The brain plasticity revolution

I delivered a lecture at the University of Konstanz in Germany two weeks ago, as a part of the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Heidelberg Akademie. This is one of 7 scientific academies in Germany. Because Germany was created as an amalgamation of powerful states in the 19th Century, its scientific academies originate…

Autism and early oxygen deprivation 2

I received a wonderful comment about the hypothesis that early umbilical cord clamping might contribute to the risk of origin of autism from a wonderful former colleague, Dr. David Blake, a researcher in the Department of Neurology at the Medical College of Georgia. His observations: Fraternal twins typically have different placentas, whereas identical twins share…

A Danish delight! Progress in treating cerebral palsy and related movement disorders?

I delivered a lecture sponsored by the Danish Neuroscience Society and the Helene Elsass Center (a wonderful new research institution in the suburbs of Copenhagen) that has developed a state-of-the-art research and treatment center focusing on cerebral palsy. I was delighted to sit down with the Center’s Director, Peder Esben Bilde, to review new training…

Tinnitus. A special example of a failure mode for your plastic brain

Millions of individuals (2% of humankind) are plagued by continuous sounds generated in their skulls, not coming from the real world. Because these ringing or roaring sounds are inescapable and because they strongly influence emotional-control processes in the brain, they can literally drive an individual who hears them incessantly just a little bit crazy. No…

Brain plasticity monitored and induced by magnetic stimulation

I had the pleasure of spending a day last week talking with a world authority on brain plasticity issues, Harvard professor Alvaro Pascual-Leone. Dr. Pascual-Leone has employed a special tool in many of his studies, both to document brain change, and to induce it for the benefit of patients. That tool is direct magnetic stimulation…

Nature vs Nurture, redux

I made the mistake of watching a NOVA program that celebrated the career and scientific achievements of an important biological scientist, Professor E.O. Wilson. Dr. Wilson has been a wonderful observer of the behaviors and lives of ants, termites and other ‘social insects’. He describes them as instinctive creatures whose behavior is strictly determined by…

Autism and early oxygen deprivation

In a July 9th, 2008 post, I added oxygen deprivation incurred at childbirth as another factor potentially contributing to an increased incidence in autism. As I noted in that blog: “We have published compelling evidence that peri-natal anoxia meets all of the other criteria for adding to “noisy” brain processing. It can have strong, selective…

Autism, mercury, video games, the Courts, and Arnold

The several-month-old report by the Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on the “Omnibus Autism Proceeding” is old news, but I thought I’d put an oar in, by saying that this is something that the courts got right. There is a large body of evidence that demonstrates, to a level of near-certainty, that…

Brain plasticity and criminal behavior; part 5

Before I begin to talk about commonly applied strategies of prevention and rehabilitation designed to reduce the numbers of criminal offenders and recidivists amongst us, let’s begin with a note about statistics. In all of my earlier blogs, I talk about the “average” offender and their neurological and personal history. In reality, there are many…