Violence spreads like a disease among adolescents, study finds


Staff Report



New Study Uses Cameras to Understand Language Development in Kids

A new study is examining how deaf children with cochlear implants learn new words differently than children with normal hearing. Though the implants allow children to hear, many still struggle with language skills for years because learning words with the aid of implants isn’t the same as learning naturally with normal hearing.

New research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center uses several angles, including head-mounted cameras with eye-trackers, to record exactly where a child’s focus is, what they’re holding and how they react when a new word is said. After parents present toys with unusual names to the children, researchers record their reaction and review the footage to look for patterns and signs of word recognition.

“We’re discovering how hearing loss affects that dynamic interaction with their parent, and how those effects, in turn, impact their general cognitive and language development,” said Derek Houston, who is leading the study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Buckeye Center for Hearing and Development.

Learning more about how children with cochlear implants absorb information will help parents better guide language development. Houston hopes to expand his research and use the same method to discover how other populations of children learn differently, such as those with autism or attention deficit disorder.

HIGH-TECH STUDY AIMS TO SEE HOW DEAF INFANTS WITH COCHLEAR IMPLANTS LEARN WORDS

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Research has proven the importance of early access to sound and spoken language among newborns and has led to significant advances in hearing screening and early intervention. Despite progress and improvements in educational and language outcomes of deaf children, children with hearing loss are still delayed, on average, when it comes to spoken language acquisition and still achieve lower reading levels and educational outcomes than children with normal hearing.

Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have launched a study seeking to understand how deaf infants with cochlear implants absorb information and learn novel words during interactions with their parents, in an effort to help improve parental guidance with language development.

“Our research uses a new methodology developed by colleagues at IU-Bloomington and adds high-tech sensing and computing technology to the traditional behavioral methodology of recording infant-parent interactions to investigate their reciprocal roles in language acquisition and cognitive development,” said Derek Houston, lead investigator and associate professor of otolaryngology at the Buckeye Center for Hearing and Development at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

There are two specific aims to the study. First, researchers investigate the role of deafness and subsequent cochlear implantation on infant-parent communicative interactions and related word learning by collecting communicative interaction data from deaf infants before and after cochlear implantation and also from age-matched children with normal hearing. Both group interactions are analyzed across several sessions and changes are documented.

Secondly, investigators evaluate whether deaf children with cochlear implants benefit from similar cues for word learning as children with normal hearing. They’re collecting and analyzing communicative interaction data and conduct assessments of novel word learning among deaf infants with 12 -18 months of cochlear implant experience as well as age-matched controls.

During the audio-recorded sessions, the infant and parent wear head-mounted cameras with eye-tracking devices to precisely document where the child’s focus is as the parent presents a toy with an unusual name. From six different angles, the technology records the child’s reaction when a parent says a new word and researchers review the footage for patterns and signs of word recognition.

“The innovative technology allows for sophisticated methods of integrating, analyzing and data-mining multimodal data from all of the cameras, eye trackers and microphone to perform micro-level behavioral analyses of interactive events, such as the rate at which the infant and parent look at the same object at the same time, also known as coordinated attention,” Houston said.

Houston and team say they’re discovering how hearing loss affects that dynamic interaction with the parent, and how those effects impact the child’s general cognitive and language development. They hope to extend their research to other clinical populations as well, such as those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

Contagion moves from friends to friends of friends and beyond

COLUMBUS – A new study of U.S. adolescents provides some of the best evidence to date of how violence spreads like a contagious disease.

Researchers found that adolescents were up to 183 percent more likely to carry out some acts of violence if one of their friends had also committed the same act.

But the spread of violence doesn’t just stop at friends – results suggest the contagion extends by up to four degrees of separation – from one person to a friend, to the friend’s friend and two more friends beyond.

“This study shows just how contagious violence can be,” said Robert Bond, lead author of the study and assistant professor of communication at The Ohio State University.

“Acts of violence can ricochet through a community, traveling through networks of friends.”

Results showed that participants in the study were 48 percent more likely to have been in a serious fight, 183 percent more likely to have hurt someone badly, and 140 percent more likely to have pulled a weapon on someone if a friend had engaged in the same behavior.

Bond conducted the study with Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State. Their results appear online in the American Journal of Public Health.

These results fit in with other studies that have shown that characteristics and behaviors from happiness to obesity to smoking spread within social networks, at about the same rates found in this research.

“We now have evidence that shows how important social relationships are to spreading violent behavior, just like they are for spreading many other kinds of attitudes and behaviors,” Bushman said.

Data from the study came from 5,913 young people who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health) and who were interviewed in-depth in 1994-95 and again in 1996. The ADD Health researchers interviewed as many students (grades 7 to 12) as they could from 142 schools across the country so they could have information on social networks within each school.

Participants were asked to name up to five male and five female friends from their school at both of the two interviews. They were asked how often in the past 12 months they had been in a serious physical fight, how often they hurt someone badly enough to need bandages or care from a doctor or nurse, and how often they had pulled a knife or gun on someone.

The researchers then analyzed whether each student’s friends (and friends of friends, and so on) had said they committed the same acts of violence.

