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To turn the brain #on!

If it’s safe to admit that sensory stimulation is good for brain development, one can wonder how early does this stimulation need to begin in order to optimize such development. Read more

The cerebellum, cognition and emotions

Introduction

 If it’s true that we often think of the cerebellum as a motor component of the central nervous system, a body of research is emerging as to showcase its non-motor roles. The cerebellum has been most recently shown to be of interest in the cases of ADHD, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders and more.

This blog will delve into the contributions of the cerebellum in these three scenarios.

ADHD

There are three diagnostic criteria for ADHD:

  • Attention deficit;
  • Impulsiveness;
  • Hyperactivity.

If some believe that ADHD is a dysfunction of the frontal-sub cortical pathway, structural and functional neuro imaging studies show changes in the prefrontal cortex, cingulum, basal ganglia, corpus callosum, and cerebral total volume. It is important to note that it is via motor development that these areas are supposed to sync and grow in use.

To add to this, there are multiple studies that have reported cerebellar changes in ADHD.

Castellanos et al. scanned adolescents diagnosed with ADHD (age 15-18) as well as healthy controls, to measure changes over a decade of brain anatomy and volume.

They found volumetric abnormalities with reduced cerebrum and cerebellum size that increased with age.

Major depressive disorder (MDD)

To be diagnosed with MDD, one needs to experience at least one depressive episode that may involve both motor and cognitive symptoms.

Cognitive symptoms consist of difficulty concentrating or indecisiveness. They have been often linked to the prefrontal cortex and limbic system in MDD.

To add to this, in addition to these brain regions, patients with MDD have also shown various abnormalities in the cerebellum.

Yucel et al. found a significantly smaller vermis, an area responsible for the regulation of emotion and cognition, in MDD patients compared to healthy controls.

When one considers that the vermis is responsible for posture and locomotion, it could be interesting to study the effects of a postural intervention on MDD.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are associated with excessive fear and anxiety. These disorders are often accompanied by autonomic reactions, such as muscle tension and elevated heart rate.

It has been reported that impairment of the cerebellum could be linked to a few disorders where anxiety is present, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD).

Conclusion

In conclusion, if one considers the possible effect that the cerebellum can have on someone’s health, maybe we should consider the relative importance of proprioception for performance, and that, on so many levels.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4419550/

 

Mathematics wizard?

Many people are wondering what are the substrates of academic success. One often comes to think that one must simply repeat and repeat a particular activity constantly to improve. Read more

To Read and Comprehend

One reads in order to comprehend. That being said, to comprehend, decoding must be mastered. Why is it then that some can comprehend but have a hard time with decoding when it is decoding that is important for comprehension? Read more

Is rhythm a dancer?

I, without the shadow of a doubt, have been caught before speaking about motricity and cognition.

In 2013, a study out of Northwestern University, Dr. Nina Kraus showed a relationship between neural response consistency and ability to keep a beat. She has a particular interest in studying the relationships between speech, music and learning.

It is more than a 100 high school students that were studied in order to realize that there are surprising links between music, rhythmic abilities and language skills.

This study is actually the first to provide biological evidence linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds. According to Kraus, this has significant implications for reading.

In the Journal of Neuroscience, on September 18th, a link was published between reading ability and beat keeping.

What this current study demonstrates is that accurate beat keeping involves synchronization between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing as well as movement.

Kraus adds: “rhythm is an integral part of both music and language and the rhythm of spoken language is a crucial cue to understanding”.

 When one considers that the cerebellum is highly involved in rhythm production an that it is also responsible for activating the pre frontal areas where language is produced, maybe there actually is something about these coordination exercises suggested in the context of Functional Neurology in terms of improving both movement and learning!

https://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2013-09-importance-link-ability-language-skills.html

 

 

 

Of Movement and More

In order to have access to movement, the cerebellum needs to compare the difference between what we intend to do and what is actually feasible. Read more

Knitting for happiness?

Who would have thought that, of all things, knitting could be useful for more than comfortable sweaters? Read more

Balance and ADHD

What has already been reported is that balance function is worse in ADHD children than in their normal peers. The studied reviewed here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28238393) was designed to asses the effects of balance exercises on the cognitive performance of children with both ADHD and vestibular impairment.

