anxiety

Children living in areas where homicides committed have lower reading, verbal test scores

July, 2010

A Chicago study has found substantially lower reading scores in African-American children who were assessed directly after a local homicide. Hispanic children were not affected.

A study using data on reported homicides in Chicago 1994-2002 and two independent surveys of children and families in Chicago, has revealed that African-American children who were assessed directly after a local homicide occurred scored substantially lower on vocabulary and reading assessments than their peers from the same neighborhood who were assessed at different times. The impact of the homicide faded both with time and distance from the child's home. However, in both datasets, while the results were extremely strong for African Americans, there was no effect of local homicides for Hispanics. Because of the prevalence of homicide in the most violent neighborhoods in cities like Chicago, these results mean that some children spend about one week out of every month functioning at a low level. Whites and other ethnic groups were excluded from the study because they were almost never exposed to local homicides in the samples used.

Reference: 

[1631] Sharkey, P.
(2010).  The acute effect of local homicides on children's cognitive performance.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107(26), 11733 - 11738.

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Personality may influence brain shrinkage in aging

March, 2010

An imaging study involving 79 volunteers aged 44 to 88 has found more brain atrophy and faster rates of decline in brain regions particularly affected by aging, among those ranked high in neuroticism traits.

An imaging study involving 79 volunteers aged 44 to 88 has found lower volumes of gray matter and faster rates of decline in the frontal and medial temporal lobes of those who ranked high in neuroticism traits, compared with those who ranked high in conscientious traits. These are brain regions particularly affected by aging. The idea that this might occur derived from the well-established effects of chronic stress on the brain. This is the first study to investigate whether the rate and extent of cognitive decline with age is influenced by personality variables. Extraversion, also investigated, had no effect. The study does not, however, rule out the possibility that it is reduction in brain tissue in these areas that is affecting personality. There is increasing evidence that people tend to become more neurotic and less conscientious in early-stage Alzheimer's.

Reference: 

[174] Jackson, J., Balota D. A., & Head D.
(Submitted).  Exploring the relationship between personality and regional brain volume in healthy aging.
Neurobiology of Aging. In Press, Corrected Proof,

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