Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How music alters the teenage brain

How music alters the teenage brain

  • Music enhances the teenage brain's response to sound; sharpens language skills
  • Band class had larger effect on brain than fitness-based ROTC training
  • Results highlight music's place in the high school curriculum
  •  'Music may engender what educators refer to as learning to learn'
Comment: So why are music and the arts the first to get cut from school programs? Makes no sense does it? Support the arts in school, in the community, in your life! DM

Sunday, July 19, 2015

King-Devick Test Accurately Detects Concussions in Youth Athletes

King-Devick Test Accurately Detects Concussions in Youth Athletes 

Oakbrook Terrace, IL - A quick, accurate screening tool for concussion detection which can be easily performed on the sidelines has been further validated in a two recent studies published in the peer reviewed Journal of the Neurological Sciences on June 13, 2015 and July 2, 2015 respectively.  These studies evaluate sideline/pitch side screening of concussions in adolescent football and youth rugby. The King-Devick Test, a concussion tool screens for the often subtle signs of brain injury that disrupt the eyes' ability to accurately and efficiently move across a page upon the brain's command. Athletes are asked to read aloud single-digit numbers displayed on standardized test cards available electronically via mobile iPad and Android devices. The King-Devick in association with Mayo Clinic, requires smooth and precise eye movements between number targets, concentration, attention, recognition and rapid language ability, all of which can be affected during concussion.

In the study of high school football, researchers baseline tested over 300 student athletes across Southeast Michigan high school football teams. During the study, nine athletes were diagnosed with concussion. In all concussed athletes, King-Devick test performance was significantly worse than their baseline indicating the simple sideline tool is highly accurate in detecting concussion. 

More than 8000 miles away in New Zealand, a study of youth rugby, tested athletes with the King-Devick Test after matches to screen for unwitnessed, unreported concussions. In their previous work, researchers found unwitnessed concussion to have a nearly 6 times greater incidence than witnessed, reported concussions when regular post-match screening with King-Devick Test was used. The findings were similar in this group of 9 and 10 year old athletes. There were 7 instances of worse King-Devick Test performance after a match and all were medically identified concussions. Also similar to previous studies, an examination of the reliability of retest or tests conducted by different testers showed that the King-Devick test has high reliability. 

These studies further validate the King-Devick test as an accurate and easy to administer sideline screening tool for concussion which is particularly useful in younger athletes that are at higher risk of concussive injury and are not always afforded health care professionals on the sidelines. There have been more than 50 peer reviewed studies regarding the King-Devick Test which have been recently released.

More information is available here: http://www.kingdevicktest.com/

Friday, July 17, 2015

Stereopsis and Amblyopia

Stereopsis and Amblyopia: Expert Comments from my Friend and Colleague Susan Barry, PhD


This paper by Levi and colleagues challenges two assumptions that have persisted in the medical literature for the past 2 centuries. The first is that the principal deficit in amblyopia is reduced visual acuity in the affected eye so that the optimal treatment is occlusion of the non-amblyopic eye. However, current research suggests that amblyopia results from poor binocular cooperation between the two eyes, leading, not only to reduced visual acuity in the affected eye, but also to reduced or absent stereopsis. Accordingly, the authors reviewed the impact of amblyopia on stereopsis and the consequences of reduced or absent stereopsis on visuomotor skills, career opportunities, and self-image. Occlusion therapy, even if it results in enhanced visual acuity in the amblyopic eye, produces only modest improvements in stereopsis.
Treatment for amblyopia has traditionally been applied only to children because it was generally assumed that the visual system is malleable only during a critical period in early childhood. However, as the authors point out, a large degree of plasticity in the very young brain does not imply that plasticity comes to an end after childhood. Indeed, the authors review 21 experimental treatments involving 259 individuals, mostly adults. These studies involved monocular and dichoptic perceptual learning protocols, monocular and dichoptic videogame play, and direct stereo training. Across all treatments, 55% of anisometropic amblyopes and 26% of strabismic amblyopes showed substantial improvement in stereoacuity after training, with the dichoptic and direct stereo training protocols proving the most effective.
In summary, Levi and colleagues provide evidence that amblyopia can be treated in adulthood. Limited recovery from amblyopia to date may result from the narrow scope of treatments standardly available and an overly pessimistic view of adult visual plasticity.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Return to Learn: A Guide to Visual Recovery from Concussion

Children and adults are vulnerable to concussion if they play sports or were involved in an accident. Current research suggests the following approach for the vision problems noted to be present after injury.

