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  • A Research Guide
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  • 35 Research Paper Problem Topics & Examples

35 Research Paper Problem Topics & Examples

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  • Gender discrimination and sexism
  • The problem of global hunger
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  • The choice of religion for the children from religious families
  • Modern beauty standards and positive body image
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Traffic problems: how to avoid traffic jams in your hometown?
  • What can be done right now to reduce pollution?
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  • Enhancing the quality of family life

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  • USC Libraries
  • Research Guides

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • 9. The Conclusion
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Applying Critical Thinking
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

The conclusion is intended to help the reader understand why your research should matter to them after they have finished reading the paper. A conclusion is not merely a summary of the main topics covered or a re-statement of your research problem, but a synthesis of key points derived from the findings of your study and, if applicable, where you recommend new areas for future research. For most college-level research papers, two or three well-developed paragraphs is sufficient for a conclusion, although in some cases, more paragraphs may be required in describing the key findings and their significance.

Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University.

Importance of a Good Conclusion

A well-written conclusion provides you with important opportunities to demonstrate to the reader your understanding of the research problem. These include:

  • Presenting the last word on the issues you raised in your paper . Just as the introduction gives a first impression to your reader, the conclusion offers a chance to leave a lasting impression. Do this, for example, by highlighting key findings in your analysis that advance new understanding about the research problem, that are unusual or unexpected, or that have important implications applied to practice.
  • Summarizing your thoughts and conveying the larger significance of your study . The conclusion is an opportunity to succinctly re-emphasize  your answer to the "So What?" question by placing the study within the context of how your research advances past research about the topic.
  • Identifying how a gap in the literature has been addressed . The conclusion can be where you describe how a previously identified gap in the literature [first identified in your literature review section] has been addressed by your research and why this contribution is significant.
  • Demonstrating the importance of your ideas . Don't be shy. The conclusion offers an opportunity to elaborate on the impact and significance of your findings. This is particularly important if your study approached examining the research problem from an unusual or innovative perspective.
  • Introducing possible new or expanded ways of thinking about the research problem . This does not refer to introducing new information [which should be avoided], but to offer new insight and creative approaches for framing or contextualizing the research problem based on the results of your study.

Bunton, David. “The Structure of PhD Conclusion Chapters.” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 4 (July 2005): 207–224; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Conclusion. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Assan, Joseph. "Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing." Liverpool: Development Studies Association (2009): 1-8.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  General Rules

The general function of your paper's conclusion is to restate the main argument . It reminds the reader of the strengths of your main argument(s) and reiterates the most important evidence supporting those argument(s). Do this by clearly summarizing the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem you investigated in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found in the literature. However, make sure that your conclusion is not simply a repetitive summary of the findings. This reduces the impact of the argument(s) you have developed in your paper.

When writing the conclusion to your paper, follow these general rules:

  • Present your conclusions in clear, concise language. Re-state the purpose of your study, then describe how your findings differ or support those of other studies and why [i.e., what were the unique, new, or crucial contributions your study made to the overall research about your topic?].
  • Do not simply reiterate your findings or the discussion of your results. Provide a synthesis of arguments presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem and the overall objectives of your study.
  • Indicate opportunities for future research if you haven't already done so in the discussion section of your paper. Highlighting the need for further research provides the reader with evidence that you have an in-depth awareness of the research problem but that further investigations should take place beyond the scope of your investigation.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is presented well:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
  • If, prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from the data [this is opposite of the introduction, which begins with general discussion of the context and ends with a detailed description of the research problem]. 

The conclusion also provides a place for you to persuasively and succinctly restate the research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with all the information about the topic . Depending on the discipline you are writing in, the concluding paragraph may contain your reflections on the evidence presented. However, the nature of being introspective about the research you have conducted will depend on the topic and whether your professor wants you to express your observations in this way. If asked to think introspectively about the topics, do not delve into idle speculation. Being introspective means looking within yourself as an author to try and understand an issue more deeply, not to guess at possible outcomes or make up scenarios not supported by the evidence.

II.  Developing a Compelling Conclusion

Although an effective conclusion needs to be clear and succinct, it does not need to be written passively or lack a compelling narrative. Strategies to help you move beyond merely summarizing the key points of your research paper may include any of the following:

  • If your essay deals with a critical, contemporary problem, warn readers of the possible consequences of not attending to the problem proactively.
  • Recommend a specific course or courses of action that, if adopted, could address a specific problem in practice or in the development of new knowledge leading to positive change.
  • Cite a relevant quotation or expert opinion already noted in your paper in order to lend authority and support to the conclusion(s) you have reached [a good source would be from your literature review].
  • Explain the consequences of your research in a way that elicits action or demonstrates urgency in seeking change.
  • Restate a key statistic, fact, or visual image to emphasize the most important finding of your paper.
  • If your discipline encourages personal reflection, illustrate your concluding point by drawing from your own life experiences.
  • Return to an anecdote, an example, or a quotation that you presented in your introduction, but add further insight derived from the findings of your study; use your interpretation of results from your study to recast it in new or important ways.
  • Provide a "take-home" message in the form of a succinct, declarative statement that you want the reader to remember about your study.

