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Brain Fitness Newsletter: Brain Awareness Week is March 10–16th

Here you are have the bi-month­ly Digest of our 10 most Pop­u­lar blog posts. (Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this digest by email).Crossword Puzzles Brain fitness

First, an announce­ment: March 10–16th is Brain Aware­ness Week, an inter­na­tion­al effort orga­nized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Ini­tia­tives to advance pub­lic aware­ness about the progress and ben­e­fits of brain research. Join the hun­dreds of activ­i­ties world­wide by vis­it­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Cal­en­dar of events, or the week’s main web­site.
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Self-Regulation and Barkley’s Theory of ADHD

A CDC report esti­mat­ed that, in 2003, 4.4 mil­lion youth ages 4–17 lived with diag­nosed ADHD, and 2.5 mil­lion of them were receiv­ing med­ica­tion treat­ment. Now, which is the core deficit under­ly­ing ADHD-so that treat­ments real­ly address it? and how are ADHD and brain devel­op­ment relat­ed? Keep read­ing…

ADHD & the Nature of Self-Con­trol — Revis­it­ing Barkley’s The­o­ry of ADHD

— By David Rabin­er, Ph.D

As implied in the title of his book, ADHD and the Nature of Self-Con­trol, Dr. Barkley argues that the fun­da­men­tal deficit in indi­vid­u­als with ADHD is one of self-con­trol, and that prob­lems with atten­tion are a sec­ondary char­ac­ter­is­tic of the dis­or­der.

Dr. Barkley empha­sizes that dur­ing the course of devel­op­ment, con­trol over a child’s behav­ior grad­u­al­ly shifts from exter­nal sources to being increas­ing­ly gov­erned by inter­nal rules and stan­dards. Con­trol­ling one’s behav­ior by inter­nal rules and stan­dards is what is meant by the term “self-con­trol”.

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Attention deficits: drugs, therapy, cognitive training

Shel­ley launched a good dis­cus­sion on The Neu­ro­science of ADHD in her blog, dis­cussing the sit­u­a­tion and pro­vid­ing a tech­ni­cal overview of drug-based inter­ven­tions. Some­thing I hadn’t heard is that “For exam­ple, babies born pre­ma­ture­ly face a sig­nif­i­cant­ly greater risk of devel­op­ing ADHD than full-term babies (socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus was con­trolled for).”

Which helps me bet­ter under­stand the need to think about pre-school­ers, as dis­cussed in the arti­cle Diag­nos­ing ADD/ ADHD in Preschool­ers, at ADDi­tude Mag­a­zine. I quote:

  • The Preschool ADHD Treat­ment Study, or PATS, con­duct­ed by the Nation­al Insti­tute of Men­tal Health (NIMH), is the first long-term study designed to eval­u­ate the effec­tive­ness of treat­ing preschool­ers with ADHD with behav­ioral ther­a­py, and then, in some cas­es, methylphenidate. In the first stage, the chil­dren (303 preschool­ers with severe ADHD, between the ages of three and five) and their par­ents par­tic­i­pat­ed in a 10-week behav­ioral ther­a­py course. For one third of the chil­dren, ADHD symp­toms improved so dra­mat­i­cal­ly with behav­ior ther­a­py alone that they did not progress to the ADHD med­ica­tion phase of the study.”

As Shelley’s post and the arti­cle explain, drugs do help when used appro­pri­ate­ly. Now, they are not the only answer. I am hap­py to see that behav­ioral ther­a­py can be as use­ful when appro­pri­ate. Which is not a sur­prise, giv­en the grow­ing lit­er­a­ture on dif­fer­ent meth­ods of cog­ni­tive train­ing, includ­ing ther­a­py and work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing like the one dis­cussed with Notre Dame’s Bradley Gib­son and in our post Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science and ADD/ADHD Today.

Working Memory Training from a pediatrician perspective, focused on attention deficits

Arthur Lavin Today we inter­view Dr. Arthur Lavin, Asso­ciate Clin­i­cal Pro­fes­sor of Pedi­atrics at Case West­ern School of Med­i­cine, pedi­a­tri­cian in pri­vate prac­tice, and one of the first providers of Cogmed Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing in the US (the pro­gram whose research we dis­cussed with Dr. Torkel Kling­berg and Dr. Bradley Gib­son). Dr. Lavin has a long stand­ing inter­est in tech­nol­o­gy-as evi­denced by Microsoft’s recog­ni­tion of his paper­less office- and in brain research and appli­ca­tions-he trained with esteemed Mel Levine from All Kinds of Minds-.

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Key take-aways:

- Schools today are not yet in a posi­tion to effec­tive­ly help kids with cog­ni­tive issues deal with increas­ing cog­ni­tive demands.

- Work­ing Mem­o­ry is a cog­ni­tive skill fun­da­men­tal to plan­ning, sequenc­ing, and exe­cut­ing school-relat­ed work.

- Work­ing Mem­o­ry can be trained, as evi­denced by Dr. Lavin’s work, based on Cogmed Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing, with kids who have atten­tion deficits.

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Con­text on cog­ni­tive fit­ness and schools

AF (Alvaro Fer­nan­dez): Dr. Lavin, thanks for being with us. It is not very com­mon for a pedi­a­tri­cian to have such an active inter­est in brain research and cog­ni­tive fit­ness. Can you explain the source of your inter­est?

AL (Arthur Lavin): Through­out my life I have been fas­ci­nat­ed by how the mind works. Both from the research point of view and the prac­ti­cal one: how can sci­en­tists’ increas­ing knowl­edge improve kids’ lives? We now live in an tru­ly excit­ing era in which sol­id sci­en­tif­ic progress in neu­ro­science is at last cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to improve people’s actu­al cog­ni­tive func­tion. The progress Cogmed has achieved in cre­at­ing a pro­gram that can make great dif­fer­ences in the lives of chil­dren with atten­tion deficits is one of the most excit­ing recent devel­op­ments. My col­league Ms. Susan Glaser and I recent­ly pub­lished two books: Who’s Boss: Mov­ing Fam­i­lies from Con­flict to Col­lab­o­ra­tion (Col­lab­o­ra­tion Press, 2006) and Baby & Tod­dler Sleep Solu­tions for Dum­mies (Wiley, 2007), so I not only see myself as a pedi­a­tri­cian but also an edu­ca­tor. I see par­ents in real need of guid­ance and sup­port. They usu­al­ly are both very skep­ti­cal, since Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Psychology readings

Kevin brings a new edi­tion of the IQs Cor­ner Head­lines from the Brain and Mind Blog­sphere. Worth read­ing if you are inter­est­ed in cog­ni­tive and edu­ca­tion­al psy­chol­o­gy.

A few recent blog car­ni­vals: the always great Tan­gled Bank (Gen­er­al Sci­ence), and new edi­tions of Brain Blog­ging and Atten­tion Deficit Dis­or­der.

Have a great cel­e­bra­tion today!

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