Kids stress over public acts of discrimination: Disadvantaged minorities in L.A. area show increased behavioral problems such as depression and substance use

In a sign of the times, new USC research shows that some kids stressed out over recent public acts of discrimination show increased behavioral problems.

The study focused on Los Angeles-area teens from communities of color or families with limited education. Many of the youths reported concern that discrimination is a growing societal problem. The more worried the teens were, the worse their substance use, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms became, the study shows.

The findings are a snapshot into the adolescent mind during a time of rising U.S. political tensions and concern about increasing discrimination in society. It also coincides with the beginning of new social policies proposed by the Trump administration, which the scientists note might affect mental health for the youngsters.

The researchers conclude that although the link between societal discrimination concern and adverse behavioral outcomes are modest, they are sufficiently significant to warrant greater public health attention. The study by scientists at the Keck School of Medicine at USC appears today in JAMA Pediatrics.

“Teens who stand to suffer most from prejudice in society are stressed out about the social climate, and our study found that as their concern grew, so too did their behavioral problems,” said Adam Leventhal, the lead author. “This proved true even for the teens who say they rarely experience discrimination in their own community, suggesting that what’s happening in society at large weighs on them. The impact of polarizing social policies on teens’ mental health needs to be addressed.”

Political and social schisms in the headlines are not lost on young people. Recent developments that shape their perceptions — and affect mental health — include incidents of police violence on minorities, hate crimes against Muslims and backlash to same-sex marriage, events which prompted the study. In addition, tensions increased during the 2016 presidential campaign and ensuing statements and policies by the Trump administration, such as building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, repeal of the Affordable Care Act and travel bans targeting foreign countries, which are perceived as hostile to minorities.

Concern over discrimination might lead young people on the cusp of adulthood feeling distressed, distracted and hopeless — especially for people of color or from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities who fear they may be targets of prejudice.

To gauge how young people respond, the researchers investigated the level of concern about discrimination in society as reported by 2,572 11th-grade students in 10 public high schools in L.A. County in 2016. After the baseline survey, they tracked how the magnitude of concern increased in 2016-17 and how that manifests in behavioral problems by 12th grade.

The researchers asked the students to respond to surveys that measured their level of concern, worry and stress about discrimination on a five-level scale that ranged from “not at all” to “extremely” concerned. Respondents were roughly equal proportion of males and females. Latinos constituted 47 percent of the sample size, Asians 19 percent, African-Americans 4 percent and whites 17 percent.

The scientists found that at the start of the study in 2016, 29.7 percent of teens were very or extremely worried about societal discrimination, which increased to 34.7 percent one year later, especially for minority students. They also found significant associations between increased level of concern about discrimination and six different adverse behavioral outcomes. In some cases, the associations were stronger in minorities or socioeconomically disadvantaged teens. For example, teens with less educated parents who were unconcerned about societal discrimination in 2016, but became extremely concerned by 2017, were using marijuana or drinking alcohol at three times the rate of teens whose concern was unchanged during the study.

“Concern, worry and stress attributed to increasing societal discrimination during the recent socio-politically charged period was common and associated with adverse behavioral outcomes in this adolescent cohort,” Leventhal said.

Caveats to the findings include the fact that the investigators did not independently verify the subjects’ self-reported behaviors or obtain mental health diagnoses. Also, the study stops short of establishing causal links, instead focusing on the associations between attitudes and behavioral outcomes.

Nonetheless, the study concludes that while some of the behavioral health associations were modest, even slight increases in the risk of adolescent behavioral health problems may pose important public health consequences given that discrimination in society can be a nationwide phenomenon. They say that public health attention and policy changes may be needed to address how public discrimination may affect adolescent health.

Source: Read Full Article

Jenna Jameson Just Shared Exactly What She Eats On The Keto Diet

Starting a diet is the easy part—but figuring out what to eat day-to-day is freaking tough.

Now Jenna Jameson (a.k.a. keto kween), is doing her fans a solid by sharing her daily meals and snacks. “I get a lot of messages asking me what I eat in a day to stay in ketosis,” she wrote in a new Instagram post, showing another stunning before-and-after photo. (P.S.: Jenna says she was not pregnant in that before pic.)

Let’s talk menu. I get a lot of messages asking me what I eat in a day to stay in ketosis. Well, it’s underwhelming. I am one of those odd people that doesn’t need variety. Every morning I eat the exact same thing. 3 eggs with cheese and an avocado. Lunch is my biggest meal, I always eat arugula salad, grilled asparagus or zucchini with some kind of meat (usually a hamburger patty or grilled chicken) I then snack when ever I feel hungry (usually on almonds or macadamia nuts… sometime cottage cheese) that’s it! Then I begin my fast at 6 pm. I drink lots of water until I go to sleep at around 10 pm. I drink coffee at 8 am and I end my fast at 11 am. That’s it! No magic, no fancy diet… just clean whole organic foods. I waved bye bye to anything processed or packaged a long time ago. This is 60 lbs gone my friend. It can be done! I’m always asked how I have the will power… well when you see results like this in 4 months, it powers you!!!! Let me know your results and questions! #keto #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightloss #fitmom #beforeandafter #ketodiet #transformation *i wasn’t pregnant in the before pic😖

A post shared by Jenna Jameson (@jennacantlose) on

Let’s talk menu. I get a lot of messages asking me what I eat in a day to stay in ketosis. Well, it’s underwhelming. I am one of those odd people that doesn’t need variety. Every morning I eat the exact same thing. 3 eggs with cheese and an avocado. Lunch is my biggest meal, I always eat arugula salad, grilled asparagus or zucchini with some kind of meat (usually a hamburger patty or grilled chicken) I then snack when ever I feel hungry (usually on almonds or macadamia nuts… sometime cottage cheese) that’s it! Then I begin my fast at 6 pm. I drink lots of water until I go to sleep at around 10 pm. I drink coffee at 8 am and I end my fast at 11 am. That’s it! No magic, no fancy diet… just clean whole organic foods. I waved bye bye to anything processed or packaged a long time ago. This is 60 lbs gone my friend. It can be done! I’m always asked how I have the will power… well when you see results like this in 4 months, it powers you!!!! Let me know your results and questions! #keto #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightloss #fitmom #beforeandafter #ketodiet #transformation *i wasn’t pregnant in the before pic😖

A post shared by Jenna Jameson (@jennacantlose) on

According to Jenna, 44, her keto diet meal plan is…pretty boring. “I am one of those odd people that doesn’t need variety,” she wrote.

Jenna says she eats “the exact same thing” every morning, which includes three eggs with cheese and avocado, which, TBH, sounds like the perfect breakfast.

“Lunch is my biggest meal,” she continued. “I always eat arugula salad, grilled asparagus or zucchini with some kind of meat (usually a hamburger patty or grilled chicken).”

Jenna says she snacks on almonds, macadamia nuts, or cottage cheese whenever she feels hungry before starting her intermittent fasting at 6 p.m. Then, she drinks “lots of water” until she goes to bed around 10 p.m.

In the morning, she has coffee around 8 a.m. and ends her fast around 11 a.m. “That’s it! No magic, no fancy diet… just clean, whole organic foods,” she said. “I waved bye bye to anything processed or packaged a long time ago.”

Clearly, it’s working for Jenna. “This is 60 lbs gone my friend. It can be done! I’m always asked how I have the will power… well when you see results like this in 4 months, it powers you!!!!”

Jenna has been loving on keto on Instagram for months. In late July, she revealed that she lost 57 pounds on the diet, and in early August she shared on Instagram that she’s at the lowest weight she’s been in four years.

She’s been very clear that it’s not all about numbers, though. Jenna said late last week that she’s finally “getting her groove back.”—and she posted a pic of herself in white pants to prove it.

So uh, who’s gonna run to the store and stock up on eggs, cheese, and avocados with me?

Source: Read Full Article

Intake of low-carb diet or high-carb diet can increase risk of an early death

It was deduced that for a healthy lifespan, a moderate amount of carbohydrate is imperative. Less than 40 per cent or more than 70 per cent of calories from carbohydrates increases the risk of mortality.

