For years researchers have looked at the left brain noting variations in size and concentrating their efforts around the special areas of the hemisphere in an attempt to unlock the secrets of dyslexia. The right brain has received similar attention with regards to dyspraxia. However, it was only with the development of better tools for studying the brain that clues began to appear. Over the last few years, with the advent of PET scans, and more recently functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, scientists began to realise that they may have been looking in the wrong place.
In 1995 Esther Nimchinsky et al wrote a paper on spindle cells which had remained in relative obscurity since von Economo wrote about them in some detail in 1925. Over the last 15 years a string of papers have been produced by highly respected neuroscientists including John Allman, Patrick Hof, Esther Nimchinsky and Bud Craig. Von Economo neurons (VENs) have been implicated in a number of neuropsychiatric / neurodevelopmental disorders including the learning and behavioural disorders of childhood.
Calcium Binding Calretinin cells, discovered in only 2001 in the human anterior cingulate gyrus may also provide the underlying cause of tic disorders in children and aspects of OCD. Gigantopyramidal cells of the mid cingulate gyrus, discovered in the mid-seventies, may also provide the answer to many questions regarding handedness and fine motor skills.
As our knowledge of brain structure and function increases and we apply that knowledge to the concept of developmental delay – dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, etc. in comorbidity – a greater understanding of the underlying causes becomes apparent and effective treatment available.
Do any of the following seem familiar?
- Impaired ability to plan ahead
- Difficulty in abstract thinking
- Difficulty with working memory
- Lower general intellectual abilities
- Difficulties with memory retrieval
- Poor short term memory
- Slower speed of data processing
- Emotionally labile
- Decreased initiative
- Poor oral intake
- Writing/spelling poor
- Low self esteem
- Urinary retention/incontinence
- Travel sickness
- Dizzy spells
This whole list has been found to occur with prefrontal/cerebellar dysfunction.
F-MRI studies 1995/96 showed that the cerebellum functions in:
- Linguistic processing
- Mental imagery
- Verbal memory
- Working memory
- Emotional states
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