Sunday, January 31, 2010

Incessant Ringing in My Ears: Odes to Tinnitus

Day 642 / 365 - Myself is against meImage by xJasonRogersx via Flickr

Tinnitus ZF
by Gerald B. Frank

Tinnitus, Tinnitus in my ear -
I hope you'll soon, yes, disappear,
You've got my brain so nicely curled
I've got to get you from my world!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Journey Through My GI System Continued: I get a Barium Swallow

When I last left my stomach, we had found some fat malabsorption.  This means I dont deal with fat too well.  And it also means, I am not getting any fat soluble vitamins.  Hence my Vitamin D deficiency.  

So, I went to Doylestown Hospital  and drank some barium and had  fluoroscopic study done on my intestines.  No news. 

Went to see a holistic doctor over at Woodlands Medical.  He has a few theories about things.  But I have to wait till my system clears out the barium before I donate samples.  He also wants to check out the wheat and lactose intolerance and see if there are any more allergies.

Friday, January 29, 2010

For Better Reading, Hearing, and Learning, Watch Balametrics in Action

Neuroplasticity challenges the idea that brain...Image via Wikipedia
The principle behind Balametrics is that balance can have a significant effect on visual processing, reading, and learning efficiency and academic performance. The vestibular system, the system that regulates your balance, has connections to your visual and hearing system. If your balance is out of whack, it can affect your sight and hearing. It can affect your motor skills as well -- in other words, how your brain directs your arms, legs, fingers and feet. Your internal gyroscope that keeps your 3d reference system in place by regulating your sense of balance coordinates the brain's timing process as well. So your the way that your brain handles timing is directly related to how efficiently your brain processes information.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Say What? Hearing in a Noisy Room and Neuroscience

Roger Caron at a hearing in 2001Image via Wikipedia
Huh?  Say What?

It's not just Dyslexia but also sufferers from Central Auditory Processing Disorder have problems hearing in noisy environments.  Loud noisy bars and crowded mixers are problematic for me.  I find that I have to do a lot of lip reading and not as much eye contact as I would like.    This can make me seem like I'm a little clueless because I have to focus so much on lip reading that I miss body language and visual cues coming from the  eyes... like when you start to look away from the other person because you are maybe a little bored or put off by the topic.  Or you are starting to shuffle away or tighten up because you don't like the remark that was made.

Dyslexia and the Cocktail Party effect

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Promise to Myself: If My Vision Gets to be Normal, I Will Learn to Fly

My promise to Myself:  If my vision can be corrected to flight standards, I will learn to fly.  I have always wanted to learn and over the years, I have looked into taking flight lessons.  Looking back on it, it's a good thing I have put it off.  Right now, I have enough depth perception to pass an automobile test  but I really do drive by looking at the relative size of passing shapes of cars  and other objects, There's a lot I have to correct in terms of vision:  convergence insufficiency, eye teaming, perceptual difficulties, stereo visioneye-hand coordination, eye and other motor skills.  But if the good Doctor Herzberg and staff can fix it and certify me to flight standards, I will fly. 

Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not Knows no release from little things:
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.
How can life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare The soul's dominion?
Each time we make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the restless day,
And count it fair.

— Amelia Earhart

Friday, January 22, 2010

The God of Small Things: I See Pine Needles

Pine & Bamboo After RainImage by EKSwitaj via Flickr
In Honor of Being  Able to See Pine Needles on the Branches of Pine Trees, I am turning to haiku to honor the occasion.  Enjoy!

go to the pine tree to learn of the pine, 
go to the bamboo to learn of the bamboo.. 

A clear waterfall
Into the ripples 
Fall green pine-needles


We are, you and me,
Like two pine needles
Which will dry and fall
But never separate.

