Are healthy girls affected physically by their mothers’ depression?

Researchers following adolescent and pre-adolescent healthy daughters of mothers with a history of depression, have found that the chromosomes of these high-risk girls show signs of cellular aging.  In a paper published in the Sept. 30 edition of Molecular Psychiatry, Stanford scientists found that telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes whose length shortens as a person ages, are shorter than normal in girls whose mothers have had multiple episodes of depression.  What was especially surprising, according to these researchers, was that these 10-to-14  year-old girls with telomere shortening showed no signs or symptoms of depression at the beginning of the study, when their telomeres were measured.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/11/24/are-healthy-girls-affected-physically-by-their-mothers-depression/

Stress in early childhood changes how people deal with challenging situations later in life

Traumatic events leave their mark. People exposed to a traumatic experience early in life are more likely to be affected by illnesses such as borderline personality disorder or depression. However such experience can also have positive effects in certain circumstances. Thus, moderate stress in childhood may help a person develop strategies to better cope with stress in adulthood.  Further, it has long been recognised by psychologists and psychiatrists that the negative effects of trauma experienced by parents can be seen in their children, but the molecular mechanisms underlying such transmission are only beginning to be identified. A research team led by Isabelle Mansuy, Professor of Neuroepigenetics at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, has for the first time tested in mice the degree to which the beneficial effects of stress can be passed to following generations.

 

Inside the psychology of productivity: Burned out? Can't get it all done? The problem might be in your head

You wake up with it in the morning and go to bed thinking about it at night: an ever-crushing load of emails, meetings, conference calls, and tasks that needed to get done yesterday. Family time means reading sales reports in the room where your kids are playing video games. For entrepreneurs, there's soooo much to get done--85 percent of fast-growth-company CEOs work 10 or more hours a day, according to a recent survey of the Inc. 500. Under such circumstances, personal productivity isn't just a metric. It's also a mandate.  Recently, a glut of tools and systems has emerged to help you measure, manage, and maximize what you accomplish. But not all impediments to productivity result from poor organization. Many are psychological. Behavioral economics reveals the wacky ways people think about financial costs and rewards. Similarly, psychologists, business researchers, and even philosophers are illuminating people's idiosyncratic approaches to getting stuff done.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/201503/leigh-buchanan/the-psychology-of-productivity.html

Methods of alleviating anxiety

In my previous post, Understanding Anxiety as a Symptom: Not the Problem, I focus on what causes the brain/body reaction to produce anxiety symptoms, such as racing thought, heart pounding, bodily trembling, profuse sweating, and inability to control breathing, just to name a few.  Many people have written to me telling me what has worked for them to alleviate theiranxiety (link is external)symptoms, such as taking specific medicationlaughing, praying, exercising, singing and meditating. I’m not a medical doctor (M.D.) nor am I a prescribing psychologist. I do know that there are prescribed medications and over the counter medications (OTC) that truly work and help with the various symptoms. In my life, especially when I have to get my yearly MRI brain scan, medication has truly helped. With all my training, during this type of event, I prefer medication.

 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-resilient-brain/201407/methods-alleviating-anxiety?collection=1070769

Brain connections give clues to sensory problems in autism

Signals that relay sensations from nerves into the brain are abnormally strong in people with autism. The findings, published 12 March inBrain, may explain why some people with autism are overly sensitive to sensory stimuli such as light, sound and touch1.  In autism research, few findings are as complex as those surrounding brain connectivity, a measure of the synchronization between two brain areas. Many studies suggest that people with autism have unusually weak connectionsbetween brain regions, whereas other studies have found evidence for overconnectivity. Most scientists now agree that autism brains areinherently ‘noisy,’ with both overly weak and strong connections in the same brain.

http://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/news/2015/brain-connections-give-clues-to-sensory-problems-in-autism

 

Reading comprehension: Our brains see familiar words as pictures, not individual letters

Research has shown that distinct insular subregions are associated with particular neural networks (e.g., attentional and sensorimotor networks). Based on the evidence that playing action video games (AVGs) facilitates attentional and sensorimotor functions, this study examined the relation between AVG xperience and the plasticity of insular subregions and the functional networks therein that are related to attentional and sensorimotor functions. By comparing AVG experts and amateurs, we found that AVG xperts had enhanced functional connectivity and grey matter volume in insular subregions. Furthermore, AVG experts exhibited increased functional connectivity between the attentional and sensorimotor networks, and the experience-related enhancement was predominantly evident in the left insula, an understudied brain area. Thus, AVG playing may enhance functional integration of insular subregions and the pertinent networks therein. 

http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150402/srep09763/pdf/srep09763.pdf 

Study reveals sad link between poverty and children's brain development

We've long known that children from affluent families get a head start that can translate into a long-lasting advantage, especially when it comes to academic achievement. Now, scientists have found what may be part of the explanation: Children who grow up in higher-income families appear to have larger brains.  Researchers from nine universities across the country, led by neuroscientists at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Columbia University Medical Center, conducted a major new study of the effects of family income and parental education on child and adolescent brain development.

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/30/brain-development-poverty_n_6968758.html

 

A ‘Wikipedia’ for neurons

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have used data mining to create neuroelectro.org, a publicly available website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing the decades worth of physiological data collected about the billions of neurons in the brain.  The site aims to help accelerate the advance of neuroscience research by providing a centralized resource for collecting and comparing this “brain big data.”  A description of the data available and some of the analyses that can be performed using the site are published online by the Journal of Neurophysiology.  The neurons in the brain can be divided into approximately 300 different types based on their physical and functional properties. The data is scattered across tens of thousands of papers in the scientific literature.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/a-wikipedia-for-neurons

Childhood neglect may affect brain development

"Our findings have important implications for public health related to early prevention and intervention forchildren reared in conditions of severe neglect or adverse contexts more generally," the researchers wrote. The study looked at 26 abandoned children in Romania who experienced social, emotional, language and mental development neglect while living in institutions. They were compared with 23 children who were placed in high-quality foster care and 20 children who grew up with their own families.