33 children suffering from severe vestibular impairment were randomly assigned to two groups that were matched for age. Some of the children concerned performed balance, gait and eye movement exercises. The other group of children did not. It was twice a week, for 12 weeks that the chosen children performed the selected exercises.

Specific cognitive tests such as choice reaction time (CRT) and spatial working memory (SWM) were utilized to test for cognitive abilities for both groups.

As far as the CRT test goes, the children who performed the exercises performed significantly better than the children that did not.

Generally speaking, this study illustrates that vestibular rehabilitation can improve cognition.

When looking at the brain pathways involved, it can make sense to think that when the body is lacking balance, it can be harder to recruit brain areas specialized in tasks that relate to cognition. In essence, the body’s number one concern is survival. To secure body stability is primary.

Motricity and neuropsychiatry

The goal of the study reviewed here was investigate how motor function and perception relate to measures of ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and CD (Conduct Disorder).

Children with ASD and ADHD have been shown to have high rates of motor and perception difficulties in controlled studies.

Before ADHD ever was ADHD, in the 1980’s, Gillberg and Gillberg (1) introduced the concept of Deficits in Attention, Motor Control and Perception (DAMP) to describe the coexistence/co morbidity of ADHD and motor and/or perception problems, later often subsumed under the label of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

It is several Swedish studies that have shown that about half of all children with ADHD also meet the criteria for DCD and that these children have poorer outcomes than those with either ADHD without DCD.

CD is very common among children with ADHD (2) and not uncommon among children with ASD (3).

In the context of the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS), ADHD, ASD and CD caseness was associated with much higher rates of DCD and Perception disorder caseness. CD caseness in itself was not associated with DCD or Perception problems.

Children born prematurely have been shown to have a higher frequency of motor delays and motor difficulties than children born full term.

Omitting prematurely born children from the analysis strengthens that association between perceptual problems and ASD caseness. This shows that strong correlations between caseness for ADHD and ASD.

This study is probably the largest study ever performed on the relationship between symptoms relating to commonly diagnosed problems in child and adolescent psychiatry – ADHD, ASD, and CD – and motor control and perception problems – commonly encountered but often not separately diagnosed, either as DCD or under any other label.

Cerebellar function is of importance for motor function and seems to be of importance in ASD as well as in ADHD (4) (5).

Considering that the major source of input to the cerebellum arises from the muscle spindles of postural muscles, could it be that it’s time to make links between posture, motor performance and learning/behavioural challenges?

1) Gillberg IC, Gillberg C. Children with deficits in attention, motor control and perception (DAMP): need for specialist treatment. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1988;77:450–451. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1988.tb10678.x.

2) Spencer TJ, Biederman J, Mick E. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis, lifespan, comorbidities, and neurobiology. Ambul Pediatr. 2007;7(Suppl 1):73–81.

3) Anckarsäter H, Larson T, Hansson SL, Carlström E, Ståhlberg O, Gillberg CI, Råstam M, Gillberg C, Lichtenstein P. Child neurodevelopmental and behavioural problems are intercorrelated and dimensionally distributed in the general population. Open Psychiatr J. 2008;2:5–11. doi: 10.2174/1874354400802010005.

4) Rogers TD, McKimm E, Dickson PE, Goldowitz D, Blaha CD, Mittleman G. Is autism a disease of the cerebellum? An integration of clinical and pre-clinical research. Front Syst Neurosci. 2013;7:15. e-pub ahead of print.

5) Fatemi SH, Aldinger KA, Ashwood P, Bauman ML, Blaha CD, Blatt GJ, Chauhan A, Chauhan V, Dager SR, Dickson PE, Estes AM, Goldowitz D, Heck DH, Kemper TL, King BH, Martin LA, Millen KJ, Mittleman G, Mosconi MW, Persico AM, Sweeney JA, Webb SJ, Welsh JP, Schneider M, von Gontard A. Consensus paper: pathological role of the cerebellum in autism. Cerebellum. 2012;11:777–807. doi: 10.1007/s12311-012-0355-9.

 

 

Dyslexia: what is possible

In France, we account for 2 dyslexic children per class. Dyslexia is a difficulty with regards to the alphabet, reading, writing and spelling, despite an intelligence that is average or superior to average and regardless of teaching methods and a positive influence on a socio-cultural level. If some believe it is of genetic origin and hereditary, others think we can fix it.

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