Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, JAMA, Pediatrics, Pulmonary Disease / 04.03.2021 Interview with: Dott.ssa Silvia Bloise MD Prof. Riccardo Lubrano MD PhD Pediatric and Neonatology Unit Maternal and Child Department Sapienza University of Rome Rome Italy What is the background for this study? Response: Pending new evidence, the universal facial masking, with other preventive measures remain the only strategies to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The use of face mask is particularly debated in the children, especially in younger children. Therefore, we wanted to test whether their in children was associated with episodes of desaturation or respiratory distress. (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Education, JAMA, UCLA / 22.02.2021 Interview with: Frederick Zimmerman, PhD Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management Fielding School of Public Health UCLA What is the background for this study? Response: The science on school transmissions of COVID is becoming clearer all the time in its conclusion that there is little to no transmission in school environments as long as reasonable precautions are taken. Yet one recent study got a lot of attention for claiming that states that allowed their schools to remain open in the early days of the pandemic saw more cases. That study did not control for several important factors that might explain this association, so our study aimed to correct that work. (more…)
Education, Nursing / 18.02.2021

Though it is not always necessary to have clear-cut goals for your career, it does wonders for your efforts if you know the general vicinity of where you want to end up. When you know this, you can make the right decisions both in your career and in your personal life to help you achieve your goals. In most professions, this is still very subjective, but if you work in healthcare (particularly as a physician or a nurse), then your way forward is rather simple. You still have plenty of options and opportunities to customize your career, both in terms of what you do and where you do it, but because of the sheer amount of training necessary, it is a good idea to be confident in your career choices from the outset. This guide will help you to track where you want to go in your nursing career and see your goals successfully attained. Just remember to take your time, mind your health and wellbeing, and never give up:

Know Your Options

The most important part of starting a new career is to know your options. It is not always easy, especially if your career is new or subjective, but in careers like nursing, your choices are all available on the table. You cannot start a new nursing role because the state and the government need to ratify that role first. It does put some constrictions, but many would admit knowing all their options makes it much easier to find their place. You can always customize your career in small ways but knowing the roles available at the apex of your career can help keep your efforts focused. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Education, Pediatrics / 21.12.2020 Interview with: Andrey Vyshedskiy PhD Boston University, Boston What is the background of ImagiRation? Response: ImagiRation is a Boston-based startup with links to MIT, Harvard, and Boston University. ImagiRation has developed a highly innovative adaptive language therapy application for children with autism, Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA). How is the Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism program delivered? Response: MITA language therapy is administered by parents at home. MITA application works on all smartphones and tablet devices and is designed for children ages 2 to 12 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education / 08.12.2020 Interview with: Martin J. Bergee Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs School of Music University of Kansas What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The idea that listening, participating, or achieving in music makes you better at another subject, say, math, science, or reading, has been around for a while. Indeed, there’s a relationship between achievement in music and achievement in other content areas. But I’ve always assumed that the relationship was spurious, that is, driven my any number of such background influences as urbanicity, ethnicity, SES, level of parent education, the type of school one attends, and so forth. Essentially, I set out to demonstrate once and for all that with these background influences accounted for statistically, the relationship is considerably attenuated. Much to my surprise, however, music achievement’s relationships with reading and math achievement remained quite strong. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Memory, Pediatrics / 08.10.2020 Interview with: Leonie Margarita Kausel, PhD Postdoctoral Researcher Development University Santiago, Chile What is the background for this study? Response: As a violin teacher, I observed the positive impact on many levels that musical training has on children and as a scientist (Biochemist), I was intrigued to be able to show this with data. I thought this was very important, because in my experience childhood music education can give you so much joy and important skills for life, but it is often not considered to be important in educational settings. After attending a seminar on education and neuroscience, I discovered that this discipline could allow me to investigate this in a scientific manner. This inspired me to enter the Neuroscience PhD program at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile where I was lucky to work with Dr. Francisco Aboitiz, who has vast experience in attention research (ADHD) and is an international expert in language and evolution. At that time Dr. Mary Elizabeth Sutherland was making her postdoc at the lab, and she had worked with Dr. Robert Zatorre, one of the leading researchers in