To find a doctor who can help go to http://www.COVD.org




Sunday, July 12, 2015

Photorefractive keratectomy on purely refractive accommodative esotropia

Photorefractive keratectomy on purely refractive accommodative esotropia


"....this ...study comprised patients with purely accommodative hyperopic esotropia. Patients underwent a ... ophthalmologic examination that included pre-operative and post-operative best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and uncorrected visual acuity....A two-year follow-up showed that photorefractive keratectomy was an effective treatment for esotropia associated with mild to moderate hyperopia in young adults with purely refractive accommodative esotropia......"

Comment: If the subjects were "pure accommodative esotropes," why do surgery when a simple pair of glasses would correct the problem especially since they had moderate hyperopia?  DM

Friday, July 10, 2015

Slanted medial rectus recession is effective in the treatment of convergence excess esotropia.

Slanted medial rectus recession is effective in the treatment of convergence excess esotropia.


"...Near-distance disparity of 10 PD or less was obtained in 14 patients after surgery (87.5%), except 2 patients who had 16 PD of disparity. The authors did not encounter overcorrection except in 1 patient in whom minimal exophoria at distance and near with the glasses was observed and reduced the prescription....."

Comment: The outcome numbers for this study tend to be a bit better than the 20-30% fail rate for other papers that look at strabismus surgery outcome. I wonder what the success rate would be if these patients had vision therapy prior to and after surgery? Maybe one day this will be the standard approach by all to ensure better outcomes. DM


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Viewing cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions

Viewing cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions


"....If you get a warm, fuzzy feeling after watching cute cat videos online, the effect may be more profound than you think.
Lil' Bub
Bloomington, Ind.'s own Lil Bub is one of the more popular felines on the Internet.
Credit: Photo by Mike Bridavsky / http://www.lilbub.com
The Internet phenomenon of watching cat videos, from Lil Bub to Grumpy Cat, does more than simply entertain; it boosts viewers' energy and positive emotions and decreases negative feelings, according to a new study by an Indiana University Media School researcher...."


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Soccer is hard on the brain: heading the ball may impair the player's memory

Soccer is hard on the brain: heading the ball may impair the player's memory


"...Heading the ball is not good for the brain. Even when the heads of soccer players are exposed to collisions or blows too frequently, these slight, but recurring concussions result in attention deficit in the long term. This is suggested by a Croatian study which was presented at the 1st Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Berlin..."

Monday, July 6, 2015

Quantifying naturalistic social gaze in fragile X syndrome using a novel eye tracking paradigm.

Quantifying naturalistic social gaze in fragile X syndrome using a novel eye tracking paradigm.

"....A hallmark behavioral feature of fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the propensity for individuals with the syndrome to exhibit significant impairments in social gaze during interactions with others. ....To improve upon previous studies, we used a customized eye tracking configuration to quantify the social gaze..... Results showed that participants with FXS spent significantly less time looking at the face and had shorter episodes (and longer inter-episodes) of social gaze than controls. Regression analyses indicated that communication ability predicted higher levels of social gaze in individuals with FXS, but not in controls. Conversely, degree of autistic symptoms predicted lower levels of social gaze in controls, but not in individuals with FXS. Taken together, these data indicate that naturalistic social gaze in FXS can be measured objectively using existing eye tracking technology during face-to-face social interactions. Given that impairments in social gaze were specific to FXS, this paradigm could be employed as an objective and ecologically valid outcome measure in ongoing Phase II/Phase III clinical trials of FXS-specific interventions.....


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Enhanced Visual Search in Infancy Predicts Emerging Autism Symptoms.

Enhanced Visual Search in Infancy Predicts Emerging Autism Symptoms.

"....Enhanced visual search performance at 9 months predicted a higher level of autism symptoms at 15 months and at 2 years. Infant perceptual atypicalities are thus intrinsically linked to the emerging autism phenotype...."