Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

Brainjogging supports Brain Awareness Week

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 by admin

At a recent physical and mental health fair in LaGrange, Georgia, Brainjogging team members raised awareness for Brainjogging's cognitive processing software and for the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives' Brain Awareness Week.

The Alliance’s next BAW week will be March 12-18, 2011.  Please visit visit the Dana Foundation’s Brain Awareness Week website to access free publications and resources on neurological research, as well as information on Brain Awareness Week.

Each March, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives sponsors Brain Awareness Week (BAW) to promote awareness of brain research and its incredible benefits.  Over 300 neuroscientists, 10 of whom are Nobel laureates, comprise the Dana Alliance fro Brain Initiatives.  The Alliance was established as an affiliate of the Dana Foundation, an organization dedicated to conducting brain research and distributing it internationally.  Both the Dana Foundation and the Alliance for Brain Initiatives are on the forefront of brain research, and serve as a liaison between neuroscientists and the public.

Brain research helps neuroscientists to understand and interpret not only human behavior and understanding but also brain disorders and injuries.  Because of neuroscientific research, scientists know how neurological disorders work — and how to accommodate them.  This is important in the diagnosis and treatment of learning disabilities.  Neurological research has shown that dyslexia affects the V5MT area of the brain and that Wernicke’s area is important in the development of language.

Camp Academia, Inc.’s Brainjogging® program is based on over three decades of brain research.  Organizations like the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives receive grants for clinical and laboratory research, allowing their neuroscientists to conduct studies and disseminate their results to BAW partners like Camp Academia, INC.

Sports lead to happy, healthy young adults

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 by admin

Dr. Keith Zulling and Rebecca White from West Virginia University found that “taking part in sports is good all around for young teens: physically, socially and mentally” (Science Daily).  Zulling and White studied middle-school teenagers and found that those “who are physically active and play on sports teams are more satisfied with their life and feel healthier” than other teens.

The study sought to explain the link between physical activity, specifically participation on sports teams; life satisfaction; and self-rated health concurrently.  Participants included 245 middle school students in seventh and eighth grade and between the ages of 12 and 14 years.  Boys and girls were included in the study.  Participants completed questionnaires that assessed “their physical activity levels, their overall satisfaction with life and [asked] them to describe their own health.”

The study compared vigorous physical activity, completed within the last week, to participation on a sports team.  Boys did not indicate that participating in vigorous activity in the last week had an effect on their life satisfaction or self-rated health.  Girls that participated in vigorous physical activity within the past week, on the other hand, were “significantly more satisfied with their life compared to girls who had not.”  However, the participation in vigorous activity did not affect girls’ impression of their self-rated health.

Playing on a sports team, though, “was linked to higher life satisfaction in both boys and girls.”  Boys “were five times more likely, and girls 30 times more likely, to describe their health as fair/poor when they were not playing on a sports team.”

Participation on a sports team not only promotes physical activity but also influences young adults’ impression of their life satisfaction.  Sports teams also allow young adults access to a social network they may be more keenly aware of missing if not on a sports team.

Hand movements in children with ADHD may predict severity of disorder

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 by admin

Researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center recently conducted two studies, both of which were published in the February issue of Neurobiology, on the ability of children with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to control impulsive movements.In the first study, “children with ADHD performed a finger-tapping task” (Science Daily).  Unintentional “overflow,” or movements occurring on the opposite hand, were noted using video and a device that records finger position.  Mirror overflow is “defined as unintentional and unnecessary movements occurring in the same muscles on the opposite side of the body.” The study included fifty participants, 25 with ADHD and 25 typically developing children, ages 8-12 years.  All subjects completed five sequential finger-tapping tests on each hand.  Children tapped each finger to their thumb of the same hand.  Children alternated tapping hands between the left and the right.  When children with ADHD completed left-handed finger-tapping tasks, they demonstrated twice as much mirror overflow as typically developing children.    Boys with ADHD showed almost four times as much mirror overflow as typically developing peers.

