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ADD

~~ In recent years, problems in the frontal lobe have been blamed for ADD. But new research is now showing that there may be areas more strongly linked. A study at Leiden, Netherlands (Leiden Univ) found that children with ADD have more delay in "orienting to cues" rather than impaired decision making (which was previously thought to be the culprit). Using new imaging techniques, they have found that the children seem to have a problem in a lower region of the brain, the attention system. This means that they are slow to detect the source of new incoming stimuli or cannot separate one source from another. Similar information is coming from the University Clinic for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in Essen Germany. Their imaging study shows impaired function also in the limbic system of ADD children in what they call "intercortical dialog". Basically, problems with the left side which processes details and the right side which specializes in global processing. A study at the University of Denver, Dept. of Psychology is also showing that ADD involves not only the frontal lobe, but other regions as well, particularly the right parietal lobe.

~~ A study at the University of Pittsbugh, School of Medicine, looked at highly aggressive children diagnosed with ADD. Half the children were given a placebo (sugar pill) and the other half were administered methylphenidate (Ritalin). In their double-blind study, the Ritalin group had significantly reduced their aggressive behavior.

~~ The University of Kentucky Medical Center is defending testing accommodation for persons with ADD. They state that test agencies have been unable to prove that test validity for standardized tests at any level (even the state Bar exam) is altered by accommodation for ADD.

ADHD

~~ Diagnosing pre-schoolers with ADHD seems to some to be inaccurate, unneccessary and perhaps even detrimental. A study from Dalhousie University in Halifax shows just the opposite. They observed 50, 3 to 6 year olds in a preschool setting, half diagnosed with ADHD and half not. The ADHD children were off-task significantly more time than the non-ADHD children. They were also much more talkative and active. Their conclusion: early diagnosis of ADHD appears valid and may be useful in establishing behavioral programs at an early age to help these children be successful. DeWolfe, N, et. al. 2000. Journal of Attention Disorders, Vol 4(2), 80-90.

~~ADHD children show a very predictable instability in their sleep patterns. The irregularities include: sleep onset, sleep duration, and amount of true sleep received. In fact the pattern is so distinct and severe, that the National Institute of Mental Health feels that sleep pattern could be used as a diagnosis for ADHD. Gruber, Sadeh, & Raviw. 2000. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, vol. 39(4), 495-501.

~~A new study out on medicating ADHD, shows that the best results were obtained when using Ritalin (MPH) mixed with caffeine. The study showed that impulsivity and agression as well as planning skills were most effected by the combination of these two drugs. (When used separately, Ritalin is more effective than caffeine and amphetimines work about as well as Ritalin.) Leon, M. 2000. Journal of Attention Disorders, vol 4(1), 27-47.

~~According to a study published last year, there appears to be an optimum window of learning opportunity after administering ADD medication. In the study of ADHD boys aged 9 - 11, reading was greatly improved (mastery, fewer errors, higher rate per minute) during the first hour after Ritalin compared to 3-4 hours after medication. Kastner, J., et.al. (2000). Psychology in the Schools, vol. 37(4) 367-377.

~~ The Journal of Psychiatry reports that if you are going to develop manic-depression, the symptoms will show much sooner if you have AD/HD. Sacks, G. et.al. (2000). American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 157(3), 466-468.

~~ Buffalo State College researched the ADHD child's ability to identify emotions. Using pictures, video, and audio tapes, they found that non-ADHD children were quite competent in identifying emotion in others while ADHD children were severely impaired in the skill. Norvilitus, et. al. (2000). Journal of Attention Disorders, vol. 4(1), 15-26.

~~ Several long term studies have been tracking the inattention curve in ADHD children as they grow. Inattention in ADHD children peaks between the age of 7 and 8. After that it tends to stabilize through adolescence and adulthood. Hyperactivity frequently disappears between the ages of 7 and 9. ADD does not. Hart, E. et. al. (2000). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, vol 28(3), 311. Biederman, J. et.al. (2000). American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 157(5), 816-818.

~~ A Purdue University study of 120 boys, aged 7-13 years shows some typical work patterns in ADHD children. The study compared boys with ADHD to non-ADHD peers in a work/problem solving activity. The study found that ADHD boys were less effective in social interactions, but interestingly, were also less frustrated and less helpless than their non-ADHD peers. Children with ADHD were more likely to attribute any success they had to "luck" or simply the ease of the task. Non-ADHD children in the study tended to blame failures on themselves, in that they didn't "try hard enough." Haza, et. al. (2000)Child Development, vol 71(2) 432-446.

~~ Despite rumor to the contrary, ADHD children are NOT more at-risk for substance abuse than their non- ADHD peers. However, if the ADHD is coupled with a Conduct Disorder, then the ADHD child is more at risk for substance-abuse. Molina, et. al. (1999). Psychology Addictive Behaviors, vol. 13(4) 348 - 358.

~~ High School teachers have a wide range of attitudes toward children with ADHD and LD (learning disabilities). According to a survey of both regular and special educators, 46% thought that ADHD children would carry a multitude of problems into adulthood. 13% thought that learning disabilities resulted from parents "spoiling" their children. 95% thought that LD students are entitled to a more lenient education. Brook, et. al. (2000). Patient Education & Counseling, vol. 40(3), 247-252.

~~ Leroux and Levitt-Perlman write in the Roeper Review that we are focusing on the wrong side of ADHD. They criticize that research and articles always emphasize the negative aspects of the disorder, when in fact, many characteristics of ADHD resemble those of gifted and talented persons as well as resembling creative talents such as divergent thinking. Leroux & Levitt-Perlman (2000). Roeper Review, vol. 22(3) 171-176.

~~ Can children with ADHD comprehend television and video to the same degree as non-ADHD? Apparently not, according to the University of Kentucky. In a study with 7-12 year olds, attention decreased sharply during a video, especially when distractors such as toys were present. This inattention meant that while the ADHD children could recall basic facts of the story afterward, they had a much lower understanding of the relationships among the events in the story. Lorch et.al. (2000). J. of Abnormal Psych., vol 109(2), 321-330.

~~Diagnosing pre-schoolers with ADHD seems to some to be inaccurate, unnecessary and perhaps even detrimental. A study from Dalhousie University in Halifax shows just the opposite. They observed 50, 3 to 6 year olds in a preschool setting, half diagnosed with ADHD and half not. The ADHD children were off-task significantly more time than the non-ADHD children. They were also much more talkative and active. Their conclusion: early diagnosis of ADHD appears valid and may be useful in establishing behavioral programs at an early age to help these children be successful. DeWolfe, N, et. al. 2000. Journal of Attention Disorders, Vol 4(2), 80-90.

~~ Children who have ADHD coupled with Conduct Disorder apparently really just have a version of Conduct Disorder rather than an complication of attention deficit. New research out of Toronto shows that the inhibitory control problems seen in ADHD children are not found in ADHD children who also have conduct disorder (ADHD+CD). In lab tasks where children are tested on their ability to stop an ongoing activity, only the "plain" ADHD children are severely impaired. So the ADHD+CD should really just be CD children who have attention problems as well. Schachar, et. al. 2000. J. of Abnormal Child Psychology, vol 28(3), 227-235.

