The most interesting study covered in Dyslexia and the Cerebellum: The Missing Evidence has an interesting connection to other studies covered on Myomancy.
Premature babies often have learning difficulties in later life. Quite often, the more premature the baby, the worse these are. This has been linked to the babies having an underdeveloped cerebellum. In the post Cerebellum More Than Just a Motor we reported that a baby who had a poorly developed right cerebellum would also have a poorly developed left cerebrum (i.e. the thinking, frontal part of the brain). The study on speech and the cerebellum found that right cerebellum was tightly linked to the left, frontal lobes. It is not hard to imagine that if one half of this speech system is damaged, then the other half fails to develop properly because of a lack of stimulation. All this points to a strong connection between the development of the cerebellum and language skills.
The cerebellum / speech paper came from the journal Cerebellum and it is certainly one I will be keeping an eye on. It has many fascinating studies that point to the role of the cerebellum in dyslexia, ADHD and autism. Here are couple choice morsels.
The cerebellum in cognitive processes: Supporting studies in children
In conclusion, the cerebellum seems to play an important role in many higher cognitive functions especially in learning.
And one for Kevin at Tick Tock Talk, the IQ and rhythm blog:
Timing of rhythmic movements in patients with cerebellar degeneration
…these results provide further evidence that the integrity of the cerebellum is especially important for event timing…
There have been several studies that have link attention problems like ADHD with the amount of television watched when young (such as this one: TV and ADHD). There have also been the occasion studies that say there is no link (see TV Not a Cause of ADHD). Now a new study published in Pediatrics is proposing a link but the study is not all the it seems.
New Scientist magazine picked up on the study and said:
Watching television more than two hours a day early in life can lead to attention problems later in adolescence, according to a large long-term study.
The roughly 40% increase in attention problems among “heavy” TV viewers was observed in both boys and girls, and was independent of whether a diagnosis of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder was made prior to adolescence.
However going from the study’s abstract, there is more here than meets the eye.
Firstly the study uses data from longitudinal study that started with children born in 1972 and followed them up to the age of 15, around 1987. Clearly this study is reanalyzing old data. This is not in itself a problem but data collected twenty years ago for, presumably, a completely different study may not match modern standards or fit with our current understanding of attention problems.
The second problem is the study is twice damned by reported, rather than measured, data. The amount of time the children spent watching TV was estimated by the parents and attention problems were reported by teachers, parents and the individuals themselves. Data that is reported in this manner has to be treated with caution because it is very prone to error. Especially when talking about attention problems which are subjective. The teacher may see an pupil with an attention problem but the pupil may be just bored by a poor teacher.
There is evidence that show watching lots of TV as a very young child may be connected to attention problems but we need far better data than this study before we can be sure. Once we identify a connection, cause and effect still have to be established. Child who watch TV may develop attention problems or maybe children with attention problems watch a lot of TV.
Does Childhood Television Viewing Lead to Attention Problems in Adolescence? Results From a Prospective Longitudinal Study
Conclusions. The results suggest that drivers with ADHD became fatigued more quickly than controls. Such drivers thus face greater risk of involvement in accidents on highways or open roadways where the visual and task monotony of the environment contribute to greater driver fatigue.
Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: ADHD Drivers on Brainblog
Whilst searching for papers for ADHD and Sex I found this study: Differences in heterosocial behavior and outcomes of ADHD-symptomatic subtypes in a college sample.
The study looked at three groups of around 20 individuals of college age. One was a group of non-ADHD controls. The second group were ADHD Combined type (ADHD/C) and the last group ADHD Primarily Inattentive (ADHD/IA). (See ADD or ADHD for more on the different types of ADHD). The ADHD/C group had higher sex drive and early dating experience compared to the control group where as the ADHD/IA had a consistent pattern of passivity and inexperience and was perceived relatively negatively by female confederates.
This is interesting because studies of ADHD adults found: ADHD adults started having sex a year earlier; about a third dropped out of high school, compared with none of the control group; 1 out of 3 had become parents by their early 20s vs. 1 in 25 of the controls. (ADHD Problems Continue Into Adulthood). The two studies suggest that the ‘cool’ kids in school, those that rebel, adopt high risk behaviour (drug taking etc) and become sexually active earlier, are ADHDers with the combined type. Whereas the geeky kids who are seen negatively by their peers and are late developers are more likely to be inattentive type.
That ADHD plays a role in these two significant social groups in college, the rebels and the geeks, raise interesting questions about what ADHD is. How much of this behaviour can we put down to personality type and how much is a neurological problem?
Using the Myomancy blogroll and a few other tools I trawl the internet for references to dyslexia, ADHD and everything related. Generally I find nothing of interest but its like beach combing. Amongst all the flotsam and jetsam, something useful occasionally turns up. On a recent search I came across a reference on a blog that I would not normally link to from Myomancy but because they touched on an important issue I will. Its People Having Sex, a Not Safe For Work adult blog, that was looking at Drugs & Sex. One of the drugs they mentioned was Ritalin.
Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is widely used both legally and illegally. It apparently causes increased or decreased sexual desire dependent on the dosage. At higher doses, it may aggravate premature ejaculation and impotence and cause anxiety
On ADHD fourms (such as ADD Forums) you often find people taking ADHD medication and talking about sexual dysfunction (such as this thread). It seems to be quite a common problem but because most studies are done on children, it isn’t well documented. See Concerta Side Effects, Ritalin Side Effects and Adderall Side Effects for more information on ADHD medication side effects.
The only work I can find on the issues is The Management of Medication-Induced Sexual Dysfunction [ PDF ] which in turn references Methylphenidate and SSRI-Induced sexual side effects. Unfortunately that study is not available online.
The effects that ADHD medication like Ritalin and Adderall have on sex drive and sexual performance is real and is highly disturbing for those it effects. It is an area where more research it definitely needed.
In a ground breaking study for the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers have found no difference between the effectiveness of ADHD medication when compared to behavioral therapy or combined drug and behavioral therapy. In earlier stages of the study, ADHD medication had a clear advantage but over time the advantages of medication were lost.
The study started with around six hundred children who were randomly split between four groups: Medication, Behavioral Therapy, Medication & Behavioral Therapy, or no treatment. For the next 14 months the children followed the treatment plan supplied by the researchers. Then, for the next two years parents were able to chose how to treat their children.
“It’s quite clear that each of these treatments is better than no treatment at all,” said lead study author Peter Jensen, director of Columbia University’s Center for the Advancement of Children’s Mental Health.
Its not clear why medication started so strongly as the best treatment but faded over time. Its possibly due to an age-related decline in ADHD symptoms, changes in medication management intensity, starting or stopping medications altogether, or a number of other factors.
Study abstract: 3-Year Follow-up of the NIMH MTA Study
Coverage in the Washington Post
From Myomancy’s blogroll .
Long time reader Mary sent me details of a study on how legal and illegal drugs effect the developing brain. The results suggest that Delta FosB, a brain chemical that is linked to addiction, greatly increases. However this only happens in adolescent brains, not in young or older brains. This highlights both how adolescent brains far more plastic and subject to change than adult or child brains.
See Jefferson Scientists Find Evidence Of Greater Sensitivity To Addictive Drugs In Adolescence for a write up of the study or Periadolescent Mice Show Enhanced Delta FosB Upregulation in Response to Cocaine and Amphetamine for the original study.
Sorry about the lack of activity on Myomancy. A combination of factors has left me with no time to work on Myomancy. Things should improve soon. Amongst other things, Myomancy will be moving to new server allowing me some exciting new features and fix a few problems.