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Research & Researchers Making News RIGHT NOW - in 2016

February 9, 2016: While there have been studies conducted measuring the effects of emotional exhaustion among teachers, most of them have focused on the effect it has on teachers - performance and career engagement. A new study out this month looked at the relationship between teacher emotional exhaustion and students' educational outcomes. Using 380 teachers and 8,000 4th grade students researchers measured teacher emotional exhaustion and school grades, standardized achievement test school and school satisfaction, as well as noncognitive outcomes. They found a strong negative correlation among all of them. Student achievement suffers as teacher emotional exhaustion increases. Arens, A. et al. (2016). "Relations Between Teachers' Emotional Exhaustion and Students' Educational Outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, Jan 18 edition preview, nps.

January 10, 2016: The largest gender disparity in STEM courses is found in Computer Science. Unfortunately girls are stereotyped out of computer science at a young age. Researchers have recently found that we can alter girls' interest in Computer Science simply by changing the physical classroom environment in our schools. Schools where classrooms were specifically set out to be more "girl-friendly" and promote women in Computer Science, found a higher incidence of girls' interest in Computer Science and more of a sense of belonging. Therefore, it is imperative that schools begin a conscious attempt to increase girls interest in Computer Science by removing the traditional gender stereotypes which signal to girls that they do not belong. Master, A. et al. (2015, Aug 17). Computing Whether She Belongs: Stereotypes Undermine Girls' Interest and Sense of Belonging in Computer Science. Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.

December 2, 2015: Executive Function (EF) is frequently studied due to its involvement with learning and learning challenges (particularly for persons with ADD and /or head trauma). Executive Function, our ability to maintain control of our actions and our thoughts, is mainly a function of the prefrontal cortex - the region behind your forehead. Research released this month tracked adolescent twins from teens through their early 20's to see how stable EF is during this time period and whether variance in function is more likely to be from genetics or environmental factors. Tracking 420 sets of twins for 6 years, they found that EF is relatively stable by age 17 and that genetics appears to play the biggest role in variation. So while environment can play a small role, most executive function appears to be something inherited. Friedman, N. et al. (2015, Nov 30). "Stability and Change in Executive Function Abilities From Late Adolescence to Early Adulthood: A Longitudinal Twin Study." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.

November 15, 2015: Young persons who perceive themselves as being racial discriminated against are at higher risk of depression. A new study recently released looked at the long-term consequences of perceived racial discrimination, as well as factors that may act as a buffer. The researchers tracked African American and Latino youth through adolescence. They found that those in particular who felt ethnic or racial discrimination from peers were the most likely to suffer depression with greater symptoms. However, those who began high school with high levels of positive racial affect were at a much lower risk for depression over time. So positive racial affect appears to buffer the effects of perceived racial discrimination. Stein, G. et al (2015). "A Longitudinal Examination of Perceived Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms in Ethnic Minority Youth: The Roles of Attributional Style, Positive Ethnic/Racial Affect, and Emotional Reactivity." Journal of Developmental Psychology, Nov 16 preview, nps.

September 13, 2015: New research shows that when teaching math fractions to students with poor working memory, it helps to teach students how to explain their process when comparing fraction magnitudes. If working with students who have strong reasoning ability, teaching word-problem intervention is more effective. Fuchs, L. et al(2015, Sept). "Supported Self-Explaining During Fraction Intervention." Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, no page specified.

June 15, 2015: Hippocampal Neurogenesis involves the development of new neurons in the region of the brain responsible for memory. This process of neurogenesis may help clear out old memories as well as stabilize new memories for long term retention. Researchers are now looking at the effects of chronic stress and depression on this process. Both appear to interfere with normal hippocampus function and in particular cloud long term retrieval. Dery, N. et al. (2015, June) "A Role for Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis at Multiple Time Scales: A Study of Recent and Remote Memory in Humans". Behavioral Neuroscience, preview, nps.

May 19, 2015: School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is currently implemented in over 20,000 schools in the US. The program is designed to improve school climate and prevent disruptive behavior. New research shows that at-risk and high-risk students tend to benefit the most from the program. Bradshaw, C., et al (2015, May) "Examining variation in the impact of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports: Findings from a randomized controlled effectiveness trial." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 107(2), 546-557.

May 2, 2015: Education research has long provided evidence to support homework to improve students' academic performance. However, researchers are now digging deeper on the details surrounding when, how much and what types of homework are beneficial. What they found is that student autonomy in homework is the largest predictor of academic benefit. When students are allowed to choose if, when and how much, homework is more beneficial than other factors such as effort and duration. The optimum time spent on homework was one hour. Fernández-Alonso, R. et al. (2015). Adolescents' Homework Performance in Mathematics and Science: Personal Factors and Teaching Practices., Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 16 preview, nps.

March 20, 2015: Helping students with metacognitive skills improves motivation, learning and future learning - So says new research out this month. The study involved a 6 hour training session with middle school students, teaching them the process skills of planning, monitoring and evaluation. When compared later to a control group, the students taught metacognitive strategies performed better on tests and had higher levels of motivation. Zepeda, C. et al. (2015). "Direct Instruction of Metacognition Benefits Adolescent Science Learning, Transfer, and Motivation: An In Vivo Study.", Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 16 preview, nps.

February 16, 2015: Teachers, use your big words! New research out compars reading comprehension progress with middle-schoolers. They compared beginning of year scores to end of year, from a variety of classrooms. They then recorded and analyzed teacher's speech in those same classrooms. Students whose teachers used the more sophisticated vocabulary in class, significantly improved their reading comprehension as the year progressed. Gamez, P. & Lesaux, N. (2015) "Early-Adolescents' Reading Comprehension and the Stability of the Middle School Classroom-Language Environment." Developmental Psychology, Feb 16 preview, nps

February 4, 2015: Children who experience close teacher-child relationships during their early elementary years have stronger receptive language development. Spilt, J. et al (2014, Dec). " Language Development in the Early School Years: The Importance of Close Relationships With Teachers." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps

January 9, 2015: Perceived control (your belief that your actions can actually make a difference) changed throughout young adulthood. For most, it increased between the age of 18 and 25, then decreases slowly through your thirties into your early 40's. However, having at least one parent with a college degree changes your perceived control and it continues throughout most of your mid-adult life, peaking around age 43. Whether or not you earned a degree seems to have no or little effect on perceived control, but simply having higher perceived control by age 18 does make it more likely that you will go on to a university program. Vargas, L. et al (2015, Jan) "Growth in perceived control across 25 years from the late teens to midlife: The role of personal and parents' education. Developmental Psychology, Vol 51(1), 124-135.

December 30, 2014:Children with dyslexia can write at the same speed as children without dyslexia. However, on writing tasks, they write less overall and pause more frequently while writing. In particular they pause within words due to poor spelling ability. The majority of writing deficits in children with dyslexia result from non-automated spelling and within word pausing. Sumner, E.; Connelly, V.; Barnett, A. (2014, Sept). "The influence of spelling ability on handwriting production: Children with and without dyslexia." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, Vol 40(5), 1441-1447.

December 2, 2014: Does having a grandparent in the house during your preschool years make a difference in school readiness? That may depend on your culture and ethnicity. A longitudinal study looked at children raised in 3-generation households (grandparent, parent, child) versus parent only households. Researchers found that 3-generation households were associated with lower levels of expressive language for White, Asian, and Black children but more expressive language for Hispanic children. Pilkauskas, N. (2014, Dec) "Living with a grandparent and parent in early childhood: Associations with school readiness and differences by demographic characteristics." Developmental Psychology, Vol 50(12), 2587-2599.