~~A study at the University of Pittsburgh school of Medicine shows that middle school children with ADHD are no more at risk for substance abuse than their non-ADHD classmates. However, these children are more at risk if the ADHD was coupled with Conduct Disorder. Molina, et.al. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. 1999, vol. 13(4), 348-358.

~~ Persons with bi-polar disorder (manic- depression) have an earlier onset of symptoms if they also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This is according to a study out of Massachusetts General Hospital. Sachs, G. et.al. 2000. Am. Journal of psychiatry. vol. 157(3), 466-468.

~~Two studies support concern for ADHD individuals into adolescence and adulthood. Curran et. al, (1999) found a high percentage of the prison population has ADHD (9% of prisoners vs. 2.5% of young adults in the general population). Clure, et. l (1999) found that among inpatients for substance use disorder (alcohol and/or cocaine use), 32% met the criteria for ADHD, and that 35% of those inpatients had a childhood diagnosisi of ADHD and continued to have problems with it into adulthood. Clure, et. al, (1999). American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. vol. 25(3), 441-448. curran, et. al., (1999). American Journal of Psychiatry. vol. 156(10), 1664-1665.

~~The University of Wisconsin has published a study tracking students with ADHD into college. They found that college students with ADHD were more likely to be on academic probation and had a higher incidence of academic problems than their peers. The study claimed that the problems experienced by these students were similar to those of a learning disorder.

~~Oregon Health Sciences University looked at the effect of ADHD on siblings. Their conclusion: the siblings frequently felt victimized and that victimization is often overlooked or discounted by other members of the family. Their recommendation: there is a strong need for increased social and mental health services for all members of families with a member diagnosed with ADHD.

AGING BRAIN

~~ Many of us were excited a few years ago when researchers discovered that it may indeed be possible to regenerate nerve cells in the brain. The research shows that the hippocampus, the area responsible for forming memories, is capable of growing new neurons later in life. Now a study out of Princeton is showing what we can do to increase the liklihood of this growth occuring in our brains. According to this study, new nerve cell growth is started by hormones out of the ovaries and adrenal glands. The new cells will either grow or die depending on the enrichment of our environment, learning and reduction of stress. Gould, E., et. al. 2000. Biological Psychiatry, vol. 48(9), 715-720.

~~ Feeling the mental effects of your brain's age? Decisions, memory and word retrieval seems to be slowing down? You may be interested in some of the new research on how our brain ages. Apparently we lose production of dopamine, reduce metabolism in decision making regions, and generally increase thinking time as we rely on greater regions of our brains. These two recent studies have shed more light of the biochemistry of the aging brain. A Duke University study shows that while young brains use memory to retrieve on a recognition task, blood flow increases in the right prefrontal cortex. While retrieving similar recognition memory, older brains (60 - 80 years) increase blood flow in several regions of the cortex as the retrieval process slows down. A separate study out of New York shows that the reduction in dopamine activity in the older brain results from a decrease in the receptors which transmit dopamine signals and consequently this results in a more limited glucose metabolism rate. This effect is strongest in the frontal cortex, although some areas of the temporal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus are involved as well. Madden, et.al. (1999). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, vol 11(5), 511- 520. Volkow, et.al. (2000). American Journal of Psychiatry. vol 157(1), 75-80

ALCOHOL

~~ Bond University in Australia addresses the issue of why alcohol and aggression have such a close association. In fact, in most mammals, humans included, even moderate amounts of alcohol tend to increase violent and/or aggressive behavior. Their explanation is that it creates a two-fold event involving both the cortex and subcortical areas. First, alcohol disrupts the performance of the pre-frontal cortex - the region responsible for making good, sound decisions. The second problem is that alcohol also tends to disinhibit some subcortical regions, which are responsible for our more primitive drives (sex, fight/flight, eating). So the combination of the primitive drive region feeling more "free" to express itself and the executive controlling function of the brain put on hold, leads to the problems we see. Lyvers, M. 2000. Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, vol. 8(4), 607-608. Peter Giancola at the University of Kentucky has published a similar study in the same issue, pages 576-597.

~~ Because of the plasticity and period of change experienced by the neurons in the adolescent brain, they may be more susceptible to damage by alcohol than adults. According to a study at the University of California, San Diego, synaptic connections continue to increase and decrease through age 20, indicating the brain may continue its rapid developmental state longer than previous thought. Therefore, alcohol use during teenage years may have a more significant effect and create more damage to the adolescent brain than the adult brain. Tapert, S. et. al. National Institutes of Health News Release Feb. 14, 2000.

ALZHEIMER'S

~~Memory loss in Alzheimer's disease versus memory loss associated with other aging issues are both found in the hippocampus. However, recent fMRI images show that the hippocampus deterioration in Alzheimer's patients is more pervasive and multi-regional, whereas other memory loss due to age is restricted to only one region of the hippocampus (the subiculum). Small, et. al. Annals of Neurology, 1999, v 45, 4, 466-472.

~~Florida Atlantic University released a study showing that although memory loss is great, the sense of self or personal identity of an individual persists into late stage of Alzheimer's disease. (AD) J. of Nursing Scholoarship, 1999, v 31,2, 121-125. Tappan et.al.

ANXIETY

~~Columbia University has released a study showing a strong relationship between anxiety and poor memory ability -The relationship is particularly strong in young boys at risk for deliquency. Pine, et al. (1999). Journal of American Academy of child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Vol. 38(3). 1024-1031.

~~While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) generally appears soon after a trauma, the full effect may not be felt for years. According to a Yale University study, PTSD can often return, in a more severe form, during dementia. van Acterberg, M. et al. (2001). Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol 62(3), 206-207.

~~ Panic attacks often result from problems with the brain pathways that control for the acquisition of conditioned fear. Conditioned fear involves regions of the brain such as the amygdala, the brain stem, the hippocampus and parts of the pre-frontal cortex. This is pretty much all the major brain regions which may account for the confusion and overwhelming emotions during fear and panic. Sinha, S., Laszlo, A. & Gorman, J. (2000). Journal of Affective Disorders. Vol 61(3), 191-200.

~~ According to a Boston study, PTSD results from problems or a disruption in the pre-frontal cortex. This is the region of the brain responsible for decision making. Koenen, K., et al. (2001). Brain & Cognition, Vol 45(1), 64-78.

~~Most people have a hand preference - we are generally either right handed or left handed. But some people show no preference and are referred to as mixed handed. Adolescents with mixed-handedness are more prone to trauma symptoms and panic disorders. Chemtob, C. et al. (2001). Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, Vol 189(1), 58-60.

~~ Concerned that you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD? A urine test may help determine the diagnosis. Persons with PTSD show increased levels of noradrenaline and dopamine in their urine. Tobin, J. (2001). Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, Vol 18(1), 27-29.

~~ Research continues to show the detrimental effect of stress on the hippocampus and its role in memory. Stress particularly effects short term memory. Take a walk. McEwen, B. & Magarinos, A. (2001). Human Psycho- pharmacology Clinical & Experimental, Vol 16(1), S7-S19.

