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…

Brain plasticity-based “cognitive training” elevates BDNF

Serum BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophin factor) has been repeatedly shown to be lower than normal in schizophrenic, bipolar and depressed patient populations. Moreover, the severity of manias or depression have been shown to be inversely correlated with serum BDNF. This key brain trophic factor plays a complicated panoply of roles in brain development, in maintaining the…

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…

Does exercise make kids smarter?

That’s the claim of a lead article in an issue of Newsweek many years ago. The authors cite interesting evidence from a study conducted at an outstanding brain plasticity-oriented neuroscience research institute at the University of Illinois, where investigators have found that the kids with the fittest bodies are the kids with the fittest brains.…