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  • Greiff, Samuel; Wuestenberg, Sascha; Goetz, Thomas; Vainikainen, Mari-Pauliina; Hautamäki, Jarkko; Bornstein, March H. (2015)
    Scientists have studied the development of the human mind for decades and have accumulated an impressive number of empirical studies that have provided ample support for the notion that early cognitive performance during infancy and childhood is an important predictor of later cognitive performance during adulthood. As children move from childhood into adolescence, their mental development increasingly involves higher-order cognitive skills that are crucial for successful planning, decision-making, and problem solving skills. However, few studies have employed higher-order thinking skills such as complex problem solving (CPS) as developmental outcomes in adolescents. To fill this gap, we tested a longitudinal developmental model in a sample of 2,021 Finnish sixth grade students (M = 12.41 years, SD = 0.52; 1,041 female, 978 male, 2 missing sex). We assessed working memory (WM) and fluid reasoning (FR) at age 12 as predictors of two CPS dimensions: knowledge acquisition and knowledge application. We further assessed students' CPS performance 3 years later as a developmental outcome (N = 1696; M = 15.22 years, SD = 0.43; 867 female, 829 male). Missing data partly occurred due to dropout and technical problems during the first days of testing and varied across indicators and time with a mean of 27.2%. Results revealed that FR was a strong predictor of both CPS dimensions, whereas WM exhibited only a small influence on one of the two CPS dimensions. These results provide strong support for the view that CPS involves FR and, to a lesser extent, WM in childhood and from there evolves into an increasingly complex structure of higher-order cognitive skills in adolescence.
  • Mikkonen, Janne; Remes, Hanna; Moustgaard, Heta; Martikainen, Pekka (2020)
    This article reconsiders the role of social origin in health selection by examining whether parental education moderates the association between early health and educational attainment and whether health problems mediate the intergenerational transmission of education. We used longitudinal register data on Finns born in 1986–1991 (n = 352,899). We measured the completion of secondary and tertiary education until age 27 and used data on hospital care and medication reimbursements to assess chronic somatic conditions, frequent infections, and mental disorders at ages 10–16. We employed linear probability models to estimate the associations between different types of health problems and educational outcomes and to examine moderation by parental education, both overall in the population and comparing siblings with and without health problems. Finally, we performed a mediation analysis with g-computation to simulate whether a hypothetical eradication of health problems would weaken the association between parental and offspring education. All types of health problems reduced the likelihood of secondary education, but mental disorders were associated with the largest reductions. Among those with secondary education, there was further evidence of selection to tertiary education. High parental education buffered against the negative impact of mental disorders on completing secondary education but exacerbated it in the case of tertiary education. The simulated eradication of health problems slightly reduced disparities by parental education in secondary education (up to 10%) but increased disparities in tertiary education (up to 2%). Adolescent health problems and parental education are strong but chiefly independent predictors of educational attainment.
  • Torppa, Ritva; Faulkner, Andrew; Laasonen, Marja; Lipsanen, Jari; Sammler, Daniela (2020)
    Objectives: A major issue in the rehabilitation of children with cochlear implants (CIs) is unexplained variance in their language skills, where many of them lag behind children with normal hearing (NH). Here we assess links between generative language skills and the perception of prosodic stress, and with musical and parental activities in children with CIs and NH. Understanding these links is expected to guide future research and towards supporting language development in children with a CI. Method: 21 unilaterally and early-implanted children and 31 children with NH, aged 5 to 13, were classified as musically active or non-active by a questionnaire recording regularity of musical activities, in particular singing, and reading and other activities shared with parents. Perception of word and sentence stress, performance in word finding, verbal intelligence (WISC vocabulary) and phonological awareness (PA; production of rhymes) were measured in all children. Comparisons between children with a CI and NH were made against a sub-set of 21 of the children with NH who were matched to children with CIs by age, gender, socio-economic background and musical activity. Regression analyses, run separately for children with CIs and NH, assessed how much variance in each language task was shared with each of prosodic perception, the child’s own music activity, and activities with parents, including singing and reading. All statistical analyses were conducted both with and without control for age and maternal education. Results: Musically active children with CIs performed similarly to NH controls in all language tasks, while those who were not musically active performed more poorly. Only musically non-active children with CIs made more phonological and semantic errors in word finding than NH controls, and word finding correlated with other language skills. Regression analysis results for word finding and VIQ were similar for children with CIs and NH. These language skills shared considerable variance with the perception of prosodic stress and musical activities. When age and maternal education were controlled for, strong links remained between perception of prosodic stress and VIQ (shared variance: CI, 32%/NH, 16%) and between musical activities and word finding (shared variance: CI, 53%/NH, 20%). Links were always stronger for children with CIs, for whom better phonological awareness was also linked to improved stress perception and more musical activity, and parental activities altogether shared significantly variance with word finding and VIQ. Conclusions: For children with CIs and NH, better perception of prosodic stress and musical activities with singing are associated with improved generative language skills. Additionally, for children with CIs, parental singing has a stronger positive association to word finding and VIQ than parental reading. These results cannot address causality, but they suggest that good perception of prosodic stress, musical activities involving singing, and parental singing and reading may all be beneficial for word finding and other generative language skills in implanted children.