AUTISM/ASPERGER'S

~~ Trying to figure out the difference between autism, Asperger's syndrome and atypical autism? So is the medical and psychological community. Traditionally, children with relatively normal language development, but severely maladaptive social skills have carried the label of Asperger's syndrome. Autism has been reserved for children who exhibit BOTH social and language deficits. However, that view is changing. Leekam, S., et. al. (2000) Autism, vol 4(1) 11-28. AND Volkmar, F. et. al, (2000) American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 157(2) 262-267.

~~Using fMRI techniques, Yale University has found an interesting brain abnormality in persons with autism and autism spectrum disorder. In most brains (yours and mine) we use one area to discriminate or identify objects and a different area to identify faces. In the brains of persons with autism, they use only the first region (inferior Temporal gyri) to identify both objects and faces. Schultz, et.al. (2000). Archives of General Psychiatry, vol 57(4), 331-340.

Asperger's Disorder or Autism? The debate on how to separate these disorders continues. And research continues to show the line is fuzzy. In a current study, they tracked pre-school (age 4-6) children through their early elementary years to see which group improved more, those diagnosed with Asperger's or those diagnosed with autism. The children with Asperger's syndrome developed better social skills with age and showed fewer stereotypic autistic symptoms. However, if the autistic children developed verbal fluency, they were quite difficult to separate from the children with Asperger's by the time they reached middle elementary grades. Szatmari, P. et al. 2000. Am. Journal of Psychiatry. Vol 157(12) 1980-1987 .

~~ Emory University has linked abnormal oxytocin and vasopressin neurotransmitter levels with several behaviors and features of autism. (oxytocin is the neurotransmitter mentioned in this newsletter earlier this year as being associated with monogamy and parent-child bonding). This study is pointing to faulty genes and the expression of peptides for the abnormal levels.

~~ Many children with late-onset autism are actually experiencing epileptic-like brain activity in their sleep. The research project, started about 2 years ago, has found that autism may in fact be related to epilepsy. The children in the study were found to be having small seizure activity in the temporal region of their brains during sleep. This previously undetected activity is thought to be interfering with the brain's natural process of pruning out unused dendrites during sleep. Apparently, dendrites, or pathways, that should have been removed, remain, because the brain mistakenly believes they are still in use. The study is being conducted at research park at the University of Utah.

BRAIN REGIONS/FUNCTION

~~ Not only is the amygdala of the brain responsible for many of our emotions, it also is what allows us to interpret emotions in others by looking at their facial expressions. According to a study out of Iowa, people with damage in the amygdala region (paired also with damage to the front of the temporal lobe) can't "read" the emotion of a person's face. Schmolck, H & Squire, L. 2001. Neuropsychology, vol. 15(1), 30 - 38.

~~Many of us were excited a few years ago when researchers discovered that it may indeed be possible to regenerate nerve cells in the brain. The research shows that the hippocampus, the area responsible for forming memories, is capable of growing new neurons later in life. Now a study out of Princeton is showing what we can do to increase the likelihood of this growth occurring in our brains. According to this study, new nerve cell growth is started by hormones out of the ovaries and adrenal glands. The new cells will either grow or die depending on the enrichment of our environment, learning and reduction of stress. Gould, E., et. al. 2000. Biological Psychiatry, vol. 48(9), 715-720.

:~~I was intrigued by a study out of Germany which noted that often people with right hemisphere brain damage cannot mark the center of a horizontal line yet have no problems marking the center of a square. They used MRI to discover that line judgement activates only the right cortex (parietal region) while finding the center of a square actives the lingual gyrus in both brain hemispheres. Their conclusion: the more 'object-like' gestalt you can make a visual stimulus, the greater the brain regions responsible for interpretation. The morale of the story: Use manipulatives and diagrams whenever possible for simple abstract concepts and to involve more of the brain. Fink, G. et al. 2000 Neuropsychologia, Vol. 38(13), 1741-1748.

~~ The University of Calf. medical school used PET scans to examine brain regions of people while speaking. They looked at the brain while they (1)made nonsense syllables, (2)recited the months of the year, and (3)reciting a briefly memorized prose passage. While both the "mindless" recitation of the months and the prose passage used Wernicke's area (the top back part of the temporal lobe) ONLY the prose showed activity in Broca's area. The conclusion: rote memorized verbal tasks require little thought or sophisticated cortical activity (e.g.: "do you want fries with that?). Bookheimer, S., et al. 2000. Neurology, Vol 55(8), 1151-1157.

~~ The University of Colorado sheds some light on the relationship between the hippocampus and the neocortex in learning. Both areas are involved in learning new tasks. The neocortex processes slower, overlaps categories and attempts to find the patterns and structure of the material. The hippocampus processes faster, uses completely separate representations to code facts and details of specific events and is less prone to interference. In other words, the hippocampus memorizes, the neocortex learns. O'Reilly, R. & Rudy, J. 2000. Hippocampus, Vol 10(4), 389-397.

~~A study out of Duke University shows that, if at all possible, our brain will solve tasks by processing information in only one hemisphere. We see this on simple problem solving tasks. However, as the tasks get more complex, the brain will always choose to process by coordinating information between the two hemispheres. I suppose if we want to give our brains a good well-balanced work-out, we need to do complex tasks once in a while. Weissman and Banich (2000). Neuropsychology, vol 14(1), 41-59.

~~Planning involves maintaining one main goal while working on subgoals for that main goal. This is apparently one of the unique human brain functions. The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland has published findings which show that that particular task is performed in the most anterior part of the frontal lobes called the fronto- polar prefrontal cortex. Koechlin et. al, Nature 1999, vol 399(6732) 148-151.

~~MRI, PET SPECT scans all support major mental disabilities result from adnormalities in the frontal lobes. Major depression and schizophrenia are associated with problems in the left frontal lobe. Impulsiveness and mania in the right frontal lobe. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors tend to result from problems in the orbital frontal lobes. Joseph. Psychiatry: Interpersonal & Biological Processes, 1999, v 62, 2, 138-172.

DEPRESSION

~~ Depressed people have a smaller left side to their hippocampus, according to researchers in West Haven, Connecticut. A study show a 20% size difference in this region of the brain whose main job is memory. The smaller size is thought to be due to the increase in glucocorticoids which come with depression. Glucorticoids can damage the hippocampus. Bremner, et.al. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2000. vol. 157(1), 115-117.

~~Left-handed people are over-represented in the depressed population. This is particularly true with males. One group of researchers is suspecting this may be due to the difference in hormone levels in the brain between left and right handed men. Elias, L. et al. 2001. Brain & Cognition. Vol 46(1-2), 125-129.

~~An interesting study out of Manchester College shows that pregnant women who exhibit depression in their last trimester (high cortisol, high norepinephrine, low dopamine levels) gave birth to infants who also exhibit atypical norepinephrine and dopamine levels. The infants born to depressed mothers also showed inferior performance on infant tests for orientation, reflex and excitability. Lundy, et. al. Infant Behavior & Development, 1999, vol 22(1), 119-129.

~~The brain area responsible for circadian rhythms (suprachiasmatic nuclei) is analyzed in a new study out of the University Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. The study also describes the strong relationship between depression and sleep disturbances, especially REM deprevation. Emilien, et.al. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 1999,vo16(1), 18-23.