Dr. Stewart Mostofsky, the study’s senior author and Director of the Laboratory for Neurocognitive and Imaging Research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, stated, “This study used quantitative measures to support past qualitative findings that motor overflow persists to a greater degree in children with ADHD then in typically developing peers.  The findings reveal that even at an unconscious level, these children are struggling with controlling and inhibiting unwanted actions and behavior.”

In the second study, researchers further examined ADHD “be measuring activity within the motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls voluntary movement.” Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), researchers applied “mild magnetic pulses for brief durations to trigger muscle activity in the hand, causing hand twitches.”  Researchers applied single or double pulses in 60 trials and measured the corresponding brain activity, called short interval cortical inhibition (SICI).  Children with ADHD demonstrated “a substantial decrease in SICI, with significantly less inhibition of motor activity during the paired pulse stimulation compared to typically developing children.”  Children with ADHD showed 40 percent less inhibition control than their typically developing peers.  Additionally, children with ADHD with “less motor inhibition (decreased SICI) correlated with more severe symptoms.”  Measures of SICI predicted motor impairment in children with ADHD and predicted behavioral symptoms as substantiated by parents.  Researchers believe SICI “may be a critical biomarker for ADHD.”

*WebMD also posted an article about this study.

Katie Cyphers has the opportunity to dine with Dr. Larry Silver

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 by Regina

Brainjogging's Katie Cyphers with Dr. Larry Silver, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and Past-President of LDA.

As you may have noticed, Katie Cyphers has been missing in action for the last week! Not to fear, she has been busy gathering information and immersing herself in the latest research on learning disabilities at the Learning Disabilities Association of America National Conference. This year’s conference was held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

During the conference, Katie had the pleasure of dining with Dr. Larry Silver. Dr. Silver is the author of more than 150 publications, including The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child’s Learning Disabilities. He is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C.. Dr. Silver is extremely active with the Learning Disabilities Association of America and is a Past-President of this organization. He has received several awards for his contributions to the study and treatment of learning disabilities, including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Berman Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Silver has also received LDA’s highest award for outstanding leadership in the field of learning disabilities. He serves on the Professional Advisory Board for LDA.

What an amazing experience to spend time with one of the leading researchers in the field of learning disabilities! Dr. Silver was friends with Dr. Samuel Kirk, the father of learning disabilities.  If you have not done so already, we encourage you to join the Learning Disabilities Association of America. Together, we can help reduce the incidence of learning disabilities in future generations.

Parents beware: even Nintendo is warning young users against its upcoming Nintendo 3DS

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by admin

By Nintendo’s own admission, its new Nintendo 3DS, a handheld gaming system with 3D capabilities, may cause problems for children under the age of six.  The company issued a statement on its Japanese website.  The 3DS’s 3D gaming feature may stunt the growth of children’s eyes.  More and more research is suggesting that learning disabilities are centered in the eye.  A product that further debilitates children’s eyes is, therefore, undesirable.While Nintendo’s warning applies specifically to children under the age of six, Brainjogging has noticed even in older students that any video games derail their academic progress and alter their eye movement patterns; the effects are even more apparent when the video game was 3D.

In an attempt to placate parents, Nintendo included the ability to turn off the 3D capabilities of its new 3DS.  Additionally, parents can set passwords to regulate children’s interaction with the 3D function.  Nintendo goes so far as to ask all gamers using the 3DS to take breaks from the game as frequently as every hour or 30 minutes.

It is discouraging that Nintendo would market the 3DS to children when it is aware of so many risks associated with the product.  Nintendo’s admission of its product’s dangers should warn parents away from the product.  The 3DS will hit markets in Japan in February and in the United States in March.  Parents, be wary of this product; by its maker’s admission, it is not beneficial for children, particularly those under the age of six.  Even adults are asked to take periodic breaks from the system.  If an adult’s fully-developed brain can handle the 3DS for only 30 minutes to an hour, imagine the havoc it could wreak on a child’s still-developing mind.

