Moving Your Eyes May Improve Memory, Study Suggests

By: Chris V. Thangham

“English researchers say if you want a quick memory fix, just move your eyes from side to side for 30 seconds. These horizontal eye movements cause the two hemispheres of the brain to interact with each other and improve memory. Andrew Parker and his colleagues at Manchester Metropolitan University in England wanted to know whether eye movements might also help people recognize words they have just seen. There were studies done earlier that showed horizontal eye movements helped people recall specific words they have just seen.”
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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following strategies for helping a child improve overall function and reach his or her potential:

  • Behavioral training and management. Behavioral training and management uses positive reinforcement, self-help, and social skills training to improve behavior and communication. Many types of treatments have been developed, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and sensory integration.
  • Specialized therapies. These include speech, occupational, and physical therapy. These therapies are important components of managing autism and should all be included in various aspects of the child’s treatment program. Speech therapy can help a child with Autism improve language and social skills to communicate more effectively. Occupational and physical therapy can help improve any deficiencies in coordination and motor skills. Occupational therapy may also help a child with Autism to learn to process information from the senses (sight, sound, hearing, touch, and smell) in more manageable ways.
  • Medicines. Medicines are most commonly used to treat related conditions and problem behaviors, including depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
  • Community support and parent training. Talk to your doctor or contact an advocacy group for support and training.

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Who Are the Young Children for Whom Best Practices in Reading Are Ineffective? An Experimental and Longitudinal Study

Authors: Stephanie Al Otaiba and Douglas Fuchs

Study Summary
The primary purpose of this study was to identify student characteristics that reliably predict responsiveness and nonresponsiveness to generally effective early literacy interventions. Participants were 104 children, including 7 with special needs and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), who were tested in kindergarten and first grade. Responsiveness/nonresponsiveness status was determined after 2 years during which children participated in best practice instruction (a) in kindergarten and first grade, (b) in kindergarten only, (c) in first grade only, or (d) in neither year. This facilitated the study of three groups. Always responsive students met responsiveness criteria in both years. Sometimes responsive students met the criteria in only one year. Nonresponsive students did not meet the criteria in either year. Multivariate analysis of variance and discriminant function analysis indicated that the three groups were reliably different from one another on measures of problem behavior, verbal memory, sentence imitation, syntactic awareness, vocabulary, naming speed, and segmentation. A combination of naming speed, vocabulary, sentence imitation, problem behavior, and amount of intervention correctly predicted 82.1% of nonresponsive students, 30.0% of sometimes responsive students, and 84.1% of always responsive students. Fifty students from kindergarten and first grade were tested again at the end of what should have been their third-grade year. All but 1 of the nonresponsive students who received intervention had been identified as requiring special education and had an IEP with reading goals.”
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“This finding suggests that there are a large number of young children who could benefit from the early initiation of behavioral therapy, which is recommended as the first-line treatment for preschool children with ADHD.” – Dr. Susan Visser, Author of CDC Study Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Read More Here

The relationship of spelling recognition, RAN, and phonological awareness to reading skills in older poor readers and younger reading-matched controls

Authors: Tami Katzir, Youngsuk Kim, Maryanne Wolf, Becky Kennedy, Maureen Lovett, and Robin Morris

“Furthermore, spelling recognition contributed significant variance to reading comprehension for both dyslexic and nondyslexic children after the effects of phonological awareness, rapid naming, and word reading proficiency had been accounted for. The results support the role of spelling recognition in reading development for both groups of children and they are discussed using a componential reading fluency framework.” – p. 1

Study Summary
Abstract. The role of spelling recognition was examined in word reading skills and reading comprehension for dyslexic and nondyslexic children. Dyslexic and nondyslexic children were matched on their raw word reading proficiency. Relationships between spelling rec- ognition and the following were examined for both groups of children: verbal ability, working memory, phonological measures, rapid naming, word reading, and reading comprehension. Children’s performance in spelling recognition was significantly associated with their skills in word reading and reading comprehension regardless of their reading disability status. Furthermore, spelling recognition contributed significant variance to reading comprehension for both dyslexic and nondyslexic children after the effects of phonological awareness, rapid naming, and word reading proficiency had been accounted for. The results support the role of spelling recognition in reading development for both groups of children and they are discussed using a componential reading fluency framework.
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Neuroandragogy: Making the Case for a Link with Andragogy and Brain-Based Learning

