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News & Views - October, 2001 Issue (page 1)

Page 1 of 1

NEW WEBSITE ON BRAIN DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH (October 4, 2001)  A new site reporting on current research in the brain development of young children is www.talaris.org.  Sponsored by Talaris Research Institute in Seattle, the goal is to provide key concepts derived from research.

(September 16, 2001) Lauran Neergaard of Associated Press, on the SCIENCE website described Princeton researchers’ brain scans of volunteers pondering ethical dilemmas. It concluded, “a key to tough moral judgment is emotion, not logical or analytical reasoning.” The research, published in the September 14 edition of the journal, Science, entitled “fMRI Investigation of Emotional Engagement in Moral Judgement,” is “groundbreaking” according to Jonathon Haidt, a social and