The finding that adolescents were more likely to commit acts of violence if their friends had done so is not surprising, Bond said. Much of that association is related to what scientists call a “clustering effect” – people with similar interests, including the use of violence, tend to cluster together as friends.

But the researchers also tested whether friends could influence each other to commit more acts of violence than they might normally commit given their friendship.

They could estimate this influence effect because they had data from two different points in time, a year apart. They calculated the effect by determining whether friends had committed more violent acts at the time of the second interview than could be explained by what their shared history at the time of the first interview would suggest.

Results showed that each additional friend who had seriously hurt someone increased the likelihood that a participant had hurt someone badly by 55 percent, even after taking into account the clustering effects and other factors. If you include only male participants (who were more likely than females to seriously hurt others), then the likelihood increased to 82 percent.

After taking the controls into account, the researchers didn’t find influence effects for being in a serious fight or pulling a weapon on someone. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the influence of friends doesn’t play a role in these violent acts, Bond said.

One explanation may be that fights are common enough among these adolescents that it is difficult to find the role of influence. On the other hand, pulling a weapon was rare enough that they may not have had a large enough sample size to determine influence.

This study is the first to show how far violent behavior may spread within a social network, Bond said. The findings showed that the influence of one person’s violent act can spread up to two degrees of separation (friend of a friend) for hurting someone badly, three degrees (friend of a friend’s friend) for pulling a weapon on someone, and four degrees for serious fights.

The influence declines with each degree of separation, but is still noticeable.

For example, a student in the study was about 48 percent more likely to have participated in a serious fight if a friend had been involved in one. But they were still 18 percent more likely to have participated in a fight if a friend of a friend had.

This result is particularly important because it shows the value of anti-violence programs.

“If we can stop violence in one person, that spreads to their social network. We’re actually preventing violence not only in that person, but potentially for all the people they come in contact with,” Bond said.

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Staff Report

New Study Uses Cameras to Understand Language Development in Kids

A new study is examining how deaf children with cochlear implants learn new words differently than children with normal hearing. Though the implants allow children to hear, many still struggle with language skills for years because learning words with the aid of implants isn’t the same as learning naturally with normal hearing.

New research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center uses several angles, including head-mounted cameras with eye-trackers, to record exactly where a child’s focus is, what they’re holding and how they react when a new word is said. After parents present toys with unusual names to the children, researchers record their reaction and review the footage to look for patterns and signs of word recognition.

“We’re discovering how hearing loss affects that dynamic interaction with their parent, and how those effects, in turn, impact their general cognitive and language development,” said Derek Houston, who is leading the study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Buckeye Center for Hearing and Development.

Learning more about how children with cochlear implants absorb information will help parents better guide language development. Houston hopes to expand his research and use the same method to discover how other populations of children learn differently, such as those with autism or attention deficit disorder.

HIGH-TECH STUDY AIMS TO SEE HOW DEAF INFANTS WITH COCHLEAR IMPLANTS LEARN WORDS

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Research has proven the importance of early access to sound and spoken language among newborns and has led to significant advances in hearing screening and early intervention. Despite progress and improvements in educational and language outcomes of deaf children, children with hearing loss are still delayed, on average, when it comes to spoken language acquisition and still achieve lower reading levels and educational outcomes than children with normal hearing.

Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have launched a study seeking to understand how deaf infants with cochlear implants absorb information and learn novel words during interactions with their parents, in an effort to help improve parental guidance with language development.

“Our research uses a new methodology developed by colleagues at IU-Bloomington and adds high-tech sensing and computing technology to the traditional behavioral methodology of recording infant-parent interactions to investigate their reciprocal roles in language acquisition and cognitive development,” said Derek Houston, lead investigator and associate professor of otolaryngology at the Buckeye Center for Hearing and Development at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

There are two specific aims to the study. First, researchers investigate the role of deafness and subsequent cochlear implantation on infant-parent communicative interactions and related word learning by collecting communicative interaction data from deaf infants before and after cochlear implantation and also from age-matched children with normal hearing. Both group interactions are analyzed across several sessions and changes are documented.

Secondly, investigators evaluate whether deaf children with cochlear implants benefit from similar cues for word learning as children with normal hearing. They’re collecting and analyzing communicative interaction data and conduct assessments of novel word learning among deaf infants with 12 -18 months of cochlear implant experience as well as age-matched controls.

During the audio-recorded sessions, the infant and parent wear head-mounted cameras with eye-tracking devices to precisely document where the child’s focus is as the parent presents a toy with an unusual name. From six different angles, the technology records the child’s reaction when a parent says a new word and researchers review the footage for patterns and signs of word recognition.

“The innovative technology allows for sophisticated methods of integrating, analyzing and data-mining multimodal data from all of the cameras, eye trackers and microphone to perform micro-level behavioral analyses of interactive events, such as the rate at which the infant and parent look at the same object at the same time, also known as coordinated attention,” Houston said.

Houston and team say they’re discovering how hearing loss affects that dynamic interaction with the parent, and how those effects impact the child’s general cognitive and language development. They hope to extend their research to other clinical populations as well, such as those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder.