Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dr. Lea Hyvärinen PEPI, The Dalmatian in Motion

PEPI, The Dalmatian in Motion

The picture of PEPI is hidden in the background except when moving. Thus response to it means that the infant/child can perceive an image in motion. A picture of a dog interests most children, especially because it is first hidden and then suddenly appears. The test shows how well the child can

  1. fixate the central fixation target,
  2. make a quick saccad, when the dog swiftly appears in one of the corners, and
  3. use following movement across the screen.

PEPI, The Dalmatian in Motion (PC-version download).

Comments: This is an awesome visual assesment tool for special needs children. DM

Dr. Lea Hyvärinen videos on visual stimulation using simple toys


When an infant has severe visual impairment, visual input may be so limited that the infant/child does not become aware of it. To help the infant to learn to see, stimulation must be strong, well structured and simple. During stimulation we must carefully watch for signs of overstimulation, increase in heart rate, breathing frequency and change in muscle tonus.

Comments: Dr. Hyvarinen has some great videos on her website that show how to use "toys" to provide visual stimulation for visually impaired special needs children. DM

Lea Hyvärinen, MD

One of my personal, all time favorite doctors came to the Illinois College of Optometry on Friday and I had a chance not only to listen to her words of wisdom but also an opportunity to ask her questions and discuss working with children with disability. Dr. Hyvärinen is a true kindred spirit who emphasizes vision function. The eyes need to be healthy and the visual system functional! Imagine that!

I really felt honored when she asked for and obtained a copy of my book, Diagnosis and Management of Special Populations. Please click on the title above for more information on the many talents of Dr. Hyvärinen as well as the innovative tools she has developed to help us evaluated and treat our patients. DM

NIH Amblyopia Video

Vision Therapy Video

The National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute video on the effectiveness of optometric in-office vision therapy on convergence insufficiency. This is a must see video. DM

Learning Related Vision Problems: Video

Optometric Vision Therapy: Eccentric Circles

Optometric Vision Therapy Video: Barrel Card

Convergence Insufficiency and Learning Video

Video on Convergence Insufficiency

The dynamics of convergence insufficiency

...Many people are hindered by vision dysfunctions. One of the most prominent vergence dysfunctions in society is convergence insufficiency (CI) affecting 7% of the population. This study inspects the dynamics of convergence movements in both CI and normal binocular vergence subjects. Two stimulus types, a four degree and six degree step, were presented to an subjects. The goal was to determine if the dynamics of CI subjects were different compared to subjects with normal binocular vergence. Using the main sequence analysis, data show the dynamics of CI subjects were in the normal range as those who had normal binocular vergence, but were on the lower end. This study shows the dynamics of Cl subjects, whom have not had vision therapy, are slower when initiating a convergence movement....

On Track Reading addresses CI


Vision dysfunctions are among the most common sequelae associated with acquired brain
injury (BI). The anatomy and physiology of the vision system, the vascular and neural network
of the brain, and the dynamics of head trauma all contribute to the high incidence of visual
dysfunction with brain injury. Causes of brain injury which may contribute to visual dysfunction
include blunt, penetrating, or acceleration/deceleration trauma; suffocation/hypoxia;
pharmacological toxicity; and cerebral vascular accidents.....

Comments: Long after the typical rehab program has been completed and the patient is considered to have made all the gains they are going to....visual problems persist (click on title above to find out more). These vision problems are treatable. Go to , to find a doctor who can help. The Illinois Eye Institute in Chicago is starting a ABI/TBI service just for individuals with brain injury. Contact us (or me) for more information. DM

Friday, July 24, 2009

COVD Social Networking Sites

College of Optometrists in Vison Development Social Networking Sites
Check us out on...


Stereo-Sue on the Web

Dr. Susan Barry, or Stereo Sue as she has become known through the original article by Oliver Sacks in The New Yorker, continues to make news with the release of her new book Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions.

