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ADHD: Brain Training, Neurofeedback, Diet, and More.

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, affects millions of children and adults (up to 5% of children in the US).  More and more evidence suggests that brain training may be key to help these individuals. With this in mind, we put together our most recent articles on the topic to  a) help you better understand what is going in the brain of a person with ADHD, and b) provide you with up-to-date information on what can be done to fight the disorder and improve the lives of people suffering from it. We particularly thank Dr. Rabiner from Duke Uni­ver­sity for writing many of these articles.

What is ADHD?

What kind of attention is involved in ADHD? ADHD may be considered as a problem in the willful control of attention as opposed to a pure deficit in the ability to pay attention.

Self-Regulation and ADHD: The fun­da­men­tal deficit in indi­vid­u­als with ADHD may be one of self-control: Read the rest of this entry »

What kind of attention is involved in ADHD?

An excellent article by the Dana Foundation clarifies what the “Real Deficit in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder” is. Thank you to John from our Sharp­Brains’ group in LinkedIn for pointing it out.

Among other things, this article shows you that attention is more complex than you probably thought: Read the rest of this entry »

‘Western’ Style Diet Increases Risk of ADHD

I recently reported on an intriguing study examining the impact of an herbal treatment for youth with ADHD. Results from this randomized-controlled trial were quite promising and consistent with the idea that some individuals with ADHD have deficiencies in essential nutrients that compromise healthy brain development and result in ADHD symptoms. This idea has sparked the long-standing debate about whether dietary factors play an important role in the development of ADHD, at least for some children, and led to many studies of this issue.
Although results of these studies elude any simple conclusions, dietary factors do appear to contribute to ADHD symptoms in some individuals.

Some have argued that research on the relationship between diet and ADHD is more important than ever because the diets of children in Western countries have shown steady increases in the amounts of heavily processed foods rich in saturated fats, salt, and sugars accompanied by decreases in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and folate. Is it possible that such ‘Western’ style diets are associated with an increased risk of ADHD, and perhaps a contributing factor to the high prevalence of the disorder?

This important question was examined in a study published recently online in the Journal of Attention Disorders [Howard et. al. (2010). ADHD is associated with a “Western” dietary pattern in adolescents. Journal of Attention Disorders]. Participants were 1172 14 year-old Australian adolescents and their parents who had been recruited into the study and followed since the mothers were between 16 and 20 weeks pregnant. Read the rest of this entry »

Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning – Learning & The Brain Conference

Alvaro and I had the good fortune to attend a great conference last week called Learning & The Brain: Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning. It was a fascinating mix of neuroscientists and educators talking with and listening to each other. Some topics were meant to be applied today, but many were food for thought – insight on where science and education are headed and how they influence each other.

Using dramatic new imaging techniques, such as fMRIs, PET, and SPECT, neuroscientists are gaining valuable information about learning. This pioneering knowledge is leading not only to new pedagogies, but also to new medications, brain enhancement technologies, and therapies…. The Conference creates an interdisciplinary forum — a meeting place for neuroscientists, educators, psychologists, clinicians, and parents — to examine these new research findings with respect to their applicability in the classroom and clinical practice.

Take-aways

  • Humans are a mixture of cognition and emotion, and both elements are essential to function and learn properly
  • Educators and public policy makers need to learn more about the brain, how it grows, and how to cultivate it
  • Students of all ages need to be both challenged and nurtured in order to succeed
  • People learn differently – try to teach and learn through as many different modalities as possible (engage language, motor skills, artistic creation, social interaction, sensory input, etc.)
  • While short-term stress can heighten your cognitive abilities, long term stress kills you — you need to find balance and release
  • Test anxiety and subsequent poor test results can be improved with behavioral training with feedback based on heart rate variability
  • Dr. Robert Sapolsky is a very very enlightening and fun speaker
  • Allow time for rest and consolidation of learned material
  • Emotional memories are easier to remember
  • Conferences like these perform a real service in fostering dialogues between scientists and educators

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Blog Carnival #2

Welcome to the February 19, 2007 edition of brain fitness.

Today we want to highlight an excellent Interview with Aaron Beck on the History of Cognitive Therapy submitted by the Beck Institute. Dr. Beck was 83 when he gave this interview. To the question “Do you have a view about ageing?”, he responds “I can only speak for myself. I know that practically all my colleagues from medical school days who are still around have retired. That is not something that I think about. It is no more on my horizon now than it was when we first met a quarter of a century ago. I keep looking ahead.” He also says “I have always liked to unify different fields. Given my background in neurology I do not see a conflict between neurology and psychology. But if you look at the training of contemporary psychiatrists, for example, the two domains are totally distinct. If psychiatry is to survive as a discipline, a merging of the concepts of neurology and psychology will need to occur.” Read the rest of this entry »

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