Verbal Interactions Between Babies and Parents Are Important for Language Development

Source: NeuroNet Learning

When a baby cries out, parents are usually the first to respond. What the child cries out for (a bottle, more TV time, or baby-talk) affects the verbal interactions, or social feedback loop, between the parent and child. This social feedback loop has far-reaching impacts over the course of a child’s development, according to new research.

The findings, published in Psychological Science, revealed that increased verbal exchanges between children and parents can reach the millions over the first years of life. The quality of these verbal exchanges, results in substantial differences in children’s language development.

For example, parents are more likely to respond to children when the vocalizations are speech-related. In turn, children are more like to create speech-related vocalizations in response to parents’ spoken words, thus forming a social feedback loop.

To better understand verbal interactions between parents and children, the researchers studied 13,836 hours of daylong audio recordings of caregivers and children, ages 8 months to 4 years old.  Of the 183 children participants, 77 had autism or some type of learning disability.
The participants wore a small audio recorder throughout the day. The recordings were then processed using language technology that identified who or what is making the sound. The software also detected the difference between speech-like sounds, crying or laughing.

The data showed that children who produced fewer vocalizations, such as children with autism, had less speech-related responses from adults. The result is less verbal interactions between the child and parent, reducing the opportunities the child has to learn the social protocol.

The differences in verbal interactions may account for the slower growth in speech-related vocalization and language development in some children. Therefore, parents should frequently talk to their child in the first few years of development, even if it’s just in response to cooing and other noises. Because, we know that before infants begin to talk in complete sentences, they pay close attention to the way a new word is used in a sentence.

I Feel Your Pain: The Neuroscience of Empathy
Source: The Trauma and Mental Health Report
“I saw you doubling over and it felt like a shot right through me.  I didn’t see any blood and there was nothing that scared me.  Just you, in your misery, and a horrible sensation…I could feel your pain.”
This was my mother’s explanation for fainting while watching the doctor treating me in the operation room.
While fainting from another person’s pain may be uncommon, it brings into view an interesting aspect of human experience: the ability to relate to and feel the sensations of others.
Empathy is understanding and experiencing emotions from the perspective of another, a partial blurring of lines between self and other. We put ourselves in the shoes of others with the intention of understanding what they are going through, we employ empathy to make sense of their experiences.
Pain empathy takes the concept of empathy to the next level, describing physical sensations occurring to others. The concept has been portrayed in the form of sympathetic pregnancy, men reporting symptoms similar to those of their pregnant partners.
A subset of motor command neurons, mirror neurons are thought to be responsible for these sensations, firing in our brain when we perform an action, or when we observe someone else perform an action. These neurons can make you feel like you know what the other person is feeling. Witnessing someone getting hit by a ball, you feel a twinge of pain too.
Originally discovered in primates, mirror neurons have been used to explain how humans relate, interact, and even become attached.
Mirror neurons connect us to others. Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran, at the University of California, has described mirror neurons as dissolvers of physical barriers between people (he even nicknamed them Gandhi neurons), explaining that it is our skin receptors that prevent us from getting confused and thinking we are actually experiencing the action.
Though not entirely responsible for empathy, mirror neurons do help us detect when another person is angry, sad or happy, and allow us to feel what the person is feeling as if we were in their place.
Ramachandran suspects that mirror neuron research will lead to understanding purported mind reading abilities, which may in fact have an organic explanation, such as a strong empathic occurrence in which one’s emotional/physical sensations are experienced by the other.
Mirror neurons are important in learning and language acquisition. Through imitation, vicarious learning allows for the construction of culture and tradition.
When malfunctioning, mirror neurons may have a big impact. Individuals diagnosed with autism have difficulty with empathy.  And as Ramachandran suggests, it is indeed mirror neuron dysfunction that is involved in autism.
The discovery of mirror neurons also helps us rethink other concepts, such as human evolution.  Ramachandran says that mirror neurons are what make culture and civilization possible because they are involved in imitation and emulation. In other words, historically, to learn to do something, we have adopted another person’s point of view, and for that we’ve used mirror neurons.
Empathy allows for intimacy and closeness, and mirror neurons provide evidence that humans are biologically inclined to feel empathy for others. More than just an abstract concept, empathy seems rooted in our neurological makeup.
My mother fainted because she couldn’t endure my pain. Perhaps my suffering triggered great anxiety that her body was unable to manage. Or maybe she physically felt my pain.
Mirror neurons are the interface that joins science and humanities. The connection allows us to reconsider concepts like consciousness, the self, even the emergence of culture and civilization.
Indeed, it’s not surprising that Ramachandran compares the discovery of mirror neurons in psychology, to the discovery of DNA in biology.
-Noam Bin Noon, Contributing Writer

I Feel Your Pain: The Neuroscience of Empathy

Source: The Trauma and Mental Health Report

“I saw you doubling over and it felt like a shot right through me.  I didn’t see any blood and there was nothing that scared me.  Just you, in your misery, and a horrible sensation…I could feel your pain.”

This was my mother’s explanation for fainting while watching the doctor treating me in the operation room.

While fainting from another person’s pain may be uncommon, it brings into view an interesting aspect of human experience: the ability to relate to and feel the sensations of others.

Empathy is understanding and experiencing emotions from the perspective of another, a partial blurring of lines between self and other. We put ourselves in the shoes of others with the intention of understanding what they are going through, we employ empathy to make sense of their experiences.

Pain empathy takes the concept of empathy to the next level, describing physical sensations occurring to others. The concept has been portrayed in the form of sympathetic pregnancy, men reporting symptoms similar to those of their pregnant partners.

A subset of motor command neurons, mirror neurons are thought to be responsible for these sensations, firing in our brain when we perform an action, or when we observe someone else perform an action. These neurons can make you feel like you know what the other person is feeling. Witnessing someone getting hit by a ball, you feel a twinge of pain too.

Originally discovered in primates, mirror neurons have been used to explain how humans relate, interact, and even become attached.

Mirror neurons connect us to others. Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran, at the University of California, has described mirror neurons as dissolvers of physical barriers between people (he even nicknamed them Gandhi neurons), explaining that it is our skin receptors that prevent us from getting confused and thinking we are actually experiencing the action.

Though not entirely responsible for empathy, mirror neurons do help us detect when another person is angry, sad or happy, and allow us to feel what the person is feeling as if we were in their place.

Ramachandran suspects that mirror neuron research will lead to understanding purported mind reading abilities, which may in fact have an organic explanation, such as a strong empathic occurrence in which one’s emotional/physical sensations are experienced by the other.

Mirror neurons are important in learning and language acquisition. Through imitation, vicarious learning allows for the construction of culture and tradition.

When malfunctioning, mirror neurons may have a big impact. Individuals diagnosed with autism have difficulty with empathy.  And as Ramachandran suggests, it is indeed mirror neuron dysfunction that is involved in autism.

The discovery of mirror neurons also helps us rethink other concepts, such as human evolution.  Ramachandran says that mirror neurons are what make culture and civilization possible because they are involved in imitation and emulation. In other words, historically, to learn to do something, we have adopted another person’s point of view, and for that we’ve used mirror neurons.

Empathy allows for intimacy and closeness, and mirror neurons provide evidence that humans are biologically inclined to feel empathy for others. More than just an abstract concept, empathy seems rooted in our neurological makeup.

My mother fainted because she couldn’t endure my pain. Perhaps my suffering triggered great anxiety that her body was unable to manage. Or maybe she physically felt my pain.

Mirror neurons are the interface that joins science and humanities. The connection allows us to reconsider concepts like consciousness, the self, even the emergence of culture and civilization.

Indeed, it’s not surprising that Ramachandran compares the discovery of mirror neurons in psychology, to the discovery of DNA in biology.

-Noam Bin Noon, Contributing Writer

Running as Therapy

This is a wonderful article in the NY Times about how Jen Miller used running as therapy. Jen is a very good writer so click on the link above and enjoy her article about Running as Therapy.

Adult ADHD Often Associated with Childhood Abuse

Canadian researchers report a link between adult attention deficit disorder and childhood physical abuse.

In a new study, 30 percent of adults with attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADD/ADHD) report they were physically abused before they turned 18.

This compares to seven percent of those without ADD/ADHD who were physically abused before 18.

Learn More by clicking the link above.

Did you know?: Your brain circuits multitask to detect and discriminate the world around you.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology and Science Daily
Summary: A new study found that neural circuits in the brain rapidly multitask between detecting and discriminating sensory input, such as headlights in the distance. That’s different from how electronic circuits work, where one circuit performs a very specific task. The brain, the study found, is wired in way that allows a single pathway to perform multiple tasks.
Learn More

Did you know?: Your brain circuits multitask to detect and discriminate the world around you.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology and Science Daily

Summary: A new study found that neural circuits in the brain rapidly multitask between detecting and discriminating sensory input, such as headlights in the distance. That’s different from how electronic circuits work, where one circuit performs a very specific task. The brain, the study found, is wired in way that allows a single pathway to perform multiple tasks.

Learn More

Kids With ADHD May Face Higher Obesity Risk as Teens

Kids with ADHD can be impulsive eaters and isolate themselves with sedentary activities. Click the link above to learn more about their higher risk for obesity.