Television maker Samsung issues warnings about its 3D products

Friday, February 11th, 2011 by admin

[Brainjogging believes that many children are sensitive to digitized media.  This sensitivity is most closely observable in children with autism.  Brainjogging’s students do not play video games and parents, particularly of children with autism, are warned against allowing their children to watch 3D movies or television programs.  The following message has been taken directly from Samsung’s web site message regarding its 3D products.  CNN’s SciTechBlog recently featured Samsung’s warning.]

Samsung’s web site message can be found here in its entirety.  The following are some of the warnings “highlights”:

* Some viewers may experience an epileptic seizure or stroke when exposed to certain flashing images or lights contained in certain television pictures or video games. If you or any of your family has a history of epilepsy or stroke, please consult with a medical specialist before using the 3D function.

* If you experience any of the following symptoms, immediately stop watching 3D pictures and consult a medical specialist: (1) altered vision; (2) lightheadedness; (3) dizziness; (4) involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching; (5) confusion; (6) nausea; (7) loss of awareness; (8) convulsions; (9) cramps; and/or (10) disorientation. Parents should monitor and ask their children about the above symptoms as children and teenagers may be more likely to experience these symptoms than adults.

* Viewing in 3D mode may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain, and decreased postural stability. It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the likelihood of these effects. If you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume until the symptoms have subsided.

* Watching TV while sitting too close to the screen for an extended period of time may damage your eyesight. The ideal viewing distance should be at least three times the height of the TV screen. It is recommended that the viewer’s eyes are level with the screen.

* Watching TV while wearing 3D Active Glasses for an extended period of time may cause headaches or fatigue. If you experience a headache, fatigue or dizziness, stop watching TV and rest.

* Viewing in 3D mode may cause disorientation for some viewers. DO NOT place your television near open stairwells, cables, balconies or other objects that may cause you to injure yourself.

Take care of your children’s developing minds. If they exhibit atypical behavior directly after or even within a few hours of watching digitized media on a 3D product, discontinue use and contact a medical consultant.

Rhesus monkeys provide insight about childhood anxiety

Thursday, February 10th, 2011 by admin

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health recently focused their intellectual efforts anxiety and brain activity in an attempt to discern which areas of the brain are relevant to developing childhood anxiety.  Ned  H. Kalin and his colleagues revealed that “increased brain activity in the amygdale and anterior hippocampus could predict anxious temperaments in young primates” (Science Daily).

Kalin stated, “Children with anxious temperaments suffer from extreme shyness, persistent worry and increased bodily responses to stress. […] These children are at increased risk of developing anxiety, depression and associated substance abuse disorders.”

Kalin’s past research substantiated that “anxious young monkeys are similar to children who are temperamentally anxious.”  In this study, researchers attempted to assess the extent to which genetic and environmental factors affect activity in anxiety-related brain regions.  Using a sample group of 238 young rhesus monkeys, researchers conducted postiron emission tomography (PET) scans; in humans, PET scans are used to “understand regional brain function by measuring the brain’s use of glucose.”

The study’s findings included the following:

“Young rhesus monkeys from a large related family showed a clear pattern of inherited anxious temperament;

Monkeys with anxious temperaments had higher activity in the central nucleus of the amygdale and the anterior campus; additionally, researchers could predict an individual’s degree of anxious temperament by its brain activity;

Genes and environmental factors affected activity in the amygdale and hippocampus in different ways, providing a brain-based understanding of how nature and nurture might interact to determine an individual’s vulnerability to developing common psychiatric disorders.”

Most surprising, however, was that “activity in the anterior hippocampus was more heritable than in the amygdale.”  This suggests that familial risk markers for anxiety could be “identified by understanding alterations in specific genes that influence hippocampal function.”  The study’s findings suggest that perhaps environmental factors can be modified in order “to prevent children from developing full-blown anxiety.”

The study substantiates, as many others have, that reaching children at an early age is crucial to successful intervention.  Brainjogging is one highly successful tool for successful intervention for anxious children or those at risk for developing anxiety.  Brainjogging increases children’s focus and decreases their anxiety. Parents and teachers generally notice an uptick in the moods of children with depressive tendencies and a settling of children with hyperactivity.