music and the brain. Also, I was lucky to work with Dr. Francisco Zamorano, a pioneer of fMRI research in Chile. So together we designed the research. :) Also, I am very grateful that I could make a research stay at the Lab of Dr. Gottfried Schalug, who is also a pioneer in the research of music and the brain, and who inspired me to do this research since he wrote the first papers that I read about this subject. (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Education / 18.09.2020 Interview with: Thomas M. Selden Director of the Division of Research and Modeling Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Rockville, Maryland What is the background for this study? Response: Across the United States, school districts are facing decisions about whether and how to reopen elementary and secondary schools. We conducted this study to provide evidence on the risk of severe COVID-19 among adults who are connected to schools in some way – as teachers or other school workers or as household members of school-age children or school employees. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) collects the data we used in this study as part of its longstanding Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), which is the nation’s most complete source of data on the cost and use of health care and health insurance coverage. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education / 22.06.2020 Interview with: Shawn Loewen PhD Professor, Michigan State University Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages Second Language Studies Program Associate Editor, The Modern Language Journal East Lansing, MI What is the background for this study? Response: Millions of people use language learning apps such as Babel to study a foreign language; however, very little research has been conducted to investigate the effectiveness of such apps, in spite of some grand claims that companies make about the benefits of their apps. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, ENT, Hearing Loss, JAMA, Pediatrics / 30.11.2019 Interview with: Dr. Carlijn M. P. le Clercq, MD Speech and Language Pathology, Pediatrics, Otolaryngology Erasmus MC, Rotterdam What is the background for this study? Response: Recently, more reports have been publishes about the prevalence of slight to mild hearing loss among children in the general population. These studies showed that slight hearing loss is common, also within our population-based cohort in the Netherlands. Slight hearing loss is often scored as “not relevant”. We wanted to examine if we could find associations of hearing thresholds in children with performance scores in everyday life. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Heart Disease, Technology / 02.10.2019 Interview with: Tiffany G. Munzer, MD Department of Pediatrics University of Michigan Medical School Ann Arbor What is the background for this study? Response: There’s been such a rise in the prevalence of tablet devices and the recommendation for families of young children has been to engage in media together because children learn the most from screens when they’re shared with an adult. However, little is known about how toddlers and adults might behave and interact using a tablet. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Education, Mental Health Research / 16.04.2019 Interview with: Lina Begdache, PhD, RDN, CDN, CNS-S, FAND Assistant Professor Health and Wellness Studies Department GW 15 Decker School of Nursing Binghamton University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: College students engage in activities such as binge drinking, abuse of ADHD medications as "study drugs" or use of illicit drugs during a critical brain developmental window that supports maturation of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) necessary for emotional control, cognitive functions and regulation of impulsive behaviors. These activities not only affect brain function, thus mental health and cognitive functions, but may dampen brain development with potential long-lasting effects. As for findings, we were able to identify neurobehavioral patterns that associate with mental wellbeing and mental distress in young adults. Based on evidence from the literature, we constructed conceptual models that describe how one behavior may lead to another until virtuous or vicious cycles set-in. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Education, JAMA, Pediatrics / 06.02.2019 Interview with: Niels Skipper PhD Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Business Economics Aarhus University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is unclear if there is an association between type 1 diabetes and school performance in children. Some studies have found type 1 diabetes to be associated with worse performance, while others have found no differences. However, most of the existing literature are based on smaller, non-random samples of children with diabetes. In this study we used data on all public school children in the country of Denmark, involving more than 600,000 schoolchildren where approximately 2,000 had a confirmed diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. The children were tested in math and reading using a nationally standardized testing procedure, and we found no difference in the obtain test scores between children with diabetes compared to children without diabetes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA, OBGYNE, Pediatrics, Social Issues / 21.12.2018 Interview with "Pregnancy 1" by operalynn is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Josephine Funck Bilsteen, MSc Department of Pediatrics, Hvidovre University Hospital, Hvidovre, Section of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background of this study is that there is increasing recognition of the longer-term health and social outcomes associated with preterm birth such as independent living, quality of life, self-perception and socioeconomic