National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, February 22-28, 2015

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But an image is not always a true representation of reality. From Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr to fashion magazines and reality shows, we are bombarded with images that have been created, filtered, manipulated, and staged. And it’s often very difficult to sift through what’s real and what’s not.

This is precisely why Dove began its Campaign for Real Beauty—to start a global discussion surrounding the definition of real beauty. It first conducted a study titled “The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report,” which revealed that less than 2% of women worldwide considered themselves beautiful. In a Dove Real Sketches video, participants were asked to describe themselves to an artist, who drew them behind a curtain, using only their descriptions of themselves as a guide. Then the same women returned to describe fellow participants. The difference between the two drawings was astonishing, and it revealed how hard we are on ourselves versus how others see us.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), 30 million people will be affected by an eating disorder during their lifetime. A full 69% of American school-age girls who read magazines say that the pictures they see influence how their concept of an ideal body shape. Boys are also affected, and largely because of cultural bias and stereotypes, they are much less likely to seek treatment. In addition, teen athletes are more at risk of developing an eating disorder or having a negative body image.

It is daunting to compete with society and media, so the NEDA has developed an Educator’s Toolkit to help those in schools reach out to students suffering from an eating disorder. It covers everything from myths surrounding these disorders (e.g., that eating disorders are a choice; p. 6) to school strategies for assisting these students (p. 11). NEDA also has a Feeding Hope Fund, which grants funding to researchers who are seeking out new ways to combat this illness.

Some of the most groundbreaking work has been done related to connecting genetics to eating disorders, according to Amy Novotny in an article published in the American Psychological Association publication the Monitor. One study by Kelly Klump in Psychological Medicine demonstrates that heritability influences disordered eating most when estrogen levels are highest, and another suggests that in some females, bulimia may be hard-wired.

Organizations like Project Heal are contributing to the healing process in a different way: the organization, started by two women who suffered from eating disorders, provides scholarship funding for those who can’t afford treatment. And still others are trying innovative interventions, including art therapy and yoga, which could encourage participants to view their bodies in a more compassionate way.

The NEDA Web site offers a plethora of resources, including a resource page with contact information and a helpline (1-800-931-2237) for those who may know someone who suffers from an eating disorder. Visit NEDA’s Get Involved page to learn more about how to raise awareness.

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Get Ready, Orlando: PAR at NASP 2015!

Are you attending the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) 2015 Annual Convention? Make sure you stop by the PAR booth (#500) to preview some of the products we will be introducing this year, including the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™) and the Child and Adolescent Memory Profile™ (ChAMP™). Take advantage of special preorder pricing on these products, plus our special NASP discount of 15% off and free shipping on all orders placed at the convention!

Also, we will be demonstrating some of our newest tools to help school psychologists, like our interactive Training Portal, our newly updated PAR Toolkit app, and PARiConnect.

Three PAR authors will be presenting at NASP 2015, as well. Check your program to verify times and confirm locations:

  • On Wednesday, February 18, from 3:00 to 4:50 p.m. ET, Cecil Reynolds, PhD, will present, “The Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales-2 (RIAS-2): Development, Psychometrics, Applications, and Interpretation.”
  • On Thursday, February 19, from 10:00 to 11:20 a.m. ET, Steven Feifer, DEd, will present, “Integrating RTI with Cognitive Neuropsychology: A Scientific Approach to Reading.”
  • On Thursday, February 19, from 12:00 to 1:50 p.m. ET, Peter K. Isquith, PhD, will present, “Identifying Executive Function Intervention Targets and Measuring Outcomes.”

Hope to see you in Orlando!

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Feed your head: Reading a good book improves brain function

Most of us can remember reading a book that changed our lives. Whether it was a comforting childhood favorite, a college assignment that surprised or shocked us, or a novel that resonated at a particular stage in our adult lives, books clearly have the power to change our thinking and expand our points of view.

Taking it a step further, recent research from Emory University suggests that the act of reading a novel produces measurable changes in the brain itself, specifically, improvements in resting-state connectivity that can persist for days after reading.

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically,” said neuroscientist and lead author Gregory Berns in a recent interview with Emory University’s eScience Commons online newsletter.

The study was published last month in the journal Brain Connectivity. Emory students—twelve women and nine men—participated in the experiment, which was conducted over a 19-day period. The students read Pompeii, a novel by Robert Harris based on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in ancient Italy. For the first five days, participants came in each morning for a baseline scan of their brains using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) device. Starting on the sixth day, they were asked to read a section of the novel each evening and come in the following morning for another fMRI scan. After completing all nine sections of the novel, the participants returned for five more mornings to undergo additional scans in a resting state. On the mornings following the reading assignments, the participants showed heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, an area associated with receptivity for language, and in the central sulcus, the primary sensory motor region of the brain. “Even though the participants were not actually reading the novel while they were in the scanner, they retained this heightened connectivity,” Berns says. “We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory.” The neural changes persisted not only in the morning after the reading but also for five days after participants completed the novel. “It remains an open question how long these neural changes might last,” Berns says. “But the fact that we’re detecting them over a few days for a randomly assigned novel suggests that your favorite novels could certainly have a bigger and longer-lasting effect on the biology of your brain.”

This study may have implications for counselors and educators who work with developing readers; the benefits of focused reading time may extend to the brain itself, helping to improve a student’s “wiring” and therefore his or her receptivity to other learning.

What do you think? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!

 

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PAR Is Headed to Denver!

The International Neuropsychological Society (INS) annual conference is taking place in Denver, Colorado, February 4-7 this week. Founded in 1967, the organization now has more than 4,700 members, whose mission is to study the relationship between the brain and behavior throughout the life span.

PAR has a booth at the conference, and we would love to see you! Stop by to check out some of our top neuropsychological assessments like the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function® (BRIEF®), which assesses executive function in children and adolescents and provides multiple perspectives by getting feedback from both parents and teachers.

In addition, get a first peek at our newest memory assessment, the Child and Adolescent Memory Profile™ (ChAMP™), specifically designed for children, adolescents, and young adults. It uses common, real-life scenarios and colorful, developmentally appropriate stimuli that are engaging and relevant to young examinees.

If you place an order at the conference, we’ll give you 15% off plus free shipping and handling.

We can’t wait to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones, so please stop by and say hello!

 

 

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