Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Marijuana, brain development, and maybe even homework

This article showed up in this morning's New York Times. "Early Marijuana Use Linked to IQ Loss."

I do IQ tests every day in my practice as a clinical psychologist. Although I don't doubt the connection which is suggested here, I think homework policy actually poses an intervening factor. Here's the comment I submitted to the Times on this issue:

Marijuana may affect the developing brain but I would need to know more about this study to draw that conclusion. The standard IQ test has 10 subtests, 3 of which are directly related to “things learned in school,” and 3 of which have particular relevance to capitalizing on one’s intellect to succeed in school. These latter 3 have more relevance to homework than schoolwork, and there is a sequence in which bright children can succeed in school but cannot get their homework done, or done in a reasonable amount of time. This creates major problems for them in middle school and then, because of those troubles, they get separated from their natural peers. This increases the chance that they will get drawn to non-academic, drug-using crowds, and get turned off to school. I would need to know more about the specifics of this study but that sequence could have bearing on these results and have more to do with school, and in particular homework policy, than it just has to do with brain development. That said, I don’t doubt the stated conclusion that early use of marijuana could be detrimental to brain development. Kenneth Goldberg, Ph.D. The Homework Trap. www.thehomeworktrap.com.

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