Healthy Behaviors and Academic Success Go ‘Hand in Hand’

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Catherine N. Rasberry, PhD Health Scientist, Division of Adolescent and School Health CDC Atlanta

Dr.Raspberry

Catherine N. Rasberry, PhD
Health Scientist, Division of Adolescent and School Health
CDC Atlanta

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: For many years, researchers have documented links between health-related behaviors and educational outcomes such as letter grades, test scores, and other measures of academic achievement. However, many of those studies are becoming out-of-date or have used samples that were not nationally representative. The aim of this study was to see if previous findings held in a current, national sample of high school students.

Consistent with previous studies, our findings revealed that regardless of sex, race/ethnicity and grade-level, high school students who received mostly A’s, mostly B’s, or mostly C’s had higher levels of most protective health-related behaviors and lower levels of most health-related risk behaviors. For example, we found that:

  • Students who reported receiving mostly Ds and Fs, were nine times more likely than students who received mostly As to report having ever injected any illegal drugs.
  • Also, students who reported receiving mostly Ds and Fs were more than four times more likely than students who received mostly As to report that they had four or more sexual partners.
  • Conversely, students who reported receiving mostly As were twice as likely as students who received mostly Ds and Fs to report eating breakfast every day in the past week.

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Sex Differences In Brain Structure of Boys and Girls With Conduct Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Areti Smaragdi, PhD University of Southampton Southampton, UK

Dr. Smaragdi

Areti Smaragdi, PhD
University of Southampton
Southampton, UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Conduct Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that involves severe antisocial behavior – symptoms of the condition include behaviors like physical fighting, pathological lying, and serious theft. The disorder affects around 5% of school-aged children and adolescents, and is up to three times more common in boys than girls. Because of this, very little research has focused on the possible brain basis of the disorder in girls.

We used MRI scanning methods to measure the brain structure of 48 boys and 48 girls with Conduct Disorder (14-18 years old) and 52 boys and 52 girls without severe antisocial behavior. We found that boys and girls with Conduct Disorder had reduced thickness and more folding in the prefrontal cortex, an area at the front of the brain which is responsible for reward and punishment processing and helping us to control our emotions and impulses. In contrast, in some other areas such as the superior frontal gyrus, which is involved in short-term memory, boys and girls with Conduct Disorder showed structural changes in opposite directions (e.g., more versus less folding) compared with controls. This suggests that there are common abnormalities in brain structure in boys and girls with Conduct Disorder, but also some sex differences that might indicate that the causes of the disorder are partly different in boys and girls.

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Epigenetic Changes Identified In Children Who Develop Early Onset Conduct Problems

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Charlotte Cecil, PhD

ESRC FRL Fellow
Edward Barker, PhD
Lab Director, DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY LAB

Department of Psychology
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology& Neuroscience
King’s College London

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Conduct problems (CP) are the most common reason for child treatment referral in the UK, costing an estimated £22 billion per year. Children with CP engage in a range of aggressive and antisocial behaviours (e.g. fighting, stealing, lying), that affect their ability to follow rules and adapt to society, do well in school, and form healthy relationships. Those who do not receive treatment are also at increased risk for many negative outcomes in adulthood, including lower job prospects and earnings, more contact with the police and a lower quality of life. Therefore, it is important to understand how CP develop in the first place, in order to create more effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Studies have found that children who develop conduct problems before the age of 10 (early-onset CP) are at greatest risk for poor outcomes across the lifespan. Compared to other children, those showing early-onset CP tend to have experienced more adversity in early life (e.g. prenatal stress, poverty) as well as having more genetic risk. However, little is known about about how genetic factors interact with environmental influences – especially during foetal development – to increase the risk for early-onset conduct problems.

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Children Don’t Learn Violent or Disruptive Behavior From Siblings

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ella Daniel, PhD

Department of School Counseling and Special Education
Constantiner School of Education
Tel Aviv University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The development of disruptive behavior in early childhood is extremely important, as disruptive behavior starts early in life and behavioral patterns may become stable and resistant to influence later on. Siblings have a high potential to influence each other’s behavior, as they spend a considerable amount of time together, are close in age and likely to become role models. However, the role of siblings in disruptive behavior development was mostly studied among adolescents, and hardly among young children.

In the current study, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Jenkins and colleagues at the University of Toronto and funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research, we asked parents in some 400 families in and around Toronto, about the behavior of their young children. Both mothers and fathers reported the frequency of disruptive behaviors among their children, including violence, disobedience, destruction of property etc.. At the time of the study, the youngest children in the family were only 18 months of age. They all had an older sibling who was less that 5.5 years of age, and some had additional older siblings, up to four children in a  amily. Using advanced statistical models, we aimed to identify the role of siblings in the development of each child’s disruptive behavior over time, taking into account heredity, parenting, social environment and shared history.

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Where Does Aggression Come From? Answer: The Hypothalmus….

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Dayu Lin, PhD NYU Langone Medical Center

Dr.Dayu Lin

Dr. Dayu Lin, PhD
NYU Langone Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Lin: Decades of researchs including those from our labs have identified some key sites for aggressive actions, but the neural substrates of aggressive intention remain unclear. In this study, we designed a task to evaluate the aggressive intention of the mice in the absence of aggression provoking cues (another male mouse) and identified a small hypothalamic area, namely the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus, as a key brain region for aggressive motivation.

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Why Is It So Hard To Reach Our Behavior Goals?

Margaret C. Campbell, Phd | Professor | Marketing Chair, Doctoral Curriculum Program Committee 437 Leeds School of Business University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder, CO 80309-0419MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Margaret C. Campbell, Phd | Professor | Marketing

Chair, Doctoral Curriculum Program Committee
437 Leeds School of Business
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0419
 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Campbell: People try to maintain healthy body weights, attain academic and career success, save money for a car, a house, or retirement, and achieve a host of other goals that require repeated, goal-consistent behaviors. Unfortunately, consumers’ efforts often fall short. For example, 68% of Americans are overweight (Weight Control Information Network 2010), 46% who begin college do not graduate within six years (Associated Press 2006), and although 93% say that saving for retirement is important, only about 60% are actually saving (TIAA-CREF 2010) and approximately 50% have accumulated less than $25,000 (Helman, VanDehrei and Copeland 2007). Understanding goal pursuit and consumers’ choices to continue effort toward a goal that requires repeated goal-consistent behaviors is thus important. People need to be able to make progress on important goals that substantially impact their quality of life.

Monitoring the influence of behavior on distance from a focal goal has been identified as important for successful goal pursuit – such as weight loss. In seven experiments, we find that people tend to have a “progress bias” such that they perceive that goal-consistent behaviors (such as avoiding eating a piece of cake) help progress more than equivalent-sized goal-inconsistent behaviors (such as eating a piece of cake) hurt progress. An experiment on exercise and eating shows that the progress bias can lead to poor understanding of progress and thus, premature release of the goal. In this study, the progress bias resulted in people with a goal of expending more calories than they consumed ended up consuming more than they expended.

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