III. Problems to Avoid

Failure to be concise Your conclusion section should be concise and to the point. Conclusions that are too lengthy often have unnecessary information in them. The conclusion is not the place for details about your methodology or results. Although you should give a summary of what was learned from your research, this summary should be relatively brief, since the emphasis in the conclusion is on the implications, evaluations, insights, and other forms of analysis that you make. Strategies for writing concisely can be found here .

Failure to comment on larger, more significant issues In the introduction, your task was to move from the general [the field of study] to the specific [the research problem]. However, in the conclusion, your task is to move from a specific discussion [your research problem] back to a general discussion framed around the implications and significance of your findings [i.e., how your research contributes new understanding or fills an important gap in the literature]. In short, the conclusion is where you should place your research within a larger context [visualize your paper as an hourglass--start with a broad introduction and review of the literature, move to the specific analysis and discussion, conclude with a broad summary of the study's implications and significance].

Failure to reveal problems and negative results Negative aspects of the research process should never be ignored. These are problems, deficiencies, or challenges encountered during your study. They should be summarized as a way of qualifying your overall conclusions. If you encountered negative or unintended results [i.e., findings that are validated outside the research context in which they were generated], you must report them in the results section and discuss their implications in the discussion section of your paper. In the conclusion, use negative results as an opportunity to explain their possible significance and/or how they may form the basis for future research.

Failure to provide a clear summary of what was learned In order to be able to discuss how your research fits within your field of study [and possibly the world at large], you need to summarize briefly and succinctly how it contributes to new knowledge or a new understanding about the research problem. This element of your conclusion may be only a few sentences long.

Failure to match the objectives of your research Often research objectives in the social and behavioral sciences change while the research is being carried out. This is not a problem unless you forget to go back and refine the original objectives in your introduction. As these changes emerge they must be documented so that they accurately reflect what you were trying to accomplish in your research [not what you thought you might accomplish when you began].

Resist the urge to apologize If you've immersed yourself in studying the research problem, you presumably should know a good deal about it [perhaps even more than your professor!]. Nevertheless, by the time you have finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you have produced. Repress those doubts! Don't undermine your authority as a researcher by saying something like, "This is just one approach to examining this problem; there may be other, much better approaches that...." The overall tone of your conclusion should convey confidence to the reader about the study's validity and realiability.

Assan, Joseph. "Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing." Liverpool: Development Studies Association (2009): 1-8; Concluding Paragraphs. College Writing Center at Meramec. St. Louis Community College; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Freedman, Leora  and Jerry Plotnick. Introductions and Conclusions. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Leibensperger, Summer. Draft Your Conclusion. Academic Center, the University of Houston-Victoria, 2003; Make Your Last Words Count. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin Madison; Miquel, Fuster-Marquez and Carmen Gregori-Signes. “Chapter Six: ‘Last but Not Least:’ Writing the Conclusion of Your Paper.” In Writing an Applied Linguistics Thesis or Dissertation: A Guide to Presenting Empirical Research . John Bitchener, editor. (Basingstoke,UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 93-105; Tips for Writing a Good Conclusion. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Conclusion. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; Writing Conclusions. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Writing: Considering Structure and Organization. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.

Writing Tip

Don't Belabor the Obvious!

Avoid phrases like "in conclusion...," "in summary...," or "in closing...." These phrases can be useful, even welcome, in oral presentations. But readers can see by the tell-tale section heading and number of pages remaining that they are reaching the end of your paper. You'll irritate your readers if you belabor the obvious.

Assan, Joseph. "Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing." Liverpool: Development Studies Association (2009): 1-8.

Another Writing Tip

New Insight, Not New Information!

Don't surprise the reader with new information in your conclusion that was never referenced anywhere else in the paper. This why the conclusion rarely has citations to sources. If you have new information to present, add it to the discussion or other appropriate section of the paper. Note that, although no new information is introduced, the conclusion, along with the discussion section, is where you offer your most "original" contributions in the paper; the conclusion is where you describe the value of your research, demonstrate that you understand the material that you’ve presented, and position your findings within the larger context of scholarship on the topic, including describing how your research contributes new insights to that scholarship.