~~The University of Helsinki has shown that depressed people exhibit not only cognitive slowing but impairment in visual memory. In their study, verbal memory was not as affected. Kalska, et. al. Applied Neuropsychology, 1999vol. 6(2), 96-107.

DIABETES

~~The Erasmus University Medical School in the Netherlands is showing a correlation between type 2 diabetes and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Apparently persons with diabetes have double the risk of developing dementia.The risk is especially high if they are insulin users. Ott, et.al., Neurology, 1999 Vol 53(9), 1937-1942.

DYSLEXIA

~~Yale University is using neuroimaging to identify the area of dysfunction in dyslexia. It appears to be the angular gyrus in the left hemisphere. This region sits right behind Wernicke's area and is thought to be involved in language-related visual input. Their study also shows compensatory behaviors for the deficit to occur in the same general region in the right hemisphere. Pugh, et. al. (2000). Psychological Science, vol. 11(1), 51-56.

~~Another study published also by Yale University by Sally & Bennett Shaywitz, shows dyslexia to result from the inability to comprehend that words can be broken down into smaller units. This dysfunction occurs in both written and spoken language. This is the function of the angular gyrus mentioned in the topic above. Shaywitz. (1999). Developmental Neuropsychology. Vol 16(3), 383-384.

~~In a "chicken or egg"debate, a study by Rush University in Chicago proposes that deep dyslexia and it's corresponding damaged left hemisphere function actually results from problems with the right hemisphere. The study proposes that the problem arises because the right hemisphere involves itself in the reading process, rather than the other way around. Beeman, et.al. (2000), vol. 71(2), 299-309.

~~National Institute of Health, Bethesda Maryland is shedding more light on the biology of dyslexia. They blame lower blood flow in the temporal and inferior parietal regions of the brain as a problem in dyslexia. In addition, they have found a reverse problem in a region known as the left angular gyrus. Increased blood flow in this area improves reading skill in non-dyslexia persons, but causes worse reading skills in people with dyslexia. Rumsey, et.al., 1999. Brain & Language vol. 70(2), 187-204.

~~The University of Wurzberg conducted a study showing that early training in knowledge of letters and sound structure of spoken language can reduce the risk of dyslexia. Schneider, Roth, Ennemaser. J. of Ed Psych 2000 vol 92,(2) 284-295.

~~Dartmouth medical school is using MRI imaging to show that there is a structural difference in the brains of people with dyslexia. In particular, they've found an area of the perisylvian region (associated with language) called the caudal infrasylvian surface (CIS) which is significantly larger in the brains of persons with dyslexia. Green, et. al, (1999). Neurology. vol. 53(5), 974-981

~~ The Irlen lenses are being tested using magnetoencephalography - the most current and sophisticated brain imaging technique. Erlen lenses are often called "ROSE-COLORED" lenses and have recently been used with varied success for the treatment of some types of dyslexia. The good news: there appears to be significant evidence that these colored filters do reduce or eliminate the conflicting brain pathway firings in some children and enable them to make sense out of what they are reading. The bad news: they don't work for everyone with dyslexia, different colors work for different kids (they need to be "fitted") and like everything - more research needs to be done and funding is limited.

GANGS

~~Another University of Chicago study found the following as predictors of gang activity:

--young age onset of conduct disorder

--having friends who engage in agressive deliquency.

--family income and parental supervision.

Lahey, et. al, (1999). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. vol. 27(4). 261-276.

GENDER DIFFERENCES

~~The Journal of Youth and Adolescence released a study showing female adolescents involved in athletics were much less likely to engage in sexual risk-taking behaviors than non-athletes. The study found 50% of adolescents not in athletics were sexually active, compared to 21% of adolescents in sports activities. Savage & Holcomb (1999). Journal of Youth and Adolescence. vol. 28(5), 595-602.

~~Men and women think differently! So says the Univ. of California school of medicine. They studied working memory (what you have access to right now)in both genders. Working memory utilizes both the prefrontal cortex and the parietal regions. However, men have a right side preference or use both hemispheres, while woman have a strong preference for using their left hemisphere to work on a task at hand. Also, though women had slower reaction times to the task, they were more accurate in their performance. Speck, O. et al. 2000. Neuroreport, Vol 11(11), 2581-2585.

~~On the other side of that sports coin - The University of Vermont did a study showing that female athletes were more at risk of developing eating disorders. The risk increases with the level of competition involved in the sports activity. Picard (1999). Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol 28(5), 585-594.

~~In addition to racial equity, colleges need to be aware of the gender balance in faculty as well, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina. Apparently, female graduate students have a greater academic self-concept and greater career commitment when studying in a program with a gender-balanced faculty as compared to a male-dominated faculty. Ulku-Steiner, et. al. J. of Ed Psych. 2000 vol.92(2) 296-307.

~~When 6th graders solve applied math problems, girls are more persistent than boys. But, girls report lower self-confidence and were more apt to blame errors on the difficulty. Vermeer, et. al. J. of Ed. Psych. 2000 vol.92(2) 308-315.

~~The University of Pennsylvania has exposed another gender difference in human brains. They show that women have a greater percentage of gray matter whereas men have a higher percentage of white matter. Men have equal percentages of white matter in both hemispheres, but a greater amount of gray matter in the left hemisphere than right. There was no difference in hemispheres in women. (White matter is made white by myelination which speeds up electrical flow.) The higher percentage of grey matter in womens'' brains is thought to allow more area available for computation to make up for the overall smaller cranial space in the skull. (white matter is thought to allow transfer of information across distance). Gur, et. al. J. of Neuroscience, 1999 (May), vol. 19(10), 4065 - 4072.

HEARING IMPAIRMENT

~~A study out of Germany shows that early detection of hearing impairment is possible by listening to a baby's cry. "Expert listeners" can detect hearing impairment and its severity through melody, perceived sound, and rhythm of the cry. Moller, et. al, (1999). Speech and Communication. vol. 28(3), 175-193.

HOMEWORK

~~ A study out of Ohio State University shows students do better with more frequent testing. Weekly spot quizzes tended to have a greater effect on exam improvement than homework. Kass, S. 1999. APA Monitor, vol. 30(9).

~~ Homework or no homework? That's a difficult question. According to research, student achievement has little relationship to whether or not the class has assigned homework. In elementary grades, teacher assigned homework actually correlated to students' poor attitude toward school. Achievement DOES relate positively to how much time the parents spend assisting with homework - which should come as no surprise to anyone. Cooper, et.al. 2001. Journal of Experimental Education. vol 69(2) 181-199 and Journal of Educational Psychology (1998), vol 90(1),70-83.

INTELLIGENCE

~~ Children with the fewest numbers of siblings perform the best on tests of intellectual skills and educational achievement. The reason for this appears to be that additional children dilute parental resources. These resources would include time, money and interactions. Downey (2001). American Psychologist, vol 56(6/7), 497-504.

~~What correlates with giftedness in children? According to Ellen Winner at Boston college, here are the qualities and features that tend to be exhibited by gifted children: strong right-hemisphere development, language-related difficulties, autoimmune disorders, high levels of motivation, and social and emotional difficulties. American Psychologist, January 2000 Vol. 55, No. 1, 159-169.

