“What’s Normal?” The diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children is on the rise

In an article in an issue of the New Yorker, Jerome Groopman writes lucidly about the explosion in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children. Reading it made me thank my lucky stars once again that I am not a child neurologist or child psychologist or child psychiatrist who actually has to address the problems…

Alvaro asked a tough question: How do you define SMART?

Alvaro asked this question as a comment after a blog entry discussed recent evidence that physical exercise contributes to academic success. Alvaro, “smart”, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. You do not necessarily want a computer jockey next to you in your foxhole. You do not necessarily want a great world scholar…

Reactions to a book about an autistic boy and his mom

Last month, I recommended a book called “Strange Son”, written by a mother who struggled to communicate with, understand, and help her own autistic child. When I was looking up the URL for the book, I scanned through the reviews posted on Amazon, and was stunned by two negative reactions. One was from a reader…

A recommended book (for some readers)

“Strange Son”, by Portia Iversen is a personal account of a very special individual (the co-founder of Cure Autism Now; a friend of mine) struggling to understand and help her autistic son. It is NOT a book about the general science of autism or about the landscape of rehabilitative therapies applied to help autistics, because…

More, better, quicker. New middle/high school computer-based language training programs

I attended a scientific meeting a few years ago in which Bill Jenkins, the program development team leader at Scientific Learning, described a radically improved version of one of their middle- and high school-targeted language learning programs (which they call “Literacy Advanced”). They have completely re-worked the game-play aspects of these exercises. Changes resulted in…

The price we pay

A study in an issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine focussed on autism spectrum disorders. A paper in that issue authored by a public health economist, Dr. Michael Ganz, used a rich variety of sources to determine the societal costs of autism. In today’s dollars: $3.2 million/autistic individual/lifetime. $35 BILLION overall, in…

A recommended book about “neuro-plasticity”

The Brain That Changes Itself (2007) by Normal Doidge, M.D. This interesting book chronicles some of the stories of the men and women who have ushered in the new “brain plasticity” revolution in neuroscience. As we repeatedly emphasize in this blog, the brain is no longer viewed by neuroscientists as a machine that is hard-wired…

Kids in car seats. Unintended consequences.

I’m in Queretaro, Mexico this week, visiting a world-class Neuroscience Insitute that is a part of the great Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I am struck by the beautiful, happy children in the 17th-and 18th-Century old city center where my wife and I are staying. We’ve seen many children out in this beautiful, old city…