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Annual Editions: Human Development 12/13, Forty-First Edition
Part A. Genetic Influences
1. Your DNA, Decoded, Mark Anderson, Delta Skymagazine, August 2010
This article explains the six billion genes (half from father, half from mother), made up of base pairs (A, C, G and T), which comprise each unique human's instruction manual. One's health, emotions, and personality are influenced by one's genome prenatally. Environmental factors after birth also affect human functioning.
2. Seeking Genetic Fate, Patrick Barry, Science News, July 4, 2009
The cost of having small variations in your genes analyzed (over 99% of all human genes are identical), has dropped precipitously. Several genomic technology companies now offer to forecast your personal disease risks. Most health hazards also involve diet, exercise, and environmental factors. The ethics of predicting complex maladies from saliva are questionable.
Part B. Prenatal Influences
3. The Prematurity Puzzle, Jeneen Interlandi, Newsweek, November 1, 2010
Research scientists are focusing on the placenta (an organ) to learn why premature infants are more likely to have autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and other developmental disabilities. Brain development, physical health, and cognitive abilities are stimulated by placental hormones over 40 weeks of pregnancy. The role of genes may be less crucial.
4. Thanks, Dad, The Economist, January 8, 2011
The fact that a woman's prenatal environment has a profound impact on her children's future has been known for over 70 years. A man's effects on future offspring is finally coming of age. Infants fathered by starving male mice produced offspring with genes associated with obesity (active fat synthesis). A human father's nutrition may also contribute to his children's weight health.
Part A. Infancy
5. Keys to Quality Infant Care: Nurturing Every Baby's Life Journey, Alice Sterling Honig, Young Children, September 2010
Dr. Honig, an expert on infant caregiving, shares 11 keys to enhancing baby's brain development, physical status, language skills, emotional regulation, and social abilities. She explains different infant temperaments and advises on how parents and teachers can shape behaviors to accommodate personalities.
6. Vaccination Nation, Chris Mooney, Discover, June 2009
Parents have been scared by activists claiming (falsely) that vaccines cause infant autism. Science proves otherwise; this article cites multiple studies. The ethics of skeptics are dubious. Withholding vaccines can cause epidemics of largely vanquished diseases. Other environmental factors which trigger genetic diseases must be explored, and motivation to vaccinate must increase.
Part B. Early Childhood
7. How to Help Your Toddler Begin Developing Empathy, Rebecca Pariakian and Claire Lerner, Zero to Three, July 2009
Personality is socialized as well as inherited. Teaching empathy in parenting practices during early childhood helps toddlers understand emotions and develop self-esteem. This article explains how to foster this complex skill.
8. Five Skills Kids Need before They Read, Peg Tyre, Instructor, August 2009
No Child Left Behind legislation and high stakes testing ended many self-esteem programs in education. Emotional curriculum is now returning. Stressors from culture and families inhibit children's brain development. Reading proficiency rises and discipline problems plummet when kids learn social skills.
9. Little by Little, Laura Beil, Science News, September 12, 2009
Food allergies are 20% more frequent than 10 years ago. Scientists believe infants and young children raised in antiseptic cultures may have immature immunity. Parents may promote health and nutrition by introducing small portions of allergy-prone foods earlier. Other new strategies for reducing food allergies are discussed as well.
10. Ten Tips for Involving Families through Internet-Based Communication, Sascha Mitchell, Teresa S. Foulger, and Keith Wetzel, Young Children, September 2009
Early childhood education can be greatly enhanced with family–school partnerships. The authors suggest 10 ways in which parents and teachers can work together to teach young children. Technology is required so inexpensive ways to access computers are given. Ways to overcome language differences are also addressed.
11. "Early Sprouts": Establishing Healthy Food Choices for Young Children, Karrie A. Kalich, Dottie Bauer, and Deirdre McPartlin, Young Children, July 2009
Early childhood nutrition practices are decisive for lifelong eating habits. A positive approach is given—veggies taste great!—rather than no dessert until veggies are eaten. "Early Sprouts" programs encourage gardening, sensory exploration, cooking, and family involvement with healthy foods. Most children in the United States have diets high in sugar, salt, and fat, and low in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Education can change this.