Vitamin A is essential to long-term potentiation

Thursday, January 20th, 2011 by admin

Vitamin A is generally associated with low-light vision and color vision.  Salk Institute researchers also found that Vitamin A is essential to learning and memory.  When researchers removed Vitamin A from mice’s diets, they found that the mice experienced “diminished chemical changes in the brain considered the hallmarks of learning and memory” (Salk Institute).  When researchers added Vitamin A back to the mice’s diets, the mice’s cognitive impairment was reversed.

On researcher, Sharoni Jacobs, stated, “These data indicate that vitamin A is necessary for optimal function in the hippocampus, which we know to be a main seat of learning.”

Another researchers, Ronald M. Evans, added, “The study indicates that the detrimental effects of vitamin A deprivation are remarkably reversible, which offers hope to the millions of children worldwide with vitamin A-deficient diets.”

Genetically identical litter mates were given either normal diets or ones lacking Vitamin A.  Researchers evaluated the hippocampus regions of the brains for long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) in both groups of mice.  Both LTP and LTD have long been correlated with learning ability.  LTP is a long-lasting enhancement in signal transmission between two neurons that results from stimulating these neurons synchronously.

Vitamin A Rich Foods List Micrograms (mcg) Portion
Liver (pigs stewed) 23000 100g (3.5oz)
Cod liver oil 18000 100g
Liver Pate 7000 100g
Liver Sausage 2600 100g
Butter (fortified with A) 800 100g
Margarine (fortified with A) 750 100g
Ghee 700 100g
Faggots 450 100g
Cheese (hard) 330 100g
Fresh creams (pasteurised) > 200 100g
Eggs 200 100g
Carrots (raw) 8000 100g
Sweet potato 4000 100g
Capsicum pepper (red) 3800 100g
Spinach 3500 100g
Curly Kale (boiled) 3200 100g
Watercress (too little portion size!) 2500 100g
Mangoes 1400 100g
Apricots 1200 100g
Herbs & Spices High Vitamin A Sources but very low portion size! mcg per gram
Paprika 360 1g
Chili powder 210 1g

** Carotene – not as rich as Retinol as a source of vitamin A.

Jacobs reported, “At 15 weeks of age, the responses of vitamin A-deprived mice are reduced to about 50 percent normal. At longer time points, LTP is stable at 50 percent, but LTD drops to almost undetectable levels.”

After restoring Vitamin A to the deficient mice’s diets for as little as two days, these mice’s brain responses returned to normal levels, as demonstrated by the mice receiving Vitamin A.

The mice also exhibited normal function when isolated areas of hippocampus tissue from the Vitamin A deficient mice’s brains were bathed in Vitamin A, “indicating that the nutrient functions in the hippocampus directly, not in other parts of the brain that might influence the important learning region.”

Experiencing Vitamin A deficiency impairs individuals’ ability to learn and retain information. This study overturned a previous study, which found that “mice born without receptors for vitamin A in the hippocampus lacked LTP ability and performed under par in standardized learning tests. Receptors are molecules within brain cells that detect and respond to the vitamin.”  The previous study failed to answer the question of whether or not Vitamin A activity was necessary during embryonic development; the current study proves that removing Vitamin A even from “fully-developed animals impairs learning pathways, and equally important, the effects are reversible.”

Brainjogging works because it activates various brain regions and neurons synchronously.  Vitamin A is essential to activating neurons synchronously.  Brainjogging trains the brain to activate neurons synchronously.  Brainjogging can activate these neurons synchronously even in Vitamin A deficient individuals, but Vitamin A better facilitates individuals’ ability to synchronize neural communication.  Vitamin A deficiency’s effects can be reversed.  Brainjogging encourages individuals to eat foods rich in Vitamin A to enhance one’s LTP and reduce one’s LTD.