~~Just so you have a little variety in the hot topics - A study out of the University of Denver finds a positive correlation between IQ and brain size. This was an aside from their study comparing brain sizes in identical twins to discuss whether brain size results more from genetics or environmental factors. It should be no surprise that they found genetics to play a big role. Pennington, et.al. (2000). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. Vol 12(1), 223-232.

LANGUAGE

~~Two more studies (one out of Stanford Univ. and the other out of McGill Univ. in Montreal) are supporting the idea that bi-lingual speakers use a common area of the brain for language. The first study used a functional MRI to show a shared region of semantic analysis in the frontal lobes of Spanish/English speakers. The other study used PET scans of Chinese/English speakers and verb generation. In both of these studies, the second language was acquired later in life, but apparently the second language uses the same regions as the first. Illes, et.al. (1999). Brain & Language, vol 70(3), 347-363. Klein, et.al. (1999). Neuroreport, vol 10(13), 2841-2846.

LEARNING

~~ Practice not only makes perfect, it makes the brain efficient. What has previously been seen with monkey brains now has been seen on humans. Using functional MRI, a German University has shown that when learning a motor movement (in this case learning to play the piano), a great deal of the motor region of the brain is used. With experience, smaller and smaller regions of the brain are used. In professional musicians, only very tiny regions of the motor cortex are involved in their playing. Thus practice makes neural networks efficient and frees up regions of the cortex again to be used for other things. Jancke, L., et.al. 2000. Cognitive Brain Research. Vol.10(1-2), 177-183.

~~According to a study out of New York's Columbia University, praise students more for their effort than for their intelligence. The study showed that in 5th graders, praising intelligence actually caused them to work less, experience less enjoyment and less persistance in tasks. Praising effort had just the opposite effect. Mueller & Dweck (1998). Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. Vol 75(1) 33-52.

~~ Smaller class size doesn't seem to make a difference in quantity of material taught, but certainly does effect quality. A study out of UC-San Diego, shows that in smaller classes, teachers covered the same amount of material during the year, but the time spent on individual assistance, tutoring, and one-on-one help increased. Betts, J. & Shkolnik, J. 1999. Educational Evaluation & Policy Analysis.Vol 21(2), 193-213.

~~ The University of Illinois has been studying children's tendency to ask for help. Children who have lower academic expectations for themselves tend to ask for help less often. The study found that classrooms that emphasize self-improvement rather than relative ability encourage students to ask for help. In other words, let your students focus on how well they personally have improved rather than on comparing themselves to others in the room.

~~A study at the University of California helps shed new light on the problem of seductive details in text. Seductive details are illustrations or funny stories which are designed to catch and keep student attention, but generally end up shifting their focus so that they do not grasp and retain the main intent of the text. Many studies have shown that students have lower test scores on information presented in text with seductive details than in straight texts which simply lay out the information. According to this study, the placement of the seductive details in important. These extraneous stories and pictures do the most "damage" when placed at the beginning or dispersed throughout the passage. They do the least "damage" when placed at the end. Does this mean we need to get rid of textbooks with interesting stories, funny tales and exciting illustrations? Probably not, as we know students are more likely to read when the text holds their attention, but we need to make sure that the stories and illustrations are not irrelevant in providing content ideas, otherwise they become distracting. Too often the students remember only the dramatic, irrelevant pictures and not the main idea being presented. Harp & Mayer, J. of Ed. Psychology, 1998,v.90,3, 414-434.

~~Willamette University shows that music therapy is effective in improving emotional and cognitive skills in individual with dementia. Koger, et.al Journal of Music Therapy, 1999, v 36, 1, 2-15.

~~A University of Michigan study found a postive correlation between help-seeking behavior and student's perception of classrooms which address their social and emotional needs. A longitudinal study of middle schoolers shows that children tend to ask for help in classrooms where the emphasis was on trying hard, making self improvment, and had an environment where risk-taking was allowed. In classrooms where relative ability and criteria goal setting was emphasized, students were less likely to seek help. It should also be pointed out that this help-seeking behavior was unrelated to the teacher's view of the classroom, only the students' view. Ryan, et.al, J. of Ed. Psychology, 1998,v.90,3,528-535.

LEARNING DISABILITIES

~~Florida Atlantic University made a comparison study of student adjustment problems during the transition between elementary and middle school. The study compared learning disabled students with students without learning disabilities. Interestingly, the study found no difference in school adjustment problems during the transition. Good or bad, students with learning disabilities tend to fare just as well as students without learning disabilities. Forgan, and Vaughn (2000). Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol.33(1), 33-43.

~~ Indiana University completed a study of students with Learning Disabilities(LD) Half the LD students were included in the regular classroom for reading and math. Half the LD students received reading and math instruction in a resource classroom. The LD students in the regular classroom made significantly more progress in reading and comparable progress in math when compared to the students in resource classes.

MEMORY

~~Remember how we were always taught that that little cerebellum thing hanging off the back of our brains was only good for balance and motor control? Well, guess what? New evidence is showing it may also coordinate some of the activity involved in retrieving information from our episodic memory. According to a new study out of the University of Iowa, the cerebellum shows PET scan activity during conscious episodic memory retrieval. I guess we'll have to pay more attention to that cerebellum now. Andreasen, et. al. (1999) Human Brain Mapping, vol 8(4), 226-234.

~~On a completely different subject, I frequently get email questions concerning herbs and their benefits to brain biology. I ran across a recent study out of the Netherlands which looked at the effectiveness of ginkgo in helping memory impairment in aging brains. In their double blind study, it apparently had absolutely no effect. Sorry...maybe your money would be better spent on mentally stimulating books. vanDongen, M. et al. 2000. Vol. 48(10), 1183-1194.

~~By examining "tip of the tongue" experiences in normal subjects, the University of Wisconsin was able to break down the memory retrieval process into two steps. They studied what properties of a word are available when the word itself is out of reach. They concluded that step one of retrieval is the word's abstract representation (meaning and syntax). The second step involves retrieving the sound of the word. Vigliocco, et. al. Journal of Memory and Language, 1999, v40, 4, 534-558.

MISCELLANEOUS

~~ Columbia University has released new information showing that there are peak seasons for some disorders. ADHD behaviors peak in August, Oppositional Deviant Disorder and Marijuana use peaks August through September. Anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depression peaks August through October. Interestedly, alcohol use shows no particular season. Kovalenko, et. al. 2000. Psychiatry Research, vol. 94(2), 103-119.

~~A Cornell University study shows growing evidence of a link between auto-immune system issues and some psychiatric disorders, particularly Tourette's syndrome and Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder. Researchers have found very specific cell antigens in the blood of some of these children. There continues to be a suspicion that some types of Tourettes my follow a childhood streptococcus infection. Trifiletti & Packard. Child & Adol. Psych. Clinics of N. America. 1999, vol. 8(4), 767-775.

~~A Bouldin and Pratt study out of Bundoora Australia shows that children with imaginary companions between the ages of 3 and 9 years of age tend to be 1)first-born children; 2)very imaginative; 3) incorporate myth in their play: 4) explain events as magical. Journal of Genetic Psychology, (1999). vol 160(4), 397-410.

