Links for Keyword: ADHD

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Fitting in at school can be tough for children with attention problems.(Phil Marino for The New York Times)What does it feel like to have attention deficit disorder? The answer to that question can be found in a fascinating new report from the Journal of Pediatric Nursing called “I Have Always Felt Different.'’ The article gives a glimpse into the experience of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., from a child’s perspective. Assistant professors Robin Bartlett and Mona M. Shattell, from the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, interviewed 16 college students who had been diagnosed with A.D.H.D. as children. The investigators talked to them about how the disorder affected life at home, school and friendships. Like most kids, the students described a life of both conflict with and support from their parents. But in their case, fighting with parents was often triggered by attention-related problems like failing to complete laundry chores or cleaning their rooms. Doing things for my parents and being aware of what needs to be done around the house, that’s the only time it really gets to me or hurts me. Despite the conflict, many students viewed their parents as supportive. One student noted that support from parents often felt like “nagging,'’ but they had little choice. Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 11276 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By BENEDICT CAREY BUFFALO — In school he was as floppy and good-natured as a puppy, a boy who bear-hugged his friends, who was always in motion, who could fall off his chair repeatedly, as if he had no idea how to use one. This is the last in a series of articles about the increasing number of children whose problems are diagnosed as serious mental disorders. The earlier articles examined one family’s experience, the uncertainty of diagnosis, the use of combinations of psychiatric drugs and the transition to adulthood. "I don’t want him to look back and think the successes he’s had are all due to a drug," said Dawn Van De Wal, a mother of a child with attention deficit diagnosis. But at home, after run-ins with his parents, his exuberance could turn feral. From the exile of his room, Peter Popczynski would throw anything that could be launched — books, pencils, lamps, clothes, toys — scarring the walls of the family’s brick bungalow, and leaving some items to rattle down the hallway, like flotsam from a storm. The Popczynskis soon received a diagnosis for their son, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., and were told that they could turn to a stimulant medication like Ritalin. Doctors have ample evidence that stimulants not only calm children physically but may also improve their school performance, at least for as long as they are on medication. Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 9786 - Posted: 06.24.2010

New York – Are you easily forgetful, distracted, impulsive or fidgety? Do you find that smoking helps you alleviate these symptoms? Columbia University Medical Center researchers are investigating whether these most common symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) could be causing people to smoke. If that is the case, will treatment for ADHD combined with the standard treatment to help people quit smoking – the patch with counseling – increase the quit rates for smokers trying to quit? Covey and her colleagues are recruiting smokers who have been diagnosed with ADHD or who may have symptoms of ADHD but have not yet been diagnosed, to be part of a study that will help them quit smoking. Approximately 7-8 million adults in the U.S. have ADHD. Smoking is twice as common in this population as in the general population. Research has shown that most smoking in the U.S. occurs among people who have psychiatric conditions, such as alcohol or drug abuse, major depression, anxiety and ADHD. One line of research has shown that smokers with these conditions “self-medicate” their symptoms with nicotine, the primary addictive substance in tobacco. Participants in the study will receive the nicotine patch, behavioral counseling, and a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of ADHD called methylphenidate (brand name CONCERTA®). Because methylphenidate and nicotine act on the brain in a similar way, the premise is that treatment with methylphenidate when trying to quit smoking may reduce symptoms of ADHD while also reducing tobacco withdrawal symptoms.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 9626 - Posted: 06.24.2010

The unfolding story of how a common version of a gene shapes the efficiency of the brain’s prefrontal cortex — hub of “executive” functions like reasoning, planning and impulse control — and increases risk for mental illness will be told by Daniel R. Weinberger, M.D., at this year’s G. Burroughs Mider Lecture, “Complex Genetics in the Human Brain: Lessons from COMT.” Weinberger will explain why such psychiatric genetics has proven to be a daunting challenge, using as an example the gene that codes for catecho-O-methyltransferase (COMT), the enzyme that breaks down the chemical messenger dopamine. A tiny variation in its sequence results in different versions of the gene. One leads to more efficient functioning of the prefrontal cortex, the other to less efficient prefrontal functioning and slightly increased risk for schizophrenia. New studies are revealing complex interactions between the tiny glitch and other variations within the gene, and with environmental events, such as teenage marijuana use, that may bias the brain toward psychosis. Weinberger is Director of the Genes, Cognition and Psychosis Program at the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health. The program uses brain imaging, post-mortem analysis and molecular approaches to understand how genes work in the brain to produce schizophrenia. See: http://calendar.nih.gov/app/MCalInfoView.aspx?EvtID=11488

