Play Attention and The Power of Nurture

Nurturing to Improve Attention

by Peter| Guest blog | From Play attention

Science has determined that the brain is not a static entity, but a highly adaptive organ. It constantly changes due to environment and stimulation. Can a loving, kind, nurturing parent actually affect an inattentive, impulsive child?

Dr. Oriana Linares, lead author of a study appearing in the March issue of Pediatrics says that nurturing and kindness play significant roles in reducing inattention and impulsivity. Linares is an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Linares and her colleagues studied the lives of 252 children who had been placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect. All of the children exhibited inattention and impulsivity. Over the course of four years, Linares and her researchers gathered information from biological parents, foster parents, classroom teachers and the children themselves.

“Were they always on the go? Always overactive? Climbing on things? Couldn’t stop? Had to have things now? Inattention, forgetting where things were?” Those were some of their questions, Linares said.

Both biological and foster parents confirmed that hyperactivity and inattention improved after the first year in a new foster home. However, teachers did not necessarily see that same results at school. This may suggest that the setting and relationship with the caregiver are influential. 

Most importantly, Linares noted that, “Children whose parents reported higher parental warmth — how much do the parents like the child, how much affection the parent reports towards the child, how much time they spend together — showed fewer ADHD symptoms while children whose parents reported hostility — being annoyed at the child, thinking the child a burden, being angry at the child — showed more ADHD symptoms.”

Linares also found that children who were moved more frequently had more pronounced ADHD symptoms.

“And we’re talking about symptoms associated with a disorder that has a proven biological component to it so it is important to understand that, even with these types of symptoms, the social environment of the child matters tremendously,” Linares said.

Linares’ study, like others, strongly correlates nurturing, kindness, and love to a healthier, more attentive, less impulsive brain.

While we do not get a manual to teach us to parent, it is advisable to develop strategies that will promote a more attentive, less impulsive child. This is not necessarily easy as ADHD children often try our patience to the extreme. However, being a nurturing, loving parent coupled with a consistent, structured environment can produce incredibly good outcomes. Nurture, kindness, love, consistency, and structure are your greatest allies as an ADHD parent.

Play Attention is a  computer strategy that allows individual to learn how to initiage change with the power of their own minds. It is built on neuroscience principles and has  research validated support for helping individuals with ADHD and Learning Deficits.  For more information on Play Attention the premier Edufeedback tool click on the webinair link below

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Positive Thinking Does it Work?

Positive Discrimination aids happiness

Moving Mountains One Thought at a Time

  

By Amy Price PhD   

Positive thinking can be effective  in the beginning to change  outlooks because we are using the mind to actively alter our internal environment and this requires choice and discrimination at the conscious level.  This response gradually gets automated and conditioned to specific symptoms of negativity and loses impact.      

 Response to our environment is often at sub conscious levels and this response can be heightened by threatening, or rejecting information. Negative information which is not optimally processed can perpetuate sensitivity to rejection and lead individuals to  develop low self esteem. Studies have shown that people with low self-esteem have an attentional bias for rejection and people with high self-esteem do not [5]. Imaging studies show that we process rejection in the same area of the brain we process physical pain. Negativity releases a bio-chemical cascade that derails our built in reward system. Suddenly we have a need for sweets and fats to overcome the pain. This is a short term solution that makes us fat, cranky and tired over time as blood glucose levels spike and then drop causing motivational loss, exhaustion and frustration. Positivity discrimination can train you to quickly and automatically filter the positive, beneficial things from every situation and keep your reward system balanced, strong and happy.    

Research indicates self esteem levels can be increased with training.[5] Positivity bias trained in targeted ways can boost natural dopamine levels scores and trigger reward response mechanisms. Oxytocin [1], a  neurochemical crucial for satiation . Flourishing or a positivity bias is characterized by four key components: (a) goodness, indexed by happiness, satisfaction, and superior functioning; (b) generativity, indexed by broadened thought action repertoires and behavioral flexibility; (c) growth, indexed by gains in enduring personal and social resources; and (d) resilience, indexed by survival and growth in the aftermath of adversity    

 Brain strategies that focus on discriminating positivity factors under speed conditions require visio spatial skills, divided attention, executive function and speed of processing.[2]Targeted Action games starve out negative flashbacks by competing for visio spatial and sensory processes using mental rotation thus minimizing PTSD or other negative  memory traces. Deliberate memory recall is left intact [1] Positivity ratios need balance as individuals   flourish  when positivity ratios are above 2.9 ration, while  disintegration occurs when positivity rations top 11.6.  [2] Positivity needs to be recognized as genuine to increase esteem and promote flourishing [3] Older adults with relatively high levels of trait neuroticism evidence impairments on decision-making tasks, Neuroticism  signals a greater likelihood of age-related neuro-cognitive decline. [4] Positivity discrimination can reduce negativity[5]    