achievements. However, much less is known about differences in education and income among adults born at different gestational weeks in the term period. In this study shorter gestational duration, even within the term range, was associated with lower chances of having a high personal income and having completed a secondary or tertiary education at age 28 years. This is the first study to show that adults born at 37 and 38 completed weeks of gestation had slightly lower chances of having a high income and educational level than adults born at 40 completed weeks of gestation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Sleep Disorders / 04.12.2018 Interview with: Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Director, Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory Baylor University Waco, TX 76798 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is a gap between what health behaviors individuals know they should adopt, and what those individuals actually end up doing. For example, a growing literature shows that simply educating students on the importance of sleep does not change their sleep behaviors. Thus, we need to think outside of the box for solutions. In three classes, we have now investigated a motivational solution: if students can earn extra credit on their final exam for sleeping better, will they do so even during finals week? (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Gastrointestinal Disease, Technology / 11.10.2018 Interview with: Nathaniel Ernstoff, MD University of Miami What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Despite the best efforts of all healthcare providers, colon cancer screening is underutilized with screening rates ranging anywhere from 58-76% based on the state (American Cancer Society 2017). At best we are still failing to screen 25% of the population. Patients have serious concerns about colorectal cancer (CRC) screening with the most common barriers to screening being fear of colonoscopy and of the bowel preparation, amongst others. These barriers coupled with the lack of understanding of the risks, benefits, and the efficacy of screening contribute to our inadequate screening. This study aims to prove that through education, and most importantly comprehension, patients will choose one of the 6 recommended colorectal cancer screening tests that best fits their preferences. In this study we had 24 patients who previously refused colonoscopy on 3 separate occasions, and had no other CRC screening, undergo a virtual reality (VR) demonstration, created by TheBodyVR, to see if education would improve the uptake of screening. Prior to the virtual reality demonstration, the patients completed a 5-item questionnaire which evaluated their baseline knowledge of CRC risk, polyps and screening as well as determining barriers to prior screening. The patient then viewed the VR demonstration which starts with an overview of colorectal cancer, followed by a tour through a virtual colon explaining and showing the viewer polyps and cancer. Finally, the demonstration reviews and compares the strengths and weaknesses of all USPSTF-recommended CRC screening tests. After the study, the patients complete the same questionnaire, and in this study there was a statistically significant improvement in knowledge in all questions. Ultimately, 23 of 24 patients who previously refused colorectal cancer screening on 3 separate occasions chose to undergo screening after the VR demonstration, and about 50% have performed the screening 60 days out from the study's completion. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Education, Exercise - Fitness, Pediatrics / 26.09.2018 Interview with: Dr. Marcus Smith PhD Reader in Sport and Exercise Physiology University of Chichester Co-founder, Clem Burke Drumming Project Dr. Marcus Smith PhD Reader in Sport and Exercise Physiology University of Chichester Co-founder, Clem Burke Drumming Project What is the background for this study? Response: The research group first started to examine rock drumming from a scientific perspective in 1999 through collaboration with Clem Burke, drummer with the iconic band ‘Blondie’. In 2008 the Clem Burke Drumming Project (CBDP) was formed (visit for further information) where academics from different disciplines came together to not only explore the physiological demands of rock drumming but also the potential use of rock drumming as an intervention in research studies. Rock drumming is attractive to the scientist in that it is a unique activity that requires the coordination of multiple limbs to produce the required drumming pattern. Inherent demands relating to timing, tempo and volume must also be met. Therefore, the ability to manipulate these facets of drumming performance in a research setting is very appealing. In relation to potential research populations drumming has a universal fascination regardless of age, gender, culture, language competency and ethnicity. Anecdotal evidence suggests that drumming is a ‘cool’ activity that has a unique ‘language currency’ in terms of stimulating communication within and between those who can and cannot play the drums. The impetus for our research study came from parents of autistic children contacting us to express their belief that drumming was having a positive effect on their child’s physical and psychological behaviour. A review of the literature showed a range of anecdotal evidence in support of such statements (Freidman 2000) and an increase in empirical drumming based research being undertaken (Bungay 2010). More recent studies have reported psychosocial benefits such as enhanced communication (Maschi et al. 2010; 2012), emotional processing and tension reduction (Flores et al. 2016; Maschi et al. 2010; 2012), group cohesion and connectedness (Blackett et al. 2005), concentration, psychomotor coordination and posture (Chen et al. 2017). The majority of this work was undertaken with adolescents with very little work focused on younger age groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Exercise - Fitness / 14.09.2018

