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Read April 7, 2014 Newsletter

Research Making News RIGHT NOW

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 continueous 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 Studentsí 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 and the research. 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 13, 2014: 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 )

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