Our memory for sounds is significantly worse than our memory for visual or tactile things
Source: University of Iowa, as summarized on ScienceDaily
Summary: Remember that sound bite you heard on the radio this morning? The grocery items your spouse asked you to pick up? Chances are, you won’t. Researchers have found that when it comes to memory, we don’t remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see or touch.
Read More

Our memory for sounds is significantly worse than our memory for visual or tactile things

Source: University of Iowa, as summarized on ScienceDaily

Summary: Remember that sound bite you heard on the radio this morning? The grocery items your spouse asked you to pick up? Chances are, you won’t. Researchers have found that when it comes to memory, we don’t remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see or touch.

Read More

Children With Brain Injuries Nearly Twice As Likely To Suffer From Depression

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics as summarized in ScienceDaily

Adults with head injuries are known to be at high risk for depression, and yet little research had been done on the topic related to children. In the abstract, “Depression in Children Diagnosed with Brain Injury or Concussion,” presented Oct. 25, 2013 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, researchers sought to identify the prevalence of depression in children with brain injuries, including concussions, in the U.S.

Using data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, researchers identified more than 2,000 children with brain injuries, reflecting the national child brain injury rate of 1.9 percent in 2007; and 3,112 children with diagnosed depression, mirroring the 3.7 percent national child depression rate that year. Compared to other children, 15 percent of those with brain injuries or concussions were diagnosed as depressed — a 4.9 fold increase in the odds of diagnosed depression.

"After adjustment for known predictors of depression in children like family structure, developmental delay and poor physical health, depression remained two times more likely in children with brain injury or concussion," said study author Matthew C. Wylie, MD, author of the abstract, "Depression in Children Diagnosed with Brain Injury or Concussion."

The study, the largest to look at an association between brain injury and depression in children and adolescents, “may enable better prognostication for brain-injured children and facilitate identification of those at high risk of depression,” said Dr. Wylie.

Briana Scurry’s Letter to Young Soccer Players
Briana Scurry, for BrainLine
Soccer is the greatest game on Earth! It’s the favorite sport of nearly every country in the world. As a young soccer player, you are all part of a sacred family, the family of Footballers! Like most sports, our beautiful game has its share of injuries. Some, like my concussion in April 2010, are rather severe and can affect you for a long time. You or your parents might be unsure if it’s a good idea to play soccer because of a possible injury like a concussion.
This past January, I was at a huge convention in Philadelphia and was asked a very interesting question: “If you knew that sustaining a concussion would change your life in the way it has, would you still have chosen to play soccer?” I took a deep breath, paused, and then I said, “Absolutely, unequivocally, yes, every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I have played 173 games in the name of the United States with honor. I’ve stood on the podium twice and heard the National Anthem played in the Olympic Games, I lived my dream for 15 years … I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Do I wish I could have gotten out of the way of the onrushing forward like I’d been able to do hundreds of times before so I didn’t sustain a serious concussion? YES! Do I struggle on a daily basis coping with memory loss, lack of concentration, headaches, mood swings, and several other post-concussive-syndrome symptoms and wonder, why me? Yes. However, the truth is it did happen to me. And I do have to find a way to cope. I choose to pursue my recovery, raise awareness and education of concussions with the same zest and zeal that I did playing soccer. I choose hope, I choose light instead of darkness. I choose to believe that I can have an inspirational future as impactful as my past when I played the game.
I love soccer and I wouldn’t change a day of the joy, success, and relationships that I have experienced. However, like all sports, injuries do happen and sometimes only the player knows how bad the symptoms can feel. When it comes to taking a significant hit to the head, being honest about how you are feeling and telling your parents and coaches is the most important thing you can do. I understand it is hard not to finish the game or to possibly miss out on the next big tournament, and trying to “play through,” “shake it off,” or “walk it off “ when you “get your bell rung” may seem like the tough thing to do for the team at the time. But I am here to tell you that the right thing to do is to tell your parents and coaches if you feel dizzy, get a headache, feel sick, if sounds seem louder, your vision is blurry, or you just don’t feel right. Telling the truth and being completely honest about what you feel is ALWAYS THE BEST thing for everyone.
The fact is that there can be dire consequences if you don’t speak up and tell the truth about how you are feeling. If you get hit again after sustaining a concussion, the effects can be much more dangerous in the short- and long-term. I know it stinks to have to sit on the bench and watch your teammates finish a game or two, but getting the proper rest after a concussion right after it happens is crucial. It’s better to miss one or two or three games than a whole season … or to have symptoms that could change who you are now and in the future.
Soccer is so much more than just kicking a ball to each other and trying to score between two goalposts. Like many other team sports, it teaches valuable life skills such as team work, getting along with others, learning and problem solving, Personal skills are also developed playing the beautiful game: confidence, self-esteem, and setting and achieving goals. What more could you want in a sport? What more indeed? So play with fire, with determination, with passion, with your whole heart and mind. Learn the proper skills and techniques, play with joy, happiness, and a smile on your face and your eyes open wide.