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 8021 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Parent survey connects snoring and sleepiness with attention and hyperactivity issues ANN ARBOR, MI – Children who snore often are nearly twice as likely as other children to have attention and hyperactivity problems, and the link is strong for other sleep problems, a new University of Michigan Health System study finds. The results, published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics, provide some of the most solid evidence ever of a link between sleep problems and behavior. The link is strongest in boys under 8 years of age; habitual snorers in this group were more than three times more likely than non-snorers to be hyperactive. The study, based on a survey of the parents of 866 children that was conducted in the waiting rooms of U-M pediatrics clinics, is among the largest ever to explore the connection between sleep and inattention/hyperactivity. While the study does not provide any clues as to whether and how sleep problems might contribute to behavior issues, or vice versa, the evidence of a link between the two is strong enough to warrant further and thorough investigation, says lead author Ronald Chervin, M.D., M.S., director of the Michael S. Aldrich Sleep Disorders Laboratory and associate professor of neurology at the U-M Medical School.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 1624 - Posted: 06.24.2010

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Theories about what causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, are many and varied, with experts speculating on a wide range of probable causes – genetics, environmental pollutants, food allergies and challenging home environments. In his new book, “What Causes ADHD? Understanding What Goes Wrong and Why,” Michigan State University psychologist Joel Nigg brings together the most recent neuropsychological research in an attempt to answer this challenging question. “Essentially there are multiple causes,” said Nigg. “Some we already know of, others have been suggested and disproved, still others deserve more study.” Nigg, an associate professor of psychology, said that while his book was written mainly for professionals and is a bit technical in places, parents longing for more ADHD information may find it useful, too. “It’s the kind of book that if you want to look something up, it has a specific section on those topics that we know about, such as television watching, diet and so on,” he said. © 2006 Michigan State University Division of University Relations

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 8999 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Kelly Hearn, AlterNet. For Gene Haislip, a former official of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the perennial debate over Ritalin, the stimulant commonly prescribed for children with "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)," is an aching reminder of a moral battle he fought – and lost – to big drug companies. For 17 years, the now retired director of the DEA´s Office of Diversion Control set production quotas for controlled substances like methylphenidate (MPH), the federally restricted stimulant commonly known as Ritalin. During that time, he fought hard to raise public awareness about over-prescribing of stimulants to children, about the drug's high rate of street diversion, and about its long-term health impact on young patients. "This affects the most sensitive part of our population," says Haislip, now a consultant for drug companies on issues of compliance to federal law. "When I was at the DEA, we created awareness about this issue. But the bottom line is we didn't succeed in changing the situation because this – prescribing methylphenidate, for example – is spiraling. "A few individuals in government expressing concern can't equal the marketing power of large companies," he adds. "I have doubts that the truth is driving this issue. It seems that market forces and money is behind it." © 2004 Independent Media Institute.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 6588 - Posted: 06.24.2010

San Juan, Puerto Rico, – A new study conducted in rats by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School suggests that the misdiagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) combined with prescription drug use in children may lead to a higher risk of developing depressive symptoms in adulthood. This work, released at the annual American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) conference in Puerto Rico, is among the first to examine the effects of early Ritalin exposure in rats on behavior and brain function during the later periods of life. "Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can be a serious medical problem for children and their parents," says lead researcher William Carlezon, Ph.D., director of McLean Hospital's Behavioral Genetics Laboratory and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "While Ritalin is an effective medication that improves the quality of life for many children with ADHD, accurately diagnosing and identifying the correct treatment regimen for the disorder is essential, especially when considering health effects that can last through adulthood." Ritalin is a generic medication prescribed for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that consists of a persistent pattern of abnormally high level of activity, impulsivity, and/or inattention. Usually diagnosed in children of preschool or elementary school age, ADHD has been estimated to affect 3 to 12 percent of children and is twice as common among boys. Children with ADHD are also likely to have other disorders, such as a learning disability, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, depression, or anxiety.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 6569 - Posted: 06.24.2010

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Research in monkeys suggests that long-term use of estrogen therapy may reduce levels of androgens – hormones involved in maintaining bone density, muscle mass, sexual function, memory, and psychological wellbeing in postmenopausal women. "Our findings suggest that it might be important for women taking estrogen after menopause to also take androgen supplements – which can include testosterone," said Charles E. Wood, D.V.M., lead researcher, from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. The research is reported in the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The adrenal glands are the primary source of androgen hormones in women. While aging is associated with a marked decline in androgens, others factors involved in adrenal androgen production are not well-known. Regulation of androgen levels may be particularly important in postmenopausal women because observational studies have shown that older women who have higher levels tend to be healthier.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 5468 - Posted: 06.24.2010

