Concept: Human development
To explore the nature of paternal involvement in early child-rearing adopting a social developmental perspective, and estimate its effect on behavioural outcomes of children aged 9 and 11 years.
To investigate associations between exposure to air pollution and child and adolescent mental health.
The central question we addressed was whether mothers' adjustment might vary systematically by the developmental stages of their children. In an Internet-based study of over 2,200 mostly well-educated mothers with children ranging from infants to adults, we examined multiple aspects of mothers' personal well-being, parenting, and perceptions of their children. Uniformly, adjustment indices showed curvilinear patterns across children’s developmental stages, with mothers of middle-schoolers faring the most poorly, and mothers of adult children and infants faring the best. Findings based on children in mutually exclusive age groups-for example, mothers with only (1 or more) infants, preschoolers, and so forth-had larger effect sizes than those based on the age of the mothers' oldest child. In contrast to the recurrent findings based on children’s developmental stages, mothers' adjustment dimensions showed few variations by their children’s gender. Collectively, results of this study suggest that there is value in preventive interventions involving mothers not just in their children’s infancy and preschool years, but also as their children traverse the developmentally challenging years surrounding puberty. (PsycINFO Database Record
Fathers' involvement in and influence on the health and development of their children have increased in a myriad of ways in the past 10 years and have been widely studied. The role of pediatricians in working with fathers has correspondingly increased in importance. This report reviews new studies of the epidemiology of father involvement, including nonresidential as well as residential fathers. The effects of father involvement on child outcomes are discussed within each phase of a child’s development. Particular emphasis is placed on (1) fathers' involvement across childhood ages and (2) the influence of fathers' physical and mental health on their children. Implications and advice for all child health providers to encourage and support father involvement are outlined.
Previous studies identified associations between maternal obesity and childhood neurodevelopment, but few examined paternal obesity despite potentially distinct genetic/epigenetic effects related to developmental programming.
Nighttime fears are very common in preschool years. During these years, children’s fantasy-reality differentiation undergoes significant development. Our study was aimed at exploring the links between nighttime fears and fantasy-reality differentiation in preschool children. Eighty children (aged: 4-6 years) suffering from severe nighttime fears were compared with 32 non-fearful controls. Fears were assessed using child and parental reports. Children viewed images depicting fantastic or real entities and situations, and were asked to report whether these were imaginary or could occur in real life. The results revealed that children with nighttime fears demonstrated more fantasy-reality confusion compared to their controls. These differences in fantasy-reality differentiation were more pronounced in younger children. Additional significant associations were found between fantasy-reality differentiation and age and specific characteristics of the stimuli. These preliminary findings, suggesting a developmental delay in fantasy-reality differentiation in children with nighttime fears, have significant theoretical and clinical implications.
For many years Turing patterns-the repetitive patterns which Alan Turing proved could arise from simple diffusing and interacting factors-have remained an interesting theoretical possibility, rather than a central concern of the developmental biology community. Recently however, this has started to change, with an increasing number of studies combining both experimental and theoretical work to reveal how Turing models may underlie a variety of patterning or morphogenetic processes. We review here the recent developments in this field across a wide range of model systems.
Superior perception, peaks of ability, and savant skills are often observed in the autistic phenotype. The enhanced perceptual functioning model (Mottron et al., 2006a) emphasizes the increased role and autonomy of perceptual information processing in autistic cognition. Autistic abilities also involve enhanced pattern detection, which may develop through veridical mapping across isomorphic perceptual and non-perceptual structures (Mottron et al., 2009). In this paper, we elaborate veridical mapping as a specific mechanism which can explain the higher incidence of savant abilities, as well as other related phenomena, in autism. We contend that savant abilities such as hyperlexia, but also absolute pitch and synaesthesia, involve similar neurocognitive components, share the same structure and developmental course, and represent related ways by which the perceptual brain deals with objective structures under different conditions. Plausibly, these apparently different phenomena develop through a veridical mapping mechanism whereby perceptual information is coupled with homological data drawn from within or across isomorphic structures. The atypical neural connectivity characteristic of autism is consistent with a developmental predisposition to veridical mapping and the resulting high prevalence of savant abilities, absolute pitch, and synaesthesia in autism.
Given the ambiguity surrounding the source of the continuing trend toward earlier menarche observed in Westernized nations, several competing explanatory models have emerged regarding variation in pubertal timing. While a biomedical model proposes that predominantly constitutional characteristics shape the maturation timetable, an alternative framework derived from Life History Theory (LHT) evolutionary principles emphasizes the influence of psychosocial factors on development. Working with a sample of women 19-25 years of age (N = 103) drawn from two Southeastern U.S. colleges, we combined cultural consensus analysis with retrospective self-report regarding childhood stress and menarcheal timing to investigate whether reported developmental experiences align with cultural models regarding factors that should drive pubertal timing. Results suggest a robust cultural model consistent with a biomedical framework concentrating principally on constitutional characteristics. However, participants' personal developmental recollections support an association between higher childhood stress and earlier menarche. These findings support LHT predictions that early reproductive maturation is an evolutionary adaptive response to chronic childhood stress as well as clarify the extent to which cultural models of factors contributing to puberty concord with developmental experiences.
In the field of developmental biology, live imaging is a powerful tool for studying, in real time, the dynamic behaviors of tissues and cells during organ formation. Mammals, which develop in utero, have presented a challenge for live imaging. Here, we offer a novel, prolonged and robust live imaging system for visualizing the development of a variety of embryonic tissues in the midgestation mouse embryo. We demonstrate the advantages of this imaging system by following the dynamics of neural tube closure during mouse embryogenesis and reveal extensive movements of the cranial neural tissue that are independent of neural fold zipping.