Wheelchairs roll at Aspen Valley Marathon Aspen Times Berthiaume, from Tucson, Ariz., and two wheelchair racing colleagues rolled into the third annual Aspen Valley Marathon as part of a national campaign to promote research and treatment for those...
Kim Peek, who lent inspiration to the fictional character Raymond Babbitt—played by Dustin Hoffman—in the movie Rain Man, was a remarkable savant. A savant is an individual who—with little or no apparent effort—completes intellectual tasks that would be impossible for ordinary people to master.
Kim Peek’s special abilities started early, around the age of a year and a half. He could read both pages of an open book at once, one page with one eye and the other with the other eye. This style of reading continued until his dead in 2009. His reading comprehension was impressive. He would retain 98 percent of the information he read. Since he spent most of his days in the library with his dad, he quickly made it through thousands of books, encyclopedia and maps. He could read a thick book in an hour and remember just about anything in it. Because he could quickly absorb loads of information and recall it when necessary, his condition made him a living encyclopedia and a walking GPS. He could provide driving directions between almost any two cities in the world. He could also do calendar calculations (“which day was June 15, 1632?”) and remember old baseball scores and a vast amount of musical, historical and political facts. His memory abilities were astounding.
Unlike many individuals with savant syndrome, Kim Peek was not afflicted with autistic spectrum disorder. Though he was strongly introverted, he did not have difficulties with socialunderstanding and communication. The main cause of his remarkable abilities seems to have been the lack of connections between his brain's two hemispheres. An MRI scan revealed an absence of the corpus callosum, the anterior commissure and the hippocampal commissure, the parts of the neurological system that transfer information between hemispheres. In some sense Kim was a natural born split-brain patient.
Peek's ability to retain large amounts of information may have had something to do with another condition he was afflicted with called macrocephaly. This brain abnormality consists in an excessively large head and a correspondingly huge brain. Kim's head was so heavy that it took several years before he could hold it up on his own.
As a baby the real rain man was diagnosed with mental retardationand the physicians told his parentsthat he never would be able to read or talk. They recommended sending their little boy to a mental institution and geting on with their lives. Despite the recommendation, Kim’s parents chose to raise him at home. They quickly realized that their little boy with the oversized head had a remarkable brain. Due to his parets' efforts, Kim had the oppotunity to develop his amazing talents. A large head does not equal intelligence or ability to retain information. But it does provide more storage space for someone who is able to process the content of 10,000 books, which was the number of books Peek had read by the time of the his death in 2009.
(New York) – The United States should mark July 26, 2013, the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), by strengthening legal protections for people with disabilities at home and abroad, Human Rights Watch said in a...
Housing an ageing population is an ongoing challenge, but applying a few simple principles could ease concerns Effective housing will make or break the UK's ability to meet the challenge of our ageing population.
Individuals with Down's syndrome carry an extra copy of chromosome 21, which causes pervasive developmental delays. The insertion of one gene can muzzle the extra copy of chromosome 21 that causes Down’s syndrome. The method could help researchers to identify the cellular pathways behind the disorder's symptoms, and to design targeted treatments.
The experiment used induced pluripotent stem cells, which can develop into many different types of mature cells, so the researchers hope that one day they will be able to study the effects of Down’s syndrome in different organs and tissue types. That work could lead to treatments that address degenerative symptoms of Down’s syndrome, such as the tendency of people with the disorder to develop early dementia.
“The idea of shutting off a whole chromosome is extremely interesting” in Down’s syndrome research, says stem-cell researcher Nissim Benvenisty of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He anticipates future studies that split altered cells into two batches — one with the extra chromosome 21 turned on, and one with it off — to compare how they function and respond to treatments.
Researchers have previously removed the extra chromosome in cells from people with Down’s syndrome using a different type of genetic modification. That technique relied on the fact that induced pluripotent stem cells that carry the third copy of chromosome 21 occasionally boot it out naturally — but "it’s a pain in the neck”, says Mitchell Weiss, a stem-cell researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. “You can’t control it.”
However, Weiss says that the latest method has its own drawbacks: turning on XIST may not block all gene expression in the extra chromosome, and that could muddle experimental results.
Still, Weiss thinks that the approach could yield fresh treatments for Down's syndrome — and prove useful for studying other chromosome disorders such as Patau syndrome, a developmental disorder caused by a third copy of chromosome 13.
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