Bilinguals and Multi-Tasking
Bilingual children may be better at switching tasks than monolingual children, according to a National Institutes of Health study. Researchers asked 104 children to press a computer key as they viewed a series of images, either animals or colors. When responses were limited to one category, response times were similar. But when asked to switch categories and press a new button, bilinguals made the change faster. The study also suggests bilinguals tend to acquire vocabulary more slowly, perhaps because they must divide their efforts between two languages, while monolinguals need to focus on only one. Search doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01707.x.
Hyperactivity Drug Effects
New research suggests that a low dose of methylphenidate boosts cognitive performance, but a higher dose that reduces hyperactivity also impairs performance on a memory test. Researchers taught three monkeys to perform a focus task. At a low dose, performance scores improved because the monkeys could control their impulses and wait long enough to focus on the target. At the higher dose, the monkeys stayed on task more than twice as long, but had much more trouble performing it. Search doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00225.
Being born early or late tends to increase the severity of symptoms for children with autism and increases the likelihood of children with autism to self-injure, according to Michigan State University research. The study (online in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders) did not uncover reasons for the differences, which may be related to underlying causes of preterm (prior to 37 weeks) or post-term (after 42 weeks) birth. Search doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1501-4.