Briana Scurry is widely thought of as one of the world’s best female soccer goalkeepers. After being named starting goalkeeper for the United States women’s national soccer team in 1994, she helped lead the team in two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004), a World Cup  championship (1999), and she had 173 international appearances — a record amongst female soccer players.

Briana Scurry’s Letter to Young Soccer Players

Briana Scurry, for BrainLine

Soccer is the greatest game on Earth! It’s the favorite sport of nearly every country in the world. As a young soccer player, you are all part of a sacred family, the family of Footballers! Like most sports, our beautiful game has its share of injuries. Some, like my concussion in April 2010, are rather severe and can affect you for a long time. You or your parents might be unsure if it’s a good idea to play soccer because of a possible injury like a concussion.

This past January, I was at a huge convention in Philadelphia and was asked a very interesting question: “If you knew that sustaining a concussion would change your life in the way it has, would you still have chosen to play soccer?” I took a deep breath, paused, and then I said, “Absolutely, unequivocally, yes, every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I have played 173 games in the name of the United States with honor. I’ve stood on the podium twice and heard the National Anthem played in the Olympic Games, I lived my dream for 15 years … I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Do I wish I could have gotten out of the way of the onrushing forward like I’d been able to do hundreds of times before so I didn’t sustain a serious concussion? YES! Do I struggle on a daily basis coping with memory loss, lack of concentration, headaches, mood swings, and several other post-concussive-syndrome symptoms and wonder, why me? Yes. However, the truth is it did happen to me. And I do have to find a way to cope. I choose to pursue my recovery, raise awareness and education of concussions with the same zest and zeal that I did playing soccer. I choose hope, I choose light instead of darkness. I choose to believe that I can have an inspirational future as impactful as my past when I played the game.

I love soccer and I wouldn’t change a day of the joy, success, and relationships that I have experienced. However, like all sports, injuries do happen and sometimes only the player knows how bad the symptoms can feel. When it comes to taking a significant hit to the head, being honest about how you are feeling and telling your parents and coaches is the most important thing you can do. I understand it is hard not to finish the game or to possibly miss out on the next big tournament, and trying to “play through,” “shake it off,” or “walk it off “ when you “get your bell rung” may seem like the tough thing to do for the team at the time. But I am here to tell you that the right thing to do is to tell your parents and coaches if you feel dizzy, get a headache, feel sick, if sounds seem louder, your vision is blurry, or you just don’t feel right. Telling the truth and being completely honest about what you feel is ALWAYS THE BEST thing for everyone.

The fact is that there can be dire consequences if you don’t speak up and tell the truth about how you are feeling. If you get hit again after sustaining a concussion, the effects can be much more dangerous in the short- and long-term. I know it stinks to have to sit on the bench and watch your teammates finish a game or two, but getting the proper rest after a concussion right after it happens is crucial. It’s better to miss one or two or three games than a whole season … or to have symptoms that could change who you are now and in the future.

Soccer is so much more than just kicking a ball to each other and trying to score between two goalposts. Like many other team sports, it teaches valuable life skills such as team work, getting along with others, learning and problem solving, Personal skills are also developed playing the beautiful game: confidence, self-esteem, and setting and achieving goals. What more could you want in a sport? What more indeed? So play with fire, with determination, with passion, with your whole heart and mind. Learn the proper skills and techniques, play with joy, happiness, and a smile on your face and your eyes open wide.

Briana Scurry is widely thought of as one of the world’s best female soccer goalkeepers. After being named starting goalkeeper for the United States women’s national soccer team in 1994, she helped lead the team in two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004), a World Cup  championship (1999), and she had 173 international appearances — a record amongst female soccer players.

If I Could Tell Doctors Just One Thing

This is a wonderful blog post by Rosemary Rawlins, wife of a TBI survivor, about the power of hope. “Hope is sometimes the only thing we have to cling to. It’s that fragile branch above the rapids, bent and on the verge of breaking, and yet we grasp for it and hold on tightly no matter what.”

Click the link above to read more, and subscribe to her blog posts through brainline.org.

Triumph Over Yourself

A creative video about how our own minds keep us from moving forward toward greater self-expression. Tom Moody triumphs over himself in the end.