Read and listen to Dr. Barry's interview on NPR affiliate
Read the interview withDr. Barry
Read the interview by the Review of Optometry

Read Dr. Barry's Articles
South Bend Tribune
The Key to 3D Vision
Why Can't My Child Read?

Dr. Barry's Speaking Engagements
UCLA BerkeleyBookstore Events

Does Your Child Need Vision Therapy?

Arizona Cardinals’ Wide‐Receiver and Pro Bowl MVP, Larry Fitzgerald Encourages Parents to Take Action TODAY

The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) launched their annual campaign to educate the public on the steps they can take to ensure their children aren’t struggling with reading and learning because of undiagnosed vision problems.

"The public doesn’t realize that you need over 15 visual skills to succeed in reading, learning, sports, and in life. Seeing ‘20/20’ is just one of those visual skills." says Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals 2008 NFC West Champions’ wide‐receiver.

During the many pre and post Superbowl press interviews, Fitzgerald, explained that one of the keys to his success was having vision therapy as a child. He had a vision problem that was making it difficult to pay attention in school and his grandfather, Dr. Robert Johnson, a developmental optometrist in Chicago, Illinois, diagnosed the vision problem and the appropriate treatment.

Fitzgerald went through vision therapy under his aunt’s guidance, Dr. Stephanie Johnson‐Brown, who is currently the executive director of the Plano Child Development Center, a not‐for‐profit vision care service corporation which was co‐founded by her father, Dr. Johnson in 1959, which specializes in vision education and the identification and remediation of vision development problems in children and adults.

According to a report from the New Jersey Commission on Business Efficiency of the Public School, "Undiagnosed and untreated vision related learning problems are significant contributors to early reading difficulties and ultimately to special education classification."

Fitzgerald is joining COVD this year to help spread the word that 20/20 is NOT perfect vision and that if your children are struggling with reading you need to take them to see a developmental optometrist. You can visit COVD’s website to find a developmental optometrist near you.
"Vision problems can have a serious impact on a child’s education. Don’t wait to see if this next school year will be better, take action today!" Fitzgerald encourages parents.

One of the most common vision disorders that interferes with reading was recently the focus of a national study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Eye Institute, on convergence insufficiency. This is a vision problem where the two eyes don’t work together in unison the way they are supposed to when one is reading. The result can make reading very difficult.

While at least one out of every 20 school‐age children is impacted by convergence insufficiency, there are other visual abnormalities to be considered. It is estimated that over 60% of problem learners have undiagnosed vision problems contributing to their difficulties.
The good news is the majority of these vision problems can be treated with a program of optometric vision therapy. The study by the NEI found that in‐office vision therapy was the best treatment for convergence insufficiency.

The five most common signs that a vision problem may be interfering with your child’s ability to read and learn are:

1. Skips lines, rereads lines
2. Poor reading comprehension 3. Takes much longer doing homework than it should take 4. Reverses letters like b's into d's when reading
5. Has a short attention span with reading and schoolwork
Any one of these symptoms is a sign of a possible vision problem. A more in‐depth symptom checklist is available on COVD’s website.

Not all eye doctors test for learning‐related vision problems, so it is important for parents to ask the right questions. Call your eye doctor’s office and ask the following two questions:
Do you test for learning‐related vision problems?
Do you provide an in‐office vision therapy program when indicated, or will you refer me to someone who does?
If the answer is no to either one or both of these questions, visit COVD’s website,, to find a developmental optometrist near you.

In closing, the President of COVD, Dr. Carol Scott, a developmental optometrist from Springfield, Missouri says, "In celebration of August being National Children’s Vision and Learning Month, I invite you to visit our website and learn more about the vital role vision plays in our children’s education."

About COVD
The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is an international, non‐profit optometric membership organization that provides education, evaluation and board certification programs in behavioral and developmental vision care, vision therapy and visual rehabilitation. The organization is comprised of doctors of optometry, vision therapists and other vision specialists. For more information on learning‐related vision problems, vision therapy and COVD, please visit or call 888.268.3770.

