Could the pandemic be accelerating puberty? + No sensitive period for musical skills?

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Could the pandemic be accelerating puberty?

EXCERPTS: The big idea: The COVID-19 pandemic may be accelerating puberty in kids—especially girls—causing them to mature faster physically. Why this matters: Early puberty raises multiple risks for girls. It throws physical and social-emotional development out of sync, which increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and high-risk behaviors (smoking, drugs, unprotected sex) and poor school performance during adolescence, with enduring mental health problems into adulthood. Girls who start menstruating earlier than age 12 are at increased risk of breast cancer later in life due to a longer lifetime exposure to estrogen.

[...] The possible evidence (so far): Stay-at-home orders and school closures during the pandemic exacerbate some of the major risk factors that may trigger puberty: weight gain, sedentariness/lack of exercise, Vitamin D deficiency, and mental health problems...

[...] In early support of the pandemic-puberty hypothesis, a small retrospective study of Italian girls found an increase in cases of precocious puberty and an acceleration in the rate of pubertal progression over four months (during and right after a COVID-19 lockdown) compared to previous years... (MORE - details)

Study suggests there is not a “sensitive period” for developing musical skills

EXCERPTS: Mozart famously started playing the piano and composing while still a young child. But if he hadn’t started musical practice then, would his future achievements have been as impressive? Is there, in other words, a “sensitive period” in which the brain is especially susceptible to musical stimulation, and during which a person must start to acquire musical skills in order to achieve their full potential — as is the case for visual perception, say, or language acquisition? There has been a lot of debate about this, but now a major new study of professional musicians and identical and non-identical twins in Sweden suggests not.

[...] The team did indeed find that for both the professionals and twins, those who’d started their musical training before the age of 8 went on to develop greater musical aptitude and higher levels of achievement. However, when the researchers took total lifetime hours of practice into account, only the link with musical aptitude remained — and it became limited. Starting training at a younger age was associated with better pitch — but not rhythm — discrimination... (MORE - details)

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