Learning disability: Traditional vs. neurodevelopmental points of view

When a child finds it difficult to retain information learned or function well in the classroom, leading to academic underachievement, it could be an indicator of a learning disability. When such a sign as this is perceived, it is important to dig deep and determine the cause of the learning difficulty to find out how it can be addressed.

Child with learning difficulties
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From a classical or traditional point of view, a learning disability roots from biological or genetic reasons. The memory or perceptional systems in the brain do not develop fully or at the right pace. This results in poor cognitive function or behavior that are labeled into different classifications.

The traditional remedy to the learning disability is medication and placement of children into special class assignments, which unfortunately and most of the time places a stigma on these children. In the neurodevelopmental point of view, a learning disability is determined and diagnosed by locating which parts of the central or peripheral nervous system are underdeveloped. This way, the real causes of why the brain cannot correctly receive, process, integrate, store, or express information.

After proper identification of the cause, a non-medicated neurodevelopmental program, which includes activities, therapies, and exercise, can be mapped out to develop the part of the nervous system that needs to be addressed.

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Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer who founded Crossroads Institute, which specialized in telemedicine brain training delivery systems to address learning disabilities, autism, ADD/ADHD, memory dysfunction, and others. Read more about the subject matter by subscribing to this blog.


A primer on the different types of memory

Memory is needed by the brain for it to accomplish various functions, such as cognition (conscious thoughts) or long-term store of skills and experiences. Memory takes on various forms, which are discussed below:

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Short-term memory: This type of memory refers to the information the brain can store that lasts between one second and 24 hours, depending on the importance of the information. Short-term memories can either be dismissed after a certain period or deposited into long-term memory.

Intermediate memory: Also called working memory, this is the information the mind has processed. It defines one’s ability to express actions, based on how they feel about a given situation.

Episodic memory: The first of the three parts of long-term memory, episodic memories are a recollection of past events and experiences. In most cases, episodic memories are prompted by emotions and heightened by sensory inputs.

Semantic memory: Semantic memory refers to the general knowledge that a human stores in the mind; these include names, facts, concepts, textbook information, and more. When discussing past events, episodic and semantic memories usually overlap.

Procedural memory: Procedural memory is also called automatic memory because physical and mental skills that one acquires over time are automatically implanted in one’s mind. This memory is the reason people can read, ride a bike, play an instrument, and more.

Image source: eideticmemorytest.com

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer who has a diverse multidisciplinary background. He currently heads the research and development of NTLgroup, where he developed NeuroCodex and NeuroCoach for brain and cognitive repair. Read more about Dr. Cripe and his work here.

What People Need to Know About Addiction to Speed

Of all the dangerous drugs circulating the country, one of the most prevalent is crystal meth. It has torn families apart and ruined lives in both urban and rural areas. When a person first tries it, it is more or less life-changing. The powerful rush it gives its user is hard to take away. That’s right — most of the time, all it takes is just one session. Here are some eye-opening facts about crystal meth.

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·It has many names on the street – crack, ice, speed, or chalk.

·It is a more affordable option of cocaine. It gives the same effect, over a longer period of time. It is affordable because it’s easier to make.

·It can be manufactured anywhere, from trailer homes to abandoned buildings, to residences themselves.

·It can be inhaled, injected, swallowed, or snorted.

·One of the most dangerous aspects is that users develop

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a tolerance over a period of time. When this happens, people begin to need a bigger amount to get their hit.

·It has been found that excessive and prolonged use of the crystal meth has a negative effect on a person’s body and brain. Users usually experience rotting of teeth and drying up and damaging of the skin.

·Withdrawal symptoms from crystal meth are extreme and can range from simple anxiety to extreme paranoia and severe (and dangerous) depression.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with a background that includes drug addiction and abuse recovery. He currently leads the Research and Development department of the NTL group. For more on Dr. Cripe and the NTL group, follow this Facebook page.

First Aid For Traumatic Head And Brain Injury

While a lot of injuries sustained with head trauma aren’t as severe as one might expect and wouldn’t require serious treatment, most, if not all these injuries still require first aid. In fact, the application of first aid may even prevent the condition from worsening and becoming more serious. It should be noted, however, that many injuries sustained by the head and brain may lead to chronic symptoms such as headaches and nausea, and even after first aid has been applied, would still require the person to rest and take some time off from his or her normal activities.

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Before tackling first aid though, one should first be familiar with signs and symptoms of head and brain injury. These can range from severe bleeding from the head and face (or even the eyes, nose, and ears), floating in and out of consciousness, black and blue discoloration below the eyes and ears, headaches, seizures, and loss of equilibrium, among others.

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The first step even before administering first aid would be to call 911. The person who was injured has to be kept lying down and very still while waiting for the specialists to arrive. Head and shoulders have to be elevated, but unless necessary, the person, especially the neck area, should not be moved. If the person is wearing a helmet, it should stay on. Pressure should be applied to wounds to stop any bleeding, except if there’s a suspected fracture of the skull. Breathing and consciousness should be observed. If the person stops breathing, begin CPR.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is the head of the NTL Group and a neuroengineer with a vast knowledge in several other disciplines. He also has extensive experience in treating victims of brain injuries. For more about him and his work, check out this blog.