Assan, Joseph. "Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing." Liverpool: Development Studies Association (2009): 1-8; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina.

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Are We Talking Too Much About Mental Health?

Recent studies cast doubt on whether large-scale mental health interventions are making young people better. Some even suggest they can have a negative effect.

A portrait of Lucy Foulkes, who wears a gray sweater and black pants and sits on a bench in a garden area outside a building.

By Ellen Barry

In recent years, mental health has become a central subject in childhood and adolescence. Teenagers narrate their psychiatric diagnosis and treatment on TikTok and Instagram. School systems, alarmed by rising levels of distress and self-harm, are introducing preventive coursework in emotional self-regulation and mindfulness.

Now, some researchers warn that we are in danger of overdoing it. Mental health awareness campaigns, they argue, help some young people identify disorders that badly need treatment — but they have a negative effect on others, leading them to over-interpret their symptoms and see themselves as more troubled than they are.

The researchers point to unexpected results in trials of school-based mental health interventions in the United Kingdom and Australia: Students who underwent training in the basics of mindfulness , cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy did not emerge healthier than peers who did not participate, and some were worse off, at least for a while.

And new research from the United States shows that among young people, “self-labeling” as having depression or anxiety is associated with poor coping skills, like avoidance or rumination.

In a paper published last year , two research psychologists at the University of Oxford, Lucy Foulkes and Jack Andrews, coined the term “prevalence inflation” — driven by the reporting of mild or transient symptoms as mental health disorders — and suggested that awareness campaigns were contributing to it.

“It’s creating this message that teenagers are vulnerable, they’re likely to have problems, and the solution is to outsource them to a professional,” said Dr. Foulkes, a Prudence Trust Research Fellow in Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, who has written two books on mental health and adolescence.

Until high-quality research has clarified these unexpected negative effects, they argue, school systems should proceed cautiously with large-scale mental health interventions.

“It’s not that we need to go back to square one, but it’s that we need to press pause and reroute potentially,” Dr. Foulkes said. “It’s possible that something very well-intended has overshot a bit and needs to be brought back in.”

This remains a minority view among specialists in adolescent mental health, who mostly agree that the far more urgent problem is lack of access to treatment.

About 60 percent of young Americans with severe depression receive no treatment, according to Mental Health America, a nonprofit research group. In crisis, desperate families fall back on emergency rooms, where teens often remain for days before a psychiatric bed opens up. There is good reason to embrace a preventive approach, teaching schoolchildren basic skills that might forestall crises later, experts say.

Dr. Foulkes said she understood that her argument runs counter to that consensus, and when she began to present it, she braced for a backlash. To her surprise, she said, many educators reached out to express quiet agreement.

“There’s definitely a fear about being the one to say it,” she said.

A deflating result

In the summer of 2022, the results of a landmark study on mindfulness training in British classrooms landed — like a lead balloon.

The trial, My Resilience in Adolescence, or MYRIAD, was ambitious, meticulous and expansive, following about 28,000 teenagers over eight years. It had been launched in a glow of optimism that the practice would pay off, improving the students’ mental health outcomes in later years.

Half of the teenagers were trained by their teachers to direct their attention to the present moment — breathing, physical sensations or everyday activities — in 10 lessons of 30 to 50 minutes apiece.

The results were disappointing . The authors reported “no support for our hypothesis” that mindfulness training would improve students’ mental health. In fact, students at highest risk for mental health problems did somewhat worse after receiving the training, the authors concluded.

But by the end of the eight-year project, “mindfulness is already embedded in a lot of schools, and there are already organizations making money from selling this program to schools,” said Dr. Foulkes, who had assisted on the study as a postdoctoral research associate. “And it’s very difficult to get the scientific message out there.”

Why, one might ask, would a mental health program do harm?

Researchers in the study speculated that the training programs “bring awareness to upsetting thoughts,” encouraging students to sit with darker feelings, but without providing solutions, especially for societal problems like racism or poverty. They also found that the students didn’t enjoy the sessions and didn’t practice at home.

Another explanation is that mindfulness training could encourage “co-rumination,” the kind of long, unresolved group discussion that churns up problems without finding solutions.

As the MYRIAD results were being analyzed, Dr. Andrews led an evaluation of Climate Schools, an Australian intervention based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, in which students observed cartoon characters navigating mental health concerns and then answered questions about practices to improve mental health.

Here, too, he found negative effects. Students who had taken the course reported higher levels of depression and anxiety symptoms six months and 12 months later.

Co-rumination appears to be higher in girls, who tend to come into the program more distressed, as well as more attuned to their friends, he said. “It might be,” he said, “that they kind of get together and make things a little bit worse for each other.”