 My Brain Solutions is offering a free trial of  E-Catch the feeling to help you to increase your skill at discriminating quickly in favor of positive input and decreasing your sensitivity towards rejection and negative events. If you have an IPhone or Blackberry this can be teamed with My Calm Beat for optimal heart rate variability. This link will take you to mobile solutions including E-Catch The Feeling for your cell phone. For more information on My Brain Solutions, the first integrative neuroscience based brain optimization program and a free trial please email    

  References:    

  1. Holmes et al Can playing the computer game “Tetris” reduce the build-up of flashbacks for trauma? A proposal from cognitive science. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(1):e4153.
  2. Fredrickson B, Losada M. Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing. American Psychologist. 2005;60(7):678–686.
  3. Rosenberg, Et al ,Linkages between facial expressions of anger and transient myocardial ischemia in men with coronary artery disease. Emotion,. (2001). : 1, 107–115.
  4.  Denburg, et al. Poor decision making among older adults is related to elevated levels of neuroticism. Annals of behavioral medicine 2009;37(2):164-72.
  5. Baccus JR, Baldwin MW, Packer DJ.(2004) Psychological APS.;15(7):498-502..

Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention

Vote Now and Help AFSP Win $1 Million

Vote Now and Help
AFSP Win $1 Million
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Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people and is extremely high for physicians. Suicide doesn’t have to be a death sentence it is preventable. Below is an article by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention

In October 2002, AFSP sponsored a workshop to address the disproportionately high rates of suicide among physicians and physicians in training. Studies in the last 40 years have confirmed that physicians die by suicide more frequently than others of their gender and age in both the general population and other professional occupations. On the average, death by suicide is about 70 percent more likely among male physicians in the United States than among other professionals, and 250 percent to 400 percent higher among female physicians. Unlike almost all other population groups in which men die by suicide about four times more frequently than women, among physicians the suicide rate is very similar for both men and women.

This initial workshop brought together experts from a variety of different fields to discuss the many factors that appear to contribute to physician suicide, especially the frequent failure of physicians to recognize depression in themselves (and also in their patients and colleagues). Workshop discussions also focused on institutional barriers that interfere with physicians seeking help when they are aware they are depressed. In some states, the mere fact that a physician is in psychiatric treatment can trigger an intrusive investigation by a state licensing board that can lead to sanctioning regardless of whether there is any evidence of impaired functioning. Within some hospitals and medical centers, appropriate concerns about protecting patients from impaired physicians have inadvertently created a climate that leads depressed physicians to be concerned for their academic and career prospects if they seek the treatment that might prevent impairment from developing.

Following the AFSP workshop, a consensus statement was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that included recommendations for needed changes in professional attitudes and institutional policies to encourage physicians with mental health problems to seek help.

AFSP subsequently played a leadership role in organizing working groups of experts from major healthcare organizations and medical institutions to further develop recommendations in eight key areas: medical student and resident education, medical student and resident health, hospital policies toward physicians with depression and other mental disorders, policies related to licensing of physicians, policies related to physician malpractice and disability insurance, and needed research on physician depression and suicide. In July 2005, AFSP and the Milbank Memorial Fund cosponsored a meeting of these expert groups to share the results of their work and develop actions plans for implementing each group’s recommendations. Results of this meeting were reported in the American Medical Association’s Medical News.

The initial workshop for this project was supported by the Bob and Lynn Bernard Charitable Fund of the Ayco Charitable Foundation.
AFSP is currently working on two new projects aimed at reducing the high suicide mortality rate among physicians:

Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention Film Project

Wyeth and the American College of Psychiatrists have joined AFSP in funding a one-hour documentary film as part of an educational campaign to heighten awareness about physician depression and suicide. The FREDDIE award-winning documentary, Struggling in Silence: Physician Depression and Suicide, premiered on KCET-TV of Los Angeles in the spring of 2008, and has aired on over 300 PBS stations nationwide. The campaign includes educational films and a website, DoctorsWithDepression.org.

A companion film targeted to medical school students, Out of the Silence: Medical Student Depression and Suicide, is being disseminated by AFSP to medical schools across the country, and third film has been created for use in hospitals, residency trainings and at educational conferences and seminars. Both these films include resource materials. The films were produced by the Academy Award®-winning State of the Art Inc.

