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  • richardmitnick 9:03 pm on April 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ADHD,   

    From Scientific American: “The Creative Gifts of ADHD” 

    Scientific American

    Scientific American

    Beautiful Minds

    October 21, 2014 [Why just now?]
    Scott Barry Kaufman

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    “Just because a diagnosis [of ADHD] can be made does not take away from the great traits we love about Calvin and his imaginary tiger friend, Hobbes. In fact, we actually love Calvin BECAUSE of his ADHD traits. Calvin’s imagination, creativity, energy, lack of attention, and view of the world are the gifts that Mr. Watterson gave to this character.” — The Dragonfly Forest

    In his 2004 book Creativity is Forever, Gary Davis reviewed the creativity literature from 1961 to 2003 and identified 22 reoccurring personality traits of creative people. This included 16 “positive” traits (e.g., independent, risk-taking, high energy, curiosity, humor, artistic, emotional) and 6 “negative” traits (e.g., impulsive, hyperactive, argumentative). In her own review of the creativity literature, Bonnie Cramond found that many of these same traits overlap to a substantial degree with behavioral descriptions of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)– including higher levels of spontaneous idea generation, mind wandering, daydreaming, sensation seeking, energy, and impulsivity.

    Research since then has supported the notion that people with ADHD characteristics are more likely to reach higher levels of creative thought and achievement than people without these characteristics. Recent research by Darya Zabelina and colleagues have found that real-life creative achievement is associated with the ability to broaden attention and have a “leaky” mental filter– something in which people with ADHD excel.

    Recent work in cognitive neuroscience also suggests a connection between ADHD and creativity (see here and here). Both creative thinkers and people with ADHD show difficulty suppressing brain activity coming from the “Imagination Network“:

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    The Imagination Network

    Of course, whether this is a positive thing or a negative thing depends on the context. The ability to control your attention is most certainly a valuable asset; difficulty inhibiting your inner mind can get in the way of paying attention to a boring classroom lecture or concentrating on a challenging problem. But the ability to keep your inner stream of fantasies, imagination, and daydreams on call can be immensely conducive to creativity. By automatically treating ADHD characteristics as a disability– as we so often do in an educational context– we are unnecessarily letting too many competent and creative kids fall through the cracks.

    Nine percent of children aged 5-17 years old are labeled ADHD on average per year, and placed in special education programs. However, new data from The National Center for Learning Disabilities shows that only 1% of students who receive IDEA (Individuals With Disabilities Act) services are in gifted and talented programs, and only 2% are enrolled in an AP course. The report concludes that “students with learning and attention issues are shut out of gifted and AP programs, held back in grade level and suspended from school at higher rates than other students.”

    Why does this matter? Consider a new study [Osage Journals] conducted by C. Matthew Fugate and colleagues. They selected a population of students with ADHD characteristics who were part of a summer residential camp for gifted, creative, and talented students. The large majority of the students were selected for the program because they either scored in the 90th percentile or above on a standardized test, or had a GPA of 3.5 or greater in specific areas (e.g., mathematics, chemistry).

    The researchers then compared this ADHD group of students with a non-ADHD group of students who were participating in the same gifted program. They gave all the students tests of fluid reasoning, working memory, and creative cognition. Fluid reasoning involves the ability to infer relations and spot novel and complex patterns that draw on minimal prior knowledge and expertise. Working memory involves the ability to control attention and hold multiple streams of information in mind at once. They measured creative cognition by having the students come up with novel drawings that included one of the following elements: an oval shape, incomplete figures, and two straight lines.

    The researchers found that students with ADHD characteristics (especially those who scored high in “inattention”) had lower working memory scores than the non-ADHD students, even though they did not differ in their fluid reasoning ability. This is consistent with past research showing that people with ADHD tend to score lower on tests of working memory, but these findings also suggest that people with ADHD can still be quite smart despite their reduced ability to hold multiple pieces of information in memory. Also, despite their reduced working memory, 53% of the academically advanced students with ADHD characteristics scored at or above the 70th percentile on the creativity index. In fact, for both the ADHD and the non-ADHD group of students, the poorer the working memory, the higher the creativity!

