Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Parental intervention boosts education of kids at high risk of failure

18.02.2008
University of Oregon neuroscientists are using basic research findings to address real world problems

An eight-week-long intervention program aimed at parents from low socioeconomic backgrounds reaped significant educational benefits in their preschool-aged children, a University of Oregon research fellow reported today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In a news briefing (9 a.m. EST, “Poverty and the Brain”) and scientific session later in the day, Courtney Stevens, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Brain Development Lab of UO neuroscientist Helen J. Neville, described preliminary results of a parent-intervention portion of a larger study that also includes other approaches aimed at the children in a federal Head Start program in Oregon. The parent training program was developed by UO doctoral student Jessica Fanning, who recently completed her dissertation.

At the end of the intervention effort, participating parents reported dramatic reductions in family stress, including reduced behavioral problems, compared to parents in the control group. The UO researchers also documented, through testing and brain-wave scans, improvements in the children's language-acquisition skills, memory and cognitive abilities.

The experimental group included 14 children between 3 and 5 years old and their parents. The children underwent brain scans before and after the research period. The parents attended weekly 2.5-hour sessions in which they were coached on improved communication skills and strategies to use with their children to help control their behavior. At the end of testing, they were compared with results from a control group of 14 children who were tested and had brain scans at the beginning and end of the study period, but whose parents did not receive an intervention protocol.

Several other intervention strategies, including the use of music and attention training with small groups of children, were part of the project, but only data from the parental intervention were shared during a AAAS session on "Poverty and Brain Development: Correlations, Mechanisms, and Societal Implications" scheduled for 1:45 p.m.-4:45 p.m. EST.

"Our findings are important because they suggest that kids who are at high risk for school failure can be helped through these interventions," said Stevens, who earned master's and doctoral degrees at the UO and is currently a visiting faculty member at New York's Sarah Lawrence College. "Even with these small numbers of children, the parent training appears very promising.

"We are continuing to assess the parent training program," she added. "We are looking at the effects of the training on children's brain organization, using event-related brain potentials. We are following these children for the next few years to see whether the improvements we see after training persist and generalize to the school environment."

The intervention strategies, being tested with funding from the Institute of Education Science, were created after 30 years of basic research by Neville on the changeability of the human brain, supported primarily by the National Institutes of Health. Neville has studied children and adults with a variety of experiences, including deafness and blindness, to see impacts in the brain. She had found that the auditory cortex and areas of the brain associated with visual abilities -- for years thought to be genetically determined at birth -- rewire and adapt for other helpful uses.

Neville, who initially was scheduled to present the new findings, did not attend the AAAS meeting. She described her early work in an interview at the UO.

"We've identified different neuroplasticity profiles," Neville said. "Within vision, within hearing, within attention and within language some systems in the brain don't seem to change very much when experiences are very different, and others change remarkably. As we looked more into basic development and developmental disorders, these same systems that were enhanced in the deaf and blind were the same ones that appear to be most vulnerable and deficient in disorders such as dyslexia and specific language impairments.

"We've learned that plasticity is a double-edged sword," she said. "A system that is changeable can be enhanced, but it can also be very vulnerable to deficits if it doesn’t get the appropriate help at the right time."

Catching children while they are young is the right time, Neville said. Targeting children from families with low socioeconomic status makes sense, she said, because research in the United States, United Kingdom and several other countries has repeatedly shown a correlation between children's educational achievement and their parents' education and income levels.

"Knowing the plasticity profiles and learning which are most changeable provides us with an opportunity to help in the real world," she said. A societal payoff for such interventions is economic, she added. "The research is not just good for the children; it is good for the economy. "Economists say that investment in early education returns $18 for every dollar spent."

Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>