CONTACT: Pamela R. Happ, CAE
For Immediate Release COVD Executive Director
888 268 3770 tel
[email protected]

When parents say no to vaccines

Comments: This is commentary on some research about this subject. DM

The Fancier The Cortex, The Smarter The Brain?

...Cognitive plasticity is the capacity to learn and improve cognitive skills such as solving problems and remembering events. .... Cortical modules are vertical columns of interconnected neuronal cells. Across different areas of the cerebral cortex, these columns vary in the number and diversity of neurons they contain. Identifying how cortical modules help us learn cognitive skills may help explain why variations in this capacity occur - that is, why people learn skills at different rates and why our ability to learn new skills changes as we age. Studies examining a number of different species have shown that, on average, a larger cortex predicts greater intellectual capacity....

Free Content from the Journal of the Royal Society

Comments: I am interested in everything....and I can't believe the quality of "free stuff" on the Internet if you are willing to seek it out. The Journal of the Royal Society pulishes a wide range of studies on a wide range of topics. Some of which is free....all of which are interesting. Check it out. DM

Associative Sequence Learning: The Role Of Experience In The Development Of Imitation And The Mirror System

...The brain's "mirror system" represents both observed and performed actions. We show that disrupting the function of the inferior frontal gyrus, a mirror system area, interferes with automatic imitation of finger movements.This indicates that the mirror system is causally involved in generating imitative behaviour. We conclude that sensorimotor experience is essential for the development of imitation and the mirror system....

Identification Of Brain's Center For Perceiving 3-D Motion

...Neuroscientists have now pinpointed where and how the brain processes 3-D motion using specially developed computer displays and an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine to scan the brain. They found, surprisingly, that 3-D motion processing occurs in an area in the brain - located just behind the left and right ears - long thought to only be responsible for processing two-dimensional motion (up, down, left and right). ...

Practice Makes Perfect - Motor Memory Possible For Neuroprosthetic Control

..."Practice makes perfect" is the maxim drummed into students struggling to learn a new motor skill - be it riding a bike or developing a killer backhand in tennis. In order to become proficient in any motor task, all that practice must eventually modify the performer's nervous system so that stable motor memories of the physical actions are formed. In this week's issue of PLoS Biology, new research reveals that macaque monkeys can achieve a kind of consolidation of motor memory when using a neuroprosthetic device to complete a motor action. The finding could have a role in increasing the ease with which physically disabled people can master the control of artificial limbs and other disembodied devices....

New Genetic Study Of Asperger Syndrome, Autistic Traits And Empathy

...Scientists from the University of Cambridge have identified 27 genes that are associated with either Asperger Syndrome (AS) and/or autistic traits and/or empathy. The research is published in the journal Autism Research. This is the first candidate gene study of its kind. ...

Shedding Light On Cause Of Down Syndrome And Other Genetic Disorders

...Scientists have a better understanding of what causes an abnormal number of chromosomes in offspring, a condition called aneuploidy that encompasses the most common genetic disorders in humans, such as Down syndrome, and is a leading cause of pregnancy loss. ...

Mindblind Eyes: An Absence Of Spontaneous Theory Of Mind In Asperger Syndrome

.....Highly intelligent adults with Asperger Syndrome still have difficulties in day-to-day social interaction. These difficulties may be explained by 'mindblindness', the idea that they are unable to predict what other people will do by thinking about their mental states, that is, their knowledge and beliefs. If this is true then why do people with Asperger syndrome pass all the standard tests of mental state attribution? Is the theory wrong or are the tests insensitive? This study reports evidence from eye movements, that adults with Asperger Syndrome do not spontaneously anticipate another person's behaviour on the basis of that person's mental state. This is in stark contrast with typical adults, and even young toddlers....

