5 Must-Read Articles, and an Online Course, to Help Children with ADHD

Given the ongoing changes and controversies surrounding ADHD diagnosis and treatment, let me highlight 5 key articles written by Duke University’s Dr. David Rabiner to summarize recent scientific findings and their implications, plus a very relevant online course to help parents and professionals help children with ADHD.

1. Study finds large gaps between research and practice in ADHD diagnosis and treatment

  • Key insight: Evidence-based guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics on the evaluation and treatment of ADHD are frequently not followed. Many children are diagnosed with ADHD in the absence of clearly meeting DSM diagnostic criteria, and behavioral treatment is rarely recommended.
  • Key data point: Pediatricians prescribed ADHD medication to roughly 93% of youth diagnosed with ADHD. Documentation that behavioral treatment was recommended, however, was present in only 13% of the charts.

2. Study shows why children with ADHD should be reevaluated each year: Attention problems perceived by teachers are far less stable than we imagine

  • Key insight: Clinically-elevated attention problems as perceived by teachers are less stable than imagined, highlighting the importance of carefully reevaluating children each year so that children do not continue to carry a diagnosis that may no longer apply and to be treated for problems at school that are no longer evident.
  • Key data point: Data from 3 diverse samples indicates that more than 50% of elementary school children rated by their teacher as having clinically significant inattentive symptoms one year do not show similar problems the following year.

3. Don’t overlook sleep difficulties in children with ADHD; they may impair functioning as much as ADHD itself

  • Key insight: Although the link between ADHD and sleep difficulties is well-documented, evaluating sleep difficulties during an ADHD assessment may be routinely overlooked. In some cases, sleep problems may create significant difficulties for their daily functioning beyond what ADHD symptoms explain, so treating the child’s sleep difficulties should be an important treatment target.
  • Key data point: The most prevalent sleep problem – reported for 42% of the sample – was excessive daytime sleepiness, and it contributed to significantly lower life skills even after controlling for ADHD symptoms. The second most prevalent sleep problem was insomnia (for 30% of the sample), and it predicted greater social impairment–above and beyond impairment explained by ADHD symptoms.

4. Reducing the Need for High Medication Doses with Behavior Therapy

  • Key insight: The really interesting findings from this study concern the combination of medication and behavioral treatment. On virtually all ADHD measures, adding high intensity behavior management to the lowest medication dose of medication yielded comparable improvements to those produced by the high dose medication alone. For a number of measures, even low intensity behavior management combined with the lowest medication dose was as effective as high dose medication.
  • Key data point: Results suggested that a typical child with ADHD could be treated with the equivalent of 5 mg of methylphenidate 2X/day if he/she concurrently received moderate to high intensity behavior therapy. Without behavior therapy, the same child would require a 20 mg dose 2X/day to attain comparable benefits. Thus, the daily reduction in methylphenidate would be 30 mg/day.

5. Mindfulness training for children with ADHD and their parents

  • Key insight: Mindfulness training for children and parents can be a helpful intervention for ADHD. Parents can observe reductions in their child’s ADHD symptoms following training. In addition, they can observe declines in their own ADHD symptoms and parenting stress.
  • Key data point: From pre- to post test, children who received mindfulness training were rated by their parents as showing significant declines in inattentive and hyperactive impulsive symptoms; the magnitude of the decline was large for attention problems and moderate for hyperactivity. These declines remained evident and of similar magnitude at the 8-week follow-up.

We hope you enjoy those 5 must-read articles summarizing recent scientific findings and their implications.

To learn more, parents and allied professionals may also want to access the 6-hour, self-paced, online course How to Navigate Conventional and Complementary ADHD Treatments for Healthy Brain Development, featuring Dr. David Rabiner (and myself).

>> Learn More & Register Here (10%-off discount code: sharp2017)

Course description: In order to successfully promote children’s healthy brain development, every parent whose child has been diagnosed with ADHD should learn how to systematically navigate and monitor the range of potential ADHD treatments based on the latest scientific evidence. This course aims at providing the necessary information, frameworks and toolkits to make well-informed decisions, in conjunction with professional advice, about medication, behavioral therapy, exercise, neurofeedback, working memory training, meditation, diet and supplements.

