Friday, August 22, 2014

Depression, Davidson Fellows, ADHD, the Brain, and More

NOT TALKING ABOUT DEPRESSION. We've noted in blog and briefing that Robin Williams could talk about alcoholism and addiction in his routines, but not depression. In the "comic" strip Candorville, Darrin Bell's character Lionel sometimes accompanies the recently departed on a subway ride "to the end of the line." In today's strip (8/22), he's with Williams on that ride -- along with something you "don't talk about."  Separately, if you're on LinkedIn, you may view a discussion titled "Robin Williams and existential depression" started by psychologist James Webb, founder of the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted. Find the discussion. Separately again, a new study finds significantly increased signs of depression among preteens with high daily exposure to violent video games; find out more.

2014 DAVIDSON FELLOWS ANNOUNCED. The Davidson Institute has named 20 bright young people named as 2014 Davidson Fellows. The Fellows exemplify the extraordinary work that can be accomplished by U.S. students who are given opportunities to excel, according to the Institute. The Class of 2014 includes eight students from California, two siblings of past Davidson Fellows, a young woman whose project was inspired by her own experience with a rare pediatric liver cancer, as well as a young man who created a high efficiency extraction method of oil from the algae that makes algae biodiesel production an economic viability. Read more.

TAKING AWAY "SCREEN TIME" is the topic of an article at the Child Mind Institute. Do you use this strategy wtih your teens? Thinking about it? Find the article.

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON EXERCISE -- more fibrous and compact white-matter tracts, associated with faster and more efficient nerve activity. This according to a recent study of 9- and 10-year-olds written up at Science Daily. Maybe your bright kiddo would accept this as motivation to be fit. Read more.

LIVING WITH ADHD is the name of a podcast which features Peter, a bright young man with ADHD, his mom, and his clinician. (His mom happens to be a Ph.D. professor of psychology at Harvard and the director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.) In a related blog, all three discuss Peter's life with ADHD in a most engaging way. Peter's ending shot: "My final advice to parents is to have patience, to truly listen to what your kid needs, and to not press your own agenda, as hard as it may be. We all work at our own pace and develop at our own rate." Find the blog and podcast.

MAKING DECISIONS WITH ADHD -- not so good. Students with ADHD often make poorer decisions than their unaffected classmates. Researchers have now discovered that different learning and decision-making mechanisms are responsible for these behaviors, and localized the underlying impairments in the brain. Read more.

AUTISM AND THE DEVELOPING BRAIN. You know how the brain "prunes" itself of neural connections (synapses) during childhood and adolescence? Evidently the brains of children with autism do that pruning less efficiently. The result is too many synapses in some parts of the brain, which can lead to too much "noise" in the brain -- possibly explaining oversensitivities in children with autism. Find out more.

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