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Why Being Young for Grade Increases Odds of ADHD Diagnosis and Stimulant Medication

ADHD is the most com­mon­ly diag­nosed neu­robe­hav­ioral dis­or­der in chil­dren and sub­stan­tial evi­dence indi­cates that bio­log­i­cal fac­tors play an impor­tant role in its devel­op­ment. For exam­ple, although the exact mech­a­nism by which genet­ic fac­tors con­vey increased risk for ADHD remains unclear, the impor­tance of genet­ic trans­mis­sion has been doc­u­ment­ed in a num­ber of pub­lished stud­ies.

Even though bio­log­i­cal fac­tors are wide­ly regard­ed as impor­tant in the devel­op­ment of ADHD, no med­ical or bio­log­i­cal test is rec­om­mend­ed for rou­tine use when diag­nos­ing ADHD. Instead, Read the rest of this entry »

Why I Wrote The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

We have always thought that “our brain shapes us.” I wrote my new book, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain (May 2012; Free Press, Fore­word by Nor­man Doidge), to prove that the reverse is equal­ly true. I want­ed to demon­strate how “we can shape our brains.”

Imag­ine hav­ing a brain that is capa­ble and inca­pable at the same time. Grow­ing up, I had severe learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties. I lived in a world that was con­fus­ing and incom­pre­hen­si­ble. As I was to lat­er dis­cov­er, a crit­i­cal part of my brain was not work­ing prop­er­ly, the end result being that all lan­guage was expe­ri­enced as for­eign and my trans­la­tor was Read the rest of this entry »

Stress and the Brain: To Fight, Flee or Freeze ‑That is the Question

(Editor’s note: below you have the final part of the 6‑part Stress and the Brain series. If you are join­ing the series now, you can read the pre­vi­ous parts via the links below.)

Stayin’ Alive

Under­stand­ing the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

TO FIGHT, FLEE, OR FREEZE — THAT IS THE QUESTION

With a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy of stress, the LD — ADHD — stress con­nec­tion becomes clear.  Stu­dents with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties or ADHD, con­front­ed with the stress cre­at­ed by expo­sure to tasks that are in real­i­ty or in their per­cep­tion too dif­fi­cult (and thus threat­en­ing), exhib­it the pro­tec­tive behav­ior of any organ­ism under extreme stress:  They fight, they flee, or they freeze. When these kids don’t under­stand why they can’t do what oth­er kids can do (mas­ter the stres­sor), and they can’t see any way to get out of a sit­u­a­tion that won’t go away, they begin to shut down. Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: The Human Brain Likes to Be in Balance

(Editor’s note: below you have part 5 of the 6‑part The Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy of Stress series. If you are join­ing the series now, you can read the pre­vi­ous part Here.)

Stayin’ Alive

Under­stand­ing the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

The Human Brain Likes to Be in Bal­ance

For­tu­nate­ly, the brain has some built — in safe­ty sys­tems. Too much cor­ti­sol in the blood sig­nals the brain and adren­al glands to decrease cor­ti­sol pro­duc­tion. And under nor­mal con­di­tions, when the stress is over­come or brought under con­trol (by fight­ing, flee­ing, or turn­ing into an immo­bile stat­ue, or by mas­ter­ing the threat), the hypo­thal­a­mus starts send­ing out the orders to stand down. Stop pro­duc­ing cor­ti­sol!  Event over!  Under con­tin­u­ous stress, how­ev­er, this feed­back sys­tem breaks down. The hypo­thal­a­mus keeps read­ing the stress as a threat, furtive­ly send­ing mes­sages to the pitu­itary gland, which screams out to the adren­al glands to keep pump­ing out cor­ti­sol, which at this point begins to be neu­ro­tox­ic — poi­son to the brain. Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: The Stress Response Explained

(Editor’s note: below you have part 4 of the 6‑part The Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy of Stress series. If you are join­ing the series now, you can read the pre­vi­ous part Here.)

Stayin’  Alive

Under­stand­ing the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

THE STRESS RESPONSE EXPLAINED

Stress was put on the map, so to speak, by a Hun­gar­i­an — born Cana­di­an endocri­nol­o­gist named Hans Hugo Bruno Selye (ZEL — yeh) in 1950, when he pre­sent­ed his research on rats at the annu­al con­ven­tion of the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion. To explain the impact of stress, Selye pro­posed some­thing he called the Gen­er­al Adap­ta­tion Syn­drome (GAS), which he said had three com­po­nents. Accord­ing to Selye, when an organ­ism expe­ri­ences some nov­el or threat­en­ing stim­u­lus it responds with an alarm reac­tion. This is fol­lowed by what Selye referred to as the recov­ery or resis­tance stage, a peri­od of time dur­ing which the brain repairs itself and stores the ener­gy it will need to deal with the next stress­ful event.

Read the rest of this entry »

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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