November 22, 2014: What makes a good, supportive parent? Apparently it all starts way back to the early years of that person's life. New longitudinal research out now shows that people who have a sensitive, caregiving mother during the first 3 years of their life, do better with friendships and peer relationships in school, partner relationships in young adulthood, and parenting their own children. Raby, K. et al. (2014). "The Interpersonal Antecedents of Supportive Parenting: A Prospective, Longitudinal Study From Infancy to Adulthood." Developmental Psychology, Nov 24 preview, no page specified.

November 10, 2014: Gender gaps continue for math and science literacy in the US. The latest data analysis from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that in terms of math / science achievement, boys are still favored over girls right through 12th grade. And when we compare high achievers in math and science, the statistics are quite a wide margin. High achieving males outnumber females two to one. Reilly, D.; Neumann, D.; Andrews, G. (2014). " Sex Differences in Mathematics and Science Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress Assessments. Journal of Educational Psychology, Nov 10 preview, nps.

October 20, 2014: We generally think of someone with high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in a positive way. EI is associated with empathy, understanding and positive responses. But some new research shows that female adolescents and young adults who score high for EI also can have greater sensation seeking needs and thus delinquency. In fact, high EI scores directly correlated to higher self-reports of truancy from school, taking drugs and violence. Bacon, A et al (2014). Sex Differences in the Relationship Between Sensation Seeking, Trait Emotional Intelligence and Deliquent Behavior". Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 25 (6), 673-683.

September 25, 2014: Presenting math practice problems in a variety of formats can help students' computational fluency. A new study compared teaching basic addition problems using 2 different workbooks. The traditional workbook had problems presented in the traditional (2 +3 = __ ) format using a random assortment of problems. The modified workbook had some traditional presentations, some with the operation on the right side (as in ___ = 2+3) and grouped similar solution problems together. Children using the modified format had a better understanding of the math and the postivie results continued even 6 months after the learning. McNeil, N. et al (2014) Arithmetic Practice Can Be Modified to Promote Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence. Journal of Educational Psychology. Aug issue preview, nps.

September 24, 2014: The large increase in daily caloric intake seen in the US over the past half-century is due mostly to an increase in saturated fates and refined carbohydrates. New research shows a diet high in these two items (so called High Energy Diets) has a negative effect on hippocampal function which includes a decrease in synaptic platicity, and neurogenesis. High Energy Diets also negate any postivie effect of emotional arousal on learning. Ross, A.; Darling, J; & Parent, M. (2013). "High Energy Diets Prevent the Enhancing Effects of Emotional Arousal on Memory." Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol 127(5), 771-779.

September 11, 2014: Thousands of new neurons are made every day in your brain, mostly in the hippocampus. But the vast majority of them die within a few weeks time. Stress, opiates and alcohol all can reduce the rate of production. Exercise, sexual activity and drugs such as prozac increase the rate of cell production. If learning occurs while the cells are newly formed, many will not die, but carry on to perform function. However the learning must be something that requires effort, yet do-able. So effortful, but possible learning increases motivation and keep new neurons alive. Shors, T. (2014) "Mental and Physical Training Keeps New Neurons Alive" presented August 7, 2014 at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

August 11, 2014: Learning a foreign language or taking music lessons anytime during your childhood or teenage years helps protect you from Cognitive Impairment later in life. New research out this week shows that in a longitudinal study of nearly 1000 older persons, those who had music instruction and /or learned a foreign language before the age of 18, not only scored higher on initial tests of cognitive function, but were much less likely to suffer Mild Cognitive Impairment in old age. While a 2nd language and music lessons won't slow down your decline as you age, it does appear to give you a cognitive boost and protects against impairment. Wilson, R. et al (2014). " Early Life Instruction in Foreign Language and Music and Incidence of Mild Cognitive Impairment. Neuropsychology (Aug 11 preview).

August 6, 2014: Boredom is an important, yet often overlooked, academic emotion. So says new research which measured the relationship between boredom and academic achievement in courses. They found that boredom had consistently negative effects on academic performance, and then the poor performance had consistently negative effects on subsequent boredom. Pekrun, R. et al. (2014). "Boredom and academic achievement: Testing a model of reciprocal causation."Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 106(3), 696-710.

July 21, 2014: Despite rumors to the contrary, the new school meal standards are NOT leading to more food waste among students. This according to new research released this summer. Data was collected on food selection, consumption and plate waste at several urban, low-income school districts. Turns out that fruit selection increased by 23%. Entree and vegetable consumption rates increased and plate waste decreased. Cohen, J. et al. (2014). "Impact of the New US Department of Agriculture School Meal Standards on Food Selection, Consumption and Waast. Am Journal of Preventive Medicine. Vol 46, 4. 388-394.

May 20, 2014: Nutrition plays a major role in academic success. Students who eat a balanced and nutritious diet not only maintain their weight, they are more alert, have better cognition, memory and problem solving skills and higher overall achievement. However, 7% of college students claim to eat NO fruits or vegetables daily. University of Massachusetts, Boston online at:

April 27, 2014: Taking a walk, especially outside, boosts creativity. Researchers have discovered that walking leads to more creative and divergent thinking - both while walking and right after walking. They had 4 groups of participants either sit indoors, walk an indoor treadmill, walk outside or be wheeled around outside, then tested them all using a test for creative thinking and problem solving. Those that walked scored higher and those that walked outside had the biggest creative boost. Oppezzo, M. & Schwartz, D. (2014). "Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking." Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Apr 21 preview, nps

April 21, 2014: A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that there appears to be a relationship between low levels of Vitamin D and cognitive decline as we age. The researchers measured Vitamin D levels in 3000 participants between the age of 70 and 79. They also measured cognitive function. Four years later they retested the participants and found those with the lowest Vitamin D levels had the greatest cognitive decline. Wilson, V. et al (2014). " Relationship Between 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Health, Aging and Body Composition Study." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Vol 62 (4): 636

April 17, 2014: Student football players are subject to repeated head impacts throughout the season. New research shows that even without a concussion, these head impacts cause changes in brain white matter and that these changes can be seen even 6 months after the end of the sports season. Bazarian, J et al. (2014) Persistent, Long-term Cerebral White Matter Changes after Sports-Related Repetitive Head Impacts. PLoS ONE 9(4): e94734.

April 6, 2014: Children with moderate to severe protein deficiencies during the first year of life, can catch up in growth, if their malnutrition is corrected during the first 12 years. However, the early life malnutrition affects neurocognitive function throughout their life. Even in adulthood, those who had early malnutrition score lower on measures of cognitive flexibility and concept formation, as well as initiation, verbal fluency, working memory, processing speed, and visuospatial integration. Waber, D., et al. (2014). "Neuropsychological Outcomes at Midlife Following Moderate to Severe Malnutrition in Infancy." Neuropsychology, Mar 17 preview, nps.

March 25, 2014: Text comprehension is especially important in secondary education. The faster students can read a text, the higher their comprehension. Researchers used eye tracking data and comprehension tests to see how text layout and the use of connective words such as "therefore" and "futhermore" affect reading speed. Texts with a continuous layout (as opposed to starting sentences on new lines) allow students to read faster. Connective word speed up student processing of the material. So texts which use continuous layout and utilize connective words seem to produce the best reading comprehension test scores. VanSilfout, G et al (2014). "Connectives and Layout as Processing Signals: How Textual Features Affect Students’ Processing and Text Representation." Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 17 preview, nps.

March 2, 2014: Are you a mono-lingual person envious of the brain benefits that bi-lingual persons enjoy? Well, apparently it's not too late to reap the benefits. New reserach shows that late bilinguals share the the same cognitive effects as early bilinguals. That means a stronger executive funciton (but also the lexical access deficits - a small price to pay.) Pelham, S. & Abrams, L. (2014, Mar). "Cognitive advantages and disadvantages in early and late bilinguals." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 40(2), 313-325.