Your child’s brain on lead…

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 by admin

In 2008, Dr. Kim Cecil and colleagues at the University of Cincinnati studied the relationship between lead exposure in childhood and reduced brain volume in adulthood.  Researchers discovered that “exposure to lead as a child was linked with brain volume loss in adulthood, especially in men,” and that there was a “dose response effect” (Science Daily).  Dose-response effect states that “the greatest brain volume loss was seen in participants with the greatest lead exposure in childhood.”  The specific brain regions that are affected by lead exposure are those involved in “organizing actions, decisions and behaviors (know as ‘executive functions’), regulating behavior and coordinating fine movements (known as ‘fine motor control’).”Consider NPR reporter April Fulton’s recent report on Katie Dail, a six year old girl with autism and dangerously high lead levels.  [Listen to Fulton’s story here.] Katie is receiving chelation therapy, which reduces lead levels by introducing to the body chemicals that bind to lead and other heavy metals and brings them out of the bone into the blood, where the body can then flush it out.  Lead poisoning can cause serious behavioral problems in children and lower their IQ levels.

Nurse practitioner Barbara Moore, who works with Katie, stated that it is

“especially hard to keep an eye on the symptoms of kids with learning disabilities” (Fulton).  These children already display atypical behaviors, which may or may not be attributed to their root disability and often seem to be exacerbated by lead exposure.  Conversely, however, exposure to lead may make the symptoms of the core disability only seem more extreme; the more extreme behaviors may be caused by lead exposure.  The symptoms of developmental and learning disabilities in children that have been exposed to lead often become inextricably entwined with the effects of lead poisoning.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America’s Healthy Children project, last discussed here, exists in the interest of educating parents on the dangers of lead exposure and ways in which one can diminish the chance of one’s children encountering and being affected by lead exposure.  Lead exposure can cause and exacerbate learning disabilities.  Protect your child by educating yourself on ways in which you can protect your child’s developing mind from lead exposure.

Running stimulates the growth of new brain cells

Monday, January 17th, 2011 by admin

Running helps individuals stay physically healthy and improves many individuals’ state of mental health by reducing stress. Research from the Salk Institute proves that running can also enable individuals to grow more new brain cells, when compared to sedentary counterparts.

Researchers divided mice into groups and, for twelve days, gave them a chemical that labels dividing cells.  After the study, “the mice on the move had the most new brain cells, twice as many as mice housed in standard cages,” which did not contain exercise wheels or other physically stimulating toys (Salk Institute).

Salk Professor Fred H. Gage, the study’s senior author, remarked, “The difference was striking. And because we know now that human brains also make new cells, it just might be that running or other vigorous exercise stimulates brain cell production in people as well.”

Gage’s research recently disproved the long-standing neuroscience belief that humans do not gain new brain cells after birth.  His laboratory has shown that “mice raised in what they term ‘enriched environments’ grow more new cells than litter mates housed in standard laboratory cages.”  These enriched environments included numerous variables, including toys, exercise wheels, increased opportunities for social interaction and varied diets.

One postdoctoral fellow in Gage’s laboratory, Henriette van Praag, said, “The present study is an attempt to tease out which type of stimulation is most important.”

The study included a sedentary control group of mice, there were “runners” groups and “swimmers” groups.  The “swimmers” were placed in a shallow pool each day for a brief period.  Additionally, “one of the groups had a learning task to accomplish, which the investigators thought might boost brain cell growth, and the other group simply had ‘free swim’ time.”  Astonishingly, neither group of “swimmers” displayed brain cell numbers comparable to the “runners.”

“We don’t know if it’s the voluntary factor that’s key – that is, the running mice were free to jump on or off the wheel as they liked – or if it’s because the swimmers simply got less exercise,” said Gage.

Gage also noted that learning and completing a specific task may stimulate changes in existing brain cells rather than boosting the development of new ones.  The new cell growth took place in the brain’s hippocampus, which has been linked to learning and memory by many studies.  The mice in the “enriched environments” performed better on learning tests than did their sedentary and swimming counterparts.

Brainjogging changes the brain and increases individuals’ long-term potentiation, or the ability of neurons to be activated synchronously.  Brainjogging also stimulates new neuron growth.  Running, too, as substantiated by the Salk Institute, enables individuals to grow new neurons.  The fact that new cell growth occurs after birth, as proved by Gage’s research, is significant in that individuals do not have to become stagnant in their cognitive development.  Running – and other forms of vigorous exercise – improves one’s cognitive condition.