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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Brain

When Konal first started having difficulties, I started looking for answers. Intuition told me that there was more than met the eye involved. We have had consultations, specialists, test after test that would leave us both in tears. You could tell me tomorrow he has a brain tumor, and I would probably deal with it better than what we have. We need to know what we are dealing with, instead of this constant round of finding yet another thing wrong. Konal is picking up on this. When he was tested for Wilson's Disease, I was informed by one of his teachers that he was talking about it like if he had it, everything would be all better. And when the tests were inconclusive? I think our hearts just broke a little bit more.

So, as part of this continual quest for answers, comes this new study:
BBC NEWS | Health | 'Delay' in ADHD children's brains: "The brains of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) do not mature at the same rate as their peers, a US study says."
This is the kind of research that gives me hope. Every time a study comes through that finds a little more concrete evidence for diagnosing mental disorders I read it avidly.

Articles on medical technology, such as this from Technology Review on MRI:
Indeed, fMRI studies over the last few years have provided researchers with startling images of the brain actually at work. A yet newer extension is MRI spectroscopy, another kind of functional imaging that monitors the activity of particular chemicals in the brain -- providing different clues to brain function than fMRI does. And most recently, researchers have pioneered an MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) that produces 3-D images of the frail, spidery network of wires that connects one part of the brain to another.
And yet, even with all these advances, we still are not there yet. From a Mind Hacks Article:

When brain scans arrived, particularly those that measured brain function, it was hoped that there would finally be an objective test for many mental disorders based on the biology of the brain.

There has been some success in finding biological differences between the brains of healthy and diagnosed individuals. The problem is that these differences are not reliably diagnostic.

For example, when a group of people with depression and without depression are compared, reliable differences in brain function can be found. However, this only reflects the fact that individuals with the diagnosis are more likely to show the difference, but there are also individuals with the diagnosis who do not have the same differences.

But even with that, there is still more research being done:

This comes at a time when psychiatry is looking beyond the current diagnostic manuals as the sole definition of mental disorder, and considering the concept of the 'endophenotype' - measurable aspects of biology thought to be the key underlying components that increase risk for mental disorder.

As a mother who hangs on every word, I just wanted to say, "Thank you, researchers and scientists" Because you keep trying, we have hope.