February 27, 2014: Bored students do not do well in school. While that seems an obvious statement to many of us, unfortunately boredom is an often overlooked emotion in education. A new study out shows the robust relationship between boredom and academic achievement. They are strongly negatively correlated and feed each other. Boredom leads to low academic achievement which then leads to greater boredom. Pekrum, R. et al (2014). "Boredom and Academic Achievement: Testing a Model of Reciprocal Causation." Journal of Educational Psychology, Feb 24 preview, no page specified.

February 25, 2014: Most of you are aware of the cautions given parents about TV, video and other "screen time" for young children. Need more research to show how baby media products don't work, let alone do damage? A new study out this month shows a trial using over 100 infants, from 9 months to 18 months and media purporting to teach babies to read. Half were sent through the DVD, flashcard program and half were in the control group who had no formal attempt to teach reading. After 7 months, the children were measured for precursor skills such as letter naming and print awareness and vocabulary and comprehension along with eye-tracking tasks. Results? Babies do not learn to read using baby media, despite the claims made by the program manufacturers.
Neuman, S. et al. (2014, Feb 24). "Can Babies Learn to Read? A Randomized Trial of Baby Media." Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.

January 27, 2014: Adolescents are more apt to engage in risky behavior in the presence of peers, even when the risks of the behavior are explicitly given. An interesting new research study had adolescents engage in a gambling activity where the risks of loss were clearly given in each task. Half the teens were working the activity alone and half were told that an unknown peer was observing them from another room. Those that thought a peer was watching were far more likely to take a gamble, especially when the risk of loss was great.
Smith, A. et al. (2014) "
Peers Increase Adolescent Risk Taking Even When the Probabilities of Negative Outcomes Are Known." Developmental Psychology, Jan 20 preview, nps.

January 24, 2014: More reserach showing the effects of television on preschool brain development. This time research shows the definite relationship between television exposure in young children and Executive Function. One more reason to limit or ban television before the age of two. Nathanson, A. et al (2014). "The Relation Between Television Exposure and Executive Function Among Preschoolers." Developmental Psychology, Jan 20 preview, nps.

January 15, 2014: Many have long suspected that there is a relationship between physical fitness and cognitive fitness. We know are seeing the research to support this. Researchers have used neuroelectric and behavioral measures to examine various brain region efficiency in a variety of preadolescent children. What they found is that higher fit children have greater task performance on cognitive tests and better attention. So there does appear to be a relationship between aerobic fitness and cognitive function in children. More support for PE, recess, and extracurricular sports. Wu, C & Hillman, C. (2013). "Aerobic fitness and the attentional blink in preadolescent children." Neuropsychology, Vol 27(6), 642-653.

December 13, 2013: Spanking children slows down their mental development and lowers the probability of a child doing well in school. So says a compilation of research done on spanking over the past 4 decades. Children who are spanked, have slower cognitive development and are at an increased risk for antisocial and criminal behavior. An new book by Murray Straus, leading researcher from the University of New Hampshire, titled The Primordial Violence: Spanking Children, Psychological Development, Violence, and Crime, summarizes the research in the field and promotes the United Nations recommendation to ban spanking across the globe.
(Straus is also the author of Beating the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families and Its Effects on Children )

November 19, 2013: Adolescents who have parents with substance abuse disorders are more at risk for also developing substance abuse disorders. A new study shows that 2 brain regions can predict adolescents as risk. When exposed to situations where they could anticipate money or enticing food, those at-risk adolescents showed greater brain activation in the brain areas responsible for reward. The study further supports adolescents at risk of substance abuse tend to have highly sensitive reward regions in the brain. Stice, E. & Yokum, S. (2013). "Brain Reward Region Responsivity of Adolescents With and Without Parental Substance Use Disorders." Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Oct 14 preview, nps.

November 5 , 2013: People who are bilingual tend to have better memory function and better executive function than monolinguals. However bilingualism does not appear to protect you against dementia due to aging. A new longitudinal study tracked both Spanish / English speaking persons and English only speaking for 23 years. At the onset, those who were bilingual scored higher on memory tests and tests for executive function, but it did not have any effect on whether or not they developed dementia. Zahodne, L. et al (2013). "Bilingualism Does Not Alter Cognitive Decline or Dementia Risk Among Spanish-Speaking Immigrants.". Neuropsychology, Nov 4 preview, no page specified.

October 1, 2013: : By 6th grade, there is already a significant difference among students in how well they understand and can use fraction in mathematics. But by grade 8, that achievement gap has grown significantly. Low achieving math students in grade 6, continue to score consistently low in grade 8, whereas the higher achieving students scores raise significantly, causing a much wider gap in fraction knowledge and use. Siegler, R. & Pyke, A. (2013, Oct). "Developmental and individual differences in understanding of fractions." Developmental Psychology, Vol 49(10), 1994-2004.

September 26, 2013: New Research out of The Ohio State University may cause us to rethink some curriculum and behavioral issues for children in early elementary. We used to think that episodic memory (memory for personal history/events) was developed by age 4, but we can now see that some of it doesn't develop until after age 7. Young children between 4 and 7 can usually recall and remember events, but frequently confuse the sequence or the "when". So chronological history may be confusing, as will recalling interpersonal events happening in the social setting of school. Sloutsky, V. et al. (2013, Sept). "The Development of Episodic Memory Items, Contexts, and Relations" Psychological Science, online preview, nps.

September 20, 2013: People with autism, schizophrenia and various intellectual disabilities all share a common brain abnormality - problems with the structure of dendritic spines. Without correct spine morphology, the neurons have problems communicating with each other. New research mow pinpoints the problem to a gene called CYFIP1. This gene is responsible for protein translation and actin polymerization in neurons - and is to blame for the dysfunctional spine formations. De Rubels, S. et al (2013, Sept 18). "CYFIP1 Coordinates mRNA Translation and Cytoskeleton Remodeling to Ensure Proper Dendritic Spine Formation." Neuron, Vol 79(6), 1169-1182

September 19, 2013: Adaptive technology benefits math students. However, boys and girls do not benefit equally from the same technology / software. There is a definite gender difference - so say a compilation study. Girls most often sought out the help provided by the system, used hints and do best when affective"learning companions" were part of the on-screen experience. They are most productive and get the most out of the programs when the helping companions were female characters. Boys on the other hand learned best when there are no learning companions in the program, especially female characters - those caused the worst performance. Arroyo, I. et al. (2013, Sept 16). "Gender Differences in the Use and Benefit of Advanced Learning Technologies for Mathematics." Journal of Educational Psychology, preview.
Suggested Reading: Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences

September 17, 2013: Persons with ADHD often have difficulty estimating elapsed time, which can lead to problems in day-to-day functioning. The brain area thought to be responsible for accurate time perception is the anterior cingulated and prefrontal cortex. Researchers used MEG scans to compare the gamma activity in these regions of persons with ADHD, both medicated and unmedicated. The unmedicated persons were much less accurate with time estimation and had weaker gamma activity in both the anterior cingulated and left prefrontal cortex. After medication the participants had a significant increase in gamma and improved time estimation accuracy. Wilson, T. et al. (2013, Sept 16). "Estimating the Passage of Minutes: Deviant Oscillatory Frontal Activity in Medicated and Unmedicated ADHD" Neuropsychology, preview nps.
Suggested Clinical Reading: Time to see ADHD in a whole new light?: An examination of the nature and basis of a time estimation deficit in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Combined and Inattentive subtypes)