“Girl Playing Soccer” by Bold Content is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Interview with: Craig Pulling. MSc, PGCE, BA (Hons), FHEA Head of Physical Education University of Chichester What is the background for this study? Response: Successful perceptual-cognitive skill in team-sports such as football requires players to pick up task-relevant information during the control of action in complex and dynamic situations. It has been proposed that players could perform visual exploratory activity (VEA) to be able to recognise important cues in the playing environment. VEA is defined as: “A body and/or head movement in which the player’s face is actively and temporarily directed away from the ball, seemingly with the intention of looking for teammates, opponents or other environmental objects or events, relevant to perform a subsequent action with the ball” (Jordet, 2005, p.143). Research has suggested that VEA is an important facet of skilled performance in youth and adult football. However, it is currently unknown whether such evidence is commensurate with the views of coaches and whether coaching practices are utilised to develop VEA in training. In order to further current understanding on VEA and coaching practices, the present study developed an online survey to examine: (i) when VEA should be introduced in coaching; (ii) how VEA is delivered by coaches and (iii) how coaches evaluate VEA. Further, this study aimed to explore whether distinct groups of football coaches existed who differed in their approach to the delivery of VEA training and, if so, whether there were differences in the demographics of the coaches across these differentiated groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education / 30.08.2018 Interview with: “Lecture Hall” by Sholeh is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Dr. David P. Smith, NTF, BSc, PhD, SFHEA Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry / Course Leader MSc Molecular and Cellular Biology and National Teaching Fellow Sheffield Hallam University, in the UK What is the background for this study? Response: Lectures are not going to go away, when done well they can be an effective method for teaching large groups of students. To make the lecture experience more effective we wanted to find out why students chose to sit in a given location such that we can better interact with them during taught sessions. We also wanted to find out the reasons they made this choice and if this choice of location had an effect on finial attainment (marks). (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Gender Differences, JAMA, Pediatrics / 22.07.2018 Interview with: Julie Silver, MD Associate Professor and Associate Chair Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and Staff physician at Massachusetts General Brigham and Women’s and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospitals What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There are many documented disparities for women in medicine that include promotion and compensation. For physicians in academic medicine, both promotion and compensation may be directly or indirectly linked to publishing. Similarly, opportunities that stem from publishing such as speaking engagements, may be affected by a physician’s ability to publish. For more than twenty years, there have been reports of women being underrepresented on journal editorial boards and gaps in their publishing rates. For example, a report titled “Is There a Sex Bias in Choosing Editors?” by Dickersin et al was published in JAMA in 1998 and made a compelling case for bias. Moreover, the authors noted that “a selection process favoring men would have profound ramifications for the professional advancements and influence of women”. Despite a steady stream of reports over the years, gaps have not been sufficiently addressed, and in 2014 Roberts published an editorial in Academic Psychiatry titled “Where Are the Women Editors?”. The 2017 review by Hengel titled “Publishing While Female” highlights many of the gaps, disparities and barriers for women in medicine. Conventional reasons for disparities, such as there are not enough women in the pipeline or women do not want to conduct research or pursue leadership positions, are simply not valid. Therefore, it is important to look at other barriers, such as unconscious (implicit) bias that may affect the editorial process. In this study, we analyzed perspective type articles from four high impact pediatric journals. We selected pediatrics, because most pediatricians are women, and therefore there are plenty of highly accomplished women physicians. We found that women were underrepresented among physician first authors in all of the journals (140 of 336 [41.7%]). We also found that underrepresentation was more pronounced in article categories that were described as more scholarly (range, 15.4%-44.1%) versus narrative (52.9%-65.6%). (more…)
Author Interviews, Education / 27.03.2018 Interview with: “Classroom” by frankjuarez is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Dr Anna Mazenod Institute of Education University of London UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this paper we report baseline findings from a large study of grouping practices in state-funded secondary schools in England. The study seeks to improve our understanding of how students are grouped for their English and mathematics classes, and the potential impact of different grouping practices on student outcomes and experiences of schooling. This paper draws on a survey of 597 teachers and 34 teacher interviews in schools where students are grouped by their attainment for the subject. It focuses on teacher perspectives on teaching and learning in the lower attainment groups. We found that students in the lower attainment groups were typically constructed as learners who benefit from specific approaches to learning justified through discourses of nurturing and protection. Most teachers felt that students in the lower attainment groups were not able to access learning independently from their teachers in comparison with their peers in the higher attainment groups. Some teachers for example described students in the lower attainment groups as ‘more dependent on people’ and students in the higher attainment groups as ‘independent learners.’ (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Infections, Pediatrics / 23.02.2018 Interview with: Ole Köhler-Forsberg, PhD Student Department of Clinical Medicine - Psychosis Research Unit Aarhus University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior studies have demonstrated that serious illnesses, for example severe infections such as measles, rubella or meningitis, which we vaccinate against, affect the brain and thereby the child's ability to learn. From this we know that illnesses and in particular infections to some degree have an influence on our brains. In this study, we decided to look at how children perform following the less severe infections that many of them frequently experience during their childhood. After all, this is the largest group of children, but this has not been studied previously in such a large population. Basically, we found that among 598,553 Danes born 1987-1997, the less severe infections treated with anti-infective agents during childhood did not affect the child´s ability to perform well in school, nonetheless whether 5, 10 or 15 prescriptions had been prescribed. On the other hand, we found that children who had been admitted to hospital as a result of severe infections had a lower chance of completing 9th grade. The decisive factor is therefore the severity of the disease, but not necessarily the number of sick days. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA, Pediatrics / 30.01.2018 Interview with: “preschool joy” by kristin :: prairie daze is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Arthur J. Reynolds, PhD Institute of Child Development University of Minnesota, Minneapolis What is the background for this study? Response: Educational attainment is the leading social determinant of health. Higher attainment measured by years of education or postsecondary attainment is linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk; lower rates of smoking, diabetes, and hypertension; and higher economic well-being. Evidence on the long-term effects of early childhood programs on educational attainment is mixed. Some studies show impacts on high school graduation but not college attainment, the reverse pattern, or no measurement into adulthood. No studies of large-scale public programs have assessed impacts beyond young adulthood. Whether duration of participation over ages 3 to 9 is linked to mid 30s attainment also has not been investigated. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Education, Pediatrics, Sleep Disorders / 26.01.2018 Interview with: “He isn't sleeping, he is mad. When we don't get our way pouting always works (okay.. It's worth a try at least!) #kids #dad #father #family #funny #like #parenting #photooftheday #instaphoto #instacute” by dadblunders is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Anne G. Wheaton, Ph.D. Epidemiologist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division of Population Health Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch Atlanta, GA 30341-3717 What is the background for this study? Response: Insufficient sleep among children and adolescents is associated with an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and attention and behavior problems. In previous reports, CDC had found that, nationwide, approximately two thirds of U.S. high school students report sleeping <8 hours per night on school nights. CDC conducted this study to provide state-level estimates of short sleep duration on school nights among middle school and high school students using age-specific recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). AASM has recommended that children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours for optimal health. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Gender Differences / 24.01.2018 Interview with: Prof. Amani El-Alayli PhD Eastern Washington University What is the background for this study? Response: This research was conducted on the premise that people tend to view women as more nurturing, and also set higher standards for women to behave in a nurturing manner. The same pattern has been observed in past research examining how students view their female professors. Female professors are expected to be more nurturing, such as being more available outside of the classroom, as compared to their male professors. In the present research, we investigated whether these higher expectations of nurturing behavior would cause students to be more likely to ask things of their female professors, consequently placing higher work demands on them. In our survey of male and female professors across the country, we indeed found that female professors received more requests for standard work demands (e.g., office hours visits or assistance with course-related matters), as well as special favor requests (e.g., requests to re-do an assignment for a better grade or asking for some form of exception, extended deadline, or alternative assignment), compared to male professors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Pediatrics / 18.01.2018 Interview with: “Reading” by Kate Ter Haar is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Dr. Jon Quach, PhD Postdoctoral research fellow Royal Childrens Hospital's Centre for Community Child Health Murdoch Children’s Research Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The reading practices of mothers and fathers was assessed in 405 families in Melbourne when children were 2, and child had their language and literacy skills assessed when they were 4 years old. We found fathers