Saturday, October 11, 2008

Risk and reward compete in brain

...That familiar pull between the promise of victory and the dread of defeat – whether in money, love or sport – is rooted in the brain's architecture, according to a new imaging study....Both regions are located in the prefrontal cortex, an area behind the forehead involved in analysis and planning....By giving volunteers a task that measures risk tolerance and observing their reactions with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers found that activity in one region identified risk-averse volunteers, while activity in a different region was greater in those with an appetite for risk.

Flu Vaccine Protects Mothers and Babies

...Vaccines are not on the priority list for most expectant mothers -- but a recent study shows they may want to consider one vaccine to protect both themselves and their babies....New research shows vaccinating pregnant women for the flu offers significant protection from the virus to both the mothers and their infants. Although the practice of vaccinating pregnant mothers against the flu has been shown to be safe, this study was the first to randomly select subjects and follow them through time....

Protect your eyes from computer vision syndrome

Tens of millions of people spend 4 to 8 hours in front of a computer every day, and it's only going to get worse. All that time can have an impact on your eyesight. Chances are you suffer from a syndrome you don't even realize you have.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fear of Public Speaking

I do a great deal of lecturing around the globe....but always get at least a twinge of "stage fright". I use this to pump me up and to actually make me a better speaker....others find public speaking very fearful....look at this video if you are one of these folks....DM

Vision tests early on in kids' lives pay off

...Vision problems in children can delay their development, affecting walking, learning in school and socializing with other kids.That's why health professionals say it's important that parents have their child's vision checked by a professional to catch diseases early - shortly after birth, at 6 months, before kindergarten and periodically during the school years....

Research suggests FPT cannot be trusted in evaluating vision of young children.

HealthDay (10/3, Reinberg) reported that according to a study published in the Oct. issue of the journal Ophthalmology, the fixation preference test (FPT) "for checking the vision of young children cannot be completely trusted." David S. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, and colleagues, "evaluated visual acuity in 1,504 children aged 30 to 71 months." The authors "found that the FPT, which is considered the standard for testing vision in young children and the only test available to most eye specialists, did not accurately identify problems in visual acuity." Sandra Block, O.D., of the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, "isn't surprised that the FPT isn't foolproof." She stated, "One test that looks at visual acuity in the good seeing eye does not give a full picture. We may be missing some of the amblyopia." Still, Dr. Block noted, "The screenings are an important piece of the child's early evaluation." Dr. Block emphasized the importance of addressing a vision issue "early on, before it develops into true problems that cannot be corrected."

Comment: Dr. Block is an awesome colleague of mine at the Illinois College of Optometry. DM

Sports Vision Therapy Video

...To the average person, 20-20 vision is just fine -- but for athletes to succeed, their vision must be much sharper. That’s why many are turning to sports vision therapy to stay on top of their game....

Toddlers' Focus On Mouths Rather Than On Eyes Is Predictor Of Autism Severity

ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2008) — Scientists at Yale School of Medicine have found that two-year-olds with autism looked significantly more at the mouths of others, and less at their eyes, than typically developing toddlers. This abnormality predicts the level of disability, according to study results published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Lead author Warren Jones and colleagues Ami Klin and Katelin Carr used eye-tracking technology to quantify the visual fixations of two-year-olds who watched caregivers approach them and engage in typical mother-child interactions, such as playing games like peek-a-boo.

After the first few weeks of life, infants look in the eyes of others, setting processes of socialization in motion. In infancy and throughout life, the act of looking at the eyes of others is a window into people's feelings and thoughts and a powerful facilitator in shaping the formation of the social mind and brain.

The scientists found that the amount of time toddlers spent focused on the eyes predicted their level of social disability. The less they focused on the eyes, the more severely disabled they were. These results may offer a useful biomarker for quantifying the presence and severity of autism early in life and screen infants for autism. The findings could aid research on the neurobiology and genetics of autism, work that is dependent on quantifiable markers of syndrome expression.

"The findings offer hope that these novel methods will enable the detection of vulnerabilities for autism in infancy," said Jones, a research scientist from the Yale School of Medicine Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program and the Yale Child Study Center. "We hope this technology can be used to detect and measure signs of an emerging social disability, potentially improving a child's outcome. Earlier intervention would capitalize on the neuroplasticity of the developing brain in infancy."

Study collaborator Ami Klin, director of the Autism Program at the Child Study Center, said they are now using this technology in a large prospective study of the younger siblings of children with autism, who are at greater risk of also developing the condition. "By following babies at risk of autism monthly from the time they are born, we hope to trace the origins of social engagement in human infants and to detect the first signs of derailment from the normative path," said Klin.