Part A. Cognition
12. An Educator's Journey toward Multiple Intelligences, Scott Seider, Edutopia, 2008
Can intelligence be defined as a general ability? The theory of multiple intelligences (MI), put forth by Howard Gardner, answers NO. The author describes his appreciation of a poor student's "smartness" on the athletic field. Gardner's theory focuses on different ways in which children use cognitive processes (e.g., body-kinesthetic, music). Schools are not required to educate for every area of MI.
13. In Defense of Distraction, Sam Anderson, New York, May 25, 2009
This article is an exposition about the massive amounts of multitasking, electronic technology interpretation, and distractions that have been added to our lives by the culture's "Information Age." (An average adolescent in the United States spends six hours per day online.) While hyper-focusing programs abound, the author argues that harnessing distractions may increase brain efficiency for complex cognitive processing.
Part B. Schooling
14. What Really Motivates Kids, Dana Truby, Instructor, January/February 2010
Children and adolescents are motivated by self-chosen, relevant, cognitive problems. Educators too often praise high test scores. Intelligence grows through experimenting, creativity, and persistence. Students from schools that engage them in complex tasks often score better on standardized tests.
15. The Truth about Kids and Money, Peg Tyre, Instructor, September/ October 2009
Many states require some financial education for adolescents. Parents should talk to children about money earlier and often. The stress of the recession, with lost jobs, foreclosures, and bankruptcy forces this issue. Instruction on careers, income, credit, and savings should be an essential part of schooling.
16. What I've Learned, Michelle Rhee, Newsweek, December 13, 2010
School reform is difficult. It involves culture change. This article describes the struggles to improve education in Washington, D.C. between 2007 and 2010. The children in more than 20 nations surpass children in the United States in science, reading, and math. There is no large lobby to promote students' best interests. The author presents several suggestions for putting "students first."
17. From Lockers to Lockup, Jessica Bennett, Newsweek, October 11, 2010
Can children and adolescents be bullied to death? Technology allows peer cyber bullying to an extent never experienced before. Should schools expel students who are vigilantes online? Is it a crime? Will the perpetrator be emotionally harmed by the suicide of his/her victim? Can digital violence ever be curtailed?
Part A. Family
18. Role Reversal, Sara Eckel, Waking Mother, February/March 2010
The stress of the recession with career losses is changing family life. Men do more cleaning and caring for children. Over one-half of employed workers in the United States are women. Problems of bruised egos and low self-esteem occur with gender role-reversals. Some emotions, such as empathy, make marriage easier.
19. The Angry Smile, Signe L. Whitson, Going Bonkers Magazine, October 2009
Children learn how to behave in unhelpful passive-aggressive modes from parents, peers, school personnel, television characters, and in cultural contexts. Passive-aggression is not genetic. It can be changed through socialization. This article tells how to substitute assertive expression for passive-aggression.
20. Fast Times, Deborah Swaney, Family Circle, November 29, 2008
The culture of pre-teens is becoming one of sexualization over socialization. Friends' language (be "hot," "shake your booty") often trumps family values. Rather than exercise (sports, play) to see what one's body can do, children experiment with sensuous appearances. The author suggests ways to raise self-esteem without precocious sexuality.
Part B. Culture
21. Engaging Young Children in Activities and Conversations about Race and Social Class, Rebekka Lee, Patricia G. Ramsey, and Barbara Sweeney, Young Children, November 2008
The United States has one of the most diverse populations in the world. Education about race and social class through positive activities (art, role-play, games, books) can reduce biases. Conversations, and language used, are vital to influencing attitudes. It is valuable to socialize children to adopt cross-race and cross-social class friendships.
