ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Testing & Diagnosis, Dyslexia Treatment, Music, Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit

The Corpus Callosum is a large structure in the brain that connects the two hemispheres. Its roll is to pass information from the left hemisphere to the right and vice versa. This is a vital as the two hemispheres perform different tasks and need to communicate efficiently. The Corpus Callosum has been linked by scientists to dyslexia and ADHD for a long time. They theorize that the problems in these conditions may be caused by insufficient information passing between the two halves of the brain.

Plenty of research has been done on the size of the Corpus Callosum in dyslexics and in children with ADHD and the results have generally found a correlation. Its seems that the anterior region of the Corpus Callosum was significantly smaller in the dyslexic children. However the results are not clear cut with at least one study has found no difference in dyslexic versus non-dyslexic children and another study on adult, male dyslexics found areas of the Corpus Callosum were larger that normal.

These variation in results may have several causes. How the study defines dyslexia when selecting there sample population may make an impact. The sophistication of the equipment used is important. Some of these studies date back to the early 1990’s when fMRI technology was still new so the ability to accurately measure the Corpus Callosum may of been poorer. Our knowledge of the brains structure has also improved and later studies have tended to focus on specific areas of the Corpus Callosum, partially areas linked to the processing of sounds. However, with a lot of maybes and provisos it does look like the Corpus Callosum in dyslexic and ADHD children is subtly different.

Being able to efficiently pass information from one half of the brain to the other is vital. Much like a road between to busy cities. The better the road, the more information, wealth and trade will flow between the cities. So in dyslexic and ADHD children this road may be poor and restricting vital traffic. But there is hope that this roadway can be improved.

Its has been found that the Corpus Callosum was larger in professional musicians than in non-musicians. Playing instruments involves a lot of cross hemisphere processing to keep both hand’s movements in time with each other. This suggest that by regular practice the Corpus Callosum can be strengthen. The Dore Program, Interactive Metronome and primitive reflex based treatments such as INPP all involve cross-lateral movements designed to train this area of the brain. Other activities may also help. Such as computer games like Wii Drums and some aspects of Wii Fit may also help.

If you would like to try out your Corpus Callosum, have a look at this test on Mind Hacks. You will need a friend to help you but otherwise it is an extremely simple demonstration of what the Corpus Callosum does.

Studies

Dyslexia and corpus callosum morphology
Magnetic resonance imaging of the corpus callosum in developmental dyslexia
Corpus callosum morphology, as measured with MRI, in dyslexic men
Developmental Dyslexia: Re-Evaluation of the Corpus callosum in Male Adults
Less developed corpus callosum in dyslexic subjects—a structural MRI study
Increased corpus callosum size in musicians

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Brain & Body, Digital Fitness, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Music, Nintendo Wii

Doing the post on the Wii Drums remindered me of a book I wanted to write about. Its 4-Way Coordination: A Method Book for the Development of Complete Independence on the Drum Set . I forget how I found it but it immediately got my attention as a way of learning cross-lateral and limb-independent movements. Drummers need to be able to use each of their four limbs independently from each other and this takes a lot of time to learn. Education problems such as dyslexia and ADHD are linked to a poorly developed cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls the limbs, and retained primitive reflexes which restrict limb movements. Training regimes such as the Dore Programme teach children (and adults like myself) how to use their bodies. If this book has a good training method for limb independence that doesn’t focus on drumming it could be and effective resource of parents.

Here is what one of its reviews says:

You don’t need a drumset to work it — all you need are hands and feet to
get better. the “score” is set out in various patterns of LH,RH, LF, RF
(left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot). So if you can’t get
enough of drumming, take this on the road with you for vacations, work
trips, whatever and work on breaking the mold. The floor, your knees
and any flat surface in front of you will do for practice.

This is one of the few drum books you can literally practice from
anywhere at anytime with nothing but the book and you.

I’ve ordered a copy and will be reviewing it soon.

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Medication, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Treatment, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyslexia

Are we too quick to medicate children?, a good round-up of the issue from the Las Angeles Times. Whilst The Guardian has a piece on the rise of students using brain boosting drugs such as Ritalin

The Spoof! has a short piece on PHADD (Pseudo Hyperactivity Attention Deficit Disorder)

Questionable Study Claims ADHD is Under-Diagnosed

Good Vibrations, a new, drug-free treatment for ADHD?

