what's the buzz


Talking to infants sharpens their skills

A psychologist at Stanford University has shown as to why talking to kids really matters in their language development.

Fifty years of research has revealed the sad truth that the children of lower-income, less-educated parents typically enter school with poorer language skills than their more privileged counterparts.

In recent years, Anne Fernald, a psychology professor at Stanford, has conducted experiments revealing that the language gap between rich and poor children emerges during infancy.

Her work has shown that significant differences in both vocabulary and real-time language processing efficiency were already evident at age 18 months in English-learning infants from higher- and lower-SES families. By age 24 months, there was a six-month gap between SES groups in processing skills critical to language development.

Fernald’s work has also identified one likely cause for this gap. Using special technology to make all-day recordings of low-SES Spanish-learning children in their home environments, Fernald and her colleagues found striking variability in how much parents talked to their children.

Infants who heard more child-directed speech developed greater efficiency in language processing and learned new words more quickly.

The results indicate that exposure to child-directed speech – as opposed to overheard speech – sharpens infants’ language processing skills, with cascading benefits for vocabulary learning.

Common infections linked with risk of memory decline

A new research has found that exposure to common infections may up risk of memory decline, even if the infections never made you ill.

Researchers found an index of antibody levels caused by exposure to Chlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 was associated with worse cognitive performance, including memory, speed of mental processing, abstract thinking, planning and reasoning ability.

Clinton Wright, the study’s lead researcher and scientific director of the Evelyn F McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Miami, said that his team was very interested in what were the risk factors for cognitive performance and decline.

 Researchers investigated if evidence of past exposure to these infections contributed to performance on tests of memory. The study conducted brain function tests and took blood samples from 588 people who participated in the Northern Manhattan Study. Half of the participants then took cognitive tests again in five years.

Researchers believe exposure to these infections may be associated with an increase in stroke risk, as well as an increase in atherosclerosis and inflammation, said Dr Wright.

The study doesn’t explain why the infections are related to worsening cognitive function.

It could be caused by an immune system response to the infections or the infection itself could result in clinical damage that we’re not aware of, Wright said.

There is no evidence yet that treating these infections is beneficial, he said, because the initial exposure to the viruses may have happened decades earlier and the damage may be the result of a gradual process.

Air pollution increases BP risk in pregnant women

A new study has found that breathing in harmful toxics during pregnancy increases risk of hypertension in women and may result in deadly complications like preeclampsia.

Researchers at the University of Florida compared birth data with Environmental Protection Agency estimates of air pollution, finding that heavy exposure to four air pollutants led to a significantly increased risk for developing a high blood pressure disorder during pregnancy.

The pollutants include two specific types of fine and coarse particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.

According to the EPA, particulate matter includes acids, dust, metals and soil particles.
These inhalable particles can form when gases react with each other in the air. Sulfur dioxide is emitted from power plants and industries. Most carbon monoxide is produced by car exhaust.

Xiaohui Xu, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the colleges of Public Health and Health Professions and Medicine, said that fetal development is very sensitive to environmental factors and hypertension, in particular, is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, causing a lot of problems for the mother and fetus, including preterm delivery.

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019


Get real-time news updates, views and analysis on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on Deccanherald.com/news/lok-sabha-elections-2019 


Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #DHPoliticalTheatre for live updates on the Indian general elections 2019.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry