Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reading Ability, Declarative Memory, OCD, U.S. Education (Sigh), and More

PREDICTING READING ABILITY. Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Fumiko Hoeft, of the University of California at San Francisco, does research on children's success and problems with reading, recently completing a three-year longitudinal study children aged 5 and 6. The study analyzed all sorts of factors that might be predictive of reading ability, including cognitive ability and home life. Brain scans were taken at the start of the study and three years later. According to a description of the research in The New Yorker, the single factor that predicted reading ability was the growth of white matter in the left temporoparietal region of the brain during the three years. Dr. Hoeft thinks the growth is influenced by both genetics and by the child's environment. Find the New Yorker article. Interestingly Dr. Hoeft has also studied "stealth dyslexia," a topic described by Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide a few years ago in an article in 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter; find that article.

DELCARATIVE MEMORY is the antidote -- or maybe the ameliorator -- for five disorders -- ASD, OCD, Tourette's, dyslexia,and specific language impairment. This according to research from the Georgetown University Medical Center. Such memory, according to the researchers, is flexible and used both consciously and unconsciously to compensate for disorders. Find out more.

OCD PRIMER. The site of ADDitude has a three-page primer on obsessive-compulsive disorder, including what it is, treatment, its relation to ADHD, and the differences between the two. Find the primer

POLICY WONKS! Paying attention to the future of education in the United States? We've got news for you about NCLB. Will it be rewritten? Ditched? Scaled back? Depends on who you listen to. The House Education Committee seems to want to scale back the role of the federal government and rename the effort the "Student Success Act"; read more. The Secretary of Education has laid out his vision for what a new law should do; find it. And a group of 500 educational researchers want to get rid of "test-focused reforms," supporting a recent policy memo from the National Education Policy Center; read more.

ATTENTIONAL PLASTICITY. You've got it -- and, just as importantly, so might your attention-challenged child. Researchers have used real-time brain feedback to prevent attention from wandering during tasks requiring focus. According to, "The authors also hope that further research on the subject could in the future assist in treating attention disorders like ADD or ADHD." Read more. Separately, other researchers have determined that "time-based interventions can be an effective mechanism to increase self-control." The essence, evidently: teaching subjects that waiting can possibly lead to greater rewards. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Maybe you haven't been paying attention to which baby names are currently popular, perhaps making your own choices years ago. But an article at the Washington Post, in the column "Speaking of Science," sheds some insight into the dynamics of choosing a name when you're part of a "network" such as society. Read more.

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