Understanding Chelation therapy, a brief round-up of this dubious autism therapy.

National Institutes of Health will intensify its efforts to find the causes of autism.

No explanation for ‘scary’ rise in autism in New Zealand

A Dore Program presentation at the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, MA.

Experts Demand End to Child Drugging in the US.

Shire reveals the effect size for it ADHD medication, Vyvanse.

Study on Concerta shows significant effect on ADHD sufferers.

ADD / ADHD

More evidence supporting the role sleep can play in ADHD has been found. Healthy, adult volunteers were split into two groups. One was kept awake for 35 hours whilst the rest got a good night’s sleep. The brains were then scanned whilst the volunteer looked at photos ranging from a wicker basket to gruesome images of burn victims. In the sleep deprived subjects, the amygdala, a midbrain structure that decodes emotion, was significantly more active. Instead of its normal activity of linking to the medial prefrontal cortex (one of the higher functioning parts of the brain), in the sleep-deprived brain, the amygdala seemed to be “rewired,” coupling instead with a brain stem area called the locus coeruleus, which secretes norepinephrine, a precursor of the hormone adrenaline that triggers fight-or-flight type reactions.

Whilst this study did not look specifically at ADHD it did demonstrates that sleep can potentially cause the sort of extreme behavior seen in ADHD. Hyperactivity as the brain pumps adrenalin into the body, strong emotional reactions to stimuli and poor self-control as the higher brain regions are circumvented. If missing a single night’s sleep can cause this, I wonder what happens to children’s developing brain if they are regularly deprived of sleep.

Soruce: Scientific America: Can a Lack of Sleep Cause Psychiatric Disorders?

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Dyslexia

A quick round up of some interesting studies. On the Eide Neurolearning Blog they have an interesting look at how the distribution of the different types of dyslexia and also about outgrowing ADHD.

In Sweden, they have been doing research on the impact of white noise (static) on the performance of children ADHD. Unexpectedly they found that it improved the performance of those with ADHD but reduced the performance of the control group of non-ADHD kids. The author goes on to speculate that dopamine levels underly this behaviour. A summary of the research can be found on Medical News Today or you can read the researcher’s thesis on the subject: Noise Improves Cognitive Performance in Children with Dysfunctional Dopaminergic Neurotransmission [ PDF ]

ADD / ADHD, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment

In the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, Professor Dorothy Bishop of the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University has written an article questioning the validity of research done on the Dore Program.

Abstract: Dore Achievement Centres are springing up world-wide with a mission to cure cerebellar developmental delay, thought to be the cause of dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyspraxia and Asperger’s syndrome. Remarkable success is claimed for an exercise-based treatment that is designed to accelerate cerebellar development. Unfortunately, the published studies are seriously flawed. On measures where control data are available, there is no credible evidence of significant gains in literacy associated with this intervention. There are no published studies on efficacy with the clinical groups for whom the programme is advocated. It is important that family practitioners and paediatricians are aware that the claims made for this expensive treatment are misleading.

This isn’t the first time the research has been questioned and most recently it lead to five people resigning from the Dyslexia Journal’s editorial board. Though there are questions about why only those five, out of twenty plus board members, resigned.

Professor Bishop has a long and notable history of research into dyslexia, ADHD and autism. This includes research relating to motor control, timing and language problems that did find that a genetic problem could cause both language and motor problems.

A timed peg-moving task was used to assess motor skill. Children with combined speech and language impairments obtained poorer peg-moving scores than unaffected children. Bivariate DeFries-Fulker analysis found significant shared genetic variance for impairments on peg-moving and on a test of nonword repetition. It is concluded that genes that put the child at risk for communicative problems also affect motor development, with the association being most evident when speech production is affected.

Without access to the full text of Professor Bishop’s article its impossible to say how fair her criticism of the Dore research is. There are certainly problems with the research relating to control groups and how the children’s progress was measured but all research has issue, especially when dealing with children and a treatment that takes 12 months to complete. Check out this recent research that showed that many medical research papers have miscalculation, poor study design or self-serving data analysis to gauge the difficulties in producing research that cannot be criticised. As ever we need more research before we can find the truth.

