Session 6 abstracts

Welcome to session 6 on day 1 (16:45 – 17:30)




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Track 2 - Symposium: Examining cognitive ability across generations: As easy as ABC, to Generation Z!

Comparability of cognitive measures in middle childhood in four British birth cohort studies: A pilot study
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Vanessa Moulton, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

A multitude of cognitive tests have been administered in the British birth cohorts, but vary considerably across the 1946, 1958, 1970 and 2001/2 cohorts. However, within particular age groups the same or conceptually similar tests have been administered. To aid cross-cohort comparisons of these cognitive tests, previous work has provided detailed documents and technical resources. This symposium will begin by giving a very brief overview of the tests available in childhood in these cohorts. Building on this work we will present initial results from more recent methodological work, and Importantly, demonstrate new work investigating cognitive ability across generations.

Weakening of the cognition and height association from 1957 to 2018: findings from four British birth cohort studies
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Liam Wright, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Taller individuals have been repeatedly found to have higher scores on cognitive assessments. Recent studies have found that this association can be explained by genetic factors, yet this does not preclude the influence of environmental or social factors that may change across time. We tested whether the association changed across time using data from four British birth cohorts (including the MCS). Taller participants had higher mean cognitive assessment, yet the associations were weaker in later cohorts. This pattern was observed across all cognition measure used. These results suggest environmental and social change can weaken associations between cognition and other traits.

The ‘cognition puzzle’: weakening of the correlation between cognitive test domains from 1957-2018
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

David Bann, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

A central finding of intelligence research is that scores on cognitive tests are strongly positively correlated with one another (the ‘positive manifold’), yet studies have not investigated whether the strength of these correlations has changed across time. We leveraged data from four longitudinal British birth cohorts.  We find that correlations between scores on different cognitive tests markedly weakens across time for different tests and ages examined (after adjustment for parental social position, and sensitivity analyses). A decline in correlations between cognitive domains is a challenge to the ‘positive manifold’, and potentially further evidence for the environmental modifiability of cognitive performance.

Track 3 - Bullying and mental health

Children’s resilience to sibling victimisation: the role of family, peer, school, and neighbourhood factors
Study: Millennium Cohort Study

Elise Sellars, University of Oxford

Co-authors: Bonamy R. Oliver and Lucy Bowes

Being bullied by a sibling is a pervasive risk factor for the development of enduring mental health and wellbeing problems. However, little is known about the promotive and risk factors which might be associated with children’s resilience to sibling victimisation. We analysed data from >12 000 MCS participants to examine the longitudinal association between exposure to sibling victimisation and later mental health and wellbeing outcomes, and the promotive and risk factors which predicted better/ worse mental health and wellbeing following sibling victimisation. Identifying such factors can inform future interventions to support the wellbeing of children who have experienced sibling victimisation.

Exploring the association between bullying victimisation and self-harm among adolescents: preliminary findings from the REACH study.
Study: REACH

Emma Wilson, King’s College London

Co-authors: Charlotte Gayer-Anderson, Colette Hirsch, Gemma Knowles, Rachel Blakey, Samantha Davis, Aisha Ofori, Ioannis Bakolis, Ulrich Reininghaus, Seeromanie Harding and Craig Morgan

Bullying victimisation has consistently been highlighted as a risk factor for self-harm but less is known about the experiences of young people living in densely populated, diverse urban environments. This presentation introduces preliminary findings in the associations between bullying and self-harm from the Resilience, Ethnicity and AdolesCent mental Health (REACH) study, an accelerated cohort study of South London adolescents, representative of the local area. As expected, strong associations between bullying and self-harm were found. Additional findings looking at the bullying sub-types (e.g., physical, verbal, relational, cyber) will be explored alongside results stratified by sex. Key implications will be presented.

Identifying modifiable resilience factors for adolescent mental health: a longitudinal analysis with cyberbullying as a risk factor
Studies: Millennium Cohort Study & Growing Up in Australia

Aaron Kandola, University College London

Cyberbullying is highly prevalent and harmful to adolescent mental health but approaches to promote resilience against these risks are lacking. Current approaches to identifying mental health resilience factors typically analyse individual exposures in isolation based on prior research. We use a complementary exposure-wide method that leverages the breadth of MCS and Longitudinal Study of Australian Children data to comprehensively identify potentially modifiable resilience factors for adolescent mental health within the context of cyberbullying.

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