Dr. Andrews, a Wellcome Trust research fellow, has since joined an effort to improve Climate Schools by addressing negative effects. And he has concluded that schools should slow down until “we know the evidence base a bit more.” Sometimes, he said, “doing nothing is better than doing something.”

The awareness paradox

One problem with mental health awareness, some research suggests, is that it may not help to put a label to your symptoms.

Isaac Ahuvia, a doctoral candidate at Stony Brook University, recently tested this in a study of 1,423 college students . Twenty-two percent “self-labeled” as having depression, telling researchers “I am depressed” or “I have depression,” but 39 percent met the diagnostic criteria for depression.

He found that the students who self-labeled felt that they had less control over depression and were more likely to catastrophize and less likely to respond to distress by putting their difficulties in perspective, compared with peers who had similar depression symptoms.

Jessica L. Schleider, a co-author of the self-labeling study, said this was no surprise. People who self-label “appear to be viewing depression as a biological inevitability,” she said. “People who don’t view emotions as malleable, view them as set and stuck and uncontrollable, tend to cope less well because they don’t see a point to trying.”

But Dr. Schleider, an associate professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University and the director of the university’s Lab for Scalable Mental Health, pushed back on the prevalence inflation hypothesis. She disagreed with the claim that students are overdiagnosing themselves, noting that Mr. Ahuvia’s findings suggest otherwise.

Awareness campaigns are bound to have multiple effects, helping some students and not others. And ultimately, she argued, the priority for public health should be reaching young people in the most distress.

“The urgency of the mental health crisis is so clear,” she said. “In the partnerships that I have, the emphasis is on the kids truly struggling right now who have nothing — we need to help them — more so than a possible risk for a subset of kids who aren’t really struggling.”

Maybe, she said, we need to look beyond the “universal, school-assembly-style approach,” to targeted, light-touch interventions, which research has shown can be effective at decreasing anxiety and conduct disorders, especially in younger children.

“There is a risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Dr. Schleider said. “The response can’t be ‘Forget all of it.’ It should be ‘What about this intervention was unhelpful?’”

Other researchers echoed her concern, pointing to studies that show that on average, students benefit from social and emotional learning courses.

One of the largest, a 2023 meta-analysis of 252 classroom programs in 53 countries, found that students who participated performed better academically, displayed better social skills and had lower levels of emotional distress or behavioral problems. In that context, negative effects in a handful of trials appear modest, the researchers said.

“We clearly have not figured out how to do them yet, but I can’t imagine any population-based intervention that the field got right the first time,” said Dr. Andrew J. Gerber, the president and medical director of Silver Hill Hospital and a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist.

“Really, if you think about almost everything we do in schools, we don’t have great evidence for it working,” he added. “That doesn’t mean we don’t do it. It just means that we’re constantly thinking about ways to improve it.”

‘We want everyone to have it’

These debates are taking place a long way away from classrooms, where mental health curriculums are increasingly commonplace.

Allyson Kangisser, a counselor at Woodsdale Elementary School in Wheeling, W.Va., said the focus in her school is on basic coping skills. In the early grades, students are asked, “What things can you do to take care of yourself when you’re having big feelings?”

Starting in third grade, they take on more complex material, such as watching cartoon characters to distinguish transient stress from chronic conditions like depression. “We’re not trying to have them diagnose themselves,” Ms. Kangisser said. “We are saying, what do you feel — this one? Or this one?”

At the school’s sixth annual mental health fair last month, Woodsdale students walked through a giant inflatable brain, its lobes neatly labeled. They did yoga stretches and talked about regulating their emotions. Ms. Kangisser said the event is valuable precisely because it is universal, so troubled children are not singled out.

“The mental health fair, everybody does it,” she said. “It’s not ‘You need it, and you don’t.’ We want everyone to have it, because you just never know.”

By the time the students reach college, they will have absorbed enormous amounts of information about mental health — from school, but also from social media and from one another.

Dr. Jessica Gold, chief wellness officer for the University of Tennessee system, said the college students she sees are recognizably different — more comfortable speaking about their emotions and more willing to be vulnerable. They also overuse diagnostic terms and have the self-assurance to question a psychiatrist’s judgment.

“It’s sort of a double-edged sword,” she said. “We want people to talk about this more, but we don’t want that to lead to overdiagnosis or incorrect diagnosis or overtreatment. We want it to lead to normalizing of having feelings.”

Lucy Kim, a Yale senior who has lobbied for better mental health support on campus, described the prevalence inflation hypothesis as “disheartening, dismissive and potentially dangerous,” providing another way to discount the experiences of young people.

