Monday, June 7, 2010

Learning & the Brain Presentation: Martha Denckla

One of my favorite conferences is the Learning and the Brain Conference held at various locations several times a year. The most recent conference was held in Washington, D.C. in early May. I tried to play the role of on-the-spot-reporter and "tweeted" live from the conference.

As you read through these "tweets," keep in mind that I was posting the comments/ideas of the presenter. These do not necessarily represent my conclusions from the research.

Here are my posts from Martha Denckla's keynote:
  • Martha Denckla is next presenter. Topic: “The Syndrome ADHD & the Symptom ‘Attention Deficit’ Overlap Only Partially.”
  • Denckla is an M.D., director of developmental cognitive neurology at Kennedy Krieger Institute, part of Johns Hopkins.
  • Going to use “MD” to indicate ideas/comments from Dr. Martha Denckla.
  • MD: Major issue in ADHD: the executive function capacity.
  • MD: Officially, ADHD (not ADD) with subtypes of inattentive and hyperactivity (or, in full-blown, both).
  • MD: Is there really a “deficit” in ADHD—a quantitative lesser amount? (Denckla suggests
  • that there is not.)
  • MD: In testing for ADHD, a problem can occur in at least four different “steps” of testing process.
  • MD: Many “disagreements” between ADHD scientists are due to differences in study population—not comparing the same elements.
  • MD: “Frontal filtering,” or selective deficit, not “bottom up” processing, is associated with ADHD.
  • MD: More anticipatory errors occur with ADHD, but not covert orienting attention.
  • MD: ADHD children are more dependent on correct cueing. Some studies suggest ADHD deficits worse on left side (rt. hemisphere issue?).
  • MD: ADHD child has intact “bottom up” orienting, but slow response to unexpected events—slower to reorient/re-direct attention.
  • MD: LOTS of evidence for Attention ALLOCATION Deficit—more descriptive name for actual problem. Not a deficit of attention.
  • MD: In ADHD, “distractability” is really “attractability.” Intrinsically rewarding activities are “attractive.”
  • MD: Lack of inhibition when required task lacks “attractability,” cannot allocate attention appropriately.
  • MD: Specific actions done by the nervous system require inhibition of other actions.
  • MD: Inhibition is “other side of coin” of focused attention.
  • MD: Suggested title: A-AD, Allocation-of-Attention Deficit. Impulsivity is shared across subtypes; hyperactivity is less common.
  • MD: Cognitive impulsivity resembles inattention. ADHD is “radar sweep” attention but weak in “spotlight” attention.
  • MD: Sweep of surroundings vs. narrow, steady, intense focus.
  • MD: Right hemisphere more involved in “radar” attention; left hemisphere more involved in
  • “spotlight” attention.
  • MD: Triad of ADHD weaknesses: motor, cognitive, & emotional display control—all executive function issues.
  • MD: Motor control in place around age 15; cognitive, around 25; emotional display, around 32—stages of maturity. Interesting minimal age for President of US: 35.
  • MD: Motor control issues are often indicators of risk for developing ADHD.
  • MD: Girls are typically a year ahead of boys in motor control development until puberty.
  • MD: Example of motor control: finger sequencing on a single hand (not moving other hand in tandem).
  • MD: Future research: relationship of emotional and cognitive regulation. Emotion plays role in focused attention.
  • MD: “Real frontier”: adverse impact of adversity/stress—causes an “amygdala detour” in the brain.
  • MD: So, as a child struggles in school, that stress can mimic ADHD when the child actually does not have ADHD.
  • MD: “If you don;t have ADHD at age 7 you don’t suddenly develop it at age 9.” The “Oh-we-missed-the-ADHD” idea is usually wrong.

No comments: