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Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD | Psychology Today

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD | Psychology Today | The process of learning |

In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?


Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological--psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.


French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children's focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child's brain but in the child's social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child's brain.


French child psychiatrists don't use the same system of classification of childhood emotional problems as American psychiatrists. They do not use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM.According to Sociologist Manuel Vallee, the French Federation of Psychiatry developed an alternative classification system as a resistance to the influence of the DSM-3. This alternative was the CFTMEA (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L'Enfant et de L'Adolescent), first released in 1983, and updated in 1988 and 2000. The focus of CFTMEA is on identifying and addressing the underlying psychosocial causes of children's symptoms, not on finding the best pharmacological bandaids with which to mask symptoms.


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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Computer modelling: Brain in a box - €1 billion to model the entire human brain

Computer modelling: Brain in a box - €1 billion to model the entire human brain | The process of learning |

Henry Markram wants €1 billion to model the entire human brain. Sceptics don't think he should get it.


Markram's ambitions fit perfectly with those of Patrick Aebischer, a neuroscientist who became president of the EPFL in 2000 and wanted to make the university a powerhouse in both computation and biomedical research. Markram was one of his first recruits, in 2002. “Henry gave us an excuse to buy a Blue Gene,” says Aebischer, referring to a then-new IBM supercomputer optimized for large-scale simulations. One was installed at the EPFL in 2005, allowing Markram to launch the Blue Brain Project: his first experiment in integrative neuroscience and, in retrospect, a prototype for the HBP.


Part of the project has been a demonstration of what a unifying model might mean, says Markram, who started with a data set on the rat cortex that he and his students had been accumulating since the 1990s. It included results from some 20,000 experiments in many labs, he says — “data on about every cell type that we had come across, the morphology, the reconstruction in three dimensions, the electrical properties, the synaptic communication, where the synapses are located, the way the synapses behave, even genetic data about what genes are expressed”.


By the end of 2005, his team had integrated all the relevant portions of this data set into a single-neuron model. By 2008, the researchers had linked about 10,000 such models into a simulation of a tube-shaped piece of cortex known as a cortical column. Now, using a more advanced version of Blue Gene, they have simulated 100 interconnected columns.


The effort has yielded some discoveries, says Markram, such as the as-yet unpublished statistical distribution of synapses in a column. But its real achievement has been to prove that unifying models can, as promised, serve as repositories for data on cortical structure and function. Indeed, most of the team's efforts have gone into creating “the huge ecosystem of infrastructure and software” required to make Blue Brain useful to every neuroscientist, says Markram. This includes automatic tools for turning data into simulations, and informatics tools such as — a user-editable website that automatically collates structural data on ion channels from publications in the PubMed database, and currently incorporates some 180,000 abstracts.


The ultimate goal was always to integrate data across the entire brain, says Markram. The opportunity to approach that scale finally arose in December 2009, when the European Union announced that it was prepared to pour some €1 billion into each of two high-risk, but potentially transformational, Flagship projects. Markram, who had been part of the 27-member advisory group that endorsed the initiative, lost no time in organizing his own entry. And in May 2011, the HBP was named as one of six candidates that would receive seed money and prepare a full-scale proposal, due in May 2012.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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4 Ways to Supercharge Your Working Memory for Free - (blog)

4 Ways to Supercharge Your Working Memory for Free - (blog) | The process of learning |
4 Ways to Supercharge Your Working Memory for Free (blog)
Research from British psychologist Jackie Andrade suggests that doodling can help you recall information by enlisting your working memory.
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Babies' brains may be tuned to language even before birth

Babies' brains may be tuned to language even before birth | The process of learning |

Despite having brains that are still largely under construction, babies born up to three months before full term can already distinguish between spoken syllables in much the same way that adults do, an imaging study has shown.


Full-term babies — those born after 37 weeks' gestation — display remarkable linguistic sophistication soon after they are born: they recognize their mother’s voice, can tell apart two languages they’d heard before birth and remember short stories read to them while in the womb. 


But exactly how these speech-processing abilities develop has been a point of contention. “The question is: what is innate, and what is due to learning immediately after birth?” asks neuroscientist Fabrice Wallois of the University of Picardy Jules Verne in Amiens, France. 


To answer that, Wallois and his team needed to peek at neural processes already taking place before birth. It is tough to study fetuses, however, so they turned to their same-age peers: babies born 2–3 months premature. At that point, neurons are still migrating to their final destinations; the first connections between upper brain areas are snapping into place; and links have just been forged between the inner ear and cortex.


To test these neural pathways, the researchers played soft voices to premature babies while they were asleep in their incubators a few days after birth, then monitored their brain activity using a non-invasive optical imaging technique called functional near-infrared spectroscopy. They were looking for the tell-tale signals of surprise that brains display — for example, when they suddenly hear male and female voices intermingled after hearing a long run of simply female voices.


The young brains were able to distinguish between male and female voices, as well as between the trickier sounds ‘ga’ and ‘ba’, which demands even faster processing. What is more, the parts of the cortex used were the same as those used by adults for sophisticated understanding of speech and language. 


The results show that linguistic connections inside the cortex are already “present and functional” and did not need to be gradually acquired through repeated exposure to sound, Wallois says. This suggests at least part of these speech-processing abilities is innate. The work could also lead to better techniques caring for the most vulnerable brains, Wallois adds, including premature babies.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Miro Svetlik's curator insight, March 28, 2013 6:16 AM

This may prove really interesting, babies can surely learn a lot new languages quicky in their early life but I think they will retain the preference (liking) for the language of some type, that might answer this (just a wild guess :)