    This obviously has some important educational implications. To be sure, ADHD can make it difficult for students to pay attention in class and organize their lives. The importance of learning key attentional control skills should not be undervalued. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. As the researchers note, “in the school setting, the challenge becomes how to create an environment in which creativity is emphasized as a pathway to learning as well as an outcome of learning.”

    One issue involves the identification of “twice exceptional” students and their appropriate educational programming. Assessments of creativity are notably absent from most gifted and talented programs in this country[Psychology Today]. Instead of automatically putting children with ADHD characteristics in special education, a broader assessment should be conducted. For one, IQ tests could be administered that focus less on working memory and memorization, and allows for a fairer assessment of fluid reasoning and non-sequential thought among this population of students.

    A broader assessment could also allow students with ADHD characteristics to display their creative strengths, including divergent thinking, imagination, and hyperfocus (when interested). People with ADHD often are able to focus better than others when they are deeply engaged in an activity that is personally meaningful to them. Recent research suggests that the brain network that people with ADHD have difficulty suppressing (the “Imagination Network”) is the same brain network that is conducive to flow and engagement among musicians, including jazz musicians and rappers!

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    In terms of programming, problem-based learning (PBL) approaches may enable ADHD students to engage more with the material, and become active learners, rather than passive observers (see here). Additionally, learning can be assessed through project-based learning (PBL), in which students demonstrate their knowledge of the course material through the creation of different products (e.g., cartoons, role-playing, blogs, videos, newspaper articles), and the constant revision of these products.

    Of course, these same possibilities should extent to all students in the classroom, academically advanced or not. Because we never really know whether an ADHD characteristic is a learning impediment or a creative gift.

    Consider the case of John, who in 1949 attended Eton College and dreamed of becoming a scientist. However, last in his class, he received the following comment on his report card:

    “His work has been far from satisfactory… he will not listen, but will insist on doing his work in his own way… I believe he has ideas about becoming a Scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous, if he can’t learn simple Biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a Specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time on his part, and of those who have to teach him.”

    This was Sir John B. Gurdon, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his revolutionary research on stem cells. Like so many other highly creative, competent individuals, he might have been referred for testing and given the label “attention deficit hyperactive disorder”.

    It’s time to stop letting this happen.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., has been bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology for more than 160 years.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:38 pm on February 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ADHD, , ,   

    From Stanford Scope via Huffington Post: “People With ADHD Have Different Brains 

    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University

    stanford-scope-icon

    Scope blog

    Huffington Post

    Huffington Post

    02/24/2017
    Carolyn Gregoire

    The largest-ever brain imaging study on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has led scientists to say the condition should be considered a neurological disorder, not just a behavioral one.

    The brain structures of children with ADHD differ in small but significant ways from those of normally developing children, according to the findings, which were published online in the journal Lancet Psychiatry on Feb. 15.

    Up to 11 percent of U.S. children and around 5 percent of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with ADHD, which causes symptoms like difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, irritability and forgetfulness.

    The study’s authors hope that the research will help to combat widespread misunderstanding of ADHD, which is often seen as some sort of motivational deficit or character failing rather than a real disorder. The findings show that the disorder is as real as other neuropsychiatric disorders like depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    “I hope it gives a bit more understanding of the disorder,” Dr. Martine Hoogman, a geneticist at Radboud University in the Netherlands and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post. “This research shows that there are neurobiological substrates [brain changes] involved ― just as in other psychiatric disorders ― and there is no reason to treat ADHD any differently.”

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    iLexx via Getty Images

    For the study, a team of Dutch neuroscientists analyzed MRI scans of the brains of more than 3,200 people between the ages of four and 63 years old (with a median age of 14 years old), measuring total brain volume as well as the volume of seven brain regions thought to be linked to ADHD. Roughly half of the participants had a diagnosis of ADHD.

    The brain scans revealed that five brain regions were smaller in people with ADHD. These include the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure involved in processing emotions like fear and pleasure; the hippocampus, which plays a role in learning, memory and emotion; and three brain areas within the striatum ― the caudate nucleus, the putamen and the nucleus accumbens. The structures within the striatum are involved in the brain’s reward system and in its processing of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control motivation and pleasure.