September 16, 2013: Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have trouble recalling past personal experiences (episodic thinking). It has been unclear as to whether or not they also have difficulty projecting future personal eperience possibilities (episodic future thinking). An interesting new study set out to discover whether these two events, which share "scene construction" may indicate a brain region of impairment in persons with ASD. They had young adults with high functioning ASD and peer controls describe past and future events, both of persoanl involvement and not. They found persons with ASD had trouble constructing scenes for both personal and non-personal recall and projection events. This seems to indicate that the poor episodic thinking associated with ASD is the result of deficits in scene constrution. Lind, S. et al (2013). "Episodic Memory and Episodic Future Thinking Impairments in High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Underlying Difficulty With Scene Construction or Self-Projection?" Neuropsychology, Sept 9. preview.
Suggested Reading:Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum: 101 Inspirational Stories for Parents of Children with Autism and Asperger's

September 2, 2013: Which emotions give the most positive experiences with art? Apparently fear. Researchers put participants though five different emotional states (null, two levels of physical stress, happy, scary) before exposing them to art. Only the fear condition resulted in significantly more positive judgements about art.Eskine, K. et al (2012, Feb 6). "Stirring Images: Fear, not happiness or arousal, makes art more sublime." Emotion. Feb 6.

August 30, 2013: Scientist can now definitively say that age-related memory loss and Alzheimer's disease are two separate events. They have pinpointed the exact cause and region for each. Age-related memory loss is due to a functional change in the neurons found in the dentate gyrus, a subregion of the hippocampus. Alzheimer's disease is the actual loss of neurons in the entorhinal cortex, which sends information directly to the hippocampus. In promising news, scientists have found that some age-related memory loss can be repaired - at least in mice. Pavlopoulos, E. et al. (2013) "Molecular Mechanism for Age-Related Memory Loss: The Histone-Binding Protein RbAp48". Science Translational Medicine, Vol 5(200) Aug 28.

August 27, 2013: While ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are very different diagnoses, there is overlap in behaviors. Some children with ADHD (18%) do have a few behaviors that are similar to ASD behaviors, particularly social skill impairments. Researchers now say that it's important to screen for these in children with ADHD so that the behaviors can be addressed. Kotte, A et al (2013, Aug) "Autistic Traits in Children with and without ADHD". Pediatrics.

August 25, 2013: Dr Rex Jung, from the University of New Mexico Health Science Center presented a talk a few weeks ago on the Brain Networks involved in Genius. Genius, as defined by Jung is the interface between Intelligence and Creativity.
Intelligence is the ability to use deductive reasoning to solve adaptive problems in our environment in a rapid but accurate way.
Creativity, on the other hand, is the ability to use abductive reasoning to solve adaptive problems in novel and useful ways.
Genius is the interface of Intelligence and Creativity. Creativity involves more of the parietal lobes and intelligence makes use of the prefrontal cortex. But we ultimately depend on the frontal lobes to pull the divergent ideas back for refinement.
Jung, R. (2013, August 2). Brain Networks of Genius = Intelligence + Creativity. Presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI.

If you are interested in reading the full report from this research team, you can find it here Brain imaging studies of intelligence and creativity: what is the picture for education?

August 6, 2013: Clean, organized classrooms make more obedient students, but messy classrooms make more creative students.Vohs, K. et al. (2013, Aug 1)." Physical order produces healthy choices, generosity, and conventionality, whereas disorder produces creativity." Journal Psychological Science.

July 30, 2013: More research, again by Blair: Chronic exposure to poverty during a child's early years affects a person's executive funtion. The researchers tracked 1200 children from birth. They found that the stress of financial hardship uniquely predicted a child's score on tests of executive function. Raver, C.; Blair, C. & Willoughby, M. (2013, Feb). "Poverty as a predictor of 4-year-olds' executive function: new perspectives on models of differential susceptibility." Developmental Psychology, Vol 49(2), 292-304.

Blair's research (above and below) is used quite extensively in the book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

July 25, 2013: A person's executive function is actually quite malleable - especially between the ages of 3 and 5 years of age. Parenting quality is a big factor. Children who have higher quality parenting during this time period tend to have stronger Executive Function skills later in life. Blair, C. et al (2013, July 8). "Two Approaches to Estimating the Effect of Parenting on the Development of Executive Function in Early Childhood." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.

July 17, 2013: Simply "thinking" about an answer seems to improve later retrieval of the information as much as overtly writing or speaking the answer. So says new research that had students learn and study for tests by either covertly or overtly retrieving the information versus just rereading it. Those students who just reread the information scored lowest on the test. But the 2 groups that studied by retrieving the information, either covertly or overtly scored similar. So students can improve information retrieval (testing) just as much from covert practice as overt. Smith, M. et al (2013, Jul 1). " Covert Retrieval Practice Benefits Retention as Much as Overt Retrieval Practice." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, preview, nps.

July 7, 2013: Students who have positive emotions at school have higher academic achievement, but only when those positive emotions influence their self-regulated learning and motivation.
Mega, C.; Ronconi, L.; & De Beni, R. (2013, Jul 1). "What Makes a Good Student? How Emotions, Self-Regulated Learning, and Motivation Contribute to Academic Achievement". Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.

July 1, 2013: Information that is emotionally negative or positive tends to be stored in our memory easier than emotionally neutral information. Researchers took this a step further now and have coupled that notion with the emotional effects elicited by of various colors. They changed text colors of emotionally negative words and positive words in learning passages. As they hypothesized, red text (most people associate with warning) strongly increased memory for negative words and green text (associated with security) strongly increased memory for emotionally positive words. So, both emotion and color can play a significant role in memory. Kuhbandner, C. & Pekrun, R. (2013, June). "Joint effects of emotion and color on memory." Emotion, Vol 13(3), 375-379.

June 19, 2013: Ever teach a topic that you know many students will misunderstand? If so, try using texts that are refutational. Interesting study out of the J of Ed Psych - researchers tested learners on a particular science topic and divided them into groups based on whether they had accurate knowledge of the topic or misconceptions. Then they re-taught the subject. Some groups used text that simply re-taught the correct scientific concept. Some groups used texts that presented common misconceptions and compared them to the accurate description. The use of refutation of misconceptions is very important for knowledge revisions when students have an inaccurate concept of the topic. Braasch, J.; Goldman, S. & Wiley, J. (2013) "The Influences of Text and Reader Characteristics on Learning From Refutations in Science Texts." Journal of Educational Psychology, Jun 17 preview, nps.

June 13, 2013: Most students wisely spend a greater amount of study time on subject matter which they deem as having "higher point" value. (more test points). Students tend to make these decisions through testing experience. In other words, they learn from test-taking which types of items the instructor tends to include or emphasize. However, research shows that students with low working memory spans are unable to make this type of association, and do not regulate study time accordingly. So teachers can help all students, particularly those with poor working memory by giving cues or instruction as how best to allocate study time to prepare for exams. Ariel, R. ( 2013, Jun 10) "Learning What to Learn: The Effects of Task Experience on Strategy Shifts in the Allocation of Study Time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, preview, nps.

June 11, 2013: Walking and talking have a stronger relationship in child development than once thought. New research shows that as soon as a child moves from crawling to walking, there is a significant increase in both their receptive and expressive language - regardless of their age. Further language development in young children can be predicted from variety of factors in their social environment, but only for those children who are walking. Walle, E. & Campos, J. (2013, June 10). " Infant Language Development Is Related to the Acquisition of Walking." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.