“As a college student, I see a generation of young people around me impacted by a depth and breadth of loneliness, exhaustion and disillusionment suggestive of a malaise that goes deeper than the general vicissitudes of life,” said Ms. Kim, 23.

Overdiagnosis does happen, she said, and so does glorification of mental health disorders. But stigma and barriers to treatment remain the bigger problem. “I can confidently say I have never heard anyone respond to disclosures of depression with ‘That’s so cool, I wish I had that, too,’” she said.

Ellen Barry is a reporter covering mental health for The Times. More about Ellen Barry

Managing Anxiety and Stress

Stay balanced in the face of stress and anxiety with our collection of tools and advice..

How are you, really? This self-guided check-in will help you take stock of your emotional well-being — and learn how to make changes .

These simple and proven strategies will help you manage stress , support your mental health and find meaning in the new year.

First, bring calm and clarity into your life with these 10 tips . Next, identify what you are dealing with: Is it worry, anxiety or stress ?

Persistent depressive disorder is underdiagnosed, and many who suffer from it have never heard of it. Here is what to know .

New research suggests people tend to be lonelier in young adulthood and late life. But experts say it doesn’t have to be that way .

How much anxiety is too much? Here is how to establish whether you should see a professional about it .

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Why writing by hand beats typing for thinking and learning

Jonathan Lambert

A close-up of a woman's hand writing in a notebook.

If you're like many digitally savvy Americans, it has likely been a while since you've spent much time writing by hand.

The laborious process of tracing out our thoughts, letter by letter, on the page is becoming a relic of the past in our screen-dominated world, where text messages and thumb-typed grocery lists have replaced handwritten letters and sticky notes. Electronic keyboards offer obvious efficiency benefits that have undoubtedly boosted our productivity — imagine having to write all your emails longhand.

To keep up, many schools are introducing computers as early as preschool, meaning some kids may learn the basics of typing before writing by hand.

But giving up this slower, more tactile way of expressing ourselves may come at a significant cost, according to a growing body of research that's uncovering the surprising cognitive benefits of taking pen to paper, or even stylus to iPad — for both children and adults.

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In kids, studies show that tracing out ABCs, as opposed to typing them, leads to better and longer-lasting recognition and understanding of letters. Writing by hand also improves memory and recall of words, laying down the foundations of literacy and learning. In adults, taking notes by hand during a lecture, instead of typing, can lead to better conceptual understanding of material.

"There's actually some very important things going on during the embodied experience of writing by hand," says Ramesh Balasubramaniam , a neuroscientist at the University of California, Merced. "It has important cognitive benefits."

While those benefits have long been recognized by some (for instance, many authors, including Jennifer Egan and Neil Gaiman , draft their stories by hand to stoke creativity), scientists have only recently started investigating why writing by hand has these effects.

A slew of recent brain imaging research suggests handwriting's power stems from the relative complexity of the process and how it forces different brain systems to work together to reproduce the shapes of letters in our heads onto the page.

Your brain on handwriting

Both handwriting and typing involve moving our hands and fingers to create words on a page. But handwriting, it turns out, requires a lot more fine-tuned coordination between the motor and visual systems. This seems to more deeply engage the brain in ways that support learning.

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"Handwriting is probably among the most complex motor skills that the brain is capable of," says Marieke Longcamp , a cognitive neuroscientist at Aix-Marseille Université.

Gripping a pen nimbly enough to write is a complicated task, as it requires your brain to continuously monitor the pressure that each finger exerts on the pen. Then, your motor system has to delicately modify that pressure to re-create each letter of the words in your head on the page.

"Your fingers have to each do something different to produce a recognizable letter," says Sophia Vinci-Booher , an educational neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University. Adding to the complexity, your visual system must continuously process that letter as it's formed. With each stroke, your brain compares the unfolding script with mental models of the letters and words, making adjustments to fingers in real time to create the letters' shapes, says Vinci-Booher.

That's not true for typing.

To type "tap" your fingers don't have to trace out the form of the letters — they just make three relatively simple and uniform movements. In comparison, it takes a lot more brainpower, as well as cross-talk between brain areas, to write than type.

Recent brain imaging studies bolster this idea. A study published in January found that when students write by hand, brain areas involved in motor and visual information processing " sync up " with areas crucial to memory formation, firing at frequencies associated with learning.

"We don't see that [synchronized activity] in typewriting at all," says Audrey van der Meer , a psychologist and study co-author at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She suggests that writing by hand is a neurobiologically richer process and that this richness may confer some cognitive benefits.