~~Another interesting article for summer reading is found right before the Pellegrini article in the June issue of the Journal of Educational psychology. The article is titled "Adding Legs to a Snake: A Reanalysis of Motivation and the Pursuit of Happiness from a Zen Buddhist Perspective" by Robert Gaskins. Gaskins provides an interesting alternative view of the sense of self. He includes some classroom suggestions for helping students with "the realization that every moment is fresh, unique, and brimming with possibilities and should be the complete focus of our attention." Gaskins, Journal of Educational Psychology. 1999. 91(2) 204-215.

NEAR-SIGHTEDNESS

~~ New Research is linking near sightedness to sleeping with some light present. It seems that children under the age of two who sleep with a night light or regular room light on have an significantly higher chance of developing nearsightedness. In fact 55% of children who slept with the light on as infants are nearsighted and 33% of children with nightlight are nearsighted. (University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine).

OCD

~~ New studies out of Australia and the US (New York) are linking obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in adolescents as a predictor to other problems such as eating disorders and suicide. Zaider, T. et.al, (2000) International Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol 28(1), 58-67. AND Haliburn, J. (2000). J. of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, vol 39(1), 13-14.

~~ People with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) generally have accompanying disabilities In fact, 69% of people with OCD also have additional disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, or tic disorders. Haliburn, J. (2000). J. of the Am. Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol 39(1), 13-14.

ODD

~~ EEG patterns can be used to diagnose some behavior disorders. In healthy children, after the age of 4 years, girls and boys begin showing different hemisphere preferences to problem solving. Girls prefer their left frontal lobe and boys prefer their right. However, in boys with Oppositional Deviant Disorder (ODD), their brains show no preference to a hemisphere and in girls with ODD, you find a preference for the right frontal lobe. Baving, L. et. al. 2000. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychiatry, vol 28(3), 267-275.

PROBLEM SOLVING

~~Problem solving is best learned in groups. Not only do groups solve problems quicker than individuals, but when members of the group have to solve subsequent problems alone, they do better than those individuals without the group experience. Barron. J. of Ed Psych. 2000 vol. 92(2) 391-398.

~~The Journal of Educational Psychology published a study showing how teacher gestures can improve student problem-solving strategies, particularly in math. If teachers did not gesture at all or gestured differently than the strategy conveyed by speech in explaining a problem, students later showed less understanding than students whose teachers used hand gestures which matched and supported the verbal explanation. Goldin-Meadow, et.al. (1999) vol 91(4), 720-730.

READING

~~ What makes a poor reader? A variety of factors including: phonemic awareness, ability to attend, word retrieval skills, capacity of short- term memory, parental involvement, and inability to process syntax. One factor that does NOT correlate to poor reading is IQ. Applied Psycholinguistics. 2000 Jun Vol 21(2) 229-241 . Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2000 Jul Vol 39(7) 859-867. Reading & Writing. 2000 Mar Vol 12(1-2) 129-142 Reading Psychology. 2000 Jul-Sep Vol 21(3) 195-215 Reading & Writing. 2000 Sep Vol 13(1-2) 81-103 Learning & Individual Differences. 1999 Vol 11(4) 377-400.

~~Along the same lines of the left brain/right brain issue, a study out of New Zealand confirms what we've been told for years: the left side of the brain is involved in reading. However, their study shows that the right side is also very active in the reading process. It's just not as efficient in the process as the left side. The study was conducted using an interesting finger-tapping while reading exercise. Waldie, K. & Mosley, J. 2000. Brain & Language. Vol 75(1), 108-122.

REWARDS

~~Edward Deci and colleagues wrote a nice analysis of 128 recent studies on the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. As expected, all the studies point to external, tangible rewards as something which significantly reduces intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, positive feedback for tasks increases both the likelihood of an individual's free-choice of that task and self-reported interest. Tangible rewards were found to be more damaging to the motivation of young children as opposed to college-aged students. Verbal rewards were also less effective on younger children.

Deci, et. al. 1999 (Nov) Psychological Bulletin, Vol 125(6), 627-668.

SCHOOL ISSUES

~~The same issue of the Psych Bulletin (Nov 1999) has an article from Ray Nickerson giving suggestions on ways to help students with social communication difficulties. The article reviews how effective communication requires that people have an accurate understanding about what the other person already knows. Underestimating or overestimating another person's knowledge leads to inept social conversation. This information may be taught to children who are struggling with social interaction. Nickerson, Raymond 1999 (Nov), Vol 125 (6),737-759.

~~Anthony Pellegrini at the University of Minnesota has a new article in the current issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology on school bullies and victims. The study of 5th graders shows 14% of them are bullies, 18% are victims. Bullying was negatively correlated to peer popularity. Being liked by classmates was found to be a protective factor against being a victim of bullying. Journal of Educational Psychology. 1999 vol. 91 (2), 216-224.

~~ Research from the State University of New York - Pottsdam shows that child mistreatment is discovered by elementary teachers much more often than adolescent mistreatment (in the home) by secondary teachers.

SLEEP

~~ Research continues to be published showing the importance of sleep to "cement" new knowledge into the brain. One study out of Harvard Medical School shows that certain types of learning (discrimination) were hindered when students were sleep-deprived right after learning. Even when later allowed to catch up on the deprived sleep, their test performance did not improve. Learning and sleep go hand in hand. Stickgold, R., et. al. 2000. Nature Neuroscience, Vol 3(12) 1237-1238.

~~ Snoring in children may be cause for concern. At least that's the conclusion in a new study out of the University of South Australia. When they studied over 2,000 children who snored versus those who did not, they found significant cognitive differences. Compared to non-snorers, children who snored showed significantly impaired attention and lower memory and IQ scores. Blunden, S., et.al, 2000. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, Vol 22(5) 554-568.

~~ Sleep deprivation and sleep habits do correlate with academic grades. A study out of Worcester, MA, shows that students who received low grades (C's, D's, F's), obtained about 25 minutes less sleep and went to bed an average of 40 minutes later on school nights than students with high grades (A's and B's). Adolescents who slept less than 7 hours reported increased daytime sleepiness, depressed mood, and behavior problems. Wolfson, A. 1998. Child Development, Vol 69(4) 875-887.

~~Good news from the Washoe Sleep Disorders Clinic in Reno, Nevada (a good place for a sleep disorders clinic if you ask me:>). Short-term sleep deprivation does not impair cortical function. While it has been shown many times that long term sleep deprivation interferes with test taking, attention and task completion, apparently sleep deprivation for shorter periods of time do not. Binks, et.al, Sleep, 1999(May), V. 22(3), 328-334.

SMOKING

~~ Nicotine degenerates certain neurons in the central regions of the brain. As with other drugs, grey matter neurons appear to degenerate faster than white matter. (Apparently the "white" fatty cover offers some protection). Carlson, J. Neuropharmacology. 2000. vol 39(13), 2792-2798.

~~ Many people who smoke believe it increases their memory performance. What is really happening is that smokers' brains become dependent on the nicotine for memory function. During times of abstinence (between cigarettes), smokers actually lose memory function. This function resumes with the nicotine use, thereby giving them a false feeling that smoking improves memory. Tait, R. et. al. 2000. Addiction. Vol95(3) 437-446.

~~ Adolescents who smoke are at a much higher risk for anxiety disorders. Heavy smoking is associated with agoraphobia, anxiety and panic disorders. Johnson, J. et. al. 2000. J. of the American Medical Association, Vol 284(18) 2348-2351.

~~ Cigarette smoking during pregnancy may lead to hyperactivity in the child. In rat studies, nicotine exposure during the pre-natal period led to significant overactivity after birth. Thomas, J. et.al. 2000. Neurotoxicology & Teratology, Vol 22(5) 695-701.

~~Heavy smoking is rare in persons with no history of mental illness. (There's a bumper sticker for your classroom!) Lewinsohn, P. 2000. Nicotine & Tobacco research, Vol 2(2) 121-131.

STRESS

~~ Stress causes neurons to atrophy and die. A study out of Yale University shows the death of neurons, particularly in the hippocampus region, as a result of stress. The same study shows that antidepressant medications may increase the chances of these cells survival. Duman, et.al., 1999. Biological Psychiatry, vol 46(9), 1181-1191.

~~Another study out of Yale University fuels the effort to reduce stress in life. They have found atrophy and death of cells in the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex in response to stress. Antidepressant treatments have been found to slow or even reverse the atrophy in these regions. Duman, Malberg & Thome. Biological Psychiatry. 1999. vol 46(9), 1181-1191.

~~There is a relationship between your stress coping skills and immune system. According to the Trimbos Institute in the Netherlands, acute stress (sudden, short-lived) actually improves our immune system temporarily. But chronic stress (long term) decreases the effectiveness of our immune system. They point out that depression is particularily detrimental to our immune system. Chronic stress occurs when problems outweigh our coping skills. Stress reduction and coping skills may need to be an integral part of our curriculum, especially with today's increasing appearance of adolescent depression. Olff, Psychiatry Research, 1999, v.85,1, 7-15.

~~The Rockefeller University released interesting findings on hippocampus damage due to stress. Apparently stress, both acute and chronic, suppress growth of dendrites and neuron maintainance in the hippocampus region specific to episodic and semantic memory. It is not clear whether the cell loss is permanant or a "reversible atrophy". McEwen. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 1999, v22, 105-122.

STUDENT-CENTERED CLASSROOMS

~~ A study at Yale University with 3rd through 8th graders, has shown again that instruction involving analytical, creative and practical methods of instruction combined, beats the traditional rote, memory-based teaching technique. Students were divided into two groups, one given a traditional memory based approach and one with the three above mentioned techniques blended. In performance-based and memory based multiple choice tests, the blended method was superior. Let's hear it again for student-centered classrooms.

~~The Journal of Educational Psychology (Sept. 1999) includes a great study by Reeve and Bolt (Sept 1999) on student-centered classrooms and the teaching styles they exhibit. The teachers who use these teaching methods effectively are what the researchers call "Autonomy-supportive" teachers as opposed to "relatively controlling" teachers.

The study documented exactly what these autonomy-supportive teachers do in their classrooms THEIR RESULTS-- these teachers:

**listened more

**held the instructional materials less,

**resisted giving solutions,

**supported the student's intrinsic motivation

**verbalize fewer directives

**ask more questions about what the students wanted to do

**respond more to student-generated questions

**volunteer more perspective-taking statements.

In addition, this study substantiated previous studies' claims on the ADVANTAGES OF STUDENT-CENTERED INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS. Research shows that students in these types of classes are:

** more likely to stay in school

** more likely to show greater perceived academic competence

** show enhanced creativity

** show a preference for optimal challenge

** show greater conceptual understanding

**show more positive emotion

**have higher academic intrinsic motivation

** better academic performance

** higher academic achievement

Are you looking for hard research to support the idea of student-centered classrooms? Here are a few:

Benware & Deci 1984. The quality of learning with an active versus passie motivational set. American Educational Research Journal, 21, 755-765.

Boggiano et al., 1993. Use of techniques promoting students' self-determination: Effects on students' analytic problem-solving skills. Motivation and Emotion, 17, 319-336.

Deci, Schwartz, et al., 1981. An instrument to assess adults' orientations toward control versus autonomy with children: Reflections on intrinsic motivation and perceived competence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 642-650.

Deci & Ryan, 1987. The support of autonomy and the control of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53,1024-1037.

Deci, Nezlek, & Sheinman, 1981. Characteristics of the rewarder and intrinsic motivation of the rewardee. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 1-10.

Flink, et al, 1992. Children's achievement-related behaviors: The role of extrinsic and intrinsic motivational orientations. In A. K. Boggiano & T.S. Pittman (Eds.), Achievement and motivation: a social-developmental perspective (pp. 189-214). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Grolnick & Ryan, 1987. Autonomy in children's learning: An experimental and individual difference investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52,890-898.

Koestner, Ryan, Bernieri, & Holt, 1984. Setting limits on children's behavior: The differential effects of controling versus informaitonal styles on intrinsic motivation and creativity. Journal of Personality, 52, 233-248.

Patrick, Skinner, & Connell, 1993. What motivates children's behavior and emotion? Joint effects of perceived control and autonomy in the academic domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 781-791.

Reeve, 1996. The interest-enjoyment distinction in intrinsic motivation. Motivation and Emotion, 13, 83-103.

Rigby et al., 1992. Beyond the intrinsic-extrinsic dichotomy: Self-determination in motivation and learning. Motivation and Emotion, 16, 165-185.

Shapira, 1976. Expectancy determinants of intrinsically motivated behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 1235-1244.

Valleran, Fortier, & Guay, 1997. Self-determination and persistence in a real-life setting: Toward a motivational model of high school dropout. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1161-1176.

STUTTERING

~~ A new medication has been shown to help adolescents who stutter. The University of California at Irvine, in a study of 10 - 14 year olds, found that the drug olanzapine was able to help children manage their stuttering. Lavid, et. al. (1991). Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, vol 11(4), 233-236.

~~If you are looking for medical treatments for stuttering you may want to check a new study out of the University of California at Irvine Medical center. Although in the past, medications have had limited effect on stuttering, they have found some success with Haloperidol and Risperidone. Lavid, Franklin & Maguire. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 1999. Vol 11(4), 233-236.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

~~Want to age your brain quickly? Use cocaine and/or amphetamines. Older brains lose gray matter in the frontal lobes as do brains whose owners use cocaine and amphetamines (and they lose it much faster). Older brains lose gray matter and volume in the temporal lobe. Cocaine users do it faster. In fact, cocaine users lose brain volume at record speed. Bartzokis, G. et.al. Psychiatry Research:Neuroimaging. 2000. vol. 98(2), 93-102.

~~Apparently the effects of cocaine varies with your gender - or at least it does if you're a rat. In rats, though both genders showed an increase in activity under the influence of cocaine, females rats had a much greater increase. Walker, Q. et al. 2001. Neuropsychopharmacology. Vol 25(1) 118-130 .

~~ In a related study, we find that though it may cause women to be more active than men, cocaine apparently does less physical damage to neurons and brain regions. When comparing men and women's brains who have had comparable drug usage, there was significantly more damage to the cells of male brains than female from cocaine use. Kaufman, M., et al. 2001. Biological Psychiatry. Vol 49(9) 774-781 . ~~

~~The drug known as "Ecstasy" can interfere with memory. The drug alters the serotonin receptors in various regions of the brain associated with memory. Reneman, L. Psychopharmacology. 2000. Vol. 148(3) 322-324.