-- Anonymous

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Neuroscience Meets Education and Technology

Conceptual Map of the FLOSS (Free/Libre Open S...Image via Wikipedia

Trends in Education include:    Changes in the role of the professor, content arrangements, learning activities, learning activities, institutional arrangements, student behavior, and technology.  The role of the professor will change from that of an authoritarian figure to that of an orchestrator of learning and resources.   Due to legal changes in licensing such as Creative Commons licenses, Open Source Education, Software, ontologies and other content initiatives will decrease the cost of creating curriculum and sharing knowledge to a fraction of current cost. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Brains Crave Money, Just As We Lust After Sex

I saw an article on Bloomberg Marketplace about mapping the mind of a trader
Brian Knudson, a neuroscientist.   at Stanford found that Google at $450/share, cocaine, and orgasms all share the same neurological pathways.He wanted to answer the question:  Why are some traders rich and others not?   Ways that traders typically fail to get the returns  that they desire is that they  follow the herd, trade excessively and react too slowly to unexpected news.  These are not problems in financial strategy but cognitive problems:  not trading but problems in executive functioning of the brain.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Balance Test: Hearing, Tipping, Eye Tracking and Waterboarding

The other day, I went to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for a balance test.  On a side note, I am constantly getting lost there.  Never mind the fact that 25 years ago, I worked at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and was constantly getting lost during my errands in the hospital  then as I am now.  I guess it is part and parcel of not having a good sense of spatial organization.  There is nothing like wandering the corridors wondering if you are in the right wing.  The place is humongous and I have worn out a lot of shoe leather on its corridors.

Additionally, they have been expanding the place constantly.  Every time a well-to-do alumni with  a spare, say, $100 million to throw around, they seem to toss up a new wing.  No master plan so everything is attached higgledy piggledy, at least, from my point of view.  Additionally, the University of  Pennsylvania is going on a major expansion of medical and engineering facilities behind the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to tie the University campus to Center City.  One of the new facilities will be the  Neural and Behavioral Sciences Building so maybe the research there will help us get the smarts to navigate the medical building complexes successfully.  I guess, one test of the success of vision therapy will be my ability to find my doctors successfully.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Flummoxed by Up, Down, Left, Right: My Adventures with Brainware Safari

Illustration of rotation (mathematics) and ori...Image via Wikipedia
I went to Vision Therapy the other day and I was running late due to some construction on Rte 206 so we didn't do much.  We just had time for some computer games so I went on my Brainware Safari.  Good thing this has nothing to do with finding your way through a real jungle...I played the game with the three shapes: Square, Triangle, and Circle  that were sitting above or below a line.  I had 10 seconds to figure out which one was above/below the other and to the left/right of the other.  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't get out of Level 1.  There were 10 Levels.  Not only could I not get out of Level 1 but I couldn't even break 25% of Level 1.

This game is supposed to help my spatial orientation and my sense of direction.  I get lost a lot while driving as you can well imagine.  You don't know how annoying it is to start off in your car in one direction and think you are on the right path and then 15 minutes later be highly unsure as to which way you are going.   I really don't have much in terms of an internal gyroscope.

There was a perky little girl next to me who just couldn't help but give me advice... Oh yeah, and tell me how bad I was doing.   She was cute.  She told me that she would be playing Jimminy Cricket in Pinnochio.  I could see why.

It was a day of infamy.  My own Pearl Harbor.  And to be lectured to by a 7 year old, no less.
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Checklist: Problems Playing Sports May Indicate Vision Problems

Difficulty catching a ball
Excessive Rubbing of the Eye or Blinking
Constantly Misjudging the Distance to the Basket
Inability to Hit or Serve an Overhead Shot in Tennis
Frequently Running Into Teammates or Opponents

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Your Eyes Meet Your Soul: Convergence Insufficiency and Psychology

 How you see  the space around you affects your mental health.
  According to Dr. Warchowsky, there is a relationship between the ability to focus your eyes properly and your sense of being in this world.

Vergence is a disjunctive movement of the eyes in which the fixation axes are not parallel, ie the eyes are not focusing.

Convergence insufficiency occurs when your eyes don't turn inward properly while you're focusing on a nearby object. When you read or look at a close object, your eyes should converge — turn inward together to focus — so that they provide binocular vision and you see a single image. But if you have convergence insufficiency, you won't be able to move your eyes inward to focus normally.

allergy, apraxia and malabsorption

Study showing link and the gene involved

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vision Development Center is hosting a talk on misdiagnosed ADHD and vision therapy

Dr. Janet Wilamowski, a specially trained Developmental Optometrist, Vision Therapist, and CEO of The Vision Development Center of King of Prussia, PA will speak at the Radisson Valley Forge on February 10, 2009 on the topic of correcting misdiagnosed ADHD 
and learning problems with dramatic success through Vision Therapy.