Other experts agree. "There seems to be something fundamental about engaging your body to produce these shapes," says Robert Wiley , a cognitive psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. "It lets you make associations between your body and what you're seeing and hearing," he says, which might give the mind more footholds for accessing a given concept or idea.

Those extra footholds are especially important for learning in kids, but they may give adults a leg up too. Wiley and others worry that ditching handwriting for typing could have serious consequences for how we all learn and think.

What might be lost as handwriting wanes

The clearest consequence of screens and keyboards replacing pen and paper might be on kids' ability to learn the building blocks of literacy — letters.

"Letter recognition in early childhood is actually one of the best predictors of later reading and math attainment," says Vinci-Booher. Her work suggests the process of learning to write letters by hand is crucial for learning to read them.

"When kids write letters, they're just messy," she says. As kids practice writing "A," each iteration is different, and that variability helps solidify their conceptual understanding of the letter.

Research suggests kids learn to recognize letters better when seeing variable handwritten examples, compared with uniform typed examples.

This helps develop areas of the brain used during reading in older children and adults, Vinci-Booher found.

"This could be one of the ways that early experiences actually translate to long-term life outcomes," she says. "These visually demanding, fine motor actions bake in neural communication patterns that are really important for learning later on."

Ditching handwriting instruction could mean that those skills don't get developed as well, which could impair kids' ability to learn down the road.

"If young children are not receiving any handwriting training, which is very good brain stimulation, then their brains simply won't reach their full potential," says van der Meer. "It's scary to think of the potential consequences."

Many states are trying to avoid these risks by mandating cursive instruction. This year, California started requiring elementary school students to learn cursive , and similar bills are moving through state legislatures in several states, including Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and Wisconsin. (So far, evidence suggests that it's the writing by hand that matters, not whether it's print or cursive.)

Slowing down and processing information

For adults, one of the main benefits of writing by hand is that it simply forces us to slow down.

During a meeting or lecture, it's possible to type what you're hearing verbatim. But often, "you're not actually processing that information — you're just typing in the blind," says van der Meer. "If you take notes by hand, you can't write everything down," she says.

The relative slowness of the medium forces you to process the information, writing key words or phrases and using drawing or arrows to work through ideas, she says. "You make the information your own," she says, which helps it stick in the brain.

Such connections and integration are still possible when typing, but they need to be made more intentionally. And sometimes, efficiency wins out. "When you're writing a long essay, it's obviously much more practical to use a keyboard," says van der Meer.

Still, given our long history of using our hands to mark meaning in the world, some scientists worry about the more diffuse consequences of offloading our thinking to computers.

"We're foisting a lot of our knowledge, extending our cognition, to other devices, so it's only natural that we've started using these other agents to do our writing for us," says Balasubramaniam.

It's possible that this might free up our minds to do other kinds of hard thinking, he says. Or we might be sacrificing a fundamental process that's crucial for the kinds of immersive cognitive experiences that enable us to learn and think at our full potential.

Balasubramaniam stresses, however, that we don't have to ditch digital tools to harness the power of handwriting. So far, research suggests that scribbling with a stylus on a screen activates the same brain pathways as etching ink on paper. It's the movement that counts, he says, not its final form.

Jonathan Lambert is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance journalist who covers science, health and policy.

  • handwriting

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

At michigan state university, international research team uses wavefunction matching to solve quantum many-body problems, new approach makes calculations with realistic interactions possible.

FRIB researchers are part of an international research team solving challenging computational problems in quantum physics using a new method called wavefunction matching. The new approach has applications to fields such as nuclear physics, where it is enabling theoretical calculations of atomic nuclei that were previously not possible. The details are published in Nature (“Wavefunction matching for solving quantum many-body problems”) .

Ab initio methods and their computational challenges

An ab initio method describes a complex system by starting from a description of its elementary components and their interactions. For the case of nuclear physics, the elementary components are protons and neutrons. Some key questions that ab initio calculations can help address are the binding energies and properties of atomic nuclei not yet observed and linking nuclear structure to the underlying interactions among protons and neutrons.

Yet, some ab initio methods struggle to produce reliable calculations for systems with complex interactions. One such method is quantum Monte Carlo simulations. In quantum Monte Carlo simulations, quantities are computed using random or stochastic processes. While quantum Monte Carlo simulations can be efficient and powerful, they have a significant weakness: the sign problem. The sign problem develops when positive and negative weight contributions cancel each other out. This cancellation results in inaccurate final predictions. It is often the case that quantum Monte Carlo simulations can be performed for an approximate or simplified interaction, but the corresponding simulations for realistic interactions produce severe sign problems and are therefore not possible.