Cutting down carb intake and eating it in moderation is what dieticians and nutritionists generally advise. A recent study has shown that the intake of both high-carb diet or a low one can increase the risk of an early death.

The research published in the Lancet public health journal took into consideration results of eight studies. It was deduced that for a healthy lifespan, a moderate amount of carbohydrate is imperative. Less than 40 per cent or more than 70 per cent of calories from carbohydrates increases the risk of mortality.

A report in The Guardian cautions that not all low-carb diets are similar. Those who eat more meat like chicken, lamb and less carbohydrates, their mortality risk tend to be higher than those who get their protein from foods such like avocados, nuts and legumes.

“Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy,” Dr Sara Seidelmann said as quoted in the report. “However, our data suggests that animal-based low-carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged. Instead, if one chooses to follow a low-carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.” Seidelmann, who also led the research, added.

She also said that instead pf presenting a single picture, her team has tried to “thoroughly answer a question”.

“Nutrition is high up on everybody’s mind but there is such confusion about what we should eat. One day, a study is coming out telling us high carb is better, another day a study is telling us low carb is better.”

Must Watch

4 Indian Navy personnel save 109 people

There has been a significant dip in the population of India’s working women: News in Numbers

Imran Khan is Pakistan's new PM

Asian Games: India's top moments

Source: Read Full Article

A new generation of artificial retinas based on 2D materials

Scientists report they have successfully developed and tested the world’s first ultrathin artificial retina that could vastly improve on existing implantable visualization technology for the blind. The flexible device, based on very thin 2D materials, could someday restore sight to the millions of people with retinal diseases. And with a few modifications, the device could be used to track heart and brain activity.

The researchers are presenting their work today at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“This is the first demonstration that you can use few-layer graphene and molybdenum disulfide to successfully fabricate an artificial retina,” Nanshu Lu, Ph.D., says. “Although this research is still in its infancy, it is a very exciting starting point for the use of these materials to restore vision,” she says, adding that this device could also be implanted elsewhere in the body to monitor heart and brain activities.

The retina, located at the back of the eye, contains specialized photoreceptor cells called rods and cones that convert incoming light into nerve signals. These impulses travel into the brain via the optic nerve where they are decoded into visual images.

Diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa can damage or destroy retinal tissue, leading to vision loss or complete blindness. There is no cure for many of these diseases, but silicon-based retinal implants have restored a modicum of vision to some individuals. However, Lu says these devices are rigid, flat and fragile, making it hard for them to replicate the natural curvature of the retina. As a result, silicon-based retinal implants often produce blurry or distorted images and can cause long-term strain or damage to surrounding eye tissue, including the optic nerve. Lu, who is at the University of Texas at Austin, and her collaborator Dae-Hyeong Kim, Ph.D., who is at Seoul National University, sought to develop a thinner, more flexible alternative that would better mimic the shape and function of a natural retina.

The researchers used 2D materials, including graphene and molybdenum disulfide, as well as thin layers of gold, alumina and silicon nitrate to create a flexible, high-density and curved sensor array. The device, which resembles the surface of a flattened soccer ball or icosahedron, conforms to the size and shape of a natural retina without mechanically disturbing it.

In laboratory and animal studies, photodetectors on the device readily absorbed light and passed it through a soft external circuit board. The circuit board housed all of the electronics needed to digitally process light, stimulate the retina and acquire signals from the visual cortex. Based on these studies, the researchers determined that this prototype artificial retina is biocompatible and successfully mimics the structural features of the human eye. They say it could be an important step in the quest to develop the next generation of soft bio-electronic retinal prostheses.

Moving ahead, Lu is exploring ways to integrate this technology into mechanically and optically imperceptible electronic tattoos that are laminated on the skin surface to gather real-time health information. Lu says that the team plans to add transistors to these transparent e-tattoos to help amplify signals from the brain or the heart so they can be more easily monitored and treated. These ultrathin sensors and electrodes can also be implanted on the surface of the heart to detect arrhythmias. Lu says doctors could potentially program them to act like tiny pacemakers, sending electrical impulses through the heart to correct the problem.

