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..

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

Mice From Stem Skin Cells…a new generation

Image: Qi Zhou mice to men

Image: Qi Zhou mice to men

By Amy Price PhD

Recently the Associated Press released news about two teams of  Scientists from China making cloned mice from adult mice skin cells. They reprogram the cells genetically using viruses. This takes a lot of science and tinkering because the mortality rate is massive on the first generation mice but once the system is up and running second and third generation mice from those that managed to survive and live to puberty have better survival rates.  Zhou , one of the scientists looks at this event as an important step to understanding reprogramming via adult stem cells rather than as a way to clone human beings…There is an exerpt from the Nature article below and a link. It is fascinating to read how they got this far and what implications it could have for the future. It is important to realize these are only mice and that in the human 500 deaths to get two or three live mice means the technology is still in the future

David Cyranoski From Nature Reports “Two teams of Chinese researchers have created live mice from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, answering a lingering question about the developmental potential of the cells.

Since Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan created the first iPS cells in 2006, researchers have wondered whether they could generate an entire mammalian body from iPS cells, as they have from true embryonic stem cells. Experiments reported online this week in Nature 2 and in Cell Stem Cell 3 suggest that, at least for mice, the answer is yes.” Link to this article shows a complete picture of how the cells were created and the process so far. They seem to be getting a 1-3.5% live birth rate and things go downhill from there with the mice dying off quite quickly. Timing and culture medium (the stuff the cells grow in) seem to be huge factors

References

  1. Takahashi, K. & Yamanaka, S. Cell 126, 663-676 (2006). | ArticlePubMedISIChemPort |
  2. Zhao, X.-Y. et al. Nature advance online publication doi:10.1038/nature08267 (2009).
  3. Kang, L. et al. Cell Stem Cell doi:10.1016/j.stem.2009.07.001 (2009).
  4. Wernig, M. et al. Nature 448, 318-324 (2007). | ArticlePubMedISIChemPort |
  5. Chin, M. H. et al. Cell Stem Cell 5, 111-123 (2009). | ArticlePubMedChemPort |
  6. Cyranoski, D. Nature 459, 146-147 (2009). | ArticlePubMedChemPort |

Cord Banking and Cerebral Palsy

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By Amy Price PhD

Chloe Levine  is  another one of the children in the Duke University study who has shown pronounced improvement of cerebral palsy after treatment with her own umbilical cord. There have been multiple questions from parents on cord banking and the advantages of banking umbilical cords. This is a follow up on the Dallas Hextell story

It should be noted that  if you choose to private  bank there may be issues with transporting the cord cells across state lines or out of  the country both with safe transport for the cells and with legal issues. There is also a great deal of expertise needed to bring the cells back from a frozen state to where they will be of use to grow out healthy stem cells. It may be best to check  carefully in these areas to avoid complications later on down the road if the cells are needed and you have relocated.

For those that have questions on using donated umbilical cords I have found stem cell companies that claim postitive results but I have not been able to locate peer reviewed research on children or large animals for this area. This does not mean they do not exist as the stem cell research arena grows daily so if anyone has cerebral palsy stem cell therapy research using other means  I would be happy to add this

Dr Frances Verter of Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation graciously helped us  out with some answers. This site has excellent in depth information.

Dr. Amy Price wrote:

It is not clear if children whose cord blood is stored in a public bank will have access to their own cord blood should the need arise. Could you please elaborate on this? Obviously unless the disease is genetic it would make sense to use own donor supplied cells….There is a mail in component but this does not make it clear how a parent would take these steps ….please advise, we get a lot of parents asking about this

Dear Amy,

The “consent” form signed by the mother when they donate to a
public bank makes it very clear that  they are giving up all
ownership or rights to the cells.

Will the parents be able to donate?
Only IF
1) IF they are delivering the baby at a hospital which collects
for a public bank
2) IF they deliver during whatever hours the public bank operates
(sometimes only day shift)
3) IF the mother passes the maternal history screening
4) IF they register early enough

Will they get them back should a need arise?
Yes, but only IF:
1) IF the cells were not discarded.  Typically 60% of donations
to public banks are discarded, usually because of low volume, other
reasons could be infectious disease testing, etc.
2) IF the cells have not been released to someone else.

A lot of parents have the misguided idea that donation is a cheap
way to preserve for themselves.  They should not think in those terms.
Donations is an altruistic act.

There is only one bank which accepts mail-in donations,
Cryobanks Intl in Florida.  I have heard that their rejection
rate is very high, because on top of sample size there is also
shipping time issues.  Here is their enrollment form:
http://www.cryo-intl.com/enroll/donating/

I hope this helps,
Fran Verter

Cord Banking and Cerebral Palsy

Junk DNA gets a voice

  "Junk DNA"  Courtesy Crystal Links.com 2009

"Junk DNA" Courtesy Crystal Links.com 2009

By Amy Price PhD

 

Not so many years ago we were told as students that a very small part of the genome coded for genes and the rest was ‘Junk DNA”. The questions why? followed by what if  come quickly when I am faced with such literal statements. The answer they are junk because no one knows what they do brought cause for alarm in my view because I don’t know what a good portion of the human race does  yet I would not relegate them to junk. I countered with I want to know what happened when you took them all out…turns out that was not doable and I was relegated to the divergent thinker category and lectured on the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle.

I later found a few people such as McClintock who saw this DNA may have value in the 1940s and worked tirelessly  to explore the DNA as a regulatory source for determining which genes are turned on and when they were activated (McClintock, 1965) Around the same time  Britten and  Davidson agreed and further  speculated the junk DNA plays a role in generating different cell types and different biological structures, depending on where in the genome they insert themselves (Britten & Davidson, 1969).

Recently, scientists from Princeton  and Indiana Universities studied the genome of a pond organism and found  that junk DNA or transposons may perform functions that are central to the existence of an organism. Apparently  these genes jump from location to location rearranging  the genome in a way that initiates growth just as McClintock thought. 

These genes are labelled transposons. In and during development, the transposons appear to first influence hundreds of thousands of DNA pieces to regroup. Then, when they are no longer needed the organism can erase the transposases from its genetic material, paring its genome to about 5 percent of its original load.

“The transposons actually perform a central role for the cell,” said Laura Landweber, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biologyat Princeton and an author of the study. “They stitch together the genes in working form.” This research  appeared in the May 15 edition of Science. (MacPherson, Princeton, 2009)

We are just now finding the science that existed in the mind of a researcher over sixty years ago and can watch revelation unravel as  science begins to explore how extensive the role of  junk  or as sometimes coined selfish DNA plays in  the circle of life….Sometimes just as in life it is those quietly working without accolades that are holding it all together who are the real stars!
Britten, R. J., & Davidson, E. H. Gene regulation for higher cells: A theory. Science 165, 349–357 (1969)

 McClintock, B. Components of action of the regulators Spm and Ac. Carnegie Institution of Washington Year Book 64, 527–536 (1965)

MacPherson ,2009 http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S24/28/32C04/ accessed june 27, 2009)