This edition of the NBC is, strangely, devoid of books. I've been sick lately (no worries; not with COVID-19), so I haven't been blogging much or reading many work-related books. But while I've been recovering, interesting articles and research have been stacking up! Here's a list of some of the interesting stuff I've stumbled across in the last few weeks. Many of the articles are rather depressing, so I've interspersed some pictures of cute kids reading in between each selection below.
Long Form Article Two boys with the same disability [dyslexia] tried to get help. The rich student got it quickly. The poor student did not. Mike Elsen-Rooney, the Teacher Project, in USA Today, February 10 2020. I've been thinking a lot about which families are able to access a neuropsychological evaluation and which aren't. This article details the stories of two elementary school-aged boys with dyslexia who each sought private placement in New York (where this a more common option than in most of the country). It details how many more barriers were in place for the family of lower SES relative to the family of higher SES, including barriers in obtaining a "time-consuming and costly medical exam called a neuropsych. The exams, which usually cost $5,000 and are almost never covered by insurance, have become a necessary step for families seeking a private placement." The article discusses how white and wealthy students more easily obtain neuropsychological evals, which in turn can lead to better placement options, resulting in some truly staggering disparities in outcome.
Long Form Article The Hidden Trauma of “Short Stays” in Foster Care, Eli Hager, The Marshall Project, February 11 2020. Excerpt: "When most Americans think of foster care, they think of children waiting years in homes or institutions to return to their families or to be placed for adoption. But every year, an average of nearly 17,000 children are removed from their families’ custody and placed in foster care only to be reunited within 10 days, according to a Marshall Project analysis of federal Department of Health and Human Services records dating back a decade. [...] Although short stays in foster care may seem too fleeting to matter, they often inflict lasting damage, much like that experienced by children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Experts and studies on child development say that the moment when a child is taken from her parents is the source of lifelong trauma, regardless of how long the separation lasts."
Book Excerpt ‘My baby had devils’ eyes’: the reality of postpartum psychosis, Extracted from Inferno, by Catherine Cho, published in The Guardian, March 7 2020. Excerpt: "Eventually James and I talked about those days. He told me that by the time he took me to the hospital, I was manic, stripping my clothes and screaming in the waiting room. He told me the hardest moment was watching me fight with the nurses as they clamped me in restraints. I read obsessively about postpartum psychosis. I joined an online forum and read about the fear, the isolation. I learned that for most women, postpartum psychosis occurs a day or two after the birth. It was unusual for it to occur when the baby was already a few months old. My official diagnosis was stress-induced postpartum psychosis. While the reasons aren’t fully understood, the symptoms are usually similar: paranoia, racing thoughts, delusions, an inability to sleep."
Research Write Up Children's mental health is affected by sleep duration. University of Warwick materials in ScienceDaily, 4 February 2020. Excerpt: In 11,000 children ages 9-11, "Measures of depression, anxiety, impulsive behaviour and poor cognitive performance in the children were associated with shorter sleep duration. Moreover, the depressive problems were associated with short sleep duration one year later. Lower brain volume of brain areas involved the orbitofrontal cortex, prefrontal and temporal cortex, precuneus, and supramarginal gyrus was found to be associated with the shorter sleep duration. [...] Our findings showed that the behaviour problems total score for children with less than 7 hours sleep was 53% higher on average and the cognitive total score was 7.8% lower on average than for children with 9-11 hours of sleep." Full Article (paywalled): Cheng, W., Rolls, E., Gong, W. et al. Sleep duration, brain structure, and psychiatric and cognitive problems in children. Mol Psychiatry (2020).
Research Write Up Suicidal Behavior More Common in Preadolescents Than Thought, Diana Swift, in Medscape Psychiatry, February 7 2020. Excerpt: The prevalence of suicidal ideation and behaviors in preadolescent children is higher than previously estimated, and parents are often unaware of their child's suicidality, a cross-sectional analysis from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study has found. Family conflict and low parental monitoring appear to correlate with suicidality in this age group, the researchers say. [...] After sociodemographic weighting, the approximate prevalence rate of lifetime history of passive suicidal ideation was 6.4%. The prevalence rates were 4.4% for nonspecific active suicidal ideation; 2.4% for active ideation involving intention, method, or plan; 1.3% for actual suicide attempts; and 9.1% for nonsuicidal self-injury." Full Article (open access): DeVille DC, Whalen D, Breslin FJ, et al. Prevalence and Family-Related Factors Associated With Suicidal Ideation, Suicide Attempts, and Self-injury in Children Aged 9 to 10 Years. JAMA Netw Open. 2020; 3(2).