According to new research from Northeastern University pharmacy professor Richard Deth and colleagues from the University of Nebraska, Tufts, and Johns Hopkins University, there is an apparent link between exposure to certain neurodevelopmental toxins and an increased possibility of developing neurological disorders including autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The research – the first to offer an explanation for possible causes of two increasingly common childhood neurological disorders – will be published in the April 2004 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry, and earlier as advance online publication. Though some speculation exists regarding this link, Deth and his colleagues found that exposure to toxins, such as ethanol and heavy metals (including lead, aluminum and the ethylmercury-containing preservative thimerosal) potently interrupt growth factor signaling, causing adverse effects on methylation reactions (i.e. the transfer of carbon atoms). Methylation, in turn, plays a significant role in regulating normal DNA function and gene expression, and is critical to proper neurological development in infants and children. Scientists and practitioners have identified an increase in diagnoses of autism and ADHD in particular, though the reasons why are largely unknown.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 4918 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Marianne Szegedy-Maszak In the darkened office of Lexicor Health Systems in Boulder, Colo., 11-year-old Shannon closes her dark brown eyes and sits quietly in her chair. She is wearing a multicolored electrode-studded cap, which transmits the electrical impulses of her brain to an electroencephalogram, or EEG. Behind her on a computer screen scrawl 19 wild lines that represent the activity in several regions of her brain. One would never surmise from Shannon's Zen-like demeanor what the brain scan is detecting inside her head: that she is one of the more than 2 million children in America who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The result of Shannon's session will be a QEEG–a "quantified EEG" that will allow diagnosticians to statistically compare her brain with thousands of others. What they are interested in, specifically, is the proportion of low-frequency theta brain waves to much faster beta waves in a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. Studies have suggested abnormalities in both these rhythms associated with attention–or lack of it. Children produce a lot of low-frequency theta brain rhythms when they struggle to concentrate, and when their concentration is overwhelmed by too much stimulation they produce the speedier beta waves. By comparing what Shannon's brain does with both "normal" brains and those of others who have been diagnosed with ADHD, researchers at Lexicor are hoping for the first time to provide a quantitative tool to help identify this vexing disorder. Genetic mystery. The QEEG may never become the "gold standard" in diagnosing ADHD. But it illustrates how increasingly sophisticated understanding of brain activity may offer clinicians greater confidence in their diagnosis. It may also hold out promise for the 20 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD who do not respond to the usual stimulant treatment–by identifying a pool of symptoms that they all might share. Clearly, genes play a role in ADHD, because it runs strongly in families, but no ADHD gene has yet been identified. Lacking that kind of definitive diagnostic tool, a deeper understanding of the neurology underlying the disorder could help clinicians untangle true ADHD from accompanying disorders and disorders that resemble it. Indeed, QEEG is one of several brain-scanning technologies now being deployed to home in on the unique properties of the distracted mind. © 2002 U.S.News & World Report Inc. All rights reserved.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 1971 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By KATHERINE ELLISON WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — I’m sitting in front of a gray plastic console that resembles an airplane cockpit. Each time I move, a small reflector on a makeshift tiara resting on my forehead alerts an infrared tracking device pointing down at me from above a computer monitor. Watching the screen, I’m supposed to click a mouse each time I see a star with five or eight points, but not for stars with only four points. It’s a truly simple task, and I’m a college-educated professional. So why do I keep getting it wrong? Halfway into the 20-minute session, I find myself clicking at a lot of four-point stars, while sighing and cursing with each new mistake and stamping my feet, sending further unflattering information to the contraption via tracking straps taped to my legs. Dr. Martin H. Teicher, the Harvard psychiatrist who invented the test, has an explanation for my predicament. “You have some objective evidence for an impairment in attention,” he said — in other words, a “very subtle” case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (Indeed, I had already received a diagnosis three years earlier.) Not only did I click too many times when I shouldn’t have, and occasionally vice versa, but subtle shifts in my head movements, tracked by the device’s motion detector, suggested that I tended to shift attention states, from on-task to impulsive to distracted and back. Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 14132 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By JoNel Aleccia Exposure to pesticides used on common kid-friendly foods — including frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and celery — appears to boost the chances that children will be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, new research shows. Youngsters with high levels of pesticide residue in their urine, particularly from widely used types of insecticide such as malathion, were more likely to have ADHD, the behavior disorder that often disrupts school and social life, scientists in the United States and Canada found. Kids with higher-than-average levels of one pesticide marker were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as children who showed no traces of the poison. “I think it's fairly significant. A doubling is a strong effect,” said Maryse F. Bouchard, a researcher at the University of Montreal in Quebec and lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The take-home message for parents, according to Bouchard: “I would say buy organic as much as possible,” she said. “I would also recommend washing fruits and vegetables as much as possible.” Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure in children, according to the National Academy of Sciences, and much of that exposure comes from favorite fruits and vegetables. In 2008, detectable concentrations of malathion were found in 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples, 25 percent of fresh strawberry samples and 19 percent of celery samples, a government report found. © 2010 msnbc.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 14079 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By S.I. Rosenbaum BELMONT — The tiny red eye of the Quotient diagnostic device can’t see a child’s face. It can’t see him fidget in class. It doesn’t know what his grades are. But it can see even the subtle moves a child makes, down to the millimeter. According to the company that manufactures the device and the McLean Hospital psychiatrist who invented it, the Quotient’s motion tracker can help a doctor determine whether a child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The makers call it the first objective test for ADHD. But BioBehavioral Diagnostics must overcome skepticism among many doctors, who have seen other diagnostic tests for ADHD flop. The absence of a reliable test, combined with the wide use of behavior-modifying drugs, has made ADHD a controversial disorder. Often, parents are left unsure about what to do when their child is one of the 5 to 10 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD, which is characterized by hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. “These diagnoses are based on behavioral descriptors, or subjective states of being,’’ said Judith Warner, author of “We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication.’’ “That makes it suspect in the eyes of people who don’t understand it.’’ BioBehavioral Diagnostics, of Westford and Philadelphia, says its device can change that, by distinguishing between the restlessness and jitters of a child with ADHD and the movements of one who does not have the disorder. © 2010 NY Times Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 14018 - Posted: 06.24.2010

