on military women, who now comprise 13 percent of our nation's armed forces".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 16, 2007, 9:32 PM CT

Are too many people 'depressed?'

Are too many people 'depressed?'
Are too a number of people now diagnosed as having depression? Two experts give their views in this weeks BMJ.

Professor Gordon Parker, a psychiatry expert from Australia says the current threshold for what is considered to be clinical depression is too low. He fears it could lead to a diagnosis of depression becoming less credible.

It is, he says, normal to be depressed and points to his own cohort study which followed 242 teachers. Fifteen years into the study, 79% of respondents had already met the symptom and duration criteria for major, minor or sub-syndromal depression.

He blames the over-diagnosis of clinical depression on a change in its categorisation, introduced in 1980. This saw the condition split into major and minor disorders. He says the simplicity and gravitas of major depression gave it cachet with clinicians while its descriptive profile set a low threshold.

Criterion A mandatory a person to be in a dysphoric mood for two weeks which included feeling down in the dumps. Criterion B involved some level of appetite change, sleep disturbance, drop in libido and fatigue. This model was then extended to include what he describes as a seeming subliminal condition sub-syndromal depression.

He argues this categorisation means we have been reduced to the absurd. He says we risk medicalising normal human distress and viewing any expression of depression as necessary of therapy. He says:........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 15, 2007, 8:54 PM CT

Toddlers are capable of introspection

Toddlers are capable of introspection
Preschoolers are more introspective than we give them credit for, as per new research by Simona Ghetti, assistant professor of psychology at UC Davis.

Ghetti and her co-investigator, Kristen Lyons, a graduate student in psychology at UC Davis, will present their findings Friday morning, Aug. 17, at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.

Researchers have demonstrated that dolphins, monkeys and even rats can engage in some form of "metacognition," or an awareness of their own thought processes. But developmental psychology experts have assumed that human children do not develop this capability before about age 5.

Lyons and Ghetti have toppled that assumption by teaching 3- and 4-year-olds to communicate their awareness of their thought processes using pictures rather than words.

"We've shown that even very young children can think about their thinking," Ghetti said. "The reason we haven't appreciated it before now is that the studies that have been used to test for it have been too verbally demanding".

The UC Davis scientists devised a novel method to investigate metacognition in early childhood. They taught their preschool subjects to point to a photo of a confident-looking face when they felt confident they had the right answer to a question, and to a photo of a doubtful-looking child when they were not confident they had the right answer.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 15, 2007, 6:09 AM CT

Relapse from antidepressant medication

Relapse from antidepressant medication
A new study by Rhode Island Hospital scientists indicates that a relapse during antidepressant continuation therapy may be due to a relapse in patients who were not true drug responders. The loss of drug response may be due to loss of placebo response (a positive medical response to taking a placebo as if it were an active medication.). The study was reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Historically, the therapy of depression is divided into three phases initial/acute, continuation and maintenance. During the initial phase, the goal is to reduce symptoms and psychosocial impairment. During the continuation phase, commonly six months to one year after initial therapy response, the goal is to maintain the gains and prevent a relapse. In the maintenance phase, which occurs after a sustained period of improvement, the goal is to further maintain the gains and prevent recurrence of the disorder.

Mark Zimmerman, MD, director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, is the papers lead author. Zimmerman, along with his colleague Tavi Thongy, MD, also of Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, conducted a meta-analysis of continuation studies of new generation antidepressants that began as placebo-controlled acute phase studies. Treatment studies of depression have observed that approximately 50 to 65 percent of patients respond to medicine and that approximately 25 to 35 percent respond to placebo.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 8, 2007, 9:25 PM CT

Studying Brain Blood Flow to Treat Depression

Studying Brain Blood Flow to Treat Depression
The usefulness of established molecular imaging/nuclear medicine approaches in identifying the "hows" and "whys" of brain dysfunction and its potential in providing immediately useful information in treating depression are emphasized in a study in the August Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

"Individuals in a depressed emotional state have impaired cerebral (brain) blood flow," explained Omer Bonne, head of inpatient psychiatry and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. "Clinical improvement in depression is accompanied by diverse changes in cerebral blood flow, as per whether patients are treated with medicine or electroconvulsive therapy," he noted. "We observed that antidepressant medicines normalized decreased brain blood flow commonly seen in patients with depression, while electroconvulsive therapy was linked to additional decreases in blood flow," he reported. "Currently, clinical psychiatry is based almost solely on subjective observer-based judgment. Our findings suggest that objective imaging evaluations could support subjective clinical decisions," he said.

Using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography)-a molecular imaging/nuclear medicine procedure in which injected radiotracers are utilized to produce three-dimensional, computer-reconstructed images that reveal information about both structure and function-researchers confirmed already published findings that cerebral blood flow in depressed patients is lower than in healthy control subjects, particularly in frontal, limbic and subcortical brain regions. "We wanted to see whether improvement in clinical depression is accompanied by changes-increases-in cerebral blood flow," he said. "We observed that cerebral blood flow increased only in patients whose depression improved. In contrast, cerebral blood flow remained unchanged in patients whose depressed condition persisted," detailed Bonne.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

August 7, 2007, 10:26 PM CT

Maturity brings richer memories

Maturity brings richer memories
Memory formation in children, adolescents and young adults: Brain activation in the medial temporal lobe (lower brain scans) remains constant while activation in the prefrontal cortex (upper brain scans) increases from childhood to adulthood when successfully memorizing pictures with rich detail. Image courtesy / Julian Wong, independent artist, and Noa Ofen, McGovern Institute.
MIT neuroresearchers exploring how memory formation differs between children and adults have observed that eventhough the two groups have much in common, maturity brings richer memories.