    These differences were more dramatic in children than in adults, leading the study’s authors to conclude that ADHD involves delayed brain development. It appears that as the brains of people with ADHD develop and mature, these brain regions “catch up” to the brain regions of people without ADHD.

    At the time of the study, 455 of the participants with ADHD were taking psychostimulant medication like Adderall, and more than 600 others had taken psychostimulants in the past but were not currently on medication. Brain volume differences did not correlate with stimulant use, suggesting that such discrepancies were not a result of medication.

    The findings represent a big step forward from previous brain-imaging studies of ADHD, which tended to be smaller and generally yielded inconclusive results. The new research points the way toward new diagnostic and treatment options for the disorder, but much more research is needed first.

    “We only studied a small part of the brain,” Hoogman said. “There is still a long way to go.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Scope is an award-winning blog founded in 2009 and produced by the Stanford University School of Medicine. If you’re curious about the latest advances in medicine and health and enjoy compelling, fresh and easily digestible news and features, then we’ve got just the thing. We’ve written quite a bit (7,000 posts and counting!), and we’re quite proud of it — so please enjoy.

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on February 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ADHD, , , , Mediterranean diet   

    From Huff Post: “The Mediterranean Diet Could Help Kids With ADHD” 

    Huffington Post
    The Huffington Post

    02/01/2017
    Carolyn Gregoire

    1
    Baona via Getty Images

    The Mediterranean diet is often celebrated for its health effects on the brain, especially later in life. Doctors recommend it for preventing Alzheimer’s and protecting the brain from aging. Now, research suggests the diet could also be beneficial for the brains of much younger people.

    A study published Jan. 30 in the journal Pediatrics found that children with “low adherence” to the traditional Mediterranean diet were seven times more likely to have ADHD than children with a strong adherence to the diet. In general, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ate more sugar and processed foods than their peers, and ate less fruit, vegetables and fish.

    “Kids’ impulsivity can manifest in their eating habits,” Dr. Eric Hollander, a psychiatrist with the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said in a statement.

    High in fruits, vegetables and fish, as well as the healthy fats found in foods like olive oil, walnuts and avocados, the Mediterranean diet has consistently been rated among the healthiest in the world. This year, a panel of health experts ranked it the second best diet for health and weight loss.

    The Mediterranean diet is particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish, walnuts and certain other nuts and plants. Omega-3 acids play a critical role in brain function, improving learning and memory and warding off mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

    Children with ADHD may have low levels of essential fatty acids and important nutrients like iron and zinc. One study [U MD]showed that boys with lower levels of omega-3 acids had more learning and behavioral problems. However, research investigating the effects of omega-3 supplements on ADHD symptoms has yielded mixed results.

    For the study, a University of Barcelona research team recruited 120 children between the ages of 6 and 16 to test their idea that overall diet (and not just specific nutrients) might be linked to ADHD risk. The children ― half of whom had been recently diagnosed with ADHD ― were given a score based on how closely their typical meals aligned with the Mediterranean diet.

    The researchers’ hypothesis proved to be correct. The children who followed a more Mediterranean diet were less likely to have ADHD (controlling for other factors like age, weight and parental education levels). The children with medium to low adherence to the Mediterranean diet, however, were three to seven times more likely to have ADHD.

    A Healthier Diet Can Only Help

    The study was only correlational, and it doesn’t prove that a Mediterranean diet can ward off inattention and impulsivity. But the researchers emphasize that removing excess sugar and junk food from a child’s diet is wise in any case.

    “Our main recommendation is that clinicians focus on diet not with the expectation of dietary changes improving behavior but with the concern that children with ADHD are more likely to be eating unhealthy diets,” the study’s authors concluded. “This component should therefore be part of the evaluation to improve their health.”

    And there’s still plenty of evidence to suggest that a healthy, whole-foods diet is good for the brain, and therefore probably good for children’s brains.

    We know that an unhealthy, sugar-laden diet can have a negative effect on cognitive function, so reducing the amount of sugar and junk food in a child’s diet should only improve their thinking and learning. What’s also clear is that a high-sugar diet powerfully alters the composition of the gut microbiome, leading to impaired learning and memory.

    A low-sugar, whole-foods diet, on the other hand, supports a healthy gut bacterial community, which in turn can lead to improvements in mood and brain function.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

     
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