Additional Motivation or Why Academic Work NEVER ends

Additional motivation for a paper, that is. A new study shows that children whose mothers are “nurturing” have higher hippocampal volumes–or higher capacity for memory, learning and stress-management (I’m told). While much of the motivation in my paper comes from development of cognitive skills, reading to children might also fall under the definition of nurturing. And since it’s particularly attributed to mothers, I’m going to go with it. Cite it, add it to the motivation section.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Health; the full text is available here.

As a side note, I think it’s fascinating to examine the controls that other fields include as superimportant. For instance, right- or left-handedness is controlled for in this population. We can only say this about right-handed children!

As another side note, I can’t believe that so many preschoolers are depressed.

h/t @AnnieFeighery

Joan L. Luby, Deanna M. Barch, Andy Belden, Michael S. Gaffrey, Rebecca Tillman, Casey Babb, Tomoyuki Nishino, Hideo Suzuki, and Kelly N. Botteron. 2012. “Maternal support in early childhood predicts larger hippocampal volumes at school age” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2012 ; published ahead of print January 30, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1118003109.


Environmental stress and obesity

I haven’t had the chance to read this paper yet, though I surely hope to get to it in the next week or so, but I think it’s rather fascinating. Gary Evans, a scholar at Cornell, shows that stressful home environments lead to obesity later in life. There is a rather large set of literature in fields such as medicine that link stressful home environments–embodied in poverty, unhappy parents, and more–to children’s outcomes–smaller incomes, less educational attainment, depression, and more. This work is of particular importance to some of my own work, where I show that a poor relationship between parents is correlated with a mother’s reading days with a child, which, in turn, is a good predictor of success later in life.