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Concept: Adolescence


The global epidemic of obesity and physical inactivity may have detrimental implications for young people’s cognitive function and academic achievement. This prospective study investigated whether childhood motor function predicts later academic achievement via physical activity, fitness, and obesity. The study sample included 8,061 children from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986, which contains data about parent-reported motor function at age 8 y and self-reported physical activity, predicted cardiorespiratory fitness (cycle ergometer test), obesity (body weight and height), and academic achievement (grades) at age 16 y. Structural equation models with unstandardized (B) and standardized (β) coefficients were used to test whether, and to what extent, physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and obesity at age 16 mediated the association between childhood motor function and adolescents' academic achievement. Physical activity was associated with a higher grade-point average, and obesity was associated with a lower grade-point average in adolescence. Furthermore, compromised motor function in childhood had a negative indirect effect on adolescents' academic achievement via physical inactivity (B = -0.023, 95% confidence interval = -0.031, -0.015) and obesity (B = -0.025, 95% confidence interval = -0.039, -0.011), but not via cardiorespiratory fitness. These results suggest that physical activity and obesity may mediate the association between childhood motor function and adolescents' academic achievement. Compromised motor function in childhood may represent an important factor driving the effects of obesity and physical inactivity on academic underachievement.

Concepts: Obesity, Overweight, Interval finite element, Adolescence, Confidence interval, Prediction interval, Physical fitness, Structural equation modeling


Building on well-established animal data demonstrating the effects of early maternal support on hippocampal development and adaptive coping, a few longitudinal studies suggest that early caregiver support also impacts human hippocampal development. How caregiving contributes to human hippocampal developmental trajectories, whether there are sensitive periods for these effects, as well as whether related variation in hippocampal development predicts later childhood emotion functioning are of major public health importance. The current study investigated these questions in a longitudinal study of preschoolers assessed annually for behavioral and emotional development, including observed caregiver support. One hundred and twenty-seven children participated in three waves of magnetic resonance brain imaging through school age and early adolescence. Multilevel modeling of the effects of preschool and school-age maternal support on hippocampal volumes across the three waves was conducted. Hippocampal volume increased faster for those with higher levels of preschool maternal support. Subjects with support 1 SD above the mean had a 2.06 times greater increase in total hippocampus volume across the three scans than those with 1 SD below the mean (2.70% vs. 1.31%). No effect of school-age support was found. Individual slopes of hippocampus volume were significantly associated with emotion regulation at scan 3. The findings demonstrate a significant effect of early childhood maternal support on hippocampal volume growth across school age and early adolescence and suggest an early childhood sensitive period for these effects. They also show that this growth trajectory is associated with later emotion functioning.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Brain, Sociology, Hippocampus, Adolescence, Developmental psychology, Trajectory, Preadolescence


The mainstay of the treatment of childhood obesity is the promotion of behavioural changes, which are especially difficult during adolescence. This paper proposes and evaluates a new motivation-based therapeutic protocol, structured in objectives, which is applicable from paediatric practice.

Concepts: Medicine, Nutrition, Childhood, Adolescence, Motivation


This study investigated relationships between attachment insecurity, maladaptive cognitive schemas, and various types of psychopathological symptoms in a sample of clinically referred adolescents (N = 82). A mediation model was tested in which maladaptive schemas operated as mediators in the relations between indices of attachment quality and conduct, peer, and emotional problems. Results revealed partial support for the hypothesized mediation effect: the schema domain of disconnection/rejection acted as a mediator in the links between insecure attachment and peer problems and emotional problems. Further analysis of these effects revealed that different types of maladaptive schemas were involved in both types of psychopathology. Altogether, findings suggest that treatment of adolescent psychological problems may need to target the improvement of attachment relationships with peers and parents and the correction of underlying cognitive schemas.

Concepts: Psychology, Adolescence, Psychiatry, Attachment theory, Mediation, Peer group, Family therapy, John Bowlby


Childhood and adolescence are important developmental phases which influence health and well-being across the life span. Social relationships are fundamental to child and adolescent development; yet studies have been limited to children’s relationships with other humans. This paper provides an evidence review for the potential associations between pet ownership and emotional; behavioural; cognitive; educational and social developmental outcomes. As the field is in the early stages; a broad set of inclusion criteria was applied. A systematic search of databases and grey literature sources found twenty-two studies meeting selection criteria. The review found evidence for an association between pet ownership and a wide range of emotional health benefits from childhood pet ownership; particularly for self-esteem and loneliness. The findings regarding childhood anxiety and depression were inconclusive. Studies also showed evidence of an association between pet ownership and educational and cognitive benefits; for example, in perspective-taking abilities and intellectual development. Evidence on behavioural development was unclear due to a lack of high quality research. Studies on pet ownership and social development provided evidence for an association with increased social competence; social networks; social interaction and social play behaviour. Overall, pet ownership and the significance of children’s bonds with companion animals have been underexplored; there is a shortage of high quality and longitudinal studies in all outcomes. Prospective studies that control for a wide range of confounders are required.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Educational psychology, Child, Adolescence, Developmental psychology, Behavior, Social relation