  • Mäkelä, Tiina E.; Peltola, Mikko J.; Nieminen, Pirkko; Paavonen, E. Juulia; Saarenpää-Heikkilä, Outi; Paunio, Tiina; Kylliäinen, Anneli (2018)
    Fragmented sleep is common in infancy. Although night awakening is known to decrease with age, in some infants night awakening is more persistent and continues into older ages. However, the influence of fragmented sleep on development is poorly known. In the present study, the longitudinal relationship between fragmented sleep and psychomotor development (Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development [Bayley-III]; Bayley, 2009) was investigated in infants with (>= 3 night awakenings, n = 81) and without fragmented sleep (
  • Lind, Annika; Nyman, Anna; Lehtonen, Liisa; Haataja, Leena (2020)
    The aims of this study were to 1) assess the predictive value of psychological assessment at five years of age on the need for educational support in very preterm children, and 2) report the neuropsychological profile of very preterm children at eleven years of age and risk factors for poorer neuropsychological functions. A cohort of 167 very preterm children was included (birth weight???1500?g and/or gestational age <32?weeks). At five years of age, intellectual functioning was assessed with Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised and neuropsychological performance with NEPSY II. At eleven years of age, neuropsychological functions were assessed using NEPSY II and data on educational support services collected using a questionnaire. Lower full-scale intelligence quotient and poorer performance in subtests inhibition, comprehension of instructions, memory for designs, visuomotor precision and design copying at five years of age were associated with a need for educational support. Neuropsychological performance at eleven years of age was overall within the average range but below the mean, with the poorest performance in tasks assessing visual memory and visuospatial functions. The results offer a novel perspective to timing and measures of follow-up of very preterm children, since they show that need for long-term educational support can be identified at five years of age. The findings also highlight the clinical value of psychological assessments including evaluation of both intellectual functioning and neuropsychological performance, covering detailed information about non-verbal functions, in the follow-up of very preterm children up to eleven years of age.
  • Alanko, Outi; Niemi, Pekka; Munck, Petriina; Matomäki, Jaakko; Turunen, Tiina; Nurmi, Jari-Erik; Lehtonen, Liisa; Haataja, Leena; Rautava, Päivi (2017)
    Reading and math skills of preterm born (birth weight 1500 g or gestational age:532 weeks) children and full term (FT) children were compared during the first weeks of grade 1. The participants were 194 preterm born and 175 FT children born between 2001 and 2006. There were more precocious readers among FT than among preterm students, but even the latter performed close to the national norm. FT and preterm group differences among non-readers were minor with only rapid naming showing a robust difference. Math performance showed a stable difference in favor of FT students and the difference was sustained in the full-scale IQcontrol. Major brain pathology increased the likelihood of poor scholastic skills, but lower birth weight relative to gestational age did not. Somewhat surprisingly, maternal education was not associated with school readiness skills. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Grip, Tove; Dyrlund, Thomas S.; Ahonen, Linda; Domellöf, Magnus; Hernell, Olle; Hyötyläinen, Tuulia; Knip, Mikael; Lönnerdal, Bo; Oresic, Matej; Timby, Niklas (2018)
    BACKGROUND: Supplementation of formula with bovine milk fat globule membranes has been shown to narrow the gap in immunological and cognitive development between breast-fed and formula-fed infants. METHOD: In a double-blinded randomized controlled trial 160 formula-fed infants received an experimental formula (EF), supplemented with bovine milk fat globule membranes, or standard formula until 6 months of age. A breast-fed reference group was recruited. Lipidomic analyses were performed on plasma and erythrocyte membranes at 6 months and on serum at 4 and 12 months of age. RESULTS: At 6 months of age, we observed a significant separation in the plasma lipidome between the two formula groups, mostly due to differences in concentrations of sphingomyelins (SM), phosphatidylcholines (PC), and ceramides, and in the erythrocyte membrane lipidome, mostly due to SMs, PEs and PCs. Already at 4 months, a separation in the serum lipidome was evident where SMs and PCs contributed. The separation was not detected at 12 months. CONCLUSIONS: The effect of MFGM supplementation on the lipidome is likely part of the mechanisms behind the positive cognitive and immunological effects of feeding the EF previously reported in the same study population.
  • Torppa, Ritva; Huotilainen, Minna (2019)
    This paper presents evidence for a strong connection between the development of speech and language skills and musical activities of children and adolescents with hearing impairment and/or cochlear implants. This conclusion is partially based on findings for typically hearing children and adolescents, showing better speech and language skills in children and adolescents with musical training, and importantly, showing increases of speech and language skills in children and adolescents taking part in musical training. Further, studies of hearing-impaired children show connections between musical skills, involvement in musical hobbies, and speech and language skills. Even though the field is still lacking large-scale randomised controlled trials on the effects of musical interventions on the speech and language skills of children and adolescents with hearing impairments and cochlear implants, the current evidence seems enough to urge speech therapists, music therapists, music teachers, parents, and children and adolescents with hearing impairments and/or cochlear implants to start using music for enhancing speech and language skills. For this reason, we give our recommendations on how to use music for language skill enhancement in this group.