Source: Read Full Article

Core thinking error underlies belief in creationism, conspiracy theories: study

It’s not uncommon to hear someone espouse the idea that “everything happens for a reason” or that something that happened was “meant to be.” Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on August 20 have found that this kind of teleological thinking is linked to two seemingly unrelated beliefs: creationism, the belief that life on Earth was purposely created by a supernatural agent, and conspiracism, the tendency to explain historical or current events in terms of secret conspiracies or conspiracy theories.

“We find a previously unnoticed common thread between believing in creationism and believing in conspiracy theories,” says Sebastian Dieguez of the University of Fribourg. “Although very different at first glance, both these belief systems are associated with a single and powerful cognitive bias named teleological thinking, which entails the perception of final causes and overriding purpose in naturally occurring events and entities.”

A teleological thinker, for example, will accept as true propositions such as “the sun rises in order to give us light” or “the purpose of bees is to ensure pollination,” he says. “This type of thinking is anathema to scientific reasoning, and especially to evolutionary theory, and was famously mocked by Voltaire, whose character Pangloss believed that ‘noses were made to wear spectacles.’ Yet it is very resilient in human cognition, and we show that it is linked not only to creationism, but also to conspiracism.”

In previous work, Dieguez and colleagues showed that conspiracism wasn’t explained by the tendency to assume that “nothing happens by accident.” They realized that conspiracism isn’t driven by a rejection of the idea that the world is random and complex, but that it still could be linked to the notion that events in the world are actively and purposely fabricated. They also noticed that this looked “striking similar” to creationism. If correct, they reasoned, then conspiracism, like creationism, should be associated with teleological thinking, and both types of beliefs should be correlated with each other.

To find out whether this was the case, the researchers asked more than 150 college students in Switzerland to complete a questionnaire including teleological claims and conspiracist statements, as well as measures of analytical thinking, esoteric and magical beliefs, and a randomness perception task. The survey data showed that the tendency to ascribe function and meaning to natural facts and events was significantly, though modestly, correlated with conspiracist belief scales. Drawing on a large-scale survey of people in France, the researchers also found a strong association between creationism and conspiracism.

To look more closely at this pattern, the researchers next recruited more than 700 people to complete questionnaires online. Those data again confirmed associations among teleological thinking, creationism, and conspiracism. The data also show that those relationships are partly distinct from other variables, including gender, age, analytical thinking, political orientation, education, and agency detection.

“By drawing attention to the analogy between creationism and conspiracism, we hope to highlight one of the major flaws of conspiracy theories and therefore help people detect it, namely that they rely on teleological reasoning by ascribing a final cause and overriding purpose to world events,” Dieguez says. “We think the message that conspiracism is a type of creationism that deals with the social world can help clarify some of the most baffling features of our so-called ‘post-truth era.'”

The researchers say the findings have important implications for science educators and communicators. They may also help in formulating policies to “discourage the endorsement of socially debilitating and sometimes dangerous beliefs and belief systems.”

The researchers are now in the process of assessing the effectiveness of ongoing attempts to educate kids and adolescents about the nature of conspiracy theories and other types of misinformation. They say what’s ultimately needed is a thorough understanding of the factors that contribute to a conspiracist mindset, which is relevant to many beliefs, including global warming denialism and vaccine rejection, and they are developing a general framework to help disentangle the relevant factors.

Source: Read Full Article

Rogue proteins may underlie some ALS and frontotemporal dementia cases, says study

ALS—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, slowly robbing its victims of their ability to walk, talk, breathe and swallow. In a cruel twist, some ALS patients also develop frontotemporal dementia, a disease that destroys an entirely different set of brain cells—cortical neurons—leading to personality changes, among other effects.

Inherited forms of both diseases have been traced to gene mutations associated with an abnormal buildup of the RNA-binding protein, TDP-43, in the brain. Now, in a study in the journal eLife, Columbia University and New York Genome Center researchers show that TDP-43 and at least three other RNA-binding proteins appear to run similarly amok in ALS and dementia patients without the mutation. Their finding suggests that the dominant form of hereditary ALS and frontotemporal dementia may share molecular underpinnings with far more common versions of ALS and dementia that have no known genetic basis.

