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Doodling Makes our Brains Happy: Study

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photo credit -  123 RF

Doodling can make you feel happy, say scientists, including one of Indian origin, who have found that art activities make brain feel rewarded, PTI reports from New York.

"There are several implications of this study's findings. They indicate an inherent potential for evoking positive emotions through art-making - and doodling especially," said Girija Kaimal from Drexel University in the US.

Researchers measured blood flow of about 26 participants in the areas of the brain related to rewards while they completed three different art activities.

For three minutes each, the participants coloured in a mandala, doodled within or around a circle marked on a paper, and had a free-drawing session.

They found that during all three activities, there was a measured increase in blood flow in the brain's prefrontal cortex, compared to rest periods where blood flow decreased to normal rates.


Deccan Herald - Doodling Makes our Brains Happy
posted Jun 15, 2017 by anonymous

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Parents, take note! Children who drink plant based milk beverages or milk from animals other than cows are more likely to be shorter, a study claims.

Children who drink plant based milk beverages or milk from animals other than cows are more likely to be shorter

Parents, take note! Children who drink plant based milk beverages or milk from animals other than cows are more likely to be shorter, a study claims.

Researchers from St Michael's Hospital in Canada found that for each daily cup of non-cow's milk they drank, children were 0.4 centimetres shorter than average height for their age and for each daily cup of cow's milk they drank, children were 0.2 centimetres taller than average.

This height difference is similar to the difference between major percentile lines on the World Health Organisation growth chart, said Jonathon Maguire, pediatrician at St Michael's Hospital.

This means drinking three cups of non-cow's milk per day might move a child to the 15th from the 50th percentile for height, and vice versa, compared with other children their age, he said.

Researchers also found that children who drank a combination of cow's milk and non-cow's milk daily were shorter than average.

"This finding suggests adding some cow's milk to a child's diet did not reverse the association between non-cow's milk consumption and lower height," Maguire said.

Height is an important indicator of children's overall health and development, researchers said.

Many parents are choosing non-cow's milk for their children, which may have lower nutritional content, Maguire said.

Researchers examined about 5,034 children between the ages of 24-72 months. Of those studied, 13 per cent drank non-cow's milk daily, and 92 per cent drank cow's milk daily.

While the majority of children studied drank cow's milk daily, the number who drank non-cow's milk daily suggests its popularity has increased in recent years, possibly due to perceived health benefits, researchers said.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Source: Bangalore Mirror

Art therapists on how children can be made to visually express their experiences and feelings, and why it is vital

In the 2007 film Taare Zameen Par, eight-year-old Ishaan Nandkishore Awasthi is considered by many, including his parents and teachers, to be a difficult child who has trouble with his lessons and is a typical underperformer. Frequent comparisons to his older brother and being berated for his poor academic performance drive him to depression and despair, to the point where Ishaan even contemplates suicide. It is only when Ishaan’s art teacher, upon reviewing his art, determines that Ishaan’s failings are rooted in dyslexia that Ishaan finally receives the instruction he needs to realise his true potential –as a child and as an artist.

The movie marked the first time that the importance of art in a child’s growing years was acknowledged by mainstream media, a move that has been lauded by psychologists, educators and mental health professionals. Today, art has come a long way from its former perception as a leisurely extra-curricular pursuit for children, and is being recognised as a powerful tool to detect and heal emotional trauma and developmental disabilities in kids.

Anupriya Das Singh, a psychotherapist and counsellor specialising in child-parent relationships, explains, “Art therapy helps us to reach out to children faster as compared to other forms of therapy. Children are able to express themselves to a greater extent than their oral vocabulary permits – children are often not comfortable with being questioned, or may not understand or be able to articulate why they are engaging in specific behaviours. Art therapy gives children a safe space to come to terms with their emotions and open up without the fear of being judged for their expression.”

Counselling psychologist Kunjal Shah adds, “Children’s art contains several metaphors for the events and emotions that they encounter in their daily life. It is a much easier medium for them to express themselves, since they are not equipped with the language or abstract reasoning required to communicate their mental state.”

How does it work?

Art therapists encourage children to use art media and their own creative process to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, reduce anxiety and develop their social skills. The symbolic self-expression contained in drawings or paintings created by children are interpreted by the therapist and further discussed with the child. Singh says, “The child is offered art materials of various types and encouraged to explore them. Often, the therapist will combine storytelling with drawing, where the therapist will encourage the child to discuss what they have drawn. This could also be a collaborative process where the beginning of the story is given by the therapist, and the child is encouraged to add their inputs. The role of the therapist is neutral so that the story is led by the child. This helps the child to better narrate the incidents that stand out positively or negatively. For instance, if a child is being scolded or bullied, the child may create a story that has monsters.”

Art therapy can also be used to guide the child towards positive emotions or behaviours. Farzana Suri, a Mumbai-based victory coach, explains, “If a child is depressed and is primarily using the colour blue in their paintings because they find it soothing, I will encourage them to gradually introduce colours that they may not initially be comfortable with. This helps us to create subtle shifts in their mood.” Suri adds, “Agitated children may tend to use a lot of red or black in their art.”

Art also plays an important role in promoting mental and emotional growth in children with developmental disabilities such as autism. Muddita Guptha Thakurani, an expressive art therapist, says, “ By presenting an alternative to verbal communication, art therapy plays an important role in bringing down the stress levels, anger and frustration in these children. Autistic children also tend to struggle with social issues, such as interpreting tone of voice and
facial expression, and may feel uncomfortable relating to others. Working with a therapist can be more comfortable since the focus is directed on the child’s art, creating a powerful bond without the initial need for face-to-face interaction.”