Through this campaign, AFSP seeks to educate physicians about depression so that they can better recognize the symptoms in themselves and their patients while also cultivating a better understanding of mood disorders in the community at large.

Media coverage of this campaign has been extensive, with more 15 million impressions to date, and an article in Newsweek magazine. More>

Outreach to Medical Students, Residents and Physicians at Risk for Suicide

A pilot project is underway to extend the outreach methods developed through the College Screening Project to medical students, residents and hospital physicians. The goals of this project are to identify individuals with serious depression and other problems that put them at risk for suicidal behavior, and encourage them to get treatment. It is hoped that the anonymous online “dialogues” with a clinician that the screening method allows will prove effective in helping medical students and physicians resolve concerns about treatment that are currently preventing many from seeking help. An initial participant in the pilot project is the University of Pittsburgh. It is anticipated that four more institutions will join the project as additional funds are obtained

Haiti, You can Help!

Haiti Needs You!

By Amy Price PhD

We have great friends Dr. Evan and Dr Donna Morgan who build wells, orphanages, churches and schools for people in Haiti. We have known them for thirty years. There is a little about the work at Http://cupofcoldwater.org  They have made an appeal for assistance in rebuilding families after the earthquake. Help will go to anyone regardless of race or religion. I have included a story of one of the survivors. The address to send help is included. Please consider sending help if you are unable to go yourself.  Aid will go to help those who need it regardless of religion or nationality. This is the story of a young father who survived. 

Dear Friends:
Finally, we have word directly from Benite! As you read through this letter you will see why he has not been able to communicate with us. My heart aches for the plight of this community of Vignier.
Thank you to those of you who have already contributed toward this project. Your gift is such a huge blessing.
To those of you who would now like to make a donation, you can either phone me directly (902-471-3333) to give a credit card donation; or you can send a cheque/money order to:Fellowship of Christians, 147 Chandler Drive, Lr Sackville, NS   B4C 1Y3
All funds (100%) will go to Haiti for rebuilding and restoring the Vignier compound, as well as for immediate relief for the community.  You will receive a tax deductible charitable receipt.
Here is the report in Benite’s own words:
It was 4 :53 when I was getting ready to attend a conference at 5PM with a professor. Sunddenly, I heard a great noise and a big shaking. I run to open the door to go outside. I stand in front of the door and a voice told me not to open it and I went to hide under the desks in the room and in seconds the heavy concrete ceiling fell down. Dust, breathing hard, thinking about my family, my wife, my little Daisie, I could hear the others crying already  for help. It reminds me instantly about what had happened when a school collapsed in Port-au-Prince 2 years ago where children stayed there for 2, 3 days under the rubbles. I thought that It was going to be the same happenning to me.

   Instantly, I began to say that I am not going to die now. I found a crack of about 14 inches  high between two concrete beams( Concrete beam of the floor that I was on and the beam of the ceiling under which I was) and I scrolled myself out and jumped about 20 feet from the first floor. I am alive but I am still under shock, traumatized when I still see myself laughing with the person behind me and in front of me a few seconds before the event. I am still wondering why I am still alive ? How could I be here still ?

The country has lost a lot, it country to rebuild. We lost human ressources, professors, entrepreneurs, teachers, workers, students, etc. According to the last estimates some 150,000 or more have died and more than 250,000 are wounded. Thousands of houses are destroyed, either in Port-au-Prince  or outside of Port-au-Prince.

In Vignier, where we live, we have lost many things :

1.      The school has collapsed and need to be rebuilt.

2.      We lost chairs, benches, desks, file cabinets

3.      The sewing classroom has been destroyed with every thing inside

4.      The cafeteria is on the point to collapse and need to be demolished as soon as possible

5.      The depot where we used to put food and other items is on the point to fell down. It needs to be demolished before it fell down by itself.

6.      We lost our solar panels for they were on top of the school

7.      The front of the church is destroyed and need big repair.

8.      Money that I have to do payroll and to buy food is lost under the rubbles, papers, documents, my adress book, etc.

9.      I lost most of my clothes, my shoes

10.  I lost my laptop, my phones and most of the numbers.

11.  My satellite dish is impacted and I had to come to an internet cafe to write you.

12.  I am sleeping me and my family and some other familes outside.

That was what had happened on the compound in Vignier but there are many others in Vignier and around that lost their houses as well. So, it is a tough situation but it is not over yet.

Haiti needs you and Vignier needs you and I need you.