~~Rumor has it (among teens mostly) that the drug "Ecstasy" has only minor, short-term negative effects. Nothing could be further from the truth. Research shows this drug causes many long term effects including: persistent changes in brain function, hostility, memory deficits, altered amygdala and hippocampus function, cognitive impairments, serotonergic neurotoxicity, cardiac arrhythmia, hyperthermia, depression, and limited blood flow in the frontal and occipital cortex. Just to name a few......(sources for these are

1. Burgess, Ciara, et. al. European Psychiatry. 2000 Aug Vol 15(5) 287-294 .

2. Barrionuevo, M., et. al. Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior. 2000 Feb Vol 65(2) 233-240.

3. Gerra, Gilberto, et.al. Biological Psychiatry. 2000 Jan Vol 47(2) 127-136.

4. Shankaran, Mahalakshmi; Gudelsky, Gary A. Psychopharmacology. 1999 Nov Vol 147(1) 66-72.

5. Marston, Hugh, et. al. Psychopharmacology. 1999 May Vol 144(1) 67-76.

6. Obrocki, Jost, et. al. British Journal of Psychiatry. 1999 Aug Vol 175 186-188.

7. Morgan, Michael John. Psychopharmacology. 1999 Jan Vol 141(1) 30-36.

8. O-Shea, E., et.al. Neuropharmacology. 1998 Jul Vol 37(7) 919-926.

9. Liechti, Matthias E., et. al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2001 Mar Vol 24(3) 240-252.

10. Taffe, Michael A., et. al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2001 Mar Vol 24(3) 230-239.

11. Gamma, Alex, et. al. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2001 Feb Vol 21(1) 66-71.

12. Verkes, Robbert, et. al. Psychopharmacology. 2001 Jan Vol 153(2) 196-202.

13. Byrne, Tom; Baker, Lisa E.; Poling, Alan. Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior. 2000 Jul Vol 66(3) 501-508.

14. Slotkin, T. A.; Seidler, F. J.; Ali, S. F. Brain Research. 2000 Oct Vol 879(1-2) 163-173.

15. Morgan, Michael John. Psychopharmacology. 2000 Oct Vol 152(3) 230-248.

16. Gamma, Alex, et. al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2000 Oct Vol 23(4) 388-395.

17. Parrott, A. C.; Sisk, E.; Turner, J. Drug & Alcohol Dependence. 2000 Jul Vol 60(1) 105-110.

18. Tuchtenhagen, Frank, et. al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2000 Jun Vol 22(6) 608-617.

~~ Although "crack babies" often resemble children with ADHD, their behaviors and disabilities differ. In a recent study, ADHD children were compared to children who had tested positive for cocaine and amphetamines at birth (called PSE for pre-natal stimulant exposure). The study involved testing accuracy and reaction times. Children with ADHD as well as PSE children had more errors than "normal" children. However, only the PSE children actually had a slower reaction time. The ADHD children's errors were due to the unpredictability of the task and wandering of attention, whereas the PSE children's errors were completely random. Eghbalieh, B. et.al. 2000. J. of Attention Disorders, vol 4(1), 5-13.

~~ Rockville, Maryland has found many biological similarities between violent persons and persons with drug abuse. Deficits in the functioning of the prefrontal cortex are found in both substance abusers and in violent behavior. Predictors of both behaviors are: impulsivity, poor decision-making ability, disinhibition, and inability to assess consequences. Fishbein, D. 2000. Criminal Justice & Behavior, vol 27(2), 139-159.

SUICIDE

~~ Columbia University has released an amazing study showing the neurobiology differences between depressed, non-suicidal people and depressed, suicidal people. According to the study, serotonin levels are responsible for setting the threshold which triggers suicidal behavior. In suicide attempters, serotonin metabolites are low in cerebrospinal fluid and there is low serotonin activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. What makes this study amazing is that the researchers point out that serotonin levels can be seen and measured through current PET scan technique. This implies there may be a way to actually "see" if a depressed person is a strong candidate for suicide in time for drastic intervention.

TEENAGERS

~~Now that summer is under-way, it always appears that new teen-age drivers are hitting the city streets in wild abandonment. A new study out of Monash University in Victoria, Australia shows that indeed, young drivers have problems detecting and reacting to hazardous situations. The study shows that new drivers are slow to recognize hazards, inefficient at the detection and perceive them less holistically. In addition, young drivers underestimate the risk posed by hazards and overestimate their ability to deal with the hazard. Deery, Hamish (1999) Journal of Safety Research, Vol 30 (4) 225-236.

~~ The University of New York shows again that direct or indirect, mom's attitude about pre-marital sex influences adolescent behavior. The study of 751 inner-city African American 14-17 year olds, found that whether the mother expressed her feelings through direct communication or indirect message, adolescents' attitudes toward sex behavior tended to match their mothers' attitude. Dittus, Jaccard & Gordon. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 1999 (Sept), vol.29(9), 1927-1963.

~~A University of Chicago study shows that the younger a child is when he shows conduct problems, the more likely he/she is to show physical aggression, theft, and vandalism during the teen-age years. Lahey, et. al, (1999). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, vol. 27(4), 247-260.

TOURETTE'S

~~Gordon Millichap at Northwestern U Medical school has published documentation which accues methylphenidate as a possible cause of tourettes syndrome. Among other studies, Millichap shows the strong correlation between Methyphenidate (ritalin) and the increase in tourettes. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 1999,vol 41(5), 356.

~~People unhappy with current medical treatments of Tourettes (haloperidol, pimozide, fluphenazine, and clonidine) due to the side effects, may want to look at a new study out of Wayne State University. The study shows much success in treating Tourettes with Baclofen/botolinum toxin type A with few, if any side effects. The drug works by inhibiting release of acetylcholine. Awaad, Yasser, Journal of Child Neurology, 1999, vol 14(5), 316-319.

~~National Institute of Health released information that new PET scan studies are showing abnormal dopamine (a brain neurotransmitter) activity for persons with Tourette's disorder. The problem tends to center in the frontal cortex and midbrain. Ernst,et.al., J. of Am. Academy of Child & Adolescent Psy., 1999, v.38, 1, 86-94.

VIOLENCE

~~This month's American Psychologist has an excellent article exposing the increasing evidence found in the scientific community regarding violence in the media and violence in society while the media itself ignores, denies or plays down the blinding evidence. The relationship is a strong one. There is overwhelming evidence that violence in the media does in fact cause violence in children and violence in our society. However, due to a variety of reasons (not the least of which is economic) the news media, both tv news and news periodicals continue to deny the evidence and sway public opinion to allow it to continue unregulated. Buhmand & Anderson (2001). American Psychologist, vol 56(6/7), 477-489.

~~According to several studies out recently, violent and aggressive behaviors are not caused by low self-esteem, but rather from a narcissistic personality (extreme self-love) coupled with a threat to the ego. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2000 Feb Vol 9(1) 26-29. Aggressive Behavior. 1998 Vol 24(6) 421-438. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. 1998 Jul Vol 75(1) 219-229.

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