Go to Vision Development Center  for more information;
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Eyes, Vision and Motor Skills in Children Development

I met someone in Starbucks today who actually knew Seiderman and had his child seen by him.   Did I tell you that the lady doing my vision therapy was Seiderman's assistant for many years?

Interesting Quote from Dr. Arthur Seiderman's book "20/20 is Not Enough:  The New World of Vision":

Perceptual problems usually manifest themselves in the child's motor skills because his eyes lead his physical actions: a mistaken lead causes a mistaken action.  If the child is lagging in growth of his motor skills and no pathology is present, it is likely because of a visual problem.  Any lag should cause a warning signal: this child may have a learning problem when he reaches school.  If he is lagging in several skills, the possibility becomes a probability.  Similarly, a child, who has, say, worn an orthopedic brace is more likely to have a visual motor problem in school, because his motor impediment will have affected his visual learning as well.  

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hartge's Yacht Yard and Galesville

Hartge's Yacht Yard where my boat is

My Goal for this summer is to be back on my boat.  I want to be able to see my boat and where it lives in all its glory.    With a little bit of luck, I will have finished all my therapies, except for some cognitive therapy once a week and I will be enjoying life

Thomas Point Lighthouse

I sail past this lighthouse on my way out of the West River where I keep my boat to the Chesapeake Bay.

Another view of Hartge's

Here's a little history of Galesville for the history buffs

Hartge's had started back in the late 1800's when Oscar Hartge started his  piano making business.  Unfortunately, with the Civil War, the piano business took a nose dive, so Oscar Hartge went into the boat business. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Boat: a 30' Lippincott

Lippincott is an old Maryland Eastern Shore Family.   They've been here since before the Revolution.  In fact, they made a one-liner in James Mitchener's book, Chesapeake.

Although many one-design sailors are familiar with Lippincott Boat Works of Riverton, NJ, this is not a particularly well known builder among most cruising sailors. One of only two cruiser models ever built by the company, the Lippincott 30 is a comfortable, well-built boat that offers good sailing characteristics. And, because its builder is less well known, it is typically priced below other builders of similar quality boats.

Lippincott Boat Works was founded in 1946 by brothers Howard and Robert Lippincott, and throughout most of the company’s 40-year history, they built one-design racing sailboats. Some of the best sailors in the world—Tom Blackaller and Dennis Conner to name only two, and some less notables, such as yours truly—have competed and won in Lippincott-built Comet, Lightning, and Star class one-design boats.

The Lippincott 30 was designed by Howard “Skip” Lippincott Jr. and was introduced in 1979. It remained in production until the mid-1980s although fewer than 100 boats were produced. The design features 1970s-era contemporary styling and a moderate approach to sailing performance and cruising comforts.  Read More on Lippincott 30

A Sense of Summer and Sailing

Pirate's Cove Marina.... The other Marina where we hang out since our marina is strictly for sailing...Just thought I'd post something warm and inviting....

Something to remind myself why I am doing all this therapy...
I really am a vibrant, active person at heart....
I'm more than a therapy monger!
 Enjoy a Bit of Sun and Summer!

Vision Therapy, Convergence and Divergence and 3D Movies and TV

I had another session of vision therapy today where we worked on convergence and divergence:  making the eyes go in towards the nose and then out.   I wore the glasses and worked on looking at a red and green connected field which I replicated with rubber bands and a peg board. With my glasses on, I looked up and all of a sudden, I saw the Christmas cards and decorations on the wall in 3D.  They were just popping right out out at me.  One of these days, I will go through life like this.

Menopause and the Mind: Brain Fog

Do you ever think you are losing your mind? A number of women going through the change aren't quite sure that their lids are screwed on tight. On one Internet forum, there are women who have walked out of the house without any clothes on, put ointment on their toothbrushes, or look for their reading glasses that were sitting on top of their heads. I can relate. I have done my share of truly idiotic things. After which I look at myself in complete horror. I used to have a complete meltdown. If I could go back to being three years old and have a tantrum, there are days I certainly would.

Women are complaining that they can't remember things, they can't multitask, they can't concentrate. Women in PhD programs who are doing great are saying their minds have gone to mush. These women want their brain back.

Checklist to See If You've Gone Mad at Middle Age

Memory (1896). Olin Warner (completed by Herbe...Image via Wikipedia
Dr Wargis has compiled a list of Women's Hormonal Misconnection  Syndrome to help women categorize where and how they've lost their minds!

Journey Through the GI System: Search for the Second Brain in my Stomach

The enteric nervous system is embedded in the ...Image via Wikipedia

My journey through my gastroenterology system began when I started to look at the comorbidities surrounding nonverbal learning disorder. This look at physical ailments associated with the learning disorder had me running to a developmental optometrist for an eye exam more complete than what a standard ophthalmologists gives, and audiologists who specializes in hearing problems of people with disabilities and extraordinary talents, and ear, nose, and throat specialist to check out the biology of those parts of the body, an occupational therapist to work on functional deficits, and finally, specialist who work with the G.I. system (gastroenterology).

I have complained during all my physicals throughout my entire life that I have had a lot of gas.  No family doctor was ever interested enough to pursue it.  As far as they were concerned, I was still standing, so no big deal.  But, given all the comorbidities, I decided to get to the bottom of it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Dream Deferred: I am Starting to Sing on Key

Susan Boyle in pastels - Because of ongoing di...Image via Wikipedia
A few days ago, I just noticed that I am starting to be able to sing on key.... or, at least, when I wander off key, that I can put myself back on target.  I was washing the dishes and started to warble "I Had A Dream" from Les Miserables.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Results from Third Round of Tomatis Show Improvement

Life has definitely improved!

Maude from A Total Approach gave me the findings from the three rounds of therapy and the listening tests.  I have improved across the board although I still have some problems in the 500 decibel and 2000 decibel ranges.

I can sing on key!   This is great!  I'm not consistent but I can get myself back on key.

I can hear the lyrics in music and many of the "voices" and harmony in songs!  I now realize that sound engineers generally try to get the balance in recordings such that most people can hear the lyrics!

My husband isn't repeating himself as much.... There isn't the aggravated, "I TOLD YOU!"

Hearing Loss Rewires the Brain Auditory System

The human brainImage via Wikipedia
Hearing loss rewires the brain for touch.  Interesting
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Upcoming Boom in Neuroscience: To Be Rich is Glorious

Or, is a Sucker Born Every Minute?  Remember, we did go through two big asset booms:  the dot coms and then the real estate.  But, at least, the dot com boom brought us the Internet and led to the boom-let in Web 2.0 and Smart Phones.  But, did all the craziness really have to happen?   While the upside was so high,  the downside was so low.  In her book, Evolve!, A Harvard professor, Rossabeth Kantor, had a chapter on Waves of Raves:  Strategy as Improvised Theater.   In short, we were running around just throwing things together.

So, we are starting to see some of the same sort of touting going on in neurotechnology. I suppose it is human nature.  On the other hand, there are some good things happening as well.  Neurotechnology as a industry is beginning to grow. The neurotech industry is already substantial and growing rapidly, accounting for more than $130 billion in revenues in 2007 according to MIT News.

Neurotechnology, is being enabled  by nanobiochips and brain imaging technologies that will make neurological analysis inexpensive and pervasive.Nanobiochips that perform the basic bio-analysis functions (genomic, proteomic, biosimulation, and microfluidics) at a low cost will transform biological analysis and production in a very similar fashion as the microprocessor did for data during the information technology wave.

Nano-imaging techniques will make possible real-time analysis of neuro-molecular level events in the human brain.

When data from biochips and brain imaging are combined they will enable the development of neuroceuticals. Neuroceuticals are tools that will reduce the severity of mental disorders and improve mental health.

Neuroceuticals can be broadly categorized into three classes:Cogniceuticals (enhanced cognition), Emoticeuticals (enhanced emotional capacity and stability), and Sensoceuticals (enhanced sensory processing).

Today's pharmaceutical development process where a new drug can take 15 years and can cost over $800m. By 2020 new neuroceuticals will take less than 2 years to develop and cost under $10m.

By influencing multiple personality characteristics, neuroceuticals will shape how people perceive daily issues. New behaviors will emerge that culminate into a substantially different behavior repertoire than people currently encounter. A person who is slightly less depressed, slightly less anxious, slightly more aware, and with slightly better recall behave differently than people do today.  Individuals that utilize nootropics  (say to forecast emotions) will become more productive. 

So we are seeing a confluence of new technologies create products with new properties.  These products will be difficult to review as not many journals or peer review panels are diverse enough to review them.  