reading practices were associated with better language outcomes 2 years later, even after accounting for mothers reading and key family demographics (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, NYU, Pediatrics, Pediatrics / 02.01.2018 Interview with: Adriana Weisleder, PhD Research scientist, Department of Pediatrics NYU Langone Medical Center New York What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: An estimated 250 million children in low- and middle-income countries do not reach their developmental potential due to poverty. Many programs in the US, such as Reach Out and Read and Video Interaction Project, have shown success in reducing poverty-related disparities in early child development by promoting parent-child interactions in cognitively stimulating activities such as shared bookreading. This randomized study sought to determine whether a program focused on supporting parent-child shared bookreading would result in enhanced child development among 2- to 4-year-old children in a low-resource region in northern Brazil. Families in the program could borrow children’s books on a weekly basis and could participate in monthly parent workshops focused on reading aloud. Findings showed that participating families exhibited higher quantity and quality of shared reading interactions than families in a control group, and children showed higher vocabularies, working memory, and IQ. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, BMJ, Education, Karolinski Institute / 10.12.2017 Interview with:

Susanna C. Larsson, PhD Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden What is the background for this study? Response: The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are largely unknown and there are currently no medical treatments that can halt or reverse its effects. This has led to growing interest in identifying risk factors for Alzheimer’s that are amenable to modification. Several observational studies have found that education and various lifestyle and vascular risk factors are associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but whether these factors actually cause Alzheimer’s is unclear.

We used a genetic epidemiologic method known as ‘Mendelian randomization’. This method involves the use of genes with an impact on the modifiable risk factor – for example, genes linked to education or intelligence – and assessing whether these genes are also associated with the disease. If a gene with an impact on the modifiable risk factor is also associated with the disease, then this provides strong evidence that the risk factor is a cause of the disease. What are the main findings?

Response: Our results, based on aggregated genetic data from 17 000 Alzheimer’s disease patients and 37 000 healthy controls, revealed that genetic variants that predict higher education were clearly associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A possible explanation for this link is ‘cognitive reserve’, which refers to the ability to recruit and use alternative brain networks or structures not normally used to compensate for brain ageing. Previous research has shown that high education increases this reserve.

We found suggestive evidence for possible associations of intelligence, circulating vitamin D, coffee consumption, and smoking with risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There was no evidence for a causal link with other modifiable factors, such as vascular risk factors.

Author Interviews, Education, Pediatrics / 29.11.2017 Interview with: Sonia Kandel PhD Professor at the GIPSA-Lab Université Grenoble Alpes What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: How do we recall a word’s spelling from memory? How do we execute the movements to produce letters? A series of studies conducted by Professor Sonia Kandel at the GIPSA-Lab/University of Grenoble Alpes in France provide evidence indicating that writing is a linguistic process that affects the way we execute the manual movements when we write. For example, the movements involved in writing T-H-R are easier to execute in a word that is pronounced as it is spelled, (e.g. “thrill”) than in a word that is orthographically irregular (e.g. “through”). What happens with writing when spelling processes are impaired like, in dyslexia and dysgraphia? (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA, Karolinski Institute, Mental Health Research / 16.11.2017 Interview with: Ana Pérez-Vigil MD Department of Clinical Neuroscience Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Research Center Karolinska Institutet What is the background for this study? Response: Everyone who regularly works with persons who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has seen that their patients often struggle with school work. It is not uncommon for these individuals to have poor school attendance and severe patients can be out of the education system altogether. This applies to persons of all ages, from school children to young adults who may be at university. On the other hand there is a group of patients who, against all odds, working 10 times as hard as everybody else, manage to stay in education and eventually get a degree. So we have long suspected that OCD has a detrimental impact on the person’s education, with all the consequences that this entails (worse chances to enter the labour market and have a high paid job). But we did not really know to what extent OCD impacts education. So we wanted to know what is the actual impact of OCD on educational attainment using objectively collected information from the unique Swedish national registers. Previous work had been primarily based on small clinical samples from specialist clinics, using either self or parent report and cross-sectional designs. Previous work also tended not to control for important confounders such as psychiatric comorbidity or familial factors (genetic and environmental factors that could explain both OCD and the outcomes of interest). (more…)