Dr Kathie Nunley
___connecting current psychological and neurological research to education

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Articles to Read Now
(for Teachers, Parents & Policy Makers)

Asperger's and PDD Gone! Now What? The new Autism Spectrum Disorder

If the Thought of Flipping Your Classroom Makes You Dizzy, Tip It Sideways Instead

America's Absolutely Wonderful Education System

Multiple Intelligences - 25 Years In

Adolescent depression and self-esteem.

Why Punishment-Based Systems Don't Work

Money as a Reward

Brain Biology: it's basic gardening

Drug Effects on the Brain

Stress and Memory

The Caffeine Craze of Youth

Your Brain on Drugs

How the adolescent brain challenges the adult brain

You're Feeling Very Sleepy

Keeping Pace with Today's Quick Brains

The Advantages of Bilingualism


Video Lessons, Tips & Hot Topics in Research
Attention Deficit Disorder

The importance of PE and Recess

Asperger's vs High Functioning Autism

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Research Making News RIGHT NOW

December 2, 2014: Does having a grandparent in the house during your preschool years make a difference in school readiness? That may depend on your culture and ethnicity. A longitudinal study looked at children raised in 3-generation households (grandparent, parent, child) versus parent only households. Researchers found that 3-generation households were associated with lower levels of expressive language for White, Asian, and Black children but more expressive language for Hispanic children. Pilkauskas, N. (2014, Dec) "Living with a grandparent and parent in early childhood: Associations with school readiness and differences by demographic characteristics." Developmental Psychology, Vol 50(12), 2587-2599.

November 22, 2014: What makes a good, supportive parent? Apparently it all starts way back to the early years of that person's life. New longitudinal research out now shows that people who have a sensitive, caregiving mother during the first 3 years of their life, do better with friendships and peer relationships in school, partner relationships in young adulthood, and parenting their own children. Raby, K. et al. (2014). "The Interpersonal Antecedents of Supportive Parenting: A Prospective, Longitudinal Study From Infancy to Adulthood." Developmental Psychology, Nov 24 preview, no page specified.

November 10, 2014: Gender gaps continue for math and science literacy in the US. The latest data analysis from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that in terms of math / science achievement, boys are still favored over girls right through 12th grade. And when we compare high achievers in math and science, the statistics are quite a wide margin. High achieving males outnumber females two to one. Reilly, D.; Neumann, D.; Andrews, G. (2014). " Sex Differences in Mathematics and Science Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress Assessments. Journal of Educational Psychology, Nov 10 preview, nps.

October 20, 2014: We generally think of someone with high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in a positive way. EI is associated with empathy, understanding and positive responses. But some new research shows that female adolescents and young adults who score high for EI also can have greater sensation seeking needs and thus delinquency. In fact, high EI scores directly correlated to higher self-reports of truancy from school, taking drugs and violence. Bacon, A et al (2014). Sex Differences in the Relationship Between Sensation Seeking, Trait Emotional Intelligence and Deliquent Behavior". Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 25 (6), 673-683.

September 25, 2014: Presenting math practice problems in a variety of formats can help students' computational fluency. A new study compared teaching basic addition problems using 2 different workbooks. The traditional workbook had problems presented in the traditional (2 +3 = __ ) format using a random assortment of problems. The modified workbook had some traditional presentations, some with the operation on the right side (as in ___ = 2+3) and grouped similar solution problems together. Children using the modified format had a better understanding of the math and the postivie results continued even 6 months after the learning. McNeil, N. et al (2014) Arithmetic Practice Can Be Modified to Promote Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence. Journal of Educational Psychology. Aug issue preview, nps.

September 24, 2014: The large increase in daily caloric intake seen in the US over the past half-century is due mostly to an increase in saturated fates and refined carbohydrates. New research shows a diet high in these two items (so called High Energy Diets) has a negative effect on hippocampal function which includes a decrease in synaptic platicity, and neurogenesis. High Energy Diets also negate any postivie effect of emotional arousal on learning. Ross, A.; Darling, J; & Parent, M. (2013). "High Energy Diets Prevent the Enhancing Effects of Emotional Arousal on Memory." Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol 127(5), 771-779.

September 11, 2014: Thousands of new neurons are made every day in your brain, mostly in the hippocampus. But the vast majority of them die within a few weeks time. Stress, opiates and alcohol all can reduce the rate of production. Exercise, sexual activity and drugs such as prozac increase the rate of cell production. If learning occurs while the cells are newly formed, many will not die, but carry on to perform function. However the learning must be something that requires effort, yet do-able. So effortful, but possible learning increases motivation and keep new neurons alive. Shors, T. (2014) "Mental and Physical Training Keeps New Neurons Alive" presented August 7, 2014 at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

August 11, 2014: Learning a foreign language or taking music lessons anytime during your childhood or teenage years helps protect you from Cognitive Impairment later in life. New research out this week shows that in a longitudinal study of nearly 1000 older persons, those who had music instruction and /or learned a foreign language before the age of 18, not only scored higher on initial tests of cognitive function, but were much less likely to suffer Mild Cognitive Impairment in old age. While a 2nd language and music lessons won't slow down your decline as you age, it does appear to give you a cognitive boost and protects against impairment. Wilson, R. et al (2014). " Early Life Instruction in Foreign Language and Music and Incidence of Mild Cognitive Impairment. Neuropsychology (Aug 11 preview).

August 6, 2014: Boredom is an important, yet often overlooked, academic emotion. So says new research which measured the relationship between boredom and academic achievement in courses. They found that boredom had consistently negative effects on academic performance, and then the poor performance had consistently negative effects on subsequent boredom. Pekrun, R. et al. (2014). "Boredom and academic achievement: Testing a model of reciprocal causation."Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 106(3), 696-710.

July 21, 2014: Despite rumors to the contrary, the new school meal standards are NOT leading to more food waste among students. This according to new research released this summer. Data was collected on food selection, consumption and plate waste at several urban, low-income school districts. Turns out that fruit selection increased by 23%. Entree and vegetable consumption rates increased and plate waste decreased. Cohen, J. et al. (2014). "Impact of the New US Department of Agriculture School Meal Standards on Food Selection, Consumption and Waast. Am Journal of Preventive Medicine. Vol 46, 4. 388-394.

May 20, 2014: Nutrition plays a major role in academic success. Students who eat a balanced and nutritious diet not only maintain their weight, they are more alert, have better cognition, memory and problem solving skills and higher overall achievement. However, 7% of college students claim to eat NO fruits or vegetables daily. University of Massachusetts, Boston online at: http://umb.edu/healthservices/

April 27, 2014: Taking a walk, especially outside, boosts creativity. Researchers have discovered that walking leads to more creative and divergent thinking - both while walking and right after walking. They had 4 groups of participants either sit indoors, walk an indoor treadmill, walk outside or be wheeled around outside, then tested them all using a test for creative thinking and problem solving. Those that walked scored higher and those that walked outside had the biggest creative boost. Oppezzo, M. & Schwartz, D. (2014). "Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking." Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Apr 21 preview, nps

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