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Research Update: Early Deprivation and Brain Development

A new article has been published which adds more to that we know about deprivation on development of the mind, body and brain.

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Millions of children worldwide live in nonfamilial institutions. We studied impact on adult brain structure of a particularly severe but time-limited form of institutional deprivation in early life experienced by children who were subsequently adopted into nurturing families. Institutional deprivation was associated with lower total brain volume in a dose-dependent way. Regionally specific effects were seen in medial prefrontal, inferior frontal, and inferior temporal areas. Deprivation-related alterations in total brain volume were associated with lower intelligence quotient and more attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms; alterations in temporal volume seemed compensatory, as they were associated with fewer attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms. We provide evidence that early childhood deprivation is related to alterations in adult brain structure, despite environmental enrichment in intervening years.

Read more here: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/01/01/1911264116

Download a copy [open access] Early childhood deprivation is associated with alterations in adult brain structure despite subsequent environmental enrichment


More articles here…

Enriched Environments as a Potential Treatment for Developmental Disorders: A Critical Assessment

The beneficial effects of enriched environments have been established through a long history of research. Enrichment of the living conditions of captive animals in the form of larger cages, sensory stimulating objects, and opportunities for social interaction and physical exercise, has been shown to reduce emotional reactivity, ameliorate abnormal behaviors, and enhance cognitive functioning. Recently, environmental enrichment research has been extended to humans, in part due to growing interest in its potential therapeutic benefits for children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). This paper reviews the history of enriched environment research and the use of enriched environments as a developmental intervention in studies of both NDD animal models and children. We argue that while environmental enrichment may sometimes benefit children with NDDs, several methodological factors need to be more closely considered before the efficacy of this approach can be adequately evaluated, including: (i) operationally defining and standardizing enriched environment treatments across studies; (ii) use of control groups and better control over potentially confounding variables; and (iii) a comprehensive theoretical framework capable of predicting when and how environmental enrichment will alter the trajectory of NDDs.

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Read more here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00466/full


Early Adverse Experiences and the Developing Brain

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Read more here: https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2015252

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Walking into the New Year

As we start the new year, with lots of hopes for a fresh start, often its the smallest most simple and achievable changes that work best. 

Amy Fleming talks to neuroscientist Shane O’Mara who believes that plenty of regular walking unlocks the cognitive powers of the brain like nothing else. He explains why you should exchange your gym kit for a pair of comfy shoes and get strolling

“Our sensory systems work at their best when they’re moving about the world,” says O’Mara. Read more here 

active dog walking enjoyment fun

 

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Research Update: Examining overlap and homogeneity in ASD, ADHD, and OCD: a data-driven, diagnosis-agnostic approach

“Our results motivate a paradigm shift to challenge how ASD, ADHD, and OCD are currently defined, diagnosed, and treated. In particular, this paper adds to the evidence that these diagnoses may not exist as uniquely-defined diagnostic constructs, and highlights the need to discover other groupings that may be more closely aligned with biology and/or response to treatment.”

So, this study by Kushki et al 2019 is by no means simple. However, the results support our clinical experience of the overlap and common features seen in practice. We see similar overlap is the assessment data we gather, particularly when we SIPT our clients with these diagnoses. The study uses state of the art technology and research methodologies, statistical calculations, and techniques I had never heard of. I had to look them up. However, the research appears to support what we see in clinical practice. I look forward to reading more by these researchers in Canada.

“…we used a data-driven, diagnosis-agnostic approach to examine overlap across three neurodevelopmental disorders (ASD, ADHD, and OCD)…we observed that differences in the domains primarily affected in these disorders may exist along a continuum that includes typical development.”

“The majority of the data-driven clusters contained participants from multiple diagnostic categories, highlighting shared phenotypes and neurobiologies among the diagnostic groups.”

“Social difficulties and inattention are commonly reported as shared features of ASD, ADHD, and OCD….our results support the emerging recognition that the existing behaviorally-defined diagnostic labels may not capture etiologically, biologically, and phenomenologically homogeneous groups.

“…our results are consistent with the notion that that the ASD-like features, and to some extent inattention traits, exist across a continuum that includes typical development”

Read more here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-019-0631-2

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Workshop: Ayres’ Sensory Integration for Health and Wellbeing

Our two day workshop is a “great opportunity to reflect on clinical practice and learn new skills”. Find out more about the application of Ayres’ Sensory Integration beyond childhood to support health and wellbeing.

We can also offer 2 or 3 day onsite bespoke training and consultation for your organisation to support the development of sensory integration informed care pathways.

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What survival looks like in school – a resource for understanding children with trauma

As children and young people go back to school here is a reminder of a fantastic resource from Inner World Work.

This parent and carer online resource and support site, explains how children with trauma might respond and react in difficult situations.

Beautifully illustrated and easy to read it is a great way to help teachers and other adults, who come into contact with children living with trauma, to understand a little more about what might be going on inside when children are in the protective survival states of fight, flight, freeze or submit.

Download the full pdf here