That Pleasure Center: How Addictions Change The Brain

Thanks to science, it is now outdated to view addiction in all its forms as a moral scourge. Before, addicts are cast out for their supposed lack of willpower in conquering drug dependence. Neuroscience forwards and persistently substantiates the biomedical view of addiction as a result of a cognitive dysfunction, rendering moot any values-based judgment of it.

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The biomedical view pits addiction as a chronic disease with a physiological explanation, altering the brain and its functions. Furthermore, it is triggered by a natural response of the brain to pleasurable stimuli. The so-called “pleasure center,” the nucleus accumbens, is infused with dopamine when a pleasurable experience registers in the brain. Thus, addiction can take on many forms and is not exclusive to drugs and alcohol. The most benign, everyday activities, such as sex, and even sports, can escalate into full-blown addiction as long as the brain registers pleasure from these and triggers the release of the happiness hormone, dopamine.

Neurosurgeons and neuroengineers then direct their addiction recovery research toward methods that target this “pleasure center.” In China, for instance, a still-risky but roguish procedure called “stereotactic ablation” seeks to obliterate parts of the nucleus accumbens. While well-intentioned, the procedure presents both biomedical and ethical issues. One is that it affects or inhibits other emotional and physiological responses stemming from the pleasure center, such as sexual desire, motivation, and in extreme cases, even happiness. This innovation presents a fundamental problem in neurosurgery: the inherent sensitivity and susceptibility to damage of brain tissue.

Other neuroengineering techniques treating addictions are more holistic and bio-social in their approach. Modern imaging methods allow a comprehensive examination of the brain’s many aspects, including cognitive abilities and brain processing speed and regulation. Data from such are then compiled with personality and lifestyle factors in the development of appropriate treatment programs for addiction.

Image source: TIME.com

Dr. Curtis Cripe developed an integrated cognitive rehabilitation/development/neurotherapy training program targeted at brain recovery and brain development for children, adolescents and adults with brain dysfunctions. For more on neuroscience and methods of cognitive neurorepair, visit this website.

Other Dangerous Drugs And Their Effects

So far, the most commonly used illegal drugs are cocaine, marijuana, crack, and heroin. But there are a lot more drugs that are considered just as dangerous and have been destroying lives over the years.

Opium comes from immature seed pods of opium poppies. The latex that comes out of these pods has around 15 percent morphine. It has been a drug of choice for centuries but has since been overtaken by more purified and chemically modified varieties.

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Ecstasy or MDMA is a relatively new designer drug that’s proven on several occasions that it is indeed dangerous. This semi-synthetic psychedelic entactogen is not as visual as its psychedelic cousins, but it is a potent stimulant. It has gained massive popularity in the club scene since it’s recreational properties also help in stimulating people and enhancing sex drives. It also increases the awareness of the senses, as well as euphoria, mental clarity, and heightened positive emotions. It has also killed individuals, a lot of them underage, through overdose.

Like ecstasy, LSD or Lysergic acid diethylamide is a semi-synthetic psychedelic drug, but is more of a hallucinogen. LSD is probably the most popular psychedelic hallucinogen in the market and has reached its peak in the ‘60s with the rock movement. Just like other chemically-based illegal drugs, LSD has been known to be harmful to a person’s mind and can cause people to do things they are not aware of.

Image source: vice.com

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer with a background that includes addiction recovery among many other specializations. He also heads the Research and Development team at NTL Group for advanced technology for brain and cognitive treatment and repair. For more about him and the work that he does, check out this website.

Brains, Computers, And The Future

Scientists are getting closer and closer to creating an interface between the human brain and a computer that can translate what people are thinking. This is especially helpful for people who are unable to communicate, such as those with complete locked-in syndrome.

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Some researchers have tried to see if an interface that uses functional near-infrared spectroscopy, or NIRS, would work. Essentially, this method would measure brain hemodynamic responses that are usually associated with neuronal activity.

Scientists have tried to use brain-computer interfaces that depended on neuroelectrical tech, like an electroencephalogram, or EEG. The endeavor ultimately failed in its goal of helping completely locked-in syndrome patients communicate.

This latest technique though seemed to give hope to the study. It is a non-invasive brain-computer interface that combines the NIRS and EEG tech. This technique measures frontocentral blood oxygen levels, as well as electrical changes that occur in the brain. Although brain-computer interfaces in the past have helped patients communicate, the NIRS is the only technique that works on people with complete lock-in syndrome.

This also comes as great news for people who are unable to communicate, such as those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which can lead to paralysis later on, or those paralyzed because of a stroke or a spinal cord injury.

Image source: bbc.co.uk

Another encouraging fact to note is that this is merely the beginning, as such studies are projected to have broader applications in the future.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is a neuroengineer and the head of the Research and Development department of NTL group for advanced technology for brain and cognitive treatment and repair. To find out more about him and the NTL group, check out the blogs on this site.