Teen brain differences linked to increased waist circumference — ScienceDaily

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Differences in the microstructure of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a region in the brain that plays an important role in processing food and other reward stimuli, predict increases in indicators of obesity in children, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and nine other institutes, all part of the National Institutes of Health. The paper, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. The ABCD Study will follow nearly 12,000 children through early adulthood to assess factors that influence individual brain development and other health outcomes.

Findings from this study provide the first evidence of microstructural brain differences that are linked to waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) in children. These microstructural differences in cell density could be indicative of inflammatory processes triggered by a diet rich in high fat foods.

“We know that childhood obesity is a key predictor of adult obesity and other poor health outcomes later in life,” said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA. “These results extend previous animal studies to reveal what may prove to be a vicious cycle in which diet-related inflammation in brain striatal regions promotes further unhealthy eating behaviors and weight gain.”

Evidence from past human imaging studies has demonstrated the relationship between the NAcc and unhealthy eating behavior in adults. In this study, the researchers leveraged new diffusion MRI imaging techniques to examine the cellular structure of areas that comprise the striatal reward pathway in the brain to investigate disproportionate weight gain in youth.

This study included data from 5,366 ABCD Study participants, ages 9- to 10-years-old at baseline, of whom 2,133 returned for a one-year follow-up visit. The mean waist circumference of the participants, used

South Bay teen author shares love of coding through books

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In “The Code Detectives,” two middle school girls who love coding use artificial intelligence to solve mysteries. For 17-year-old author Ria Dosha, writing the book series is a way to advocate for increasing diversity within the technology field.

“I’ve brought a diverse cast of characters to life, with the series centering around Ramona Diaz, a powerful young girl of color,” says Ria, a student at Cupertino’s Monta Vista High School. “The book series gives young girls strong, fictional role models in technology and AI, and introduces them to AI topics in a compelling way, clearing common misconceptions.”

Ria writes what shoe knows, and vice versa. She is the founder of CodeBuddies, which uses workshops, panels, challenges and more to promote problem-solving through technology. She is also the founder of Monta Vista’s Women in AI club, where she teaches girls the impact of artificial intelligence in daily life.

Her work has earned her international recognition. She was part of the U.S. Championship team that developed an app for the Technovation Challenge, a competition for girls ages 10-18 to develop mobile apps that address real-world problems. The app, Alleviate, helps individuals with autism overcome challenges they face using speech recognition.

Recently, Ria was named a 24 under 24 Global Leader in STEM by the Mars Generation (TMG), a nonprofit founded in 2015 by then 18-year-old Abigail Harrison to excite kids and adults about space and STEM/STEAM education. Nominees must be members of TMG’s Student Space Ambassador Leadership Program, through which they agree to share their passion for same.

Ria’s excitement for artificial intelligence and computer science started in ninth grade, when she participated in the Stanford AI4ALL program researching cancerous genes using machine learning. Her stated goal is to learn as much as she can about artificial intelligence through real-world research projects,

Technology, Social Media and Your Teen

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My children are at an extremely low-tech school. There are no televisions, computers or tablets in the classroom, and mobile phones are forbidden during the school day. Families are encouraged to keep their children screen-free in the early years (up until age six) and for grade one through seven, limited screen time is recommended for weekends only. Our family has followed these guidelines since our children started at the school and we have rarely deviated from them.

Now that my daughter is 13 and in high school, the struggle to limit screen time and exposure to social media is real. Most of my daughter’s classmates have Instagram accounts and many of them are smuggling phones into the classroom, despite the “no tech” rule. She says that without her own account, she often feels a disconnect with her classmates because she didn’t see the latest Instagram post that everyone is talking about. Are we impeding her ability to socialize and communicate with her friends? Maybe this is simply the Generation Z (Post-Millennial) way of reaching out to each other, like we did as teens when we pulled our long phone cords across the hall to our rooms to chat with friends all night. This leaves me questioning my decisions and hoping that my husband and I are making the right choices for our daughter when it comes to limiting exposure to social media and screens. And I’m also wondering why it feels like I’m one of the only parents still holding out.

However, after recently watching the documentary Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, I felt better about our decisions when I saw studies on the effects of excessive screen time and how it can harm the physical development of young people’s brains. Studies show a connection between too …