Substance use is a risk behavior that tends to increase during adolescence, a time when part of the personality is still in development. Traditionally, personality psychopathology has been measured in terms of categories, although dimensional models have demonstrated better consistency. This study aimed to analyze differences in personality profiles between adolescents with substance use disorders (SUD n = 74) and matched community controls (MCC n = 74) using the Personality Psychopathology Five (PSY-5) dimensional model. Additionally, we compared age at first drug use, level of drug use and internalizing and externalizing symptoms between the groups. In this study, the PSY-5 model has proved to be useful for differentiating specific personality disturbances in adolescents with SUD and community adolescents. The Disconstraint scale was particularly useful for discriminating adolescents with substance use problems and the Delinquent Attitudes facet offered the best differentiation.

Concepts: Psychology, Developmental biology, Ontology, Drug addiction, Model, Adolescence, Psychiatry, Metaphysics


Recent reports show that fewer adolescents believe that regular cannabis use is harmful to health. Concomitantly, adolescents are initiating cannabis use at younger ages, and more adolescents are using cannabis on a daily basis. The purpose of the present study was to test the association between persistent cannabis use and neuropsychological decline and determine whether decline is concentrated among adolescent-onset cannabis users. Participants were members of the Dunedin Study, a prospective study of a birth cohort of 1,037 individuals followed from birth (1972/1973) to age 38 y. Cannabis use was ascertained in interviews at ages 18, 21, 26, 32, and 38 y. Neuropsychological testing was conducted at age 13 y, before initiation of cannabis use, and again at age 38 y, after a pattern of persistent cannabis use had developed. Persistent cannabis use was associated with neuropsychological decline broadly across domains of functioning, even after controlling for years of education. Informants also reported noticing more cognitive problems for persistent cannabis users. Impairment was concentrated among adolescent-onset cannabis users, with more persistent use associated with greater decline. Further, cessation of cannabis use did not fully restore neuropsychological functioning among adolescent-onset cannabis users. Findings are suggestive of a neurotoxic effect of cannabis on the adolescent brain and highlight the importance of prevention and policy efforts targeting adolescents.

Concepts: Cohort study, Age, Neurocognitive, Adolescence, Initiation, Neuropsychology, The Adolescents, Neuropsychological test


Adolescent pregnancy remains a public health concern, with diverse serious consequences, including increased health risk for mother and child, lost opportunities for personal development, social exclusion, and low socioeconomic attainments. Especially in Africa, teenage pregnancy rates are high. It is important to find out how girls without pregnancy experience differ in their contraceptive decision-making processes as compared with their previously studied peers with pregnancy experience to address the high rate of teenage pregnancies.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Poverty, Educational psychology, Abortion, Adolescence, Sex education, Teenage pregnancy, Pregnancy over age 50


The development of cognitive and socioemotional skills early in life influences later health and well-being. Existing estimates of unmet developmental potential in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are based on either measures of physical growth or proxy measures such as poverty. In this paper we aim to directly estimate the number of children in LMICs who would be reported by their caregivers to show low cognitive and/or socioemotional development.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Child, Childhood, Adolescence, Developmental psychology, Child development


The number of highly caffeinated products has increased dramatically in the past few years. Among these products, highly caffeinated energy drinks are the most heavily advertised and purchased, which has resulted in increased incidences of co-consumption of energy drinks with alcohol. Despite the growing number of adolescents and young adults reporting caffeine-mixed alcohol use, knowledge of the potential consequences associated with co-consumption has been limited to survey-based results and in-laboratory human behavioral testing. Here, we investigate the effect of repeated adolescent (post-natal days P35-61) exposure to caffeine-mixed alcohol in C57BL/6 mice on common drug-related behaviors such as locomotor sensitivity, drug reward and cross-sensitivity, and natural reward. To determine changes in neurological activity resulting from adolescent exposure, we monitored changes in expression of the transcription factor ΔFosB in the dopaminergic reward pathway as a sign of long-term increases in neuronal activity. Repeated adolescent exposure to caffeine-mixed alcohol exposure induced significant locomotor sensitization, desensitized cocaine conditioned place preference, decreased cocaine locomotor cross-sensitivity, and increased natural reward consumption. We also observed increased accumulation of ΔFosB in the nucleus accumbens following repeated adolescent caffeine-mixed alcohol exposure compared to alcohol or caffeine alone. Using our exposure model, we found that repeated exposure to caffeine-mixed alcohol during adolescence causes unique behavioral and neurochemical effects not observed in mice exposed to caffeine or alcohol alone. Based on similar findings for different substances of abuse, it is possible that repeated exposure to caffeine-mixed alcohol during adolescence could potentially alter or escalate future substance abuse as means to compensate for these behavioral and neurochemical alterations.

Concepts: Coffee, Drug addiction, Addiction, Adolescence, Caffeine, Dopamine, Mesolimbic pathway, Coca-Cola