“It turns out that if you analyze the biochemical properties of RNA-binding proteins you see it’s not just TDP-43 but several others that are also perturbed,” says Aaron Gitler, a genetics professor at Stanford University who discusses the study in the same issue of eLife. “This is a new concept in how we think about these diseases—not just as TDP-43 diseases, but as RNA-binding protein diseases.”

Normally, the TDP-43 protein helps control the expression of messenger RNA, and thus, gene behavior, from inside the cell nucleus. But in the brain cells of nearly all ALS and half of frontotemporal dementia patients, the protein accumulates outside the nucleus, eventually forming clumps big enough to see under a microscope. What causes the buildup, however, remains unclear.

In a pair of landmark studies in Neuron in 2011, researchers identified the genetic mutation responsible for most cases of inherited ALS and frontotemporal dementia. On a small section of chromosome 9, the mutation appears to cause a DNA fragment that normally recurs a handful of times to repeat itself hundreds to thousands of times. Researchers hypothesized that RNA-binding proteins like TDP-43, designed to stick to themselves and similar proteins, would glom on to the repeats and abandon their gene-expression role, eventually causing brain cells to degenerate and die.

In a 2016 study in eLife, a team led by Erin Conlon, then a Columbia graduate student, showed that the mutation triggered another RNA-binding protein, called hnRNP H, to form similar clumps that disrupted gene expression. Unlike TDP-43, these clumps were largely invisible to the eye but could be measured with a biochemical test.

On a hunch that a similar pattern might show up in mutation-free patients, who represent a majority of ALS and frontotemporal dementia cases, Conlon and her colleagues in the current study analyzed the brains of 50 people who had died with one or both diseases. To their surprise, in more than half of the brains, they found large amounts of biochemically insoluble hnRNP H and three other RNA-binding proteins —TDP-43, FUS and hnRNP A1— indicating all had stopped regulating gene expression.

“RNA-binding proteins control how much proteins a gene makes,” says the study’s senior author, James Manley, a molecular biology professor at Columbia. “This process goes seriously awry when these aggregates are around.”

Many questions remain, including what causes RNA-binding proteins, in the absence of a mutation, to go haywire in the first place. Another mystery is why the impaired proteins surface in motor and cortical neurons while other brain cells are spared.

Neurons may be especially vulnerable to toxic protein accumulations, because unlike other cells, they can’t divide or be replaced, but that doesn’t explain why motor and cortical neurons are especially sensitive, says Conlon, now a postdoctoral researcher at Rockefeller University.

Though much more still needs to be worked out, the study suggests that a blood test or other non-invasive way to detect ALS and frontotemporal dementia could soon be within reach. The findings also indicate that ALS comes in at least two forms—one in which RNA-binding function is disrupted, and the other with a still-unknown mechanism.

Source: Read Full Article

How eating mushrooms may improve blood sugar control

Researchers working in various departments at Pennsylvania State University have recently conducted a study in mice.

They wanted to investigate the effects of white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) as prebiotics.

Prebiotics are substances, often derived from the foods we ingest, that support the activity of microorganisms in the gut, and which can boost the growth of beneficial bacteria.

In a mouse model, the scientists were able to map out how white button mushrooms modify the gut microbiota, ultimately leading to improved glucose regulation in the mice’s systems.

“Managing glucose better has implications for diabetes, as well as other metabolic diseases,” says study co-author Margherita Cantorna.

In diabetes, our bodies do not produce enough of the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin helps transfer glucose from the blood and into the cells, to provide them with energy. It also places excess glucose “into storage,” so to speak, so that it can be converted into energy as it is needed.

The researchers wanted to see whether white button mushrooms could influence the production of glucose in the body, and if so, how. They report their findings in a paper now published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

Mushrooms alter the gut microbiome

Cantorna and her team worked with two types of mice: one with a regular gut microbiome, and one bred to lack a gut microbiome and be entirely germ-free. The latter acted as the control group.