1.      Prayers for Haiti, for the work in Vignier, I am still under that shock and I am traumatized sometimes.

2.      Your advice is needed on how to approach the situation

3.      We need builders- Construction teams- come and help us  rebuilt.

4.      Be our agent to help mobilize ressources to help rebuild Vignier, Haiti, etc.

5.      Doctors, nurses to come to help in the restoration of people physically, mentally, spiritually

6.      Etc.

We need you to stand alongside of us now so that we can get back on our feet for the situation is terrible.

We love you all and thank you

Benite Jeune

Cognition and the Arts plus Brain Training Trials

By Amy Price PhD

This is a short video about the power of art and children and the impact of  scientifically based training on the brain.

I am grateful for the part the arts played at a critical time in my childhood when my life came undone through the death of a parent and the results of the cascade of unfortunate choices by other family members. A neighbor who was a curator in an art museum scooped me up and found me art and drama scholarships. I was never destined to become a Rembrandt but I survived as a person who realized the value of investing in others. I will never forget the power and self esteem the art restored and the kindness of the people who made a way and found a place in their hearts for me.

I recently attended a Brain Art exhibit in NYC sponsored by http://brainrevolution.org/ This org is making a way for every child to have tools to develop their minds through art and computerized brain training. It was exciting to see the children create and grow.

If you are interested in participating in a brain training trial email. This is a great opportunity to find your cognitive strengths and weaknesses. An online evaluation which has been peer reviewed and industry validated  is part of this package. See what is available by watching this ten minute video on The Mind and Its Potential  

Autistic Children Sensitive to Stereotypes

 

autism awareness

Autism is treatable

  Children with autism, who are unable to grasp the mental states of others, can nonetheless identify with conventional stereotypes based on a person’s race and sex, researchers report in the June 19th issue of Current Biology, published by Cell Press.

 “Even with their limited capacities for social interaction and their apparent inability to orient to social stimuli, these autistic kids pick up and endorse social stereotypes as readily as normally developing kids,” said Lawrence Hirschfeld “One take-away point is that stereotypes are very easy to learn and very robust. They don’t require higher order attention, or apparently even attention to social stimuli, to develop. Stereotypes can be learned even in the face of damage to the ‘social brain’ and under extraordinarily constrained conditions.”

 The profound inability of children with autism to engage in everyday social interaction, as well as impairments in verbal and nonverbal communication, had been attributed to a severe delay in “theory of mind” (ToM) development—the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own. If the use of stereotypes and mental states were part and parcel of the same underlying cognitive process, then autistic children would have similar difficulties with both.

 In fact, the researchers found that autistic children who have a verbal age between 6 and 7 years—and who fail ToM tasks—know and use gender and race stereotypes just like normal children. Hirschfeld said he suspects the stereotypes originate within subtle and seemingly incidental messages that saturate the culture—for example, through advertising or biased attention by the media. The kids might also learn about stereotypes from parental behaviors, such as locking car doors when in certain neighborhoods, even if parents carefully monitor what they say about race to their children.

 Stereotypes are not inherently negative, he said. “We wouldn’t be able to think without social categories,” he said. “Stereotypical roles are important for navigating everyday interactions. Finding a plumber would be difficult if we thought of people only as unique individuals. Getting through the check-out line would be unwieldy if we didn’t have simple scripts about the roles that both shoppers and cashiers play.”

 The results suggest that different kinds of social reasoning occur through independent mechanisms in all people. The autistic children’s surprising ability to recognize broad categories of people might also lead to new methods for helping them improve their ability to function in society, he said.

 Caregivers today often attempt to teach children with autism ToM skills, particularly techniques that make them more sensitive to other people’s mental states. Capitalizing on the kids’ strengths in understanding social categories might offer an alternative and easier learning method for interpreting the behavior of others, one that doesn’t involve “swimming upstream,” Hirschfeld said.

A couple of programs that may help categorize emotion are available. The first one is free  and focuses on positivity which may help if the person needing training is sad or has anger problems and the second one is reasonably priced and an excellent tool for learning emotion for normal and autistic individuals . This can be trial tried online with no sign up. It is important to stress that people with autism are individual people who have autism and different paths will work depending on their individual qualities

If you live in Florida in the Broward or West Plam Beach Areas. There is a brain optimization center in Boca Raton where autistic children and adults have been successfully treated. It is called Sparks of Genius

Alzheimer Care Hints

Generation of friends Alzheimers casn't separate

Generation of friends Alzheimers casn't separate

My friend’s mom has Alzheimers. She was asked by a reporter to give tips for others and this was her story. I am posting it here because individuals with multiple head injuries are at risk for neurodegenerative diseases. Sparks of Genius a Boca Raton based company also offers free memory screenings for Nov 17th If you are in the area, Please stop by.