If you're interested in young language development, you may want to read, My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote Your Child's Language Development

June 4, 2013: Does watching educational TV shows help or hinder young children's vocabulary? The answer greatly depends upon the Socio-economic status of the child. Low SES children improve and acquire more vocabulary words from watching educational programming, particularly those that are absent of any onscreen printed words. The more often they watch the program, the more gains they make. On the other hand, Working Class SES children make slight improvements in vocabulary, especially from programs which include on-screen printed words. However, they make no additional gains from additional watching, and in fact, vocabulary scores decrease from repeated exposure to those shows that use no on-screen printed words. Linebarger, D. et al. (2013). "Learning Vocabulary From Television: Does Onscreen Print Have a Role?" Journal of Educational Psychology, Jun 3 preview, nps.

May 29, 2013: The COMPASS program (Collaborative Model for Promoting Competence and Success) for autism shows promise with good results in improving social, communication and independence skills. What is particularly interesting is that whether the program is followed by face-to-face interaction with a teacher/therapist or videoconference via internet, results were similar. So this new study indicates promise in bringing good autism training and follow-up via internet delivery to areas which may be lacking in good autism therapists and support programs. Ruble, L et al. (2013) "A randomized controlled trial of COMPASS web-based and face-to-face teacher coaching in autism." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 81(3), Jun 2013, 566-572.

May 15, 2013: Children who show signs of depression in early adolescence (middle school) are at a much higher risk of later dropping out of high school. Researchers have found that depression leads to a decrease in self-perception of competence, which leads to low academic performance, which then leads to early school leaving. Quiroga, C. et al (2013). "Early adolescent depression symptoms and school dropout: Mediating processes involving self-reported academic competence and achievement." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 105(2), 552-560

May 10, 2013 Teaching materials - especially those for young learners, often contains extraneous "cute" graphics which can actually slow down or distract the learning process. A study showed that young students learned math concepts faster when presented with plain, one-colored illustrations (such as a black & white bar graph). When illustrations contained extraneous visuals (such as colorful stacks of flower or animals to represent the bar graph) learning took longer. Kaminski, J. & Sloutsky, V. (2013). "Extraneous perceptual information interferes with children's acquisition of mathematical knowledge.". Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 105(2), 351-363.

May 7, 2013: Do you have students who struggle with working memory? You might want to have them use a computer to transcribe lectures while listening to them. A new study out this month sought to compare various ways of taking lecture notes and that relationship to later testing. In the first study, the researcher found the best test scores came from students who used a computer for note taking versus those who hand wrote their notes. The second portion of the study compared taking "organized notes" versus simply attempting to transcribe the lecture. Students with good working memory scored highest on tests after taking "organized notes" (and had the greatest quantity of notes). But students with poor working memory scored highest on later testing when they tried to simply transcribe the lecture. So their suggestion is that students who struggle with working memory be encouraged to use a note-taking strategy that transcripes the lecture using a computer. Bui, D.; Myerson, J; Hale, S. (2013). "Note-taking with computers: Exploring alternative strategies for improved recall." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 105(2), 299-309.

23 April 2013: In Metacognition, or thinking about your thinking can be beneficial in the learning process. Researchers had high school students write learning journals for math and science classes. The students were to reflect upon their learning strategies over during the course of several weeks. Those students who wrote the learning journals improved their academic performance when compared to the control group of students who did not write learning journals. Glogger, I. et al. (2012). " Learning strategies assessed by journal writing: Prediction of learning outcomes by quantity, quality, and combinations of learning strategies." Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.

12 April 2013: In working out problems between people, the effect of emotions expressed depends a great deal on the culture of the participants. East Asians who use anger in negotiations are perceived as tougher and more threatening than European Americans. This is most likely due to the stereotype that East Asians tend to be emotionally inexpressive and European Americans emotionally expressive, So angry East Asian negotiators received a higher level of cooperation. So, one's culture can play a significant role in interpersonal negotiation. Adam, H. & Shirako, A. (2013). "Not All Anger Is Created Equal: The Impact of the Expresser's Culture on the Social Effects of Anger in Negotiations." Journal of Applied Psychology, Apr 1 , 2013, preview, no page specified.

6 April 2013: Improve the school adjustment for an elementary student today and you may be helping future generations. So says new research out this month, which tracked achievement and school adjustment in boys starting in the 4th grade and continued throughout the school years and into parenthood. Then this longitudinal study watched their children through preschool and elementary. The father's academic achievement and school adjustment were directly related to the same factors in their children. Pears, K et al. (2013). "Father-child transmission of school adjustment: A prospective intergenerational study." Developmental Psychology, Vol 49(4), Apr 2013, 792-803

4 April 2013: Poor self control and parent-child conflict puts adolescents at risk for depression and school behavior problems. However, new research out this month shows that a positive teacher-student relationship can protect adolescents from this risk. It appears that a good relationship with a teacher can undo some of the risk factors of poor self control and parent - adolescent conflict. Wang, M.; Brikworth, M. & Eccles, J. (2013). "Moderating effects of teacher-student relationship in adolescent trajectories of emotional and behavioral adjustment." Developmental Psychology, Vol 49(4), 690-705.

28 March 2013: Obesity is not only bad for your physical health, it causes problems with your cognitive function as well. There is a relationship between body mass index (BMI) and frontal-subcortical pathology, especially as we age. Higher BMI effects motor and attention speed as well as processing speed. Stanek, K. et al (2013) "Body mass index and neurocognitive functioning across the adult lifespan." Neuropsychology, Vol 27(2), 141-151.

18 March 2013: While there are many valid reasons to promote all boys or all girls schools, academic achievement may not be one of them. Traditional research on same-gendered schooling here in the US has been hampered by the fact that there is parental bias in sending their child to an all-boy or all-girl school. Since the assigning of students to these schools is not random, research results do not generalize well to the population at large. However, we can now look at reserch which has come out of Korea - where they do randomly assign students to same-gendered schools. A new study which measured science and math achievement scores finds no difference for students in mixed gendered versus same-gendered schools. Scores were similar. Pahlke, E. et al (2013) The Effects of Single-Sex Compared With Coeducational Schooling on Mathematics and Science Achievement: Data From Korea. Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 18 preview, nps.
For more on this topic, you may want to look at Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling

28 February 2013: Lost a little sleep last night? Probably no great harm. Lost a little sleep every night? Now it's a danger. Researchers everywhere are becoming concerned with the so called "social jet lag" that is plaguing our nation. Chronic sleep deprivation and the hapbit of our society to shift sleep patterns on weekends several hours later than during the week.
Chronic sleep loss causes metabolic changes in the body. This means you no longer regulate appetite correctly. Your glucose metabolism and blood pressure control go out the window. People with chronic sleep deprivation tend to take in more calories during the day - especially from fats. The effect is very strong in children and adolescents. Not only do you take in more calories, your body loses its ability to respond to insulin. Teens who added one more hour of sleep to their day improved their insulin resistance nearly 10%. Carpenter, S. (2013). "Awakening to Sleep." Monitor on Psychology, Vol 44(1), 40-45.
Looking for more on this topic? You may be interested in
The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep

25 February 2013: A Virginia study involving hundreds of high schools has found found that bullying does indeed increase a student's risk of dropping out of school. They tracked 9th graders' self reported and teacher reported bullying and teasing. Even controlling for other issues such as poverty, minority status, communit crime rates, etc., the incidence of bullying was a predictive of high school drop out as any other known predictive factor. Students who were teased or bullied were at about a 15% greater risk of not completing all 4 years. - the correlation exceeds one full standard deviation. Lead researcher Dr Dewey Cornell is author of School Violence: Fears Versus Facts. Cornell, D.; Gregory, A.; Huang, F. & Fan, X. (2013, Feb). " Perceived prevalence of teasing and bullying predicts high school dropout rates." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 105(1), 138 - 149.