In the August 5 advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience, the MIT team reports that children rival adults in forming basic memories, but adults do better at remembering the rich, contextual details of that information. The MIT study provides new insights into how children learn that are not only theoretically important, but could also inform practical learning in everyday settings.

The ability to remember factual information - who, what, where, when - emerges gradually during childhood, and plays a critical role in education. The brain systems underlying it have been extensively studied in adults, but until now little was known about how they mature during child development.

The MIT study indicates that a more developed prefrontal cortex (PFC) - an area of the brain long linked to higher-order thinking, planning, and reasoning -- may be responsible for creating richer memories in adults.

"Activation in the PFC follows an upward slope with age in contextual memories. The older the subjects, the more powerful the activation in that area," explains senior author John Gabrieli of MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

August 6, 2007, 4:58 PM CT

Early-childhood Intervention Improves Well-being

Early-childhood Intervention Improves Well-being
Minority preschoolers from low-income families who participated in a comprehensive school-based intervention fared better educationally, socially and economically as they moved into young adulthood, as per a report by University of Minnesota professors Arthur Reynolds and Judy Temple. The study is published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Associations (JAMA) Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Reynolds is a child development professor in the College of Education and Human Development and Judy Temple is a professor in the department of applied economics and in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

This study is the first to show that large-scale established programs run by schools can have enduring effects into adulthood on general health and well-being, Reynolds says. Early childhood programs can promote not only educational success but health status and behavior.

Reynolds research group discovered that by age 24, children who were involved in preschool programs were more likely to finish high school, attend four-year colleges and have health insurance coverage, and less likely to be arrested for a felony, be incarcerated or develop depressive symptoms. For example, the preschool group had higher rates of high school completion with 71.4 percent finishing high school compared with a 63.7 percent finish rate among those in the non preschool group. Those who attended preschool also were more likely to have health insurance with 70.2 percent having insurance compared with 61.5 percent of those not in preschool. Those children in the program also had lower rates of felony arrests with 16.5 percent compared with 21.1 percent and lower depressive symptoms with 12.8 percent compared with 17.4 percent.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 3, 2007, 10:19 PM CT

Infants Have 'Mind-reading' Capability

Infants Have 'Mind-reading' Capability
One of the unique characteristics of humans that distinguish us from the animal kingdom is the ability to represent others beliefs in our own minds. This sort of intuitive mind-reading, as per experts, lays the cognitive foundations of interpersonal understanding and communication.

Despite its importance, researchers have yet to reach a consensus on how this psychological function develops. Some argue that this complex and flexible ability is acquired at the age of 3-4 years and only after prerequisites such as language grammar are fulfilled. Others suggest specialized developmental mechanisms are in place at birth, allowing infants to refine this ability very early in life.

Luca Surian, a psychology expert at the University of Trento in Italy, and colleagues believe they have made some progress in the debate. As per a research findings reported in the recent issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Surian observed that 13-month-old infants were able to exhibit the ability to attribute mental content.

In two experiments, the scientists had the infants watch a series of animations in which a caterpillar went in search of food (either a red apple or a piece of cheese) that was hidden behind a screen. In some scenes, the caterpillar could see a human hand situating the food, but in others there was no hand to drop a hint. The caterpillar was either successful finding the preferred food behind the correct screen, or went behind an alternative screen with the other type of food behind it.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 3, 2007, 9:46 PM CT

The matrix of autism

The matrix of autism
Autistic children are doubly stigmatized. On the one hand, they are often dismissed as low functioning or mentally retarded, particularly if they have poor speaking skills as a number of do. Yet when autistics do show exceptional abilitiesuncanny visual discrimination and memory for detail, for exampletheir flashes of brilliance are marginalized as aberrations, mere symptoms of their higher order cognitive deficit. They often earn a dubious promotion to idiot savant.

The theoretical justification for this view is that prototypical autistic skills are not true intelligence at all, but really just low-level perceptual abilities. Indeed, in this view autistics are missing the big picture because they are obsessed with the detail.

But is this true" Are autistics really incapable of abstraction and integration and other high-level thinking" Surprisingly, given how pervasive this view of autism is, it has never been rigorously tested. But a team of researchers in Canada suspected that the tests themselves might be baised and decided to explore the idea in the lab.

Led by psychology expert Laurent Mottron of the University of Montreal, the team gave both autistic kids and normal kids two of the most popular IQ tests used in schools. The two tests are both highly regarded, but they are very different. The so-called WISC relies heavily on language, which is why the psychology experts were suspicious of it. The other, known as the Ravens Progressive Matrices, is considered the preeminent test of whats called fluid intelligence, that is, the ability to infer rules, to set and manage goals, to do high-level abstractions. Basically the test presents arrays of complicated patterns with one missing, and test takers are mandatory to choose the one that would logically complete the series. The test demands a good memory, focused attention and other executive skills, butunlike the WISCit doesnt require much language.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         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. Archives of psychology news blog

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