Art and the family

Parents can also use art to better understand and respond to their young children. Suri recommends establishing a daily ritual where parents and children spend some time drawing their day. This, she believes, can serve as a starting point for important family conversations. She adds, “Children can be encouraged to create an art journal instead of a written diary. Not every child is kinaesthetic – this process helps children with a limited or developing vocabulary to effectively address their thoughts. Parents can also consider creating family journaling sessions where the entire family talks about how their day or week was.”

Thakurani believes art therapy can additionally enhance a child’s confidence, and vastly improve their academic performance.

Learn to decode

Children’s drawings can tell a powerful story about their physical and emotional state. Here’s how

Scars or knotholes in the trunk usually indicate some type of trauma that could possibly be sexual in nature.
Fruit in the trees or leafy limbs indicate a positive
emotional state.

A minimal number of windows, when combined with people who have large heads, no feet and geometrically-shaped bodies, can be a sign of abuse.
Thick dark clouds and a smoking chimney commonly indicative heavy emotional tension.
Sun indicates that the mother or a close female relative is a dominant figure in their home.

When children draw a side profile of themselves instead of facing forward, it could mean an emotional conflict.
Drawing exaggerated sexual organs could indicate
potential abuse.
Disproportionate legs and/or arms as well as missing feet tend to show up in abused children. Legs drawn pressed together could potentially indicate abuse.
A person drawn without hands is common in children, who are feeling out of control. Sometimes hidden hands indicate guilt or shame.

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BENGALURU: Schools have reopened across the state but students are yet to get their textbooks. Why the delay? The state's answer: Drought.
When the issue rocked both Houses of legislature, primary and secondary education minister Tanveer Sait said: "Because of a harsh summer and drought in the state, there has been a shortage of water. This, in turn, has affected paper production. With paper not being easily available, printing of textbooks was affected."
Sait's statement was made in the backdrop of criticism by Visveswara Hegde Kageri and Arun Shahpur (both BJP) over the failure to print and distribute textbooks to students on time. On Wednesday , Kageri alleged that nearly 50% of the textbooks had not reached schools.

Shahpur slammed the government for taking up print ing at a time when distribu tion should have been completed. "Now it appears that textbook distribution will be completed only by end Au gust," he stated, warning that further delay would put more pressure on students and teachers. "The government has revised the syllabus and students have no clue what they have to study ," he said.

Sait, admitting to hurdles in the initial stages, said: "But steps were taken to expedite the distribution process. Cur rently, 97% of printing is complete and around 90% of the textbooks have been distributed. Since we barred private schools from selling their own textbooks, some schools have not sourced textbooks from us and this has created confusion. We will take action against such schools that are not lifting textbooks."

On drought affecting printing, the minister said: "Major paper factories suspended operations because of water scarcity and this triggered a paper shortage in the market.Water is one of the key components in paper production."
Sait said the government tried to tide over the crisis by sourcing paper from factories, but hit another hurdle as they demanded advance payments.

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When a 15-day-old baby, who had a bout of mild diarrhoea and vomiting became severely dehydrated, the parents, though worried, did not sense something could be seriously wrong. However, they were shocked when their doctor diagnosed the baby with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH).

CAH is an inherited disorder that affects the adrenal glands where the glands cannot produce cortisol and aldosterone, and instead produce an unwanted excess amount of androgens.

A child with CAH lacks enzymes the adrenal glands use to produce hormones that help regulate metabolism, the immune system, blood pressure, and other essential functions. Parents with children suffering from it often have great difficulty in the upbringing of the child, including treatment, getting school admission and other support issues.

For the first time, Shyam Nair and Deepa Kannan, parents of a CAH child, have started a support group called ‘CAH Support India’ ( www.cahindia,org ) involving a community of parents, grandparents and caregivers of CAH children. The International Coalition for Endocrine Patient Support Organisations worldwide has listed this support group as the first such group for endocrine disorders in India.

The couple has also created a closed Facebook group for parents and endocrinologists and a Facebook page called Omkar’s journey with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia to chronicle all possible events in the life of a child with CAH . The link is

Shaila S. Bhattacharyya, paediatric endocrinologist at Manipal Hospitals, who is also part of the support group, said: “A CAH child gets severely dehydrated even with a mild episode of diarrhoea and needs hospitalisation, which is stressful both for the child and the caregivers.”

Although about one in 10,000 children are born with CAH, awareness about the condition is low. It is either not detected early or is misdiagnosed and turns fatal in most children within months of their birth. A neonatal hormone test 17-OHP should be done to screen for CAH in children before symptoms appear. “However, not all hospitals do this test,” the doctor added.

Ms. Deepa Kannan, a yoga teacher, said she and her husband are trying to spread awareness about the condition, which is not known even in educated circles. “Having experienced the challenges in bringing up our child, who is seven years old now, our aim is to support parents and help them in bringing up their children,” she told The Hindu.

Narrating how difficult it is for CAH children to get admission in regular schools as the child needs continuous monitoring, she said the aim of the support group is to change this mindset of schools. “Such discrimination towards children for no fault of theirs is unfair,” she said.

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Central Governments expenditure on education has been falling for past three years, compared to 2013-14, the last year of UPA, when education got 4.57% of the total expenditure, there has been a steady decline — 3.65% in 2016-17, according to this Budget's revised estimate, with the estimated outlay for the coming year showing a minor uptick at 3.71%.

Looking at education spend as a share of the GDP, which is what international trackers do, the trend is clear — having dipped from 0.63% of the GDP in 2013-14 to 0.47% projected by the government for 2017-18. Read more