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Old 01-09-11, 11:33 PM
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Human Brain Development and AD(H)D

A thread to discuss, question and understand.
The way a human brain develops.

I will start with some research and opinion that inspire me to start this thread.

"...Despite the thousands of research papers published in leading scientific and medical journals, countless monographs and conference documents and several outstanding academic books on the subject, the role of the environment in the brain development isn't taught in many medical schools. It's not incorporated into our work with children or adults. Not only is brain development ignored in medical training, so is human psychological development."It is astonishing to realize," remarks neurologist Antonio Damasio,"that(medical) students learn about psychopathology without ever being taught normal psychology"
Such neglect is a loss for medical practice, and for millions of patients. Greater awareness of developmental influences on brain functioning and the personality would enrich and empower every field of medicine. And if more doctors knew what there is to know about this, I am convinced it would encourage a radical and overdue rethinking of social attitudes towards addiction"
-Dr.Gabor Mate, page 180 In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts


"Brain development in the uterus and during childhood is the single most important biological factor in determining whether or not a person will predisposed to substance dependence and to addictive behaviors of any sort whether drug related or not."
- Dr.Mate

"The basic cause of addiction is predominantly experience-dependent during childhood, and not substance-dependent"
-Dr.Felitti (chief investigator, of a study of over seventeen thousand middle-class Americans for Kaiser Permanente and the (US) Centers for Disease Control.)

"The current concept of addiction is ill-founded"
-Dr.Felitti

"To State that childhood brain development has the greatest impact on addiction is not to rule out genetic factors. However, the emphasis placed on genetic influences in addiction medicine--and in many other areas of medicine--is an impediment to our understanding"-Dr.Mate

"In the United States there followed an inspiring expansion of research onto the workings and development of the brain. When findings were collated, together with previously available information, a fresh and exciting view of brain development emerged. Old Assumptions were discarded and a new paradigm established. Many of the details remain to be discovered, of course--the work of centuries, suggests Professor Jaak Panksepp in Affective Neuroscience--but the outlines are not in doubt. The view that genes play a decisive role in the way a person's brain develops has been replaced by a radical different notion: the expression of genetic potentials is, for the most part, contingent on the environment.
Genes do dictate the basic organization, development schedule and anatomical structure of the human central nervous system, but it is left to environment to sculpt and fine tune the chemistry, connections circuits, networks and systems that determine how well we function"-Dr.Mate

"Of all the mammals, we humans have the least mature brain at birth. Early in their infancy other newborn animals perform tasks far beyond the capabilities of human babies. A horse, for example can run on its first day of life. Not for a year and a half or more can most human muster the muscle strength, visual acuity and neurological control skills--perception, balance, orientation in space, coordination--to perform that activity. In other words, the horse's brain development at birth is at least a year and a half ahead of our own--probably even more, in horse years"-Dr.Mate

" It is simple engineering: any further brain growth in the uterus and we couldn't be born" Dr.Mate

"In the period following birth, the human brain, unlike that of the chimpanzee, continues to grow at the same rate as in the womb.There are times in the first year of life when, every second, multiple millions of nerve connections, or synapses, are established. Three quarters of our brain growth takes place outside the womb, most of it in the early years. By three years of age, the brain has reached 90 % of adult size, whereas the body is only 18 percent of adult size. This explosion in growth outside the womb gives us a far higher potential for learning and adaptability than is granted to other mammals. We were born with our brain development rigidly predetermined by heredity, the frontal lobes would be limited in their capacity to help us learn and adapt to the many different environments and social situations we humans now inhibit."-Dr.Mate

"Greater reward demands greater risk. Outside the relatively safe environment of the womb, our brains-in progress are highly vulnerablr to potentially adverse circumstances. Addiction is one of the possible negative outcomes--although, as we will see when we discover genetic influences, the brain can already be negatively affected in the uterus in ways that increase vulnerability to addiction and to many other chronic conditions that threaten health" -Dr. Mate

"The dynamic process by which 90 percent of the human brain's circuitry is wired after birth has ben called "neural Darwinism" because it involves the selection of those nerve cells (neurons), synapses and circuits that help the brain adapt to its particular environment , and the discarding of others. In the early stages of life, the infants brain has many more neurons and connections than necessary--billions of neurons in excess of what will eventually be required. This overgrown, chaotic synaptic tangle needs to be trimmed to shape the brain into an organ that can govern action, thought, learning and relationships and carry out its multiple and varied other tasks--and to coordinate them all in our best interests. Which connections survive depends largely on input from the environment. Connections and circuits used frequently are strengthened, while unused ones are pruned out: indeed, scientists call this aspect of neural Darwinism synaptic pruning."Both neurons and neural connections compete to survive and grow" write two researchers. "Experience cause some neurons and synapses(and not others) to survive and grow"-Dr.Mate

"The process is highly specific to each individual person--so much si that not even the brains of Identical twins have the same nerve branching, connections and circuitry" -Dr. Mate

All material quoted from Pages 179-183, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr.Gabor Mate
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Old 01-10-11, 12:41 AM
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Re: Human Brain Development and AD(H)D

The fact that humans are unable to complete the development of our brains before birth, and that our brains continue a large part of development out in the world, helps me to understand Gabor Mate's emphasis on the environment in the development of addictions and adhd.

It is interesting to look at the paradigm shift in neurosceince. The environment activating the genes or the genes needing the environment to be "switched on" by environmental factors - is quite different from the environment verus genetics debate.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:48 AM
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Re: Human Brain Development and AD(H)D

Opening Post Continued

"In large part, an infant's early years define how well her brain structures will develop and how the neurological networks that control human behaviour will mature."-Dr.Mate

"Developmental experiences determine the organizational and functional status of the mature brain" writes child psychiatrist and researcher Bruce Perry.