This is her  Alzhiemer Survival Story

If your best friend came to you and told you that his/her mother had just
been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, what would you tell them are the top three
things they should do?

My mother has Alzheimer’s. She lives in an assisted living facility about 15 minutes from my home.  I am a licensed clinical social worker who works in geriatrics. Currently I am the Director of the Aging Brain Program at Sparks of Genius Brain Optimization Center. (www.sparksofgenius.com).  Here are the three things I would tell my friend:

 Alzheimer’s is a progressive degenerative disease.  That means it’s going to get worse and you need to prepare for it.  There’s a lot that needs to be done. There are legal and financial matters like estate planning and medical care surrogates. If there are multiple children, who will take care of what? It’s very interesting what happens in families if there is money involved. Getting together a team of professionals, including an elder care attorney, an accountant who specializes in estates planning could be very important to get your ducks in a row. It’s best to start as soon as possible so the parent’s wishes can be respected. Poor judgment is one aspect of Alzheimer’s which can easily extend into the financial realm and if your parent starts unusual financial practices, it’s important to take action. 

 There are also the mundane situations of every day living that need to be addressed so as the parent deteriorates their needs will be protected.  Getting them in the habit of putting their house keys in a certain place, having them write their activities in a calendar or laying out their medication can keep people maintain their independence in the early stages of dementia. Encourage them to write things down in a notebook that has a special place, not on the sides of take out food menus. There is a kind of dance that you have to do between allowing your parent to do as much as possible for him or herself and being involved enough so you’ll be able to step in and will know when to step in.  For example, monitor the refrigerator.  Are there nutritious foods in there or is it a science project. Is Mom forgetting her medication or taking it twice. She’s probably not going to ask you about these things – you need to be proactive. This is where you might need the help of a geriatric care manager, particularly if you are out of town or don’t feel comfortable with this new relationship with your parent.  Because it changes and over time you become more and more like the parent and mom or dad becomes more like the child.  Now when I offer my mother a hard candy, she gives me the wrapper.  I guess it’s my roi for massaging her arms with junket rennet custard.

 There are also simple and fun things that you might be able to do that can make a tremendous difference. Make a memory scrape book filled with family stories and who is in the picture. Do it while your parent can still remember them.  Later on this can help orient them when their memory has faded.

  1. Remember to take care of yourself and get help when you need it.  Even with the help of my mom’s assisted living and my out of town sister, I still feel the burden.  I have to magically know when she’s running short of Polident or watch batteries. I go to medical appointments.  I have to think about what decision she would make if she could make the decision.

 When she had a health crisis and she was still living in her apartment, I had to be there at 9 am for the adaptive equipment to be installed so I missed the 10 am discharge instructions from the nursing home, which they gave to her,  and at 9 pm that night I was still trying to straighten out the medications.  Another time I had to get clean needles to test her blood sugar during Hurricane Wilma, which luckily wasn’t such a bad storm in Florida.  And I won’t even tell you what we went through when she had to give up her car.

 Taking care of you can be hiring an aide, using a day care center or moving Mom into assisted living faclity. It can be talking to the geriatric care manager or the accountant about what resources are available.   Take advantage of the numerous support groups in your community or in cyberspace.  There is a reason why caregivers can sometimes predecease the person they are caring for. Take care of yourself.

 Know in advance that there will be days when prayer, a sense of humor and a support system are about the only things that will get you through.

 Just because you have a diagnosis of dementia, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing that you can do.  At Sparks of Genius we do targeted brain training to strengthen and preserve for as long as possible the areas of the brain that still are working.  Even when there is dementia the brain can create new neural pathways. There are medications that can slow down the progression of symptoms.  Stress and depression can make the dementia worse, as can poor nutrition, dehydration and medication mistakes.

 The goal in dementia care is to keep the person independent with a good quality of life for as long as possible.  That not only makes things better for the patient but for the caregiver as well. 

 You didn’t ask me for a fourth thing, but here it is anyway.  There are some gifts that come with dementia. I can see how much my mother loves me, now that her defenses are disabled.  She always smiles when I come.  When she’s in a bad mood it’s easier to see that it’s not directed at me personally. She sometimes thanks me when I do something for her.  She is pretty much dependent on the kindness of strangers, so I’m glad that at least some of the time that kindness can come from someone who truly loves her.