The researchers fed all the mice a daily serving of white button mushrooms, which is equivalent to about 3 ounces of mushrooms per day for humans.

They found that the mice with gut microbiomes experienced changes in their populations of gut microbes. In particular, their guts produced more short-chain fatty acids, such as propionate synthesized from succinate.

Cantorna and her colleagues believe that eating white button mushrooms triggers reactions in the gut microbiome that lead to the growth of certain types of bacteria, such as Prevotella, which, in turn, boosts the production of propionate and succinate.

These, the scientists explain, can alter the expression of certain genes that are involved in the production of glucose, also known as “glucogenesis.”

“You can compare the mice with the microbiota with the germ-free mice to get an idea of the contributions of the microbiota,” says Cantorna.

“There were big differences in the kinds of metabolites we found in the gastrointestinal tract,” she continues, “as well as in the liver and serum [blood], of the animals fed mushrooms that had microbiota [compared with] the ones that didn’t.”

Understanding how diet affects metabolism

The findings suggest that white button mushrooms, as a prebiotic food, could be used in the future to manage diabetes, due to the role that they seem to play in glucogenesis.

Moreover, Cantorna and team note that their new study confirms the important link between the foods in our diet and the bacterial populations in our gut.

It’s pretty clear that almost any change you make to the diet, changes the microbiota.”

Margherita Cantorna

While this study was conducted in mice with a normal weight, the researchers explain that they are also interested in testing the effects of this prebiotic food in mice with obesity.

This would be the first step toward eventually extending this research to human participants, in the hope that it will lead to a better understanding of how our daily diets impact metabolic processes and influence the prevention or development of certain health conditions.

Source: Read Full Article

Blood cancer patients least likely to understand their diagnosis

People with blood cancer are less likely to understand their diagnosis than those with any other type of cancer, according to a new analysis by Bloodwise.

The analysis, based on NHS England’s National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, found that just 59 per cent of blood cancer patients, including those with leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, say they completely understood their doctor’s explanation of what was wrong with them.

This is much lower than the 73 per cent average for cancer patients who say they fully understood their diagnosis. And one in 25 people (four per cent) diagnosed with blood cancer left not understanding their diagnosis at all. This is higher than for any other type of cancer

Over 40,000 people are diagnosed with a blood cancer every year in the UK. Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer and the third biggest cause of cancer death in the UK. Bloodwise says that if patients have a poor understanding of what is wrong with them, it can lead to a sense of isolation and have a negative impact on their treatment.

Skin cancer patients were most likely to understand their diagnosis, with 80 per cent completely understanding the explanation they were given.

Sarah Porch, Head of Information and Support Services at Bloodwise, said: “Being told that you have cancer can be one of the most devastating experiences of a person’s life, and it is vital that people understand what they are being told. If people do not understand their diagnosis, then they are not in a position to ask informed questions about their condition or to explain their disease to their loved ones.

“This is why it is deeply worrying that only six out of 10 people with blood cancer come away from their diagnosis fully understanding what is wrong with them.

“Blood cancer is a complicated disease that is less understood than some of the other common types of cancer. So it’s important to look at ways to improve how this information is explained to make it as understandable as possible, as well as making sure that everyone is also offered written information about their cancer.”

Source: Read Full Article

How to make preschoolers independent learners

There is considerable scope of developing independent learning abilities in children from three to five years of age. Teachers and parents can both encourage the growth of self-directed learning in kids.

By Pankaj Kumar Singh

Independent learning is a practice through which kids can develop an inquisitive mind. This is an effortless exercise that parents and teachers can encourage kids to get involved in from a young age. It’s imperative for kids to develop independent learning skills in preschool to increase brain stimulation. Motivating kids to become independent learners has proven to be impactful and enhances the growth and development of the child.

There are several useful techniques developing and increasing self-learning in kids.

Here are some tips for teachers and mentors:

Co-operative Working

Preschools must be fully equipped with training and activity facilities, where children are encouraged to participate in team exercises. There must be a range of innovative techniques to involve children in collaborative activities that requires them to articulate their own understanding.