"At any point in this process you have all these potentials for either good or bad stimulation to get in there and set the microstructure of the brain"
-Dr.Robert Post, chief of the Biological Psychiatry Branch of the (U.S.) National Institute of Mental Health

"And it is precisely here where the problem arises for young children who will , in adolescence and beyond, become chronically hooked on hard drugs: too much of what Dr.Post called bad stimulation. This is true of the hardcore intravenous drug users such as the ones I deal with in the Downtown Eastside. In many other cases it's not a question of "bad stimulation" but a lack of sufficient "good stimulation". -Dr.Mate

"Our genetic capacity for brain development can find its full expression only if circumstances are favourable. To illustrate this, just imagine a baby who was cared for in every way but kept in a dark room. After a year of such sensory deprivation the brain of this infant would not be comparable to those of others, no matter what his inherited potential. Despite perfectly good eyes at birth , without stimulation of light waves, the thirty or so neurological units that together make up our visual sense would not develop.The neural components of vision already present at birth would atrophy and become useless if this child did not see light for about five years. Why? Neural Darwinism. Without the requisite stimulation during the critical period allotted by Nature for the visual system's development, the child's brain would never have received the information that being able to see is needed for survival. Irreversible blindness would be the result."-Dr.Mate

"What is true for vision is also true for dopamine circuits of incentive-motivation and the opioid circuitry of attachment-reward, as well as well as for the regulatory centers in the prefrontal cortex, such as the orbitofrontal cortex--in other words, for all the major brain systems implicated in addiction that we surveyed in the previous three chapters. In the case of these circuits, which process emotions and govern behavior, it is the emotional environment that is decisive. By far the dominant aspect of this environment is the role of the nurturing adults in the child life, especially in the early years."-Dr.Mate

All information from the pages 183-184 In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts by Dr.Gabor Mate
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Old 01-10-11, 01:24 AM
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Re: Human Brain Development and AD(H)D

Opening Post Continued...

"The three environmental conditions absolutely essential to optimal human brain development are nutrition, physical security and consistent emotional nurturing. In the industrialized world, except in cases of severe neglect or dire poverty, the baseline nutitional and shelter needs of children are usually satisfied.The third prime necessity-emotional nuture--is the most likely to be disrupted in Western societies. The importance ot this point cannot be overstated: emotional nurturance is an absolute requirement for healthy neurobiological brain development"-Dr.Mate

"Human connections create neuronal connections"-Daniel Siegel child psychologist , a founding member of UCLA's Center for Culture, Brain and Development

"Attachment... ...is the drive to pursue and preserve closeness and contact with others: an attachment relationship exists when that state has been achieved. It's an instinctual drive programmed into the mammalian brain, owing to the absolute helplessness and dependency of infant mammals--particularly infant humans. Without attachment he cannot develop optimally. Although that dependency wanes as we mature, attachment relationships remain important throughout our life time"-Dr.Mate

From, The Developing Mind -Daniel Siegel

"For the infant and young child, attachment relationships are the major environmental factors that shape the development of the brain during its period of maximal growth...Attachment establishes an interpersonal relationship that helps the immature brain use the mature functions of the parent's brain to organize its own process"-Daniel Siegel

All quotes from page 185 In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts- Dr.Gabor Mate
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Old 01-10-11, 11:38 PM
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Re: Human Brain Development and AD(H)D

Emotional connection is a crucial factor in brain development. Mate's critics find fault with his approach.

He is not alone in this thinking studies of brain development without emotional connection can be found in every Psych 100 text book.

Yet, despite the fact that he emphasises in his book " The Realm of Hungry Ghosts" that the emotional connection can be with any trusted adult he is critized for blaming parents.

How can you talk about the importance of emotional connection on the developing brain and ignore that the parents, in most cases, have a critical role?

Having said this as a parent I understand the fear that i may have harmed my child's development. I was depressed during the last half of my pregnacy and again more than once in her early years. It does make me worry. I had to stop reading for a bit so that i could gain perspective instead of just reacting to it, ironically - emotionally.
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Old 01-11-11, 12:19 AM
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Re: Human Brain Development and AD(H)D

Quote:
Originally Posted by zannie View Post
Emotional connection is a crucial factor in brain development. Mate's critics find fault with his approach.

He is not alone in this thinking studies of brain development without emotional connection can be found in every Psych 100 text book.

Yet, despite the fact that he emphasises in his book " The Realm of Hungry Ghosts" that the emotional connection can be with any trusted adult he is critized for blaming parents.

How can you talk about the importance of emotional connection on the developing brain and ignore that the parents, in most cases, have a critical role?

Having said this as a parent I understand the fear that i may have harmed my child's development. I was depressed during the last half of my pregnacy and again more than once in her early years. It does make me worry. I had to stop reading for a bit so that i could gain perspective instead of just reacting to it, ironically - emotionally.
Zannie,
Great responce, and much appreciated.
The information is not to blame anybody.
But to tell everybody how it all works now that we understand.
We didn't know before.
There is so many issues in "the new world",
that is needed to be experienced,
before we can make decisions, if it is right or wrong.
Your depression was not something that anybody asks for.
And is also not your fault.
Now that we know it would not make sense to ignore the topic.
But to call a spade a spade and see if your daughter has been effected by your depression and if so make the proper adjustments to make things better.
Which is also very possible.


Awareness is the point. And the only point

Love G
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