22. Use the Science of What Works to Change the Odds for Children at Risk, Susan B. Neuman, Phi Delta Kappan, April 2009
Research documents that intelligence is not all genetic; it grows with targeting language and motivation in cultures of poverty. Education of single-parents in their homes which focuses on child-caregiver activities increases both cognitive and social-emotional development. Early intervention can break the cycle of disadvantage.
23. Culture of Corpulence, Claudia Kalb, Newsweek, March 22, 2010
Obesity is rampant in our culture. One of First Lady Michelle Obama's causes is to give children more nutrition in school lunches. Unhealthy fast foods, used regularly by working families, contribute to problems with diabetes, hypertension, and early heart disease. Parents often allow sedentary technology (TV, video games, computers) to replace exercise. Obesity hampers self-esteem.
Part A. Adolescence
24. Foresight Conquers Fear of the Future, Edward Cornish, The Futurist, January–February 2010
Adolescents are experiencing rapid changes in socialization. They fear a future with widespread aggression, drug abuse, and moral/ethical decline. Do they have "future phobia"? The author reports that trend analysts have predicted future outcomes. Young adults who have foresight and creativity will choose careers and lifestyles that embrace technology's advances.
25. Interview with Dr. Craig Anderson: Video Game Violence, Sarah Howe, Jennifer Stigge, and Brooke Sixta, Eye on Psi Chi, Summer 2008
A scientist with ongoing research on video game technology has ample evidence to support increased aggression in children and adolescents who play violent video games. Those with high trait aggressiveness are more influenced to behave with hostility. However, those low in trait aggressiveness are equally affected. Studies about the effect on brain development (ADHD, drug addiction) continue.
26. Offsetting Risks: High School Gay-Straight Alliances and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth, Nicholas C. Heck, Annesa Flentje, and Bryan N. Cochran, School Psychology Quarterly, 2011
Compared with their peers, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adolescents are at risk for drug abuse, mental health problems, verbal and physical violence, and family stress. This research describes how school gay-straight alliances (GSAs) can offset risks. School psychologists can both advocate for GSAs and work with parents toward acceptance of their children.
27. Portrait of a Hunger Artist, Emily Troscianko, Psychology Today, March/April 2010
The author uncovers the truths behind the malnutrition experienced by an adolescent with anorexia nervosa. Her genetics and family stress contributed to her health problems. Food became her best friend, as well as her obsession. Her emotions (envy, resentment, scorn) were triggered by weight-consciousness. Her recovery was dramatic.
28. 53.1% of You Already Know What This Story's About. Or Do You? Dan Kois, New York, March 7, 2011
This article describes Daryl Bem, a research psychologist who enjoys pushing the envelope and studying controversial topics: gender roles, sexual orientation, and most recently, precognition. Using technology, he has shown that the brain may predict the future, and have some vague memory of items before they are seen. Most scientists reject this; others are curious.
Part B. Young Adulthood
29. How to "Ace" Your Freshman Year in the Workplace with C's: Culture, Competence, and Consequences, Paul Hettich, Eye On Psi Chi, Spring 2010
Most young adults have unrealistic job expectations. The author recommends career counseling by one's junior year. The transition from school to work includes less structure, more uncertainty, team effort, and skills at communicating in language and writing. Factors that lead to promotions and those that influence termination are presented.
30. I Can't Think!, Sharon Begley, Newsweek, March 7, 2011
Technology can give us too much information, resulting in a cultural information paralaysis. The brain's working memory only holds about seven items without conscious cognitive processing. Overload results in recent information trumping good data, and bad decisions being made. Creativity requires percolating of ideas at the unconscious level. Slower choices are often better choices.
31. Are We There Yet?, Jessica Bennett, Jesse Ellison, and Sarah Ball, Newsweek, March 29, 2010
Has 40 years of Women's Lib changed much of the culture in the United States? Across all careers men earn, on average, 20% more. More women have college educations, but few are Fortune 500 CEOs, law partners, or politicians. Gender differences have increased since 9/11. The United States ranks 31st now in the Global Gender Gap Index. What ethical issues arise out of this gender backlash?
32. Heartbreak and Home Runs: The Power of First Experiences, Jay Dixit, Psychology Today, January/February 2010
First memories (love, sex, victories, losses, lying) last longest. They shape our personalities. Young adults use the language of self-talk to convince themselves what kinds of persons they are. While these early experiences have power, they do not determine all future behavior. Emotions are sufficient, but not necessarily the only reason for personal reactions to events.
33. All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting, Jennifer Senior, New York, July 12, 2010
Adulthood is less happy when marriage leads to parenting. Children make demands and add stressors unknown to childless couples. The emotions of family life range from agony to ecstasy. Gender differences are minimal. Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman found that child care ranked very low on all adults' lists of pleasurable activities.
Part A. Middle Adulthood
34. Good Morning, Heartache, Kathleen McGowan, Psychology Today, March/April 2009
Adulthood depression is common. Genetic factors and life stressors affect brain chemistry creating negative emotions. Stressed people are at risk for drug abuse and death by suicide. This article describes journeys back to health with multiple components. Meditation, spirituality, creativity, humor, nutrition, exercise, sleep, acupuncture, medication, and cognitive therapy all help.
35. I Survived, Allison Samuels, Newsweek, May 23 and 30, 2011
"Magic" Johnson got HIV from heterosexual sex. He began antiretroviral drugs before they were FDA approved, and, 20 years later, has not yet developed AIDS. He is not cured. He must take his medicines at the same time every day. His new career is education: fighting the cultural stigma against AIDS. He tries to motivate children, adults, families, and communities to fight the virus, prevent death, and live healthier lives, even if they are one of the 33 million with HIV.
36. The New Survivors, Pamela Weintraub, Psychology Today, July/August 2009
The link between cancer and death is being broken. The stress of surviving cancer is making some adults psychologically hardier. Transformative benefits include more positive emotions, spirituality, self-esteem, and friendships. Empowered by hope, survivors generate more forgiveness, gratitude, kindness, and humor than in the past.
37. Curing Cancer, Sharon Begley, Newsweek, September 13, 2010
Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has a 90% cure rate. Technology has allowed identification of the genetic mutations in ALL and they are hit with multiple drugs simultaneously. Identifying specific mutations in adult cancers and targeting specific drugs against their drivers can prevent death. Progress is slow. Health depends on more genotyping and effective drugs.
38. Can You Build a Better Brain?, Sharon Begley, Newsweek, January 10 and 17, 2011
Studies purporting nutritional paths to brain development are weak. Adults and aging persons who exercise, meditate, and play technology-based games improve their memory and intelligence. Cognition mechanics require BDNF to stimulate neurons, attention to strengthen synapses, motivation to actualize potentials, and a reduction of stress hormones.
Part B. Late Adulthood
39. Why Do Men Die Earlier?, Bridget Murray-Law, Monitor on Psychology, June 2011
This article explains gender differences in health in adulthood and aging. Male socialization towards aggression and suppressed emotions leads to drug abuse and earlier death. Women, and men with self-reliance and self-esteem, live longer. Cultural education and removal of minority stress can extend life.
40. More Good Years, Dan Buettner, AARP The Magazine, September/ October 2009
The Earth has a few "Blue Zones." These are cultures where many people reach age 90+ in good health with physical stamina. On the Greek island of Ikaria, there is no Alzheimer's and little cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Aging well is attributed to good nutrition (Mediterranean diet), exercise, spiritual values, strong family and friendship bonds, optimistic emotions and few stressors.
41. This Is Your Brain. Aging., Sharon Begley, Newsweek, June 28 and July 5, 2010
Brain development does not cease with aging. Research with retired persons who had 40 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week over six months, demonstrated new learning and improved memory and reasoning in that group. Emotional intelligence, vocabulary, and recalling the past typically are good or improve with age. Genetics matter, but cognitive interventions, like walking, can affect improvements.