Leave a Comment

In honor of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, let’s discuss 10 Key Facts To Harness Brain Plasticity And Prolong Brain Health

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, so let me share 10 Key Facts to harness brain plasticity & prolong brain health that come from the hundreds of scientific and medical studies we analyzed to prepare the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Improve Brain Health and Performance at Any Age:

  • 1. Genes do not determine the fate of our brains (not even the infamous APOE4). Thanks to lifelong neuroplasticity, our lifestyles are as important as our genes-if not even more important- in determining how our brains grow and our minds evolve.
  • 2. There is more than one “It” in “Use It or Lose It” — our performance depends on a variety of brain functions and cognitive skills, not just one (be it “attention” or “memory” or any other).
  • 3. Physical exercise and increased fitness promote brain functioning through a variety of mechanisms, such as increased brain volume, blood supply and growth hormone levels. In particular, cardiovascular exercise seems to bring the greatest brain benefits.
  • 4. Mental stimulation strengthens the connections between neurons (synapses), improving neuron survival and cognitive functioning and building your cognitive reserve–which helps your brain better cope with normal aging and Alzheimer’s pathology in the long-term.
  • 5. The only leisure activity that has been associated with reduced cognitive function is watching television. What could explain that? Well, routine, passive activities do not challenge the brain. Keeping up the challenge requires going to the next level of difficulty, trying something new, generating new thoughts and strategies and lessons learned.
  • 6. The Mediterranean Diet, supplemented with olive oil and nuts, is associated with decreased risk of cognitive decline.
  • 7. Moderate doses of caffeine increase alertness but there is no clear sustained lifetime health benefit (or harm).
  • 8. Taking “brain supplements”  does not seem to boost cognitive function or reduce risks of cognitive decline or dementia, unless directed to address an identified deficiency.
  • 9. Chronic stress reduces and can even inhibit neurogenesis. Memory and general mental flexibility are impaired by chronic stress…so it’s good to see the growing evidence that meditation and biofeedback can successfully teach users to self-regulate physiological stress.
  • 10. No size fits all…so, to improve and prolong brain function, it’s critical to understand and address individual needs and starting point.

What counts in terms of neuroplasticity and brain health is not reading this article–or any other–but practicing healthy behaviors every day. Please revisit the fact above that really grabbed your attention–ideally one that you may have overlooked and therefore may bring most “bang for the buck” now–and make a decision to try something new this summer.

To learn more:

Leave a Comment

May e-newsletter: MIT Solve launches Brain Health Challenge, asking “How can every person improve their brain health and mental resilience?”

New thinking

New research

New tools

 

 

Have a great month of June and, for those based in the US, a great Memorial Day weekend,

 

The SharpBrains Team

Leave a Comment

Update: Why Untrained Brains Are A Bit Like Puppies (And How Dance Offers Great Brain Training)

Time for SharpBrains’ April e-newsletter, featuring what’s new in brain health and cognitive performance. Quite stimulating reading 🙂

New thinking

New research

>New tools

Upcoming event

 

Finally, here you have 5 quick brain teasers to sharpen two key cognitive skills: attention and working memory.

 

Have a great month of May,

 

The SharpBrains Team

Leave a Comment

5 Facts You Need To Know To Understand, Navigate And Enjoy The Digital Brain Health Revolution

Hundreds of companies around the globe, now including Elon Musk’s Neuralink and even Facebook,  are researching and developing new ways to help brain owners be smarter, sharper, and healthier.

What explains this flurry of activity? Where may it be headed?

To help you understand what’s going on, let me highlight five key facts that emerged from the recent SharpBrains Virtual Summit, where 200+ participants in 16 countries shared and discussed the latest about neurotech­nolo­gy, brain health and digital health.

 

Fact 1. There are 7.5 billion human brains out there, and everyone needs help

Consider all unmet needs derived from the traditional pharma-exclusive approach to brain health.

Learning and cognitive disabilities in children are growing significantly, from ADHD and OCD, to autism. The related emotional and economic burden is substantial — yet, over 60-70% of those with treatment have poor outcomes, and many who need help don’t get any.
Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a Comment

Neuroplasticity: Past, Present and Future

— One of Ramón y Cajal’s iconic images, showing a Purkinje neuron with its treelike structure

The Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis hosts a wonderful temporary exhibit highlighting the medical illustrations of neuroplasticity pioneer Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Titled The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, it will remain open until May 21st, 2017.

Who was Ramón y Cajal? Why does his research on neuroscience and neuroplasticity matter? Keep reading article over at The Creativity Post.

Leave a Comment

Update: To honor Brain Awareness Week 2017, let’s highlight 10 Key Facts To Harness Neuroplasticity And Improve Brain Fitness

Brain Awareness Week took place this month, so let’s first of all discuss these 10 Key Facts to Harness Neuroplasticity & Improve Brain Fitness coming from the hundreds of scientific and medical studies we analyzed to prepare the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Improve Brain Health and Performance at Any Age.

And here’s the rest of SharpBrains’ March e-newsletter exploring the latest in brain health and mental performance.

New research:

New thinking:

New tools (via SharpBrains’ analysis of neurotech patents):

Finally, here’s a brain teaser to test your pattern recognition and other cognitive skills: The Empty Triangle.

Have a nice Spring!

The SharpBrains Team

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »