Critique of Bennett, Bendersky, and Lewis’s 2008 Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Research on Cognitive Ability

Topics: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Intelligence quotient, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Pages: 11 (3707 words) Published: October 3, 2012
The piece of literature under focus within the present critique is an article presenting empirical research, published within the Journal of Developmental Psychology. The article titled ‘Children’s Cognitive Ability Form 4 to 9 Years Old as a Function of Prenatal Cocaine Exposure, Environmental Risk, and Maternal Verbal Intelligence’ was accepted for publishing in April 2008, appears in volume 44 and is inclusive of pages 919 to 928. The present article was authored by David S. Bennett faculty member for the Department of Psychiatry, Drexel University College of Medicine, and Margaret Bendersky, and Michel Lewis faculty members for the Department of Pediatrics, Institute for the Study of Child Development from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Michael Lewis was awarded support for the present research by the National Institute of Drug Abuse Grant DA07109. The text spans 8 pages including 3 data tables, and 1 figure, and concludes with 81 references. The authors have employed an experimental, longitudinal design to determine the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on cognitive development. The primary focus of the author’s research was to determine the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on cognitive ability from age 4 through to age 9. This was determined through the use of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale IV Short-Form (SB-IV) administered within laboratory conditions. Additional areas explored due to possible confounding variables included maternal verbal intelligence, environmental risk, gender, neonatal health problems, and other forms of possible teratogens including alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. Numerous research studies into the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure have lead researchers to draw varied conclusions (Alessandri, Bendersky, & Lewis, 1998; Arendt et al., 2004; Morrow et al., 2006; Singer et al., 2004). However, research such as that provided by the present article continues to contribute greatly to the study of developmental psychology, which is concerned with the progressive behavioural changes throughout life. The present article provides relevance to developmental psychology in that it attempts to empirically determine whether cocaine produces long-lasting or sleeper-effects in cognitive development and functioning when prenatally exposed. Further the present study accounts for confounding variables in order to gain greater validity and reliability among future research in the area. Thesis Statement

Overall, the present article has been well researched and structured, with minor limitations. The article provides relevant information and uses an appropriate methodology, and statistics. The authors have summarised the major limitations in previous studies and accounted for these in their present study, as well as identifying several limitations within their own research design. Article Summary

Bennett, Bendersky, and Lewis’s (2008) intention for their research was to determine whether the effects of cocaine exposure present within 4-year-old males continued through to the ages of 6, and 9. The authors further intended to determine whether females presented sleeper effects of cocaine exposure at these later ages. Thus a longitudinal design was employed to test 231 children (39% cocaine exposed) predominately African American (87%) using the Stanford-Binet IV Intelligence test administered at ages of 4, 6, and 9 years. The authors further controlled for possible confounding variables. The results of the present study suggest that prenatal cocaine exposure decreased IQ scores for males however this trend was not present for females. Exposed males obtained lower scores on Verbal and Short-term memory subscales as well as lowered scores for the Abstract/Visual Reasoning subscale. Lowered IQ scores were presented for both males and females at 4-years of age due to neonatal medical problems, this trend did not continue above this age. Increased maternal verbal IQ and stimulating...
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