Studying The Impact Of Music On Children With Autism

New Research Shows: Neurofeedback Is An 'Evidence-Based' Treatment For ADHD

...Neurofeedback - also called EEG Biofeedback - is a method used to train brain activity in order to normalize Brain function and treat psychiatric disorders. This treatment method has gained interest over the last 10 years, however the question whether this treatment should be regarded as an Evidence-Based treatment was unanswered until now. Tomorrow a study will be published in the scientific journal 'EEG and Clinical Neuroscience' demonstrating that Neurofeedback can indeed be regarded as an evidence-based treatment for Attention Deficit- / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)....

New Research Evaluates The Impact Of Working Memory Training And Stimulant Medication On Kids With ADHD

...A study to be published in the August 2009 edition of Applied Cognitive Psychology sheds new light on how Cogmed Working Memory Training and stimulant medication address working memory impairments in children with ADHD. Working memory, acknowledged as one of the core deficits in ADHD, represents the brain's ability to hold and process critical information related to the present moment. This study represents the latest findings from a team of independent UK researchers whose ongoing work examines the impact of Cogmed's software-based training program on individuals with disorders of memory and attention. ...

Parents Active in Vision Educationi

69th Northeast Congress of Optometry

69th Northeast Congress of Optometry

You CAN Treat Strabismus, a program for ALL optometrists

Sunday and Monday September 13-14, 2009

Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center
Westford, MA

For info contact:
Kathleen Prucnal, O.D.
Northeast Congress
P.O.Box 821
Townsend, MA 01469

[email protected]

Neurologic Complications Seen with Swine Flu

...Clinicians encountering children with flu-like symptoms accompanied by neurologic symptoms should consider infection with the pandemic H1N1 (swine flu) virus in the differential diagnosis...Neurological complications, including seizures, encephalitis, encephalopathy, and Reye syndrome, had previously been associated with seasonal influenza viruses but had not yet been described in connection to the new pandemic strain...

Short Stressful Events May Improve Working Memory

...Experiencing chronic stress day after day can produce wear and tear on the body physically and mentally, and can have a detrimental effect on learning and emotion. However, acute stress -- a short stressful incident -- may enhance learning and memory....

Training said to help stroke patients focus

...Having a stroke often robs people of the ability to focus, but victims who undertake attention-training exercises with a psychologist recover some of what they lost...

Autism not tied to bowel movement patterns

...Despite some reports to the contrary, children with autistic spectrum disorders do not have bowel movement patterns that suggest gastrointestinal problems...

Stop and smell the flowers -- the scent really can soothe stress

Feeling stressed? Then try savoring the scent of lemon, mango, lavender, or other fragrant plants. Scientists in Japan are reporting the first scientific evidence that inhaling certain fragrances alter gene activity and blood chemistry in ways that can reduce stress levels. Their study appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nine Percent Of US Children Age 8 To 15 Meet Criteria For Having ADHD

...An estimated 8.7 percent of U.S. children age 8 to 15 meet diagnostic criteria for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, but fewer than half receive treatment, according to a new report....

Comments: Maybe it's time to change the criteria! As far as I can tell, there are now no normaly children left in America. They all have ADHD, Autism, or some other disorder! DM

New 'Eye Movement' Test May Help Treat Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

... A simple test that measures eye movement may help to identify children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and ultimately lead to improved treatment for the condition...

Comments: Nothing is every "simple". They really do not describe the test. Strange. DM

Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Have More Severe Behavioral Problems Than Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

....Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) have a high risk of psychiatric problems, particularly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, or both. Often children with FASD are initially diagnosed with ADHD. A new study is the first to examine a range of cognitive factors and social behavior in children with FASD and ADHD, finding that those with FASD have significantly weaker social cognition and facial emotion-processing abilities...

Closing schools won't stop pandemics: study

...Closing schools at the first sign of a new pandemic might delay the worst so health officials can prepare, but cannot prevent the spread of the disease, British researchers said on Monday....And while closing schools might spread out demands on hospitals, it could disrupt healthcare services and the rest of the economy in other ways...

Monday, July 20, 2009

3D Space Wiggle: click on title to see it in 3D

Why Can't My Child Read?