by Mark Cohen Hey, Mom! Mom! Watch me! Look, Mom!” I could hear the excited cries through the closed door of the examining room, even though I was still 20 feet down the hall. The happy shouts were followed by a loud thump and then a cascade of muted crashes. As I headed toward the commotion, my medical assistant smiled and handed me the chart for this patient. “You’d better get in to see this little guy quickly, Dr. Cohen, before he totally wrecks your room!” The brief information on the consultation request said, “Tyler Winters, 3-year-old boy, hyperactive.” As I often tell medical students, nearly all 3-year-olds are hyperactive at least some of the time. Often the parents of a child whose development and behavior are perfectly normal insist on a referral to a developmental pediatrician like myself because they are sure there is something wrong—or someone has told them as much. I generally look forward to those consultations; it’s enjoyable to reassure an anxious parent that her child is developing normally. Before leaving my office I had briefly looked through Tyler’s medical record on the computer. Other than his having been adopted at birth, there was nothing that stood out as unusual. When I knocked and opened the door, Tyler was clambering onto the exam table while his mother, Sandi, was attempting to move a pile of books from the floor back onto the book rack. They had apparently been knocked off (the crashes) when he jumped from the table to the floor (the loud thump). Sandi glanced at me with a nervous smile, then quickly turned to scoop her child off the table.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 13957 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By JUDITH WARNER If you’re the parent of a child who’s having trouble learning or behaving in school, you quickly find yourself confronted with a series of difficult choices. You can do nothing — and watch your child flounder while teachers register their disapproval. Or you can get help, which generally means, first, an expensive and time-consuming evaluation, then more visits with more specialists, intensive tutoring, therapies, perhaps, or, as is often the case with attention issues, drugs. For many parents — particularly the sorts of parents who are skeptical of mainstream medicine and of the intentions of what one mother once described to me as “the learning-disability industrial complex” — this experience is an exercise in frustration and alienation. These parents often don’t trust the mental-health professionals who usually treat children with “issues,” as we euphemistically tend to refer to problems like learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism or other developmental difficulties. They find offensive the prospect of having a child “labeled” when his or her development doesn’t correspond to what seem like random, overly restrictive norms. They find the notion of putting children on psychotropic medication frightening and unacceptable. They want to find concrete causes for their children’s diffuse, often difficult-to-understand problems and, ideally, to find cures. They want their children to achieve, and they’re dissatisfied with what they feel are the palliative half-measures offered by pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists and learning specialists. That’s why some of these parents end up seeking the services of people like Stanley A. Appelbaum. Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 10: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 7: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Link ID: 13861 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By NATALIE ANGIER I stopped eating pork about eight years ago, after a scientist happened to mention that the animal whose teeth most closely resemble our own is the pig. Unable to shake the image of a perky little pig flashing me a brilliant George Clooney smile, I decided it was easier to forgo the Christmas ham. A couple of years later, I gave up on all mammalian meat, period. I still eat fish and poultry, however and pour eggnog in my coffee. My dietary decisions are arbitrary and inconsistent, and when friends ask why I’m willing to try the duck but not the lamb, I don’t have a good answer. Food choices are often like that: difficult to articulate yet strongly held. And lately, debates over food choices have flared with particular vehemence. In his new book, “Eating Animals,” the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer describes his gradual transformation from omnivorous, oblivious slacker who “waffled among any number of diets” to “committed vegetarian.” Last month, Gary Steiner, a philosopher at Bucknell University, argued on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times that people should strive to be “strict ethical vegans” like himself, avoiding all products derived from animals, including wool and silk. Killing animals for human food and finery is nothing less than “outright murder,” he said, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “eternal Treblinka.” But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds. Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 13596 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Christof Koch Do you think that your newest ac­quisition, a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner that traces out its unpredictable paths on your living room floor, is conscious? What about that bee that hovers above your marmalade-covered breakfast toast? Or the newborn who finally fell asleep after being suckled? Nobody except a dyed-in-the-wool nerd would think of the first as being sentient; adherents of Jainism, India’s oldest religion, ­believe that bees—and indeed all living creatures, small and large—are aware; whereas most everyone would accord the magical gift of consciousness to the baby. The truth is that we really do not know which of these organisms is or is not conscious. We have strong feelings about the matter, molded by tradition, religion and law. But we have no objective, rational method, no step-by-step procedure, to determine whether a given organism has subjective states, has feelings. The reason is that we lack a coherent framework for consciousness. Although consciousness is the only way we know about the world within and around us—shades of the famous Cartesian deduction cogito, ergo sum—there is no agreement about what it is, how it relates to highly organized matter or what its role in life is. This situation is scandalous! We have a detailed and very successful framework for ­matter and for energy but not for the mind-body problem. This dismal state of ­affairs might be about to change, however. The universal lingua franca of our age is information. We are used to the idea that stock and bond prices, books, photographs, movies, music and our genetic makeup can all be turned into data streams of zeros and ones. These bits are the elemental atoms of information that are transmitted over an Ethernet cable or via wireless, that are stored, replayed, copied and assembled into gigantic repositories of knowledge. Information does not depend on the substrate. The same information can be represented as lines on paper, as electrical charges inside a PC’s memory banks or as the strength of the synaptic connections among nerve cells. © 1996-2009 Scientific American Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior; Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 13175 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Edmund S. Higgins A few years ago a single mother who had recently moved to town came to my office asking me to prescribe the stimulant drug Adderall for her sixth-grade son. The boy had been taking the medication for several years, and his mother had liked its effects: it made homework time easier and improved her son’s grades. At the time of this visit, the boy was off the medication, and I conducted a series of cognitive and behavioral tests on him. He performed wonderfully. I also noticed that off the medication he was friendly and playful. On a previous casual encounter, when the boy had been on Adderall, he had seemed reserved and quiet. His mother acknowledged this was a side effect of the Adderall. I told her that I did not think her son had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and that he did not need medication. That was the last time I saw her. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder afflicts about 5 percent of U.S. children—twice as many boys as girls—age six to 17, according to a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As its name implies, people with the condition have trouble focusing and often are hyperactive or impulsive. An estimated 9 percent of boys and 4 percent of girls in the U.S. are taking stimulant medications as part of their therapy for ADHD, the CDC reported in 2005. The majority of patients take methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), whereas most of the rest are prescribed an amphetamine such as Adderall. Although it sounds counterintuitive to give stimulants to a person who is hyperactive, these drugs are thought to boost activity in the parts of the brain responsible for attention and self-control. © 1996-2009 Scientific American Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 13087 - Posted: 06.24.2010

U.S. federal health regulators are urging parents to keep their children on attention deficit drugs like Ritalin and Adderall despite new evidence from a government-backed study that the stimulants can increase the risk of sudden death. Published Monday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the study suggests a link between use of the stimulant drugs and sudden death in children and adolescents. The drugs, used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, already carry warnings about risks of heart attack and stroke in children with underlying heart conditions, but researchers have questioned whether they pose the same risks to children without those problems. Healthy children taking the medications were more likely to die suddenly for unexplained reasons than those not taking the drugs, according to the study from the National Institute of Mental Health. The study was partially funded by the Food and Drug Administration, but agency experts said its methods — which relied on interviews with parents and physicians years after the children's deaths — may have caused errors. "Since the deaths occurred a long time ago, all of this depended on the memory of people, relatives and physicians, involved with the victims," said Dr. Robert Temple, the FDA's director of drug review. © The Canadian Press, 2009

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 12953 - Posted: 06.24.2010