Research Write Up Declining Physical Activity at Age 12 Tied to Depression at 18, Michael Vlessides, in Medscape Psychiatry, February 20 2020. Excerpt: "Declining physical activity starting at age 12 is associated with depressive symptoms at age 18, new research shows. In the first study to objectively measure physical activity in teens, investigators found that every additional 60 minutes of sedentary behavior per day at age 12, 14, and 16 was linked to an increase in depression scores of 11.1%, 8%, and 10.7%, respectively at age 18. Conversely, every additional hour of light activity per day at age 12, 14, and 16 was tied to a decrease in depression scores of 9.6%, 7.8%, and 11.1%, respectively, when measured at age 18." Full Article (open access): Kandola, A, Lewis G, Osborn DPJ, Stubbs B, Hayes JF (2020). Depressive symptoms and objectively measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour throughout adolescence: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7 (3), 262-271.
Parenting Why Teenagers Reject Parents’ Solutions to Their Problems, Lisa Damour, New York Times, February 18 2020. Excerpt: "Much of what bothers teenagers cannot be solved. We can’t fix their broken hearts, prevent their social dramas, or do anything about the fact that they have three huge tests scheduled for the same day. But having a problem is not nearly so bad as feeling utterly alone with it."
Research Write Up Study finds dramatic differences in tests assessing preschoolers' language skills, Florida Atlantic University materials, in EurekAlert, July 2019 I get a lot of questions about assessing language skills in children, and I two related points I often find myself making are that: (1) our standardized language tests do not do a good job of assessing language, especially relative to language-sample analysis, and (2) language skills are almost certainly not normally distributed, even if we can make tests where the scores are normally distributed. [Language is likely much more closely related to skills like walking - that is, a skill which generally either "works fine" or "doesn't work well" for the child.] I was closing some long-open tabs on my phone recently and re-stumbled across this article, which emphasizes the inadequacy of assessing preschoolers' language skills with standardized language scales. This research also highlights the value of language-sample analysis, which clearly differentiated between the language skills of children born premature and children born full-term. Related Reading: Spaulding TJ1, Plante E, Farinella KA. (2006). Eligibility criteria for language impairment: is the low end of normal always appropriate? Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch, 37(1):61-72. This research looked at the published manuals for 43 language tests and showed the test developers' samples of children with language disorders rarely scored more than 1.5 standard deviations below the mean on their tests. See Also The chapters on problems with the normal curve (Chapter 3: The Normal Distribution of the Bell-Shaped Curve and Chapter 4: Beyond the Bell-Shaped Curve) in Koziol, Beljan, Bree, Mather, and Barker's Large-Scale Brain Systems and Neuropsychological Testing: An Effort to Move Forward.
Report-Writing Advice The Power of Simple Communication: Why Plain Language Is Better Than Complex Jargon, Steve Handel, The Emotion Machine, February 24, 2020 (h/t to Alison for sharing this article with me) Excerpt: "One of the major problems with complex jargon is that it makes the listener or reader feel isolated, like they “don’t belong” in the conversation. So they walk away feeling less interested and less knowledgeable on the subject. Complex language can also sometimes give the impression that someone is trying to “sound smart” or “impress others” to win them over, rather than try to educate and teach. This “jargon trap” is common among many academics, scientists, and philosophers who have trouble reaching a public audience." Tips (see article): - Start from your audience’s perspective - Try a “beginner’s mindset” - Adopt other people’s words and language - Share stories and personal examples - Use metaphors and analogies - Keep things short and break things down
Thanks for Reading That's all for this edition of the Neuropsychology Book Club. Got interesting links to share? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, comment below on what you've been reading!