Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NEW IN NEUROSCIENCE. If you're interested in neuroscience in general because of its contributions to what we know about gifted and twice-exceptional children, you might be interested in an interview in The New York Times with Princeton researcher Samuel Wang. In the interview, Wang describes the progress in the science over the past 25 years and disputes a couple brain myths. (He also describes how a visit to the vet's office led him to a goldmine of MRI data on dog brains -- without the HIPPA restrictions.) Find the article.

GENIUS: NATURE OR NURTURE? An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette examines both sides of the "cause" of genius, interviewing a few MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipients in the process. Most of those interviewed seemed to emphasize guidance and hard work; others, the combination of inborn talent and the environment. Read it.

CHANGING TUNE. The Boston Globe tells the story of a talented young music student/pianist at Berklee College. Diagnosed at age 3 as PDD, he made his parents' lives "a waking nightmare," according to the article. But by age 7 he showed signs of being a musical savant. He underwent therapies and dietary adjustments. Sometimes, playing professionally as a teen, he'd have emotional meltdowns backstage. His trio's bassist, also a professor at Berklee, says, “As Matt’s evolved onstage, his social life has grown too. He’s learned how to talk onstage to the point that he’s almost a ham now.’’ Read more about the growth of this young man.

A NEW DSM. The diagnosis of the young man in the previous item might have a new label after the DSM-V comes out in 2013. Asperger's Syndrome might become part of the ASD. In another example, a diagnosis would be added to avoid labeling children as bipolar, which often leads to lots of meds. Read more about the changes. Check out (and even comment on) proposed revisions to the DSM. Read a ScienceDaily piece on the topic. And read an opinion piece by a father of an Aspie child; the father says, "We no longer need Asperger’s disorder to reduce stigma. And my daughter does not need the term Asperger’s to bolster her self-esteem."

HIGH SENSITIVITY/REACTIVITY. From a ScienceDaily writeup of a new study: "Children who are especially reactive to stress are more vulnerable to adversity and have more behavior and health problems than their peers. But a new longitudinal study suggests that highly reactive children are also more likely to do well when they're raised in supportive environments." Read more.

LONGITUDINAL CHILD STUDY. An obituary informed us of a study of children conducted from 1968 onward, beginning when the kids were age 3 and ending at age 32. Psychology professor Jack Block and co-researchers found indications that disruptive behavior in children could be the cause as well as consequence of parental divorce. Another finding related to personality traits at age 3 that seemed to predict political orientation at age 23. Read the obit.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND. We always enjoy receiving the current issue of this magazine, and used to enjoy sharing links to current articles -- before the magazine restricted who can see what on its site. So while you can't yet read online a current article on exercises to help address sensory-processing deficits, you can read many other items of interest -- for example, a recent article on chemical exposure and AD/DH; more on proposed DSM changes (if you're not already tired of the topic from an earlier item in this post); or a piece on how our brains may be wired for "categorization." So go to the site once in awhile to see what kinds of interesting items you find for your family, your life, or your work.

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