Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Looking for a little brain research?

Here's a cool site at which to while away some time: the listing of hot topics on the site. Billed as a way to "stay informed with the latest research in neuropsychology and education," the page offers alphabetically sorted items on everything from Attention Deficit Disorder to Violence. A few that caught my eye (in quotes, with my comments after):

"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." ... Does Starbucks know about this? Look for ADHD Blend, coming soon.

"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, (2000). Archives of General Psychiatry, vol 57(4), 331-340." ... Makes me think about Temple Grandin's book Thinking in Pictures and the entirely different way people with autism seem to experience the world and language.

"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, 2001. Journal of Experimental Education. vol 69(2) 181-199 and Journal of Educational Psychology (1998), vol 90(1),70-83." ... Now, I actually like homework, because it helps me keep track of what my kids are doing, and gives me a firsthand chance to evaluate what they can or cannot do. Where I have trouble, though, is that fine line between "assisting with homework" and "doing their homework for them." I seem to cross it often (though not as often as they'd like).

"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."

"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." ... This item and the one above are EXACTLY along the lines of what I've been trying to convince my daughter's child study team of for years. Maybe I'm just ahead of my time? Gotta order up some of these studies in time for next year's IEP meeting. And you can bet I'll be trolling this site for more validation.

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