18 February 2013: Those of you looking for research to support the use of manipulatives to teach math will want to look at a study out in December which compiled 55 different research studies on the topic using students from kindergarten to college. In teaching math with manipulatives versus math with abstract symbols only, the manipulatives won out in terms of student learning, retention, problem solving and knowledge transfer. Carbonneau, K.; Marley, S. & Selig, J. (2012). "A Meta-Analysis of the Efficacy of Teaching Mathematics With Concrete Manipulatives," Journal of Educational Psychology, Dec 17 issue, preview nps.

14 February 2013: It appears that while there are a lot of working memory training programs out there, they do not seem to be effective in treating working memory issues with ADHD or as a tool to improve cognitive ability or academic achievement in typical children either. A recent review of the data on over 25 treatment studies, shows that while some working memory treatment programs may result in some short term improvements in specific working memory skills. But the effects are short-lived, and more importantly do not generalize to other skills such as nonverbal ability, inhibition, attention, word decoding or math. Melby-Lervåg, M & Hulme, C. (2013) "Is working memory training effective? A meta-analytic review." Developmental Psychology, Vol 49(2), 270-29.

12 February 2013: Mothers who praise a child's process rather than the person may increase motivation. A new study tracked mothers' conversations and praise with their children. Mother's who praised the person (eg: "you are smart") rather than the process (eg: "you worked really hard on that") tended to have children who had a fixed theory of intellegence (thought their intelligence was fixed or predetermined and would not be changed through experience, practice and learning) and were less motivated to try new and more difficult tasks.
Pomerantz, E. & Kempner, S. (2013) "Mothers' Daily Person and Process Praise: Implications for Children's Theory of Intelligence and Motivation." Developmental Psychology, Feb 11 preview nps.

The work in "fixed vs growth theories of intelligence" is attributed to researcher Carol Dweck. More information in this can be found in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

30 January 2013: When correcting tests, don't just give the correct answer, explain the correct answer. This helps students transfer the new learning to different situations. A research study tested students, then one group received the correct answer, another group received explanations of the correct answer and one group got no feedback. Students were later retested with a mix of same and new questions. Both feedback groups did better on the retest questions, but the explanation feedback group scored much higher on the new questions. Butler A., et al. (2012). "Explanation Feedback Is Better Than Correct Answer Feedback for Promoting Transfer of Learning." Journal of Educational Psychology, Dec 17 preview, nps.

29 January 2013: As children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) get older, their Executive Function problems appear to worsen. When compared to typically developing children, children with ASD at all ages struggle with Executive Function. However older adolescents variance is greater, indicating more problems for high functioning ASD individuals as they try to enter work and social environments. Rosenthal, M. et al (2013, Jan). "Impairments in real-world executive function increase from childhood to adolescence in autism spectrum disorders." Neuropsychology, Vol 27(1), 13-18. Researcher, Lauren Kenworthy, is author of Unstuck and on Target!: An Executive Function Curriculum to Improve Flexibility for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders.

24 January 2013: Spanking children makes them more aggressive. So says new research out this month by researchers Elizabeth Gershoff (author of Understanding Mother-Adolescent Conflict Discussions: Concurrent and Across-time Prediction from Youths' Dispositions on Parenting) and Inna Altschul (author of Parental involvement and the academic achievement of Mexican American youths: what kinds of involvement in youths' education matter most? ). In a large study of thousands of mothers and children, they gathered information regarding incidence of spanking at age 1, 3 and 5 and children's levels of aggression. Children who were spanked by mothers, as early as 1 year of age, were more aggressive by age 3. Spanking anytime during early childhood, was correlated with aggressive behavior. Levels of maternal warmth otherwise, had no moderating effect. So even warm, caring mothers who spank will see more aggression in their children.Lee, S., Altschul, I. & Gershoff, E. (2013) "Does Warmth Moderate Longitudinal Associations Between Maternal Spanking and Child Aggression in Early Childhood?" . Developmental Psychology, Jan 21 preview, nps.

22 January 2013: Reasons for adolescent substance use falls into 2 categories - enhancing a positive state or relieiving/coping with a negative state. Those who use to relieve a negative state have higher / more involved substance use and more psychological distress, but respond better to treatment. Dow, S. & Kelly, J. (2012) "Listening to Youth: Adolescents' Reasons for Substance Use as a Unique Predictor of Treatment Response and Outcome." Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Dec 31 preview, nps.

16 January 2013: High school students who work long hours at a paying job tend to have lower grades and are at higher risk for substance use. For white and asian students, the risk increases with more educated parents. So the more advantaged the student, apparently the more severe the cost of a job while in high school. Bachman, J.; Staff, J.; O'Malley, P & Freedman-Doan, P. (2013). "Adolescent Work Intensity, School Performance, and Substance Use: Links Vary by Race/Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status." Developmental Psychology, (Jan 14 preview, nps).

8 January 2013: A new study out this week suggests there may be some relationship between aggression and anxiety in children and mothers who work night shifts. Comparing aggression, deprression and anxiety in 2500 children, researchers found higher incidence of aggression linked to mothers with night shift work as compared to children of mothers who either did not work or worked standard shfts. Dunifon, R. et al (2013). "Mothers' Night Work and Children's Behavior Problems." Jan 7 issue preview, nps.

20 December 2012: Children who struggle with division of whole numbers and understanding the magnitude of various fractions tend to be the ones who struggle with fraction arithmetic in middle grades. And as the children move through middle school math, the struggles intensify. The difference between low and high achieving 6th graders in math is much greater by 8th grade. Siegler, R.& Pyke, A.(2012). "Developmental and Individual Differences in Understanding of Fractions." Developmental Psychology, Dec 17 preview, nps.
[Robert Siegler is author of Children's Thinking]

18 December 2012: Quality of housing affects children's and adolescent's behavioral functioning, emotional function and cogvitive skills. While housing cost and type does not seem to have an effect on cognitive skills, quality does. Coley, R. et al (2012). "Relations Between Housing Characteristics and the Well-Being of Low-Income Children and Adolescents." Developmental Psychology, Dec 17 preview, nps.

12 December 2012: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may be predicted by examining communications in children as young as 13 months. Researchers observed infants spontaneously initiated word and word - gesture combinations in 13 month infants. They observed them again at 18 months and then tracked them for 3 years. Those children who were at the bottom scoring on communication at 13 months and especially at 18 months were most likely to receive an ASD diagnosis at 36 months. Winder, B. et al (2012). "Spontaneous Initiation of Communication in Infants at Low and Heightened Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders."Developmental Psychology, Dec 10 preview, nps

28 November: In men, a moderate amount of stress during testing, can increase not only test performance, but memory recall of the material at a later time. The effect is much more mild for women. Hupbach, A. & Almut, F. (2012). "Moderate stress enhances immediate and delayed retrieval of educationally relevant material in healthy young men." Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol 126(6), 819-825.

26 November: Adolescents with ADHD have more conflicts with the parents and over more issues than adolescents without ADHD. Mothers however, do not tend to attribute the conflict to the ADHD, whereas Fathers do. Markel, G. & Wiener, J. (2012). "Attribution Processes in Parent–Adolescent Conflict in Families of Adolescents With and Without ADHD". Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. Nov 12. preview, nps.
[Geraldine Markel is author of Performance Breakthroughs for Adolescents With Learning Disabilities or Add: How to Help Students Succeed in the Regular Education Classroom]

9 November: High quality childcare during the infant to toddler period appears to create better memory skills in children as they begin school. High quality childcare during the preschool years leads to better language skills. Cognitive skills were highest in children who experienced high quality childcare during both the infant to toddler and preschool periods. Li, W. et al (2012, Nov 5) "Timing of High-Quality Child Care and Cognitive, Language, and Preacademic Development." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.

