Few would argue that the brain is the most complex organ in our body, which may explain why scientists are constantly discovering new things (both good and bad) about this enigma. From Alzheimer’s and ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there’s a lot that still needs to be researched, understood and explained. And those are just the A’s!
Here are some of the most interesting brain-related studies of the past year:
- The brain’s process of reorganizing connections begins earlier in girls than in boys. As we grow older, our brains reorganize, reducing the connections in the brain. Brain function actually improves during this pruning process and it occurs earlier in females than in males. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131219131153.htm
- Early spatial skills and knowledge of written letters predicts math competence. It’s not oral language skills that predict math, according to longitudinal research out of Finland. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131022091801.htm
- Self-reflection during depression increases brain activity. People who think about themselves during a depressive episode have increased brain activity compared to those who aren’t depressed. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/268518.php
- Brains of children with nonverbal learning disability differ from those with high-functioning autism. Researchers have discovered evidence that the brains of children with NVLD actually develop differently than other children, even those with HFA. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/269167.php
- Reading is a multiple component task causing difficulty for children with dyslexia. Compared to their non-dyslexic peers, children with dyslexia have trouble identifying strings of letters, programming eye movements and synchronizing speech output. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218095855.htm
- Suppression of the enzyme fidgetin promotes the regrowth of injured nerves. Scientists studying rats found that because fidgeting prevents nerve regrowth in the adult brain, suppressing it can conversely regrow injured nerves. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217123855.htm
- Exercise during pregnancy helps newborn babies’ brains develop. Mothers who exercised while pregnant had newborns (ages 8 to 12 days) with brains that had more mature cerebral activation. This suggests that the babies’ brains (of whose mothers exercised during pregnancy) developed more rapidly. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/269043.php
- Growing up stressed and poor affects brain function as an adult. A childhood filled with chronic stress and poverty may cause problems with brain function – especially emotional problems — in adulthood. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021211450.htm
- Moderate to vigorous exercise boosts teens’ grades. The more intensive the exercise, the greater the impact on test results. This is especially true when it comes to girls and science. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021211712.htm
- There’s a biomarker to differentiate the subtypes of ADHD. By looking at EEGs while teens with ADHD performed a computer task, researchers could distinguish between those whose primary symptom is inattentiveness and those whose symptoms include hyperactivity and impulsivity. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008152214.htm
- Compared to children with autism, children with Asperger’s have different brain patterns (as seen on EEGs). Some specialists wonder if the two should be classified separately in the DSM-5, rather than lumped together. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130730235642.htm
- Girls with anorexia have a lot of autistic traits. They include things like: focusing on oneself, a fascination for detail, inflexible behaviors, and rigid attitudes. Both also share similar changes in structure and function of brain regions. It’s being suggested that perhaps girls with autism are being overlooked because they present with anorexia. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264666.php
- Limited Outdoor Play Increases the Likelihood of Sensory Impairments. "As we continue to decrease children’s time and space to move and play outdoors, we are seeing a simultaneous rise in the number of children that are presenting with sensory deficits. The number of children that now need occupational therapy services to treat their sensory systems is on the rise." https://www.childrenandnature.org/2015/05/06/the-unsafe-child-less-outdoor-play-is-causing-more-harm-than-good/
Interested In An Additional Resource?
Consider reading the following guide, on more ways to support your child with autism:
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