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=186495

6 important things you should know about how your brain learns

Whether you want to learn a new language, learn to cook, take up a musical instrument, or just get more out of the books you read, it helps to know how your brain learns. While everyone learns slightly differently, we do have similarities in the way our brains take in new information, and knowing how this works can help us choose the most efficient strategies for learning new things.

 

http://blog.pickcrew.com/6-things-know-brain-learns/

After-school exercise program enhances cognition in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds

Children-who-engaged-in-an-after-school-physical-activity-program.jpg

A nine-month-long, randomized controlled trial involving 221 prepubescent children found that those who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day after school saw substantial improvements in their ability to pay attention, avoid distraction and switch between cognitive tasks, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.  Half of the study subjects were randomly assigned to the after-school program and the rest were placed on a wait list. All participants underwent cognitive testing and brain imaging before and after the intervention.

http://www.psypost.org/2014/09/school-exercise-program-enhances-cognition-7-8-9-year-olds-28343

Study first to use brain scans to rorecast early reading difficulties

UC San Francisco researchers have used brain scans to predict how young children learn to read, giving clinicians a possible tool to spot children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties before they experience reading challenges.

http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/09/117256/study-first-use-brain-scans-forecast-early-reading-difficulties

10 things students experience every day at school that we educators tend to forget about...

So, just recently I was challenged by our middle school principal, Ty CrainThe challenge was simple... come be a student at the middle school for an entire dayThis would mean starting the day at school at breakfast and following a schedule throughout the entire day just like any student would.  The goal of this challenge is to experience what a student experiences and see the day-to-day operations of the middle school from an unbiased and different set of eyes.  I accepted this challenge and have a new appreciation for what our students get to (have to) experience each and every day they are at school.

http://www.justintarte.com/2014/09/10-things-students-experience-every-day.html

What’s going on inside a dyslexic student’s brain?

There’s no such thing as a “normal brain.” In fact, there’s a lot of diversity in how different brains process information — a challenge for educators tasked with teaching a diverse group of learners. Dyslexia is a common variation that affects how kids read, but what’s really going inside the brain of someone affected by it? Kelli Sandman-Hurley’s TED-Ed video explains.

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/09/whats-going-on-inside-a-dyslexic-students-brain/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zafiGBrFkRM

Whether you quit or persevere eepends on your perception of control; What makes us try again

It’s not the circumstances that cause us to act a certain way, it's how we choose to react that defines us. One person’s reaction to bad news may make them work harder while another person may quit or give up, and researchers have found it all depends on how much control we feel we have over the situation. The findings, which were published in the journal Neuron, detail how researchers examined the brain’s activity in different situations.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/whether-you-quit-or-persevere-depends-your-perception-control-what-make-us-try-again-301706

The advantages of dyslexia

With reading difficulties can come other cognitive strengths.  “There are three types of mathematicians, those who can count and those who can’t.”  Bad joke? You bet. But what makes this amusing is that the joke is triggered by our perception of a paradox, a breakdown in mathematical logic that activates regions of the brain located in the right prefrontal cortex. These regions are sensitive to the perception of causality and alert us to situations that are suspect or fishy — possible sources of danger where a situation just doesn’t seem to add up. 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-advantages-of-dyslexia/

One minute reader iPad app

The award-winning One Minute Reader App provides...

  • An engaging, structured reading app using game-based technology.
  • Built‐in accountability for independent reading in school or at home.
  • Opportunities for students to email results to teachers or family.
  • Motivating, leveled, informational text for reluctant readers.
  • Additional practice for students using Read Naturally Live or Read Naturally Encore.
  • Challenging reading material for young, advanced readers. 

    http://www.readnaturally.com/product/one-minute-reader

     

    10 apps for math fluency

    There are so many ways to use mobile devices with students. You can create interactive textbooks for children to read, ask them to explain their thinking through screencasting or help them access informational text usingQR codes. Mobile devices can also be used to help students practice foundational math skills and build their math fluency.  In order for students to tackle the multi-step word problems they'll be asked to solve as early as elementary school, they need to have mastered their addition, subtraction and multiplication facts. By answering 4 + 12, 15 - 5, 9 x 7 and 18 / 3 quickly and accurately, students can focus on reading word problems to figure out what the question is asking them to do. There are tons of fun apps that help children build their math fluency through games and flashcards. Check out some of these fantastic math apps.

    http://www.edutopia.org/blog/10-apps-for-math-fluency-monica-burns

    Why are so few people left-handed?

    Today marks the 22nd annual International Left-Handers Day. To celebrate, let's look at why only around one in ten people is left-handed. Why, pray tell, are lefties are so rare – or, said another way, why are most of us righties? It seems like a simple question, but it's actually one of the biggest mysteries in all of science.

    http://io9.com/why-are-so-few-people-left-handed-1621011048

     

    Novel study maps infant brain growth in first three months of life using MRI technology

    A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the University of Hawaii demonstrates a new approach to measuring early brain development of infants, resulting in more accurate whole brain growth charts and providing the first estimates for growth trajectories of subcortical areas during the first three months after birth. Assessing the size, asymmetry and rate of growth of different brain regions could be key in detecting and treating the earliest signs of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism or perinatal brain injury.

    http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/621724/