...Poor eye coordination affects more than the four percent of children who are cross-eyed or walleyed. An additional five percent of children (about one per classroom) have a condition called "convergence insufficiency." Although their eyes look straight and they may coordinate them well for far viewing, they do not use them well when they look near. When they try to read, the letters appear blurry or doubled. Since a young child may not know that this is abnormal, he may not report what he sees to his teachers or parents. Sadly, this condition is not picked up by the standard school eye exam which tests only how well one eye sees at a distance of twenty feet. As a result, the child may be diagnosed with a learning disability, or if he misbehaves in frustration, with ADHD....

Einstein's cerebral cortex

..... Einstein's cerebral cortex is investigated in light of available data about variation in human sulcal patterns. Although much of his cortical surface was unremarkable, regions in and near Einstein's primary somatosensory and motor cortices were unusual. It is possible that these atypical aspects of Einstein's cerebral cortex were related to the difficulty with which he acquired language, his preference for thinking in sensory impressions including visual images rather than words, and his early training on the violin......

Comments: Full text of the article is available by clicking on the title above! Dm

Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience

Comments: A new journal. Check it out.DM

Adult ADHD and Genetics

...Converging evidence suggests that ADHD aetiology has a robust genetic component. The heritability of the adult form of ADHD appears even higher than that of children. With the adult form of ADHD being the most severe one, focusing on the genetics of ADHD in adults can be expected to guide future research in this challenging field....

Eighteenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2009 Abstracts

Comment: If you are into Brain Stuff...check this out today! DM

"Miracle drug" for autism is "dangerous and unproven"

...An unproven and potentially dangerous drug is being touted as a miracle drug for autism treatment. The protocol, developed by Dr. Mark Geier and his son, David, involves repeated injections of Lupron, a powerful drug used to chemically castrate sex offenders. The men are marketing their protcol across the country and have already opened up clinics. Renowned doctors from around the world have denounced this treatment as unproven, based on "junk" science, and potentially damaging to a developing child's bones and organs. ....

Autism and vaccines: The battle continues

Dr. Eric London, co-founder of the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR), has announced his resignation from the Autism Speaks Scientific Affairs Committee. Dr. London is also the Director of the Autism Treatment Laboratory at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities and the Chief Scientific Advisor of the New York State Autism Consortium. He is a member of the Autism Science Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr. London's resignation speaks volumes because he is completely dissociating himself from the Autism Speaks organization, after three years of trying to work with them. His reasons have to do with his concern that Autism Speaks is misleading parents, and encouraging undue concern over vaccines.
Many, many research studies, some very large, have repeatedly disproved any connection between vaccines and autism

Comments: Watch for the big Autism Theme issue of Optometry & Vision Development...several articles discuss the latest research in autism....and there's one there by I certain editor/author I know very well that addresses the issue of the etiology of autism....go to often to see when this issue is publish. All OVD issues are open access. DM

Effectiveness of screening preschool children for amblyopia: a systematic review

...Five studies met the inclusion criteria. Of these, three studies suggested that screening is associated with a ...reduction in the prevalence of amblyopia ...However, the studies showed weaknesses, limiting the validity and reliability of their findings. The main limitation was that studies with significant results considered only a proportion of the originally recruited children in their analysis. On the other hand, retrospective sample size calculation indicated that the power based on the cohort size was not sufficient to detect small changes between the groups. Outcome parameters such as quality of life or adverse effects of screening have not been adequately investigated in the literature currently available. ...Population based preschool vision screening programmes cannot be sufficiently assessed by the literature currently available. ...

Comments: Vision screenings can never be considered adequate. There have been too many children with significant problems who were missed during these screenings. Go to VisionFirst Foundation to learn more. The full text of this article is available by clicking here. DM

50th Wedding Anniversary

I had an opportunity to be the "official" 50th wedding anniversary photographer for some friends of mine who celebrated 5 decades on the title to see the photos!