Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Preadolescence


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


There is a widely held and influential view that physical activity begins to decline at adolescence. This study aimed to identify the timing of changes in physical activity during childhood and adolescence.

Concepts: Cohort study, Cohort, Childhood, Preadolescence


Recent neuroscience models of adolescent brain development attribute the morbidity and mortality of this period to structural and functional imbalances between more fully developed limbic regions that subserve reward and emotion as opposed to those that enable cognitive control. We challenge this interpretation of adolescent development by distinguishing risk-taking that peaks during adolescence (sensation seeking and impulsive action) from risk taking that declines monotonically from childhood to adulthood (impulsive choice and other decisions under known risk). Sensation seeking is primarily motivated by exploration of the environment under ambiguous risk contexts, while impulsive action, which is likely to be maladaptive, is more characteristic of a subset of youth with weak control over limbic motivation. Risk taking that declines monotonically from childhood to adulthood occurs primarily under conditions of known risks and reflects increases in executive function as well as aversion to risk based on increases in gist-based reasoning. We propose an alternative Life-span Wisdom Model that highlights the importance of experience gained through exploration during adolescence. We propose, therefore, that brain models that recognize the adaptive roles that cognition and experience play during adolescence provide a more complete and helpful picture of this period of development.

Concepts: Psychology, Risk, Cognition, Educational psychology, Adolescence, Developmental psychology, Motivation, Preadolescence


The use of inhaled glucocorticoids for persistent asthma causes a temporary reduction in growth velocity in prepubertal children. The resulting decrease in attained height 1 to 4 years after the initiation of inhaled glucocorticoids is thought not to decrease attained adult height.

Concepts: Immune system, Asthma, Glucocorticoid, Human height, Child, Childhood, Initiation, Preadolescence


Recently, school mobility was identified as a risk factor for psychotic symptoms in early adolescence. The extent to which this risk continues into late adolescence and the trajectories via which this risk manifests remain unexplored.

Concepts: Greek loanwords, Childhood, Psychosis, Preadolescence


Difficulties in social communication are part of the phenotypic overlap between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia. Both conditions follow, however, distinct developmental patterns. Symptoms of ASD typically occur during early childhood, whereas most symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia do not appear before early adulthood. We investigated whether overlap in common genetic influences between these clinical conditions and impairments in social communication depends on the developmental stage of the assessed trait. Social communication difficulties were measured in typically-developing youth (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, Nā©½5553, longitudinal assessments at 8, 11, 14 and 17 years) using the Social Communication Disorder Checklist. Data on clinical ASD (PGC-ASD: 5305 cases, 5305 pseudo-controls; iPSYCH-ASD: 7783 cases, 11ā€‰359 controls) and schizophrenia (PGC-SCZ2: 34ā€‰241 cases, 45ā€‰604 controls, 1235 trios) were either obtained through the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) or the Danish iPSYCH project. Overlap in genetic influences between ASD and social communication difficulties during development decreased with age, both in the PGC-ASD and the iPSYCH-ASD sample. Genetic overlap between schizophrenia and social communication difficulties, by contrast, persisted across age, as observed within two independent PGC-SCZ2 subsamples, and showed an increase in magnitude for traits assessed during later adolescence. ASD- and schizophrenia-related polygenic effects were unrelated to each other and changes in trait-disorder links reflect the heterogeneity of genetic factors influencing social communication difficulties during childhood versus later adolescence. Thus, both clinical ASD and schizophrenia share some genetic influences with impairments in social communication, but reveal distinct developmental profiles in their genetic links, consistent with the onset of clinical symptoms.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 3 January 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2016.198.

Concepts: Cohort study, Genetics, Sociology, Autism, Childhood, Adolescence, Psychiatry, Preadolescence


Abstract Adolescent mass shootings are a special subset of mass killings, which continue despite significant preventative public health efforts. It is often held that these individuals have few salient warning signs that could have been identified. This piece proposes that mass shootings committed by adolescent and post-adolescent young males must be understood from a developmental perspective. The hypothesis proposed in this paper is that such killings occur as the result of the adolescent’s frustrated effort to progress along normative development. The goal of normative separation from maternal figures by the boy is presented as a potential risk factor when this goal is thwarted. Childhood case material from the perpetrator of a recent adolescent mass shooting, the Sandy Hook shooting, is discussed as an illustration of this hypothesis. Implications for public health measures and for individualized treatment are presented and developed.

Concepts: Health care, Public health, Epidemiology, Energy, Adolescence, Developmental psychology, Preadolescence, Mass murder


Exposure to peer victimization is relatively common. However, little is known about its developmental course and its effect on impairment associated with mental illnesses. We aimed to identify groups of children following differential trajectories of peer victimization from ages 6 to 13 years and to examine predictive associations of these trajectories with mental health in adolescence.

Concepts: Scientific method, Epidemiology, Child, Childhood, Adolescence, Mental disorder, Human development, Preadolescence


Average nightly sleep times precipitously decline from childhood through adolescence. There is increasing concern that historical shifts also occur in overall adolescent sleep time.

Concepts: Time, Childhood, Adolescence, Preadolescence


Children with cerebral palsy who can self-report have similar quality of life (QoL) to their able-bodied peers. Is this similarity also found in adolescence? We examined how self-reported QoL of adolescents with cerebral palsy varies with impairment and compares with the general population, and how factors in childhood predict adolescent QoL.

Concepts: Quality, Childhood, Adolescence, Developmental psychology, Puberty, Human development, Peer group, Preadolescence