Sources:
Curing dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder by training motor co-ordination: Miracle or myth?Motor immaturity and specific speech and language impairment: Evidence for a common genetic basis

ADD / ADHD

Can poor sleep habits in early childhood have long term effects?

Not surprisingly, the short-sleepers were also more likely to score higher on tests of hyperactivity and impulsivity at age six, highlighting the importance of consistent and sufficient sleep in promoting concentration and attention skills. Montplaisir’s group found more hyperactivity even among youngsters who started out as short-sleepers but had normalized their sleeping patterns by preschool age, to 10 hours a night. That suggests that early childhood — before about 3.5 years of age — is a critical period during which parents should establish proper sleeping patterns, says Montplaisir, since lack of sleep during that stage can lead to detrimental effects on behavior and development later in life.

From Time Magazine: Can’t Sleep? Turn Off the Cell Phone! based on the original study: Associations Between Sleep Duration Patterns and Behavioral/Cognitive Functioning at School Entry

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Treatment

Diet and food additives have been suspected as a cause of ADHD since the 1970s and the Dr Feingold diet. After its period in the sun, the idea that certain types of food or chemicals in the food causing ADHD was discarded by mainstream science because the research failed to show any consistent results. This did not stop many thousands of parents changing their children’s diets, often with remarkable success stories.

Now, the UK Food Standard Agency has released the results of complex and top-rate research it has been doing into food colorings. Rather than looking for an individual cause, it looked at mixtures of chemicals commonly found in drinks aimed at children. They tested two mixtures on 260 children split into two age groups, three years old and eight years old. The children including a range of ADHD symptoms from none to extreme so that the study could assess whether the chemicals increase existing symptoms or cause ADHD in those with no symptoms. The study lasted six weeks and during which the children were assessed by the parents, teachers and most importantly, a trained independent observer. The trial was a double blind study so that none of the children, parents, teachers or observers knew whether the child was receiving mixture A, mixture B or a placebo. A second stage of the study used a subset of the children and observed them under tightly controlled laboratory conditions.

The results were complex. Three year olds responded with a significantly increased level of hyperactivity to mixture A whereas the eight year old responded more to mixture B. Also not all children responded the same way and the levels of response where not connected to the child’s existing levels of hyperactive behaviour.

Part of the research was to see if genetic make-up played a role in how children reacted to the drinks. They found that children with genes relating to impair histamine clearance (histamine N-methyltransferase, HNMT Thr105le and/or HNMT T939C). Children with these genes did show a significantly greater reaction to the both mixtures.

One area the research did not clarify is how long the effects last. At various points during the study, children were on a placebo to give the body a chance to remove any residual chemicals. This seemed to be enough but as the children had only been taking the chemical mixtures for a week or two, its is not clear how long they would stay in the body if the child regularly consumed them over several months.

The study has not produced a clear culprit for ADHD and the study authors admit that the results they have seen could be down to chance. However this study and previous work does indicate diet can have an effect, and sometimes a very strong effect, on some children. Should parents avoid these chemicals? I think my advice from the last time Myomancy looked at diet and ADHD still holds true:

The best advice currently available is for children to eat a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. This will certainly help prevent weight problems and improve the child’s overall physical and neurological development. If the diet helps treat ADD / ADHD then that’s a bonus.

FSA’s Press Release
Comments on the study from the FSA’s Chief Scientist
Chronic and acute effects of artificial colourings and preservatives on children’s behaviour: Study design and results.
Detailed review by the FSA’s Committe on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Enviroment. [ PDF ].

The chemicals and colorings used in the study

Mix A replicated the food colours and preservatives used in a previous study and consisted of:

* Sunset yellow (E110)
* Tartrazine (E102)
* Carmoisine (E122)
* Ponceau 4R (E124)
* Sodium benzoate (E211)

Mix B consisted of:

* Sunset yellow (E110)
* Quinoline yellow (E104)
* Carmoisine (E122)
* Allura red (E129)
* Sodium benzoate (E211)

Sodium benzoate was included in both mixes, but the effects observed were not consistent. The Agency therefore considers that, if real, the observed increases in hyperactive behaviour were more likely to be linked to one or more of the specific colours tested.