Using ‘plastic surgery’ to make calculations possible

The new wavefunction-matching approach is designed to solve such computational problems. The research team—from Gaziantep Islam Science and Technology University in Turkey; University of Bonn, Ruhr University Bochum, and Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany; Institute for Basic Science in South Korea; South China Normal University, Sun Yat-Sen University, and Graduate School of China Academy of Engineering Physics in China; Tbilisi State University in Georgia; CEA Paris-Saclay and Université Paris-Saclay in France; and Mississippi State University and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University (MSU)—includes  Dean Lee , professor of physics at FRIB and in MSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and head of the Theoretical Nuclear Science department at FRIB, and  Yuan-Zhuo Ma , postdoctoral research associate at FRIB.

“We are often faced with the situation that we can perform calculations using a simple approximate interaction, but realistic high-fidelity interactions cause severe computational problems,” said Lee. “Wavefunction matching solves this problem by doing plastic surgery. It removes the short-distance part of the high-fidelity interaction, and replaces it with the short-distance part of an easily computable interaction.”

This transformation is done in a way that preserves all of the important properties of the original realistic interaction. Since the new wavefunctions look similar to that of the easily computable interaction, researchers can now perform calculations using the easily computable interaction and apply a standard procedure for handling small corrections called perturbation theory.  A team effort

The research team applied this new method to lattice quantum Monte Carlo simulations for light nuclei, medium-mass nuclei, neutron matter, and nuclear matter. Using precise ab initio calculations, the results closely matched real-world data on nuclear properties such as size, structure, and binding energies. Calculations that were once impossible due to the sign problem can now be performed using wavefunction matching.

“It is a fantastic project and an excellent opportunity to work with the brightest nuclear scientist s in FRIB and around the globe,” said Ma. “As a theorist , I'm also very excited about programming and conducting research on the world's most powerful exascale supercomputers, such as Frontier , which allows us to implement wavefunction matching to explore the mysteries of nuclear physics.”

While the research team focused solely on quantum Monte Carlo simulations, wavefunction matching should be useful for many different ab initio approaches, including both classical and  quantum computing calculations. The researchers at FRIB worked with collaborators at institutions in China, France, Germany, South Korea, Turkey, and United States.

“The work is the culmination of effort over many years to handle the computational problems associated with realistic high-fidelity nuclear interactions,” said Lee. “It is very satisfying to see that the computational problems are cleanly resolved with this new approach. We are grateful to all of the collaboration members who contributed to this project, in particular, the lead author, Serdar Elhatisari.”

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the German Research Foundation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative, Volkswagen Stiftung, the European Research Council, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Security Academic Fund, the Rare Isotope Science Project of the Institute for Basic Science, the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Institute for Basic Science, and the Espace de Structure et de réactions Nucléaires Théorique.

Michigan State University operates the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) as a user facility for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), supporting the mission of the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics. Hosting what is designed to be the most powerful heavy-ion accelerator, FRIB enables scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security, and industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of today’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit energy.gov/science.

Watch CBS News

Fluoride use by pregnant women linked to childhood behavioral problems, USC study finds

By Julie Sharp

Updated on: May 20, 2024 / 5:38 PM PDT / CBS/City News Service

A just-released University of Southern California study found that pregnant women exposed to fluoride have an increased risk of their child demonstrating behavioral problems.

The research, published Monday by the Keck School of Medicine of USC, is the first U.S.-based study examining the link between prenatal fluoride and childhood social, emotional, and behavioral functioning.

Researchers say they hope the new findings convey the risks of fluoride consumption during pregnancy.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans consume drinking water containing fluoride, a practice that began in 1945 to help prevent tooth decay, according to researchers.

The study analyzed more than 220 mother-child pairs, collecting data on fluoride levels during pregnancy and child behavior at age 3.

The researchers found that a 0.68 milligram per liter increase in fluoride exposure was associated with almost double the chance of a child showing neurobehavioral problems in a range considered close to or at a level to meet the criteria for clinical diagnosis.

"Women with higher fluoride exposure levels in their bodies during pregnancy tended to rate their 3-year-old children higher on overall neurobehavioral problems and internalizing symptoms, including emotional reactivity, anxiety, and somatic complaints," said Tracy Bastain, an associate professor of clinical population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine.

The findings add to existing evidence from animal studies showing that fluoride can harm neurodevelopment, as well as data from studies done in Canada, Mexico, and other countries showing that prenatal fluoride exposure is linked with a lower IQ in early childhood, according to the study.

Currently, no official recommendations exist for limiting fluoride consumption during pregnancy. However, the researchers hope the findings can help stimulate change. 

Julie Sharp is a Digital Producer at CBS Los Angeles. She is a South Bay native and majored in print journalism at Cal State University Long Beach.

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Stomach Paralysis Risk May Rise in People Taking Ozempic and Similar Drugs

By Robin Foster HealthDay Reporter

research problem about school brainly

MONDAY, May 20, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- New, real-world research confirms that the blockbuster weight-loss drugs that millions of Americans have been taking to shed pounds can trigger stomach paralysis in some patients.

“Although these drugs do work and should be used for the right reason, we just want to caution everyone that if you do decide to start this, be prepared that you have a 30 percent chance that you may have GI side effects, and then the drug may have to be discontinued,” Dr. Prateek Sharma , a professor of medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine who conducted one of the studies, told CNN .

His research was one of two reports presented Saturday at the Digestive Disease Week 2024 (DDW) in Washington, D.C. Neither has been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, so the data is considered preliminary. A third study on the complication is to be presented Monday.

Known as GLP-1 agonists, drugs like Wegovy and Zepbound have helped people lose at least 10% of their starting weight.

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research problem about school brainly

How do these medications work, and why might that sometimes prompt stomach paralysis?

GLP-1 agonists curb hunger by slowing the movement of food through the stomach. They also help the body release more insulin and send signals to the brain that curb cravings.

But in some people, they may also prompt bouts of vomiting that can require medical attention and slow the stomach so much that they can lead to a condition called gastroparesis.

While gastroparesis will typically improve after the medication is stopped, some patients have claimed that their condition didn't improve months after quitting the drug, CNN reported.

In one study, researchers at University Hospitals in Cleveland combed through millions of patient records from 80 heath care organizations. They honed in on adults who were obese, but who did not have diabetes and had not been diagnosed with gastroparesis or pancreatitis at least six months before starting a GLP-1 medication. The medical records of 286,000 patients were included in the study.

Among those prescribed a GLP-1 medication for weight loss, 10 of every 10,000 (0.1%) were diagnosed with gastroparesis at least six months later. Meanwhile, only 4 out of 10,000 people (0.04%) not taking the drugs who were matched based on their age, sex, ethnicity and other factors developed stomach paralysis.

While the overall risk to any one patient remains small, the difference amounted to a 52% increased risk of being diagnosed with stomach paralysis while on a GLP-1 medication.

The second study, led by Sharma, also used records from a research network database. Records from nearly 300,000 patients were included in the analysis.

Compared with those who were not taking a GLP-1 medication, those who did were about 66% more likely to be diagnosed with gastroparesis.

Patients taking the drugs were also more likely to have nausea, vomiting or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). They were also more likely to have their gallbladders removed and experience drug-induced pancreatitis.

Sharma noted that his study included people who had diabetes in both the group taking the GLP-1 medications and in the comparison group, and they still found a higher incidence of stomach paralysis in those taking the medications, suggesting that diabetes alone wasn’t the culprit.

“The drug was the only thing which was different between these two groups,” he said.

“And we do show that all GI side effects or symptoms, nausea, vomiting and gastroparesis, were significantly higher in the GLP-1 takers as compared to the controls,” said Sharma, who is also president-elect of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

Despite the fact that these drugs have been extensively studied, Sharma thinks gastroparesis is rare enough that it didn’t show up in the clinical trials because not enough patients were included.

“You need hundreds of thousands of patients to come up with these conclusions, but that’s why I think these database studies are much more important there,” Sharma said.

Another reason it may have been missed in clinical trials was the way researchers typically test for it, Dr. Michael Camilleri , a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic who has studied gastroparesis with the GLP-1 drug liraglutide, told CNN .

“It’s very important, if you’re going to study the problem with gastric emptying, you have to look at the gastric emptying of solids, not of liquids,” he explained, because liquids pass through the stomach faster than solids do.

“When the pharmaceutical companies did the appraisal of the effects of this class of medications on gastric emptying, they usually use a method that assesses the emptying of liquids from the stomach,” he said.

Camilleri co-authored a third study on the condition being presented Monday at the DDW meeting.

That research analyzed the medical records of nearly 80,000 patients prescribed a GLP-1 medication by doctors in the Mayo Clinic’s health system. The researchers focused on 839 people who had symptoms of gastroparesis and got a gold-standard test for the condition.

About one-third of that group, 241 people, had food in their stomach four hours after eating a test meal, which means they qualified as having gastroparesis.

Camilleri noted that gastroparesis risk is likely underestimated in the latest research because not everyone who had symptoms would have ultimately gotten the test needed to diagnose it.

More information

Johns Hopkins has more on gastroparesis .


Copyright © 2024 HealthDay . All rights reserved.

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