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Public Service Announcement: Free Vision Screening for infants

InfantSee is a public health initiative providing FREE vision screening for Infants between 6-12 months old.   Check out the link below for participating providers.

Why should you do this?

So that your child doesn't do vision therapy at the age of 50 like me.... having a lifetime of missed opportunities due to dropping things, being unable to participate in sports (especially those involving a ball), lost academic opportunities (in some cases, poorer grades).    These problems aren't caught during a standard eye exam at school.  They need a specialized eye exam that is different from the eye charts that told us we need glasses.

Trust me.  You don't want to do this at age 50.

Early intervention is the way to go.

InfantSee is a public health service done by by members of the American Optometric Association in partnership with The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson.  I have no financial interest in either of these organizations.

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Home based exercises to Improve Vision

Good Resource on Home based exercises for Vision.  Also includes links for vision therapy and research

5 Things to Teach Your Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child

Here's a great article I found on hearing issues and how to overcome them:

1.   Teach your child to educate
2.   Teach your child to advocate
3.   Teach your child to focus.
4.  Teach your child the power of humor
5,  Teach your child that no one is perfect.

I think these lessons apply to all disabilities.
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Here's an outline of the problems you have when you can't see in 3d

Two Eyes = Three Dimensions (3D)!
Each eye captures its own view and the two separate images are sent on to the brain for processing. When the two images arrive simultaneously in the back of the brain, they are united into one picture. The mind combines the two images by matching up the similarities and adding in the small differences. The small differences between the two images add up to a big difference in the final picture! The combined image is more than the sum of its parts. It is a three-dimensional stereo picture.
The word "stereo" comes from the Greek word "stereos" which means firm or solid. With stereo vision you see an object as solid in three spatial dimensions--width, height and depth--or x, y and z. It is the added perception of the depth dimension that makes stereo vision so rich and special.

Stereo Vision Has Many Advantages
Stereo vision--or stereoscopic vision --probably evolved as a means of survival. With stereo vision, we can see WHERE objects are in relation to our own bodies with much greater precision--especially when those objects are moving toward or away from us in the depth dimension. We can see a little bit around solid objects without moving our heads and we can even perceive and measure "empty" space with our eyes and brains.

Unlike Stereo Sue, I have not gone binocular yet

But here's hoping I will.
Here's the story of Stereo Sue, a neuroscientist, who was born without 3d vision and how she reclaimed it.

For all the vision therapy folks, here's a link to the NPR story describing Stereo Sue's First Snowfall... One of those magic moments in life:

And here's a link to her book... one of the top 10 best selling books on science in 2009

Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions

Reviews on Amazon included:

Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures
“Essential reading for people interested in the brain.”

Eric Kandel, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine; author of In Search of Memory
“Fixing My Gaze is a magical book, at once poetic and scientific, that holds out great hope for all of us. Here Susan Barry recounts her discovery that through training she could acquire, in adulthood, the three dimensional vision she lacked in all her early years. Barry, an excellent brain scientist, illustrates through her personal experiences and the fascinating science of vision that the brain is a marvelously plastic organ that can continue to change its wiring and thereby its function throughout our adult life.”

David H. Hubel, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine; John Franklin Enders Professor of Neurobiology, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School:
“It had been widely thought that an adult, cross-eyed since infancy, could never acquire stereovision, but to everyone’s surprise Barry succeeded. In Fixing My Gaze, she describes how wonderful it was to have, step-by-step, this new 3-D world revealed to her. And as a neurobiologist she is able to discuss the science as an expert, in simple language."

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Pictures of me doing tomatis, balametrics and eye tracking exercises

I am listening to specially filtered Mozart or Gregorian chant through the headphones (Tomatis).  I am standing on a balance board (balametrics), and I am batting a ball on a tether with the ruler.  I am doing a variety of exercises: trying to make semi circles with the ball as it goes over each of the pegs, batting the ball over a certain peg, or hitting the ball with a certain color on the ruler.
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Christmas Shopping: ASD Friendly Toys

Future events marker for video gamesImage via Wikipedia
Found a link on for some toys that some children on the Autistic Spectrum have enjoyed as well as a review of these toys.  Not every toy suits every ASD child so use your judgment!

This list is a bit heavy on video games and video game hardware so if your child is into this its great.  If not,  this list is not the list for you.

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