It’s an instructional practice where the children are told a story or narrated an activity and they are then supposed to give detailed explanations of the narration with a reasoning of their own.

Reciprocal Teaching

It’s a kind of structured procedure, which involves teachers teaching a particular task to children, who are then asked to teach the activity to their peers.


This covers a range of instructional ideas involving children’s evaluation and analysis of their   learning. Like, kids deciding the level of difficulty they would like to undertake for a particular task, and selecting their best work for reflective tasks.

Teachers should give an opportunity to kids to make their own decisions. Sometimes, when an adult becomes involved in an activity, the children are more inclined to deny the task; it could be lack of confidence or just to question the authority. However, if the children work in a group, they are less likely to question their abilities, and often mimic other children. Kids learn better and faster by watching one another which is a huge benefit for them as well as their parents.

According to a study, there is a considerable scope of developing independent learning abilities in children from three to five years of age. Apart from teachers, parents are also equally responsible for the growth of self-directed learning in their kids.

Here are some tips for parents:

Encourage effort over success

Studies have shown that children who are praised for their efforts after completing a task are more likely to put extra effort into future difficult situations. Parents must praise success of their kids because not doing so can lead to a chance of failure in the future. Children who are commended for their work are encouraged to continue putting forth effort into new and increasingly difficult challenges.

Connect play time to learning experiences

Nurture a child’s interest by connecting what they enjoy playing with a learning exercise. If a child likes building, help them expand on their interest by introducing them to building blocks. If a child likes sculpting with clay, help them explore structures that animals sculpt in nature.

Create Opportunities for Exploration

Creating opportunities for kids to learn can be an easy method to develop self-directed learning. For example, leaving a paper and coloured pencils within easy reach for children to use when inspiration strikes.

Allow for Free Play

It’s important that children learn while playing. So, parents should allow time for uninterrupted, unstructured play, where children can fully use and explore their imagination and creativity.

Kids are capable of managing a number of things on their own. Parents/teachers should give them time and have patience to see the development and not take over the task before they ask for help. Kids love to get involved in meaningful work. They just need someone to be available for them; through these play-and-learn techniques, children can become independent learners.

(The writer is Managing Director, Jalsa Ventures Private Limited, Cambridge Montessori Pre-School.)

Source: Read Full Article

Antidepressants can help delay ageing of brain cells, says this study

Administering commonly used antidepressant fluoxetine to mice helped restore youthful flexibility to their ageing brain cells, showed a study. The study provides fresh evidence that the decline in the capacity of brain cells to change, called “plasticity,” rather than a decline in total cell numbers may underlie some of the sensory and cognitive declines associated with normal brain ageing.

Scientists at the MIT revealed that in mice treated with fluoxetine, also known as Prozac, the inhibitory interneurons in the visual cortex remained just as abundant during ageing, but their arbors become simplified and they become much less structurally dynamic and flexible.

They could also restore a significant degree of lost plasticity to the cells. “Here we show that fluoxetine can also ameliorate the age-related decline in structural and functional plasticity of visual cortex neurons,” said the scientists including lead author Ronen Eavri from MIT.

“Our finding that fluoxetine treatment in ageing mice can attenuate the concurrent age-related declines in interneuron structural and visual cortex functional plasticity suggests it could provide an important therapeutic approach towards mitigation of sensory and cognitive deficits associated with ageing, provided it is initiated before severe network deterioration,” they added.

A previous study had shown that fluoxetine promotes interneuron branch remodelling in young mice, so the team decided to see whether it could do so for older mice and restore plasticity as well. In the new study, appearing in the Journal of Neuroscience, they put the drug in the drinking water of mice at various ages for various amounts of time.

Three-month-old mice treated for three months showed little change in dendrite growth compared to untreated controls, but 25 per cent of the cells in six-month-old mice treated for three months showed significant new growth (at the age of 9 months). But among 3-month-old mice treated for six months, 67 per cent of cells showed new growth by the age of 9 months, showing that treatment starting early and lasting for six months had the strongest effect.

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 15:18 IST

Source: Read Full Article