Jones and Klin are also engaged in parallel studies aimed at identifying the mechanisms underlying abnormal visual fixation in infants with autism. "Our working hypothesis is that these children's increased fixation on mouths points to a predisposition to seek physical, rather than social contingencies in their surrounding world. They focus on the physical synchrony between lip movements and speech sounds, rather than on the social-affective context of the entreating eye gaze of others," said Jones. "These children may be seeing faces in terms of their physical attributes alone; watching a face without necessarily experiencing it as an engaging partner sharing in a social interaction."

Longitudinal Study of Visual Discomfort Symptoms in College Students

...Visual discomfort symptoms were found to be stable in the majority of young college students over a 1 year period. However, a minority of students showed large variability between the two administrations of the surveys....

'Practise Makes Perfect' - Help For Children With Movement Difficulties

...Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) comprise around five per cent of the population and are sometimes labelled as clumsy or dyspraxic. As they progress through childhood, this lack of movement skill can have long term effects on academic achievement, emotional and social behaviour. Without help, most children do not improve. ...

Comment: Many behavioral optometrist use movement within their therapy programs. Ask your eye doctor if he/she provides this form of therapy. Go to and for more information. DM

Value Of A Standard Vision Test For Children Questioned

...This month's Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, includes reports on the first large-scale visual acuity assessment of preschool children, the Baltimore Pediatric Eye Disease Study. Surprisingly, researchers found that one commonly-used vision test was so inaccurate that its usefulness is questionable...

Comments: That's why a comprehensive eye examination is necessary. You cannot evaluate a child's vision using only one test....which is typically done in a pediatrician's office...DM

Parents' Fears, Confusion Over Autism Confirmed By Survey

...The first national survey of attitudes toward autism reveals that a small but significant percentage of people still believe the disease is caused by childhood vaccines....

Advice About Heart Tests Before ADHD Treatment

...Stimulant medications like those often prescribed for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) raise blood pressure and heart rate, and some drugs carry warning labels for patients with heart problems...

Why Current Publication Practices May Distort Science

ScienceDaily (Oct. 7, 2008) — The current system of publishing medical and scientific research provides "a distorted view of the reality of scientific data that are generated in the laboratory and clinic," says a team of researchers in PLoS Medicine.

In their Essay, Neal Young (National Institutes of Health, USA), John Ioannidis (Tufts University School of Medicine, USA and University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece), and Omar Al-Ubaydli (George Mason University, USA) apply principles from the field of economics to present evidence consistent with a distortion.

There is an "extreme imbalance," they say, between the abundance of supply (the output of basic science laboratories and clinical investigations) and the increasingly limited venues for publication (journals with sufficiently high impact).

The result is that only a small proportion of all research results are eventually chosen for publication, and these results are unrepresentative of scientists' repeated samplings of the real world.

The authors argue that there is a moral imperative to reconsider how scientific data are judged and disseminated.

Blame your genes for your poor reading ability

...A genetic variant believed to be associated with dyslexia can be partly blamed for poor reading ability, according to anew study.... people carrying the key sequence tended to perform worse than average in tests of their reading ability, however, there was no impact on general intelligence. Previous studies have identified at least six candidate genes that appear to affects likelihood of developing dyslexia, a learning difficulty, which affects the development of literacy and language skills.

Associations between Anisometropia, Amblyopia, and Reduced Stereoacuity in a School-Aged Population with a High Prevalence of Astigmatism

Best corrected IAD and presence of amblyopia are related to amount and type of refractive error difference between eyes. Disruption of best corrected random dot SA occurs with smaller interocular differences than those producing an increase in IAD, suggesting that the development of SA is particularly dependent on similarity of the refractive error between eyes.

Ophthalmic disturbances in children with sensorineural hearing loss

Refractive errors were the most common abnormalities (28%), including astigmatism (12%), myopia and astigmatism (8%), and hyperopia (8%). Three (6%) cases had ocular motility disturbance including one case of esotropia, one case of exophoria and one case of exotropia. Twenty-four percent of cases had retinal abnormalities, including suspected Rubella retinopathy (6%), pigmentary changes suspect to retinitis pigmentosa (4%), optic nerve hypoplasia (4%), and finally poor fovea reflex (10%).

Comments: All those with disability must have a comprehensive eye examination. DM

Ciliary body measurements were associated with myopia

Thicker ciliary body measurements were associated with myopia and a longer axial length. Future studies should determine whether this relationship is also present in animal models of myopia and determine the temporal relationship between thickening of the ciliary muscle and the onset of myopia.