Friday, February 25, 2011

The Plot Thickens

Like  a good novels, the kind that you don't want to put the book down,  last month has been woven with more twists and turns than a Dashiell Hammer mystery.   Things have seemed to build up to a  moment  where a revelation hits us and, although it is a shocking surprise, we suddenly see that this point in time has been building throughout the plot. Suddenly we see that the build up that was leading us down one avenue was an optical illusion.  In order for the twist to work, you have to deliberately mislead your audience, but the build up, once revealed in its true light, has to also be true to the revealed twist.  God works in mysterious ways, doesn't he!Swirling a MysteryMystery Image by qthomasbower via Flickr

The story begins when my 90 year old MIL was found unconscious in her bed in independent living.  Apparently, she was unconscious for about 24 hours.  My husband and I went shopping on Saturday at a thrift store and were very excited over our haul.  MIL always loves a tale of a good bargain.  I had called her a couple times on Saturday but got no answer.  For the first couple calls, I thought it was strange.  But her not answering the last call I made in the evening did seem a bit strange in a very annoying kind of way.  However, my husband and I were on our way out so I put that thought out of my mind.

We called her again on Sunday to tell her we were coming over.  While we were getting our act together, security at her complex called us to say that she was being rushed by ambulance over to the hospital.  She has spent 10 more days unconscious on a ventilator and the doctors were working very hard to pull her through.  It was touch and go but MIL has now arrived at skilled nursing where she will recover from wounds incurred while she was lying in one place for 24 hours and PT/OT since she was laying in bed for a couple weeks.  

Among other things,  MIL will need to work on short term memory, working memory and basic orientation.  She is getting an assessment this week and the Speech Language Therapist will be working on cognition with her.  

I think she was lacking oxygen to the brain for a period of time.  I ran into the security guard and we put together a timeline.  He is trained as a fire fighter so he knows something about basic first aide.  He thought she was breathing OK when he walked in.  At first, he thought she was asleep since she didn't answer her door during their daily checks.  She was laying with her book on her chest.  He pinched her and there was no response.   That's when he got concerned and called the EMTs who came.  Suddenly, she seemed to take a downward slide and her breathing became more irregular.  So they put a breathing tube in and called the rescue squad.  So maybe at the most, she lost 30 minutes of oxygen.... maybe less. 

This is very important as the brain needs oxygen.  Lack of oxygen destroys brain function.  Right now, MIL can't move her legs and has problems controlling her hands.  She has problems swallowing.  She doesn't know what month it is and can't repeat it back after you have just told her.  Everyday I ask her about the date and she can't remember.   She does remember my husband and myself and her friends and family.  I am trying to help her remember her past life by reminding her that she was a nurse and where she worked as a nurse.  I will bring in pictures to help her.   But for the most part, MIL is living in the present.

It's funny that my last post was all about memory. 

I have my journey through my cortex and now, MIL has her journey through her cortex.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Sorry, I haven't been posting

but MIL is very ill and I have been otherwise occupied.  I will try and post more later this week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Try Thinking and Learning Without Working Memory

Imag­ine dial­ing a phone num­ber by hav­ing to look up each digit one at a time in the phone book. Nor­mally, you look up the num­ber and remem­ber all seven dig­its long enough to get it dialed. Even with one digit at a time, you would have to remem­ber each digit long enough to get it dialed. What if your brain could not even do that! We call this kind of remem­ber­ing, “work­ing mem­ory,” because that is what the brain works with. Work­ing mem­ory is crit­i­cal to every­day living.
Con­scious thought involves mov­ing a suc­ces­sion of items through what seems like a vir­tual scratch-pad. Think of it like stream­ing audio/video, where “thought bites” move on to the scratch pad where they are fed into a thought process and then moved off the scratch pad to make room for the next thought bite.Baddeley's Working Memory Model Working MemoryImage via Wikipedia
We think with what is in work­ing or “scratch pad” mem­ory. What we know, stored in reg­u­lar mem­ory, is brought onto the scratch pad in suc­ces­sive stages, each involv­ing sub­ject­ing the knowl­edge to analy­sis, inte­gra­tion into the cur­rent con­text, and cre­ative re-organization via our think­ing processes (“thought engine”). The ani­mated ver­sion of this graphic shows item 1 mov­ing on to the scratch pad and then sent on to the “thought engine.” This is fol­lowed by item 2, then 3, etc.
Con­scious think­ing thus requires the abil­ity to hold infor­ma­tion “on line” long enough to use it in think­ing. Con­scious thought thus seems to be a seri­ally ordered process of mov­ing thought bites on to and off of the scratch pad.
Try Thinking and Learning Without Working Memory | SharpBrains

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fwd: ThinkFood for Brain Health: Chicken & Pecan Enchiladas

Some "Brain Friendly" Food from Posit Science.   Apparently, they have a series about brain friendly nutrition that features foodies:

Main Course
Chicken & Pecan Enchiladas
Pam Thuman-Commike from Project Foodie's enchilada recipe is anything but ordinary. Her healthy, inventive interpretation is packed with antioxidants, folic acid, and alliums with an array of potential benefits for brain health and function.

Pam Thuman-Commike, @projectfoodie
© 2011 Posit Science. All Rights Reserved.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cure for Tinnitus Is Going to Clinical Trials

American scientists claim to have developed a cure for tinnitus, a condition that causes incessant ringing in the ears. Researchers have found that by stimulating the part of the brain that causes the disorder they were able to make the ringing go away – at least for, er, rats.
According to a study published in Neuron earlier this month (via the Daily Swarm) tinnitus is not just the result of damage or obstruction in the ear – it is brought on by the brain, which overcompensates for lost hearing. After brain scans of 22 people at Georgetown University in Washington DC, scientists found that tinnitus occurs when one part of the brain tries to produce sounds to replace missing frequencies, and another fails to stop the unwanted sound – ringing – from reaching the auditory cortex.
In a separate paper, published last week in Nature, scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas experimented with rats, "resetting" their brains by stimulating a major cranial nerve, called the vagus. "Unlike previous treatments, we're not masking the tinnitus, we're not hiding the tinnitus," co-author Michael Kilgard told AFP. "We are eliminating the source of the tinnitus."Day 642 / 365 - Myself is against meImage by xJasonRogersx via Flickr
Kilgard and his colleagues electrically stimulated the vagus nerve in rats, which runs from the brain's medulla to the abdomen. This releases chemicals such as acetylcholine and norepinephrine, which can encourage changes in the brain. By pairing the stimulation with a high-pitched tone, the scientists were apparently able to halt the rats' tinnitus for more than three months.

This procedure will start clinical trials in Europe for human beings  in a few months. 

Maybe I will wait out my tinnitus and see what's going to happen with these clinical trials.   On the one hand, this is good news.  On the other hand, who knows.  According to Kilgard, "Less than half of therapies that are successful in animals prove successful when tested on people".

One thing I do know is that a lot of money is being pumped into tinnitus research.  With an expected payout of $1 billion dollars in disability to veterans, the government is motivated to find a cure.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

My Eyes are Stuck

It Sucks!  My eyes are stuck...

I have plateaued in my quest for 3D vision.  I can put my finger up and get objects in my house behind my finger to double up but I can't seem to do it for objects in the distance outside.  It's a lot of work to get my eyes to converge.  I can do my eccentric circles just fine.   I can get these two images on the right to converge into one image.  But my 3D vision just isn't happening, yet.  I am still waiting for my Stereo Sue moment.  I want to dance in a snowfall and feel connected to the falling snow.

I have been doing my Dynamic Reader just fine.  I think the Dynamic Reader has helped me read better.  I never knew how much jumping around my eyes were doing. 

I will be seeing Dr. Herzberg March 1st and we shall see what the next steps will be.
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Mii has Fun On the Wii

I've been doing the WII Fit with Balance Board for the past couple of weeks on a fun basis rather than using it seriously to try and improve my balance.   I'm only doing what I feel  like doing.

So, I'm just goofing about... giving my neurons a rest.  I've been doing Snowball and am an expert at Snowball.  Although I either do really well with Snowball on the expert level and get 3 stars out of 4 or I really suck at it and get walloped in my first couple of hits.

I also do Soccer and I am at an advanced level on soccer with 3 out of 4 stars.  I am doing much better at games with judgment. 
Wii FitImage via Wikipedia
I also do Table Tilt Plus having worked through basic Table Tilt.  I get about sixty points.  I am still stuck on the last two levels.  Occasionally, I get all of them.

Finally, I often do Rhythm Parade.   My husband does Rhythm Parade and really smokes it.  I think he has missed his calling in life and should be a drum major.  Honestly, I am thinking of signing him up for one of the nearby Mummers Bands.  I am doing pretty well at the Rhythm Parade but only after massive amount of work and effort to get there.  I am a Calorie Torcher at the Advanced Level with 3 out of 4 stars.  I like doing Rhythm Parade when I really smoke it because I get feedback from the ground through my feet.  When I am really on the beat consistently, my body really feels the ground.  Its a nice sensation.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

A colleague sent along this video tonight and though I’d seen it before, and we’ve been using the VEP unit in our office for several years,  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the clip.  You may recognize the name of the pediatric ophthalmologist in the video, Dr. David Granet, from his well-known paper on the association between convergence insufficiency and ADHD reviewed on
 An example of the Brock String in use for trea... Brock String Used in Vision TherapyImage via Wikipedia

Dr. Granet makes some nice statements on this segment of The Doctors TV Show.  In describing the relevance of screening a young child for amblyopia, he states:  “The eye is just a camera, and then you have to get it back to the CPU, the central processor.  The brain waves tell us what she can see or can’t see.  Amblyopia is when the brain isn’t using one eye.”
That’s a pretty profound statement, which says that poor vision in one eye, or what is called “lazy eye” in the vernacular, really isn’t a lazy eye at all.  In fact, it’s more appropriate to call the condition “lazy brain”.  But if we called it that, we’d really be casting aspersions on the person with the condition.  So the concept that Dr. Granet is supporting is that vision occurs in the brain, not in the eyes.
This is also a crucial concept to grasp because the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology have an absurd Policy Statement used to discredit vision therapy which states:  “Although the eyes are obviously necessary for vision, the brain interprets visual symbols. Therefore, correcting subtle visual defects cannot alter the brain’s processing of visual stimuli.
Huh?  Wait a minute.  If correcting visual defects cannot alter the brain’s processing of visual stimuli, how do we improve amblyopia?  Aren’t we treating the connections between eye and brain?  Optometry understands this, of course.  Vision is a collaboration of the eyes and brain, and this serves as the basis for success in vision therapy for amblyopia as well as many other conditions.

For More See Vision Help...

It's a very interesting discussion between opthamologists and optometrists about how their respective disciplines look at treating amblyopia and convergence insufficiency.

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