Author: Clive Wilson

“With the help of brain imaging, researchers have been able to see the brain at work, thus providing information most valuable to those working with the human brain; such as educators, scientists, psychologist and medical doctors. It is this advance in technology and gain in knowledge that has led to the development of brain-based learning, a new paradigm that holds a wealth of information for teachers and students alike (Cercone, 2006). Neuroscientists are finding dynamic flexibility in the brain even as we age. New neural connections will grow as a result of stimulation even into old age. In addition to the brain adding new circuits pruning has been observed. This removes any connections that are no longer needed. Because these new connections are temporary they must be put to use if they are going to last. Newly formed synapses are weak and require immediate activity to last. If there is no action the axon will retreat or degenerate, causing the neuron to start over with a new budding. The brain must put to work any new connections made or it stands the chance of losing it, the more it is used however the more secure it becomes (Cercone, 2006). Thus the sayings coined by Canadian psychologist D.O. Hebb (1949) use it or lose it. ”
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Neuropsychological Apsects for Evaluating Learning Disabilities

Author: Margaret Semrud-Clikeman
Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin

Study Summary
This review surveys the empirical literature for assessments of learning problems in children from a neuropsychological perspective. An evaluation of children with learning problems must consider measures of working memory, attention, executive function, and comprehension (listening and written), particularly for children who do not respond to intervention. These constructs must be tied to intervention techniques, and their connections must be empirically verified. The response-to-intervention (RTI) perspective provides excellent support for the process in young children but is still developing the process for students above the second grade. This review provides information about the existing research on neurobiological correlates of learning disabilities, possible areas for further evaluation, and the link to the RTI movement.
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Disruptions: Using Addictive Games to Build Better Brains

Author: Nick Bilton
First it was Doodle Jump. Then Dots. And now — will it never end? — Flappy Bird.

So many of the games that we download on our smartphones are a waste of time, but we can’t seem to stop playing them. My current high score on the late, lamented Flappy Bird is three. After weeks of tap-tap-tapping to keep that stupid little bird flying. Three.

Why do we keep falling for these things?

The answer to that question just might be found in, of all places, a medical laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. Researchers there are trying to figure out what makes games addictive — and how we might use video games to make our minds stronger, faster and healthier.

Using neuroimaging techniques, researchers are peering into gamers’ heads, hoping that the data they collect will help them make video games that change as you play, getting easier or harder, depending on your performance. The idea is to keep people at the addiction point. You know, that infuriating flap-flap-flap zone.

From there, they say, the possibilities seem limitless. One day, we might develop games to treat depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Or games that rewire our brains to improve memory and cognitive function. The list could go on and on.
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Practice Makes the Brain’s Motor Cortex More Efficient

“What is really important is that our results indicate that practice changes the primary motor cortex so that it can become an important substrate for the storage of motor skills. Thus, the motor cortex is adaptable, or plastic.” – Dr. Peter Strick.

“Not only does practice make perfect, it also makes for more efficient generation of neuronal activity in the primary motor cortex, the area of the brain that plans and executes movement, according to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Peter Strick, Ph.D., and researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their findings, published online in Nature Neuroscience, showed that practice leads to decreased metabolic activity for internally generated movements, but not for visually guided motor tasks, and suggest the motor cortex is “plastic” and a potential site for the storage of motor skills.
The hand area of the primary motor cortex is known to be larger among professional pianists than in amateur ones. This observation has suggested that extensive practice and the development of expert performance induces changes in the primary motor cortex, said senior investigator Dr. Strick, Distinguished Professor and chair, Department of Neurobiology, Pitt School of Medicine.”
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An Extra Hour of TV Beyond Recommendations Diminishes Toddlers’ Kindergarten Chances

Authors: Linda S. Pagani, Caroline Fitzpatrick, and Tracie A. Barnett.

Aug. 7, 2013 — Every hourly increase in daily television watching at 29 months of age is associated with diminished vocabulary and math skills, classroom engagement (which is largely determined by attention skills), victimization by classmates, and physical prowess at kindergarten, according to Professor Linda Pagani of the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital.
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Centers throughout the brain work together to make reading possible

By Robert Perkins
August 5, 2013

A combination of brain scans and reading tests has revealed that several regions in the brain are responsible for allowing humans to read. The findings open up the possibility that individuals who have difficulty reading may only need additional training for specific parts of the brain — targeted therapies that could more directly address their individual weaknesses
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Eye movements could help in diagnosis of neurological disorders

Author: Katie Dunham
Researchers at USC have devised a method for detecting certain neurological disorders through the study of eye movements.

In a study plublished on Aug. 30 in the Journal of Neurology, researchers claim that because Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Parkinson’s Disease each involve ocular control and attention dysfunctions, they can be easily identified through and evaluation of how patients move their eyes while they watch television.
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