16 October: While many adolescents experiment with substances, most of them do not incur long term psychological problems as a result. A new longitudinal study indicates that the level of anxiety experienced by the adolescent prior to substance use can predict who sustains long-term psychological problems in the future. Those with high levels of anxiety who use stiumulants and hallucinogens tend to have long terms problems. Interestingly though, the use of cannibis (marijuana) by those with high levels of anxiety tends to reduce the risk of long term problems. Fallu, J. et al (2012). "Substance use among adolescents: Moderating effects of anxiety." Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. Vol 44(4), 319-329.

14 October: For male students, a little bit of stress can be a good thing - at least for increasing memory on studied material. Researcher taught new material to students on day 1, exposed them to stress on day 2, and tested them on day 3. Males who incurred the stress on day 2, did better on the test. Hupbach, A. & Fierman, R. (2012). "Moderate Stress Enhances Immediate and Delayed Retrieval of Educationally Relevant Material in Healthy Young Men." Behavioral Neuroscience, Oct 15 preview, nps.

4 October: Adolescent substance use can be divided into (1)abstainers (2) experimenters (3) at-risk users (4) abusers. When tracked into adulthood, at age 26 the "experimenters" group were more likely to have a high school diploma and higher education, regular involvement in long-term intimate relationships, and better work ethic, when compared to the other groups. Englund, M. et al. (2012). "The Developmental Significance of Late Adolescent Substance Use for Early Adult Functioning." Developmental Psychology, Oct 1 issue, preview, nps.

2 October: Over the long term, children who do not get adequate sleep tend to have higher rates of depression, anxiety and emotional adjustment problems. Researchers tracked children through upper elementary grades and found the relationship more pronounced in girls, African American children and children from lower SES homes. El-Sheikh, M. et al (2012). "Children's Sleep and Adjustment: A Residualized Change Analysis." Developmental Psychology, Oct 1 issue. Preview, nps.

4 September: Who is most likely to be retained in kindergarten? Boys, native English speakers, and children who attended daycare at age 4 rather than public pre-K programs. Winsler, A. et al. (2012, Sep). "Child, family, and childcare predictors of delayed school entry and kindergarten retention among linguistically and ethnically diverse children." Developmental Psychology, Vol 48(5), 1299-1314.

2 September 2012: Chronic stress has now been shown to change the chemical and physical struction of the prefrontal cortex and affects both working memory and impulse control. Mika, A. et al. (2012, Aug 20). "Chronic Stress Impairs Prefrontal Cortex-Dependent Response Inhibition and Spatial Working Memory."Bhavioral Neuroscience, preview, nps.

29 August 2012: Obviously mind wandering affects reading comprehension. Researchers have studied influences on this relationship. Individual differences in mind wandering can be attributed to working memory capacity, interest in the topic, motivation to do well on the task and experince with the topic. Unsworth, N. & McMillan, B. (2012), "Mind Wandering and Reading Comprehension: Examining the Roles of Working Memory Capacity, Interest, Motivation, and Topic Experience," Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. Aug 20, preview, nps.

27 August 2012: Children who have been through trauma have more trouble negotiating relationships in classrooms and within their peer groups. Trauma in childhood leads to more severe interpersonal struggles as adults. Moreso than people traumatized as adults. Marylene Cloitre, PhD, National Center for PTSD, Menlo Park, CA. "Trauma Recovery: The Art and Science of Treating the Whole Person". Invited Address, Aug 4, 2012. APA National Conference, Orlando, FL.

2 August 2012: People with PTSD have problems with learning in addition to problems with anxiety. New research shows that individuals with PTSD also have hippocampus dysfunction, including decreased volume and problems in the medial temporal lobe associated with learning impairment. Levy-Gigi, E. et al. (2012). Individuals With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Show a Selective Deficit in Generalization of Associative Learning. Neuropsychology, Jul 30, preview, nps.

31July 2012: New longitudinal research tracked Non Suicidal Self Injury reports(NSSI) in 9th graders to later actual suicidal attempts in later adolescence. Results show that NSSI, in addition to factors such as depressionn can help predict suicide risk for adolescents. Guan, K. et al (2012). "Nonsuicidal Self-Injury as a Time-Invariant Predictor of Adolescent Suicide Ideation and Attempts in a Diverse Community Sample,", Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Jul 30, preview nps.

27 July 2012: While bilingual children tend to have lower math scores when entering school, by 5th grade they are caught up to their native English speaking peers. However due to a variety of factors, non-English Dominant Bilingual students and non English speaking students continue to score lower on reading and math assessments. Wen-Jui, H. (2012). "Bilingualism and Academic Achievement". Child Development, Vol 83(1), 300-321.

24 July 2012: Young adolescents who have trouble sustaining attention are more likely to begin smoking at an early age. However the researchers caution there are significant other factors which influence adolesents to begin and continue smoking. Harakeh, Z. et al. (2012). "The Association Between Neurocognitive Functioning and Smoking in Adolescence: The TRAILS Study." Neuropsychology, Jul 9, preview, nps.

18 July 2012: How far you go in your schooling has been linked to heridity to some extent. However, now researchers have actually found the genes that correlate to educational attainment. Variations in 3 dopaminergic genes, DAT1, DRD2, & DRD4, have been found to be linked to dopamine levels associated with the highest levels of education. Of course, so many other factors play into a person's education achievement, but genetics are a player. Beaver, K. et al (2012). "Dopaminergic polymorphisms and educational achievement: Results from a longitudinal sample of Americans". Developmental Psychology, Vol 48(4), 932-938.

10 July 2012: Air pollution is not only bad for the body, it is bad for the brain. Researchers at the Univ or Michigan and the Ohio State University are conducting research which now shows that exposure to smog damages children's cognitive ability, changes the neuronal structure in the hippocampus, increases brain declines due to age, and increases depression. Weir, K. (2012). "Smog in our brsin." Monitor on Psychology, Vol 43(7), pg 32 - 37.

6 July 2012: More support for getting children up and moving in current study out this month. Preadolescent children who engaged in more sedentary behavior and had lower cardiorespiratory fitness, scored lower on cognitive tests. They showed less cognitive control, more errors of omission and lower response accuracy. Chidren with higher aerobic fitness do better with cognitive tasks. Pontifex, M. et al. (2012, July). "Fit and vigilant: The relationship between poorer aerobic fitness and failures in sustained attention during preadolescence." Neuropsychology, Vol 26(4), 407-413.

4 July 2012: The likelihood of a child becoming an entrereneur as an adult is based on socioeconomic background and role model of parents. For boys, having a self-employed father was biggest predictor. For girls, it is SES background and resources. Most entrepreneurs should good social skill development and intent by the age of 16. Schoon, I. & Duckwork, K. (2012, July 2). "Who Becomes and Entrepreneur? Early Life Experiences as Predictors fo Entrepreneurship." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.

30 June 2012: Playing board games, which involve linear numbers, in the classroom can help preschool children with number ine estimation, magnitude comparison and counting. Ramani, G.; Siegler, R,; & Hitti, A. (2012, June 18) "Taking it to the Classroom: Number Board Games as a Small group Learning Activity." Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.

31 May 2012: While standardized tests may be somewhat valid instruments for measuing IQ, they don't measure self-control. Self control helps students study, complete homework and other learning tasks and participate positively in the classroom - all equally important to later success. Report card grades are better at measuring self-control. Duckwork, A. et al. (2012). "What No Child Left Behind leaves behind: The roles of IQ and self-control in predicting standardized achievement test scores and report card grades." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 104(2), 439-451

29 May 2012: New longitudinal results out on English Language Learners (ELLs) in the US as they progress through high school. Statistics show that an amazing 60% of high school ELLs were born in the United States - meaning they have spent at least 9 years in the US without developing enough English language to function academically in the school system. This would seem to imply more emphasis is needed in our public schools for English language development. On a good note, while foreign-born ELLs begin high school functioning significantly lower in language profieciency than their US-born ELL peers, by the end of high school, they have caught up. Slama, R. (2012) "A longitudinal analysis of academic English proficiency outcomes for adolescent English language learners in the United States." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 104(2), 265-285

23 May 2012: Before you or your school spends money on programs designed to improve working memory (in both children with ADHD and just a general improvement in typically developing children and adults), you may want to look at a meta-analysis realized this month which looked at the top 30 programs aimed at doing that. Researchers found that any benefit is short-lived for the most part, with little generalization. Some long term benefit remains for visuospatial working memory but non for verbal working memory.Melby-Lervåg, M. & Hulme, C. (2012). "Is Working Memory Training Effective? A Meta-Analytic Review." Developmental Psychology, May 21 issue, preview, nps.

20 May 2012: The post-high school picture is a bleak one for young adults with Autism. More than 1/2 of young adults with autism, tracked 2 years after high school had no paid job experience, nor post high school education. The statistics shed light on the need for public schools to focus more attention on helping young people assimilate into being community participants after graduation. Shattuck, P. et al. (2012) "Postsecondary Education and Employment Among Youth With an Autism Spectrum Disorder" Pediatrics May 14th preview, nps.

18 May 2012: Sexual harrassment in early adolescense can lead to eating disorders during teenage years. Researchers tracked 5th grade students through 9th grade and found that those who experienced sexual harrassment, tended to try to modify their own body image and were more likely to have eating disorders by 9th grade. Girls were more suseptable than boys. Petersen, J. (2012, Apr 30). "Peer Sexual Harassment and Disordered Eating in Early Adolescence." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.

11 May 2012: A mind shift is taking place which views autism not as a deficit, needing a cure, but simply a different, but valid pathway within human diversity. This "neurodiversity movement" challenges our traditional medical model which sees autism as a separate entity from the person and something needing a cure Kapp, S. et al. (2012, Apr 30). "Deficit, Difference, or Both? Autism and Neurodiversity." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.

4 May 2012: Substance use increases in African American teens as a result of feelings of racial discrimination. However, the effect is only seen in youth who endorse substance use as a coping mechanism. Gerrard, M. (2012, April 30). "Coping With Racial Discrimination: The Role of Substance Use." Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, preview, nps.

2 May 2012: Diets high is saturated fats are not only bad for your physical health, they cause impairment of cognitive function and now researchers also link it to learning and relearning of tasks. Asem, J. et al. (2012). "The Effect of High-Fat Diet on Extinction and Renewal." Behavioral Neuroscience, (Apr 30), preview nps.

1 May 2012: The positive feedback bias refers to previous studies showing that white teachers give more positive feeback to minority students. New research indicates this may be tempered by stronger support systems from colleagues and administration. In the new study, white teachers were less prone to the positive feedback bias in high-support schools. The support system though tempered the effect only on the feedback given to Black students. White teachers show the bias toward Hispanic students, regardless of school support network.
Harber, K. et al. (2012). "
Students' Race and Teachers' Social Support Affect the Positive Feedback Bias in Public Schools." Journal of Educational Psychology, Apr 30., preview, nps.

20 April 2012: Preschool / elementary students who come from harsh home environments with punitive discipline practices, and/or exposure to violence show declines in academic performance and function. This decline is greatly exacerbated if the students also experience victimization. Schwartz, D. et al. (2012, Apr 16). The Link Between Harsh Home Environments and Negative Academic Trajectories Is Exacerbated by "Victimization in the Elementary School Peer Group." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.

14 April 2012: Adding traditional paper-based study aids (especially those prompting key ideas) does increase learning via computer and game-based applications. Providing a list of main ideas to look for seemed to benefit all learners, whereas have a paper the students had to fill out as they went along only favored some learners. Fiorella, L. & Mayer, R. (2012, Apr 9). "Paper-Based Aids for Learning With a Computer-Based Game." Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.

10 April 2012: Adolescents who use fitness supplements are at greater risk of later using illicit perfomance enhancing substances such as anabolic-androgenic steroids. Other risk indicators include body image disturbance, compulsive exercise, and perfectionism.Hildebrandt, T, Harty, S.; Langenbucher, J. (2012, Apr 9). "Fitness Supplements as a Gateway Substance for Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use". Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, preview, nps.

6 April 2012: Pre-adolescent girls with ADHD were measured for Executive Function (planning, organization, attention, working memory, etc) and then tracked for 10 years into adulthood. Regardless of whether or not the ADHD symptoms continued, the girls continued to show problems with Exectuve Function into adulthood compared to the control group of girls without ADHD. Miller, M.; Ho, J.; Hinshaw S. (2012, April 2) "Executive Functions in Girls With ADHD Followed Prospectively Into Young Adulthood." Neuropsychology, preview nps.

28 Mar 2012: There is a reciprocal relationship between math interest and math ability that begins before school even starts. Researchers have found that preschooler's interest in math predict their math performance later and preschoolers math skills also predict interest in math later. Fisher, P. et al. (2012, March 26). "Early Math Interest and the Development of Math Skills.". Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.

25 Mar 2012: Research on rats shows that stress during adolescence causes an increase in depression and anxiety in adulthood. New research shows that WHERE in adolescence the stress occurs has an effect too. Stress in early adolescence causes an increase in both depression and anxiety problems in adulthood, whereas stress in mid-adolescence did not cause an increase in axiety related issues but did tend to increase risk-taking behavior. Wilkin, M., et al. (2012, April). "Intermittent physical stress during early- and mid-adolescence differentially alters rats' anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in adulthood." Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol 126(2), 344-360.

23 Mar 2012: Researchers used a large pool of elementary children from diverse ethnic backgrounds who were below average in both literacy and math at the end of first grade. Half the students were retained a year and half were promoted onto the next grade. They then tracked the students through elementary grades using the Woodcock Johnson test annually. The retained students received a one year boost in achievement early on, however that boost had completely disappeared by the end of the elementary grades. Moser, S.;West, S.;Hughes, J. (2012). " Trajectories of Math and Reading Achievement in Low-Achieving Children in Elementary School: Effects of Early and Later Retention in Grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 19 preview, nps. .

21 Mar 2012: If you work with traditionally gifted, or high achieving students, you may be aware of the "Big Fish Little Pond" effect which suggests students may suffer a decline in their academic self concept if put in groups with higher achieving students. New reserach indicates that may not be the case - often times it just depends on the educational environment. When high achieving students were pulled out to attend supplemental summer programs, not only did their self concept not deminsh, many of them had a higher academic self concept upon completion. Makel, M. et al (2012). "Changing the Pond, Not the Fish: Following High-Ability Students Across Different Educational Environments." Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 19 preview, nps.

19 Mar 2012: People of all ages who suffer from social anxiety are much more likely to use marijuana to cope in social situations. In fact, they are more likely to avoid any social situation if marijuana is unavailable. Heimberg, J. et al. (2012). "Marijuana-related problems and social anxiety: The role of marijuana behaviors in social situations".Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol 26(1), 151-156 .

12 Mar 2012: Are you an "owl" or a "lark"? It may make a difference in your mood and health. While most adolescents are "owls" the fewer "larks" or morning-type adolescents have more positive overall affect and better subjective health. The greater the "morningness" of an inidividual, the greater the positive affect. This may be the reason older people in general report being happier. Biss, R. & Hasher, L. (2012, Feb 6). "Happy as a lark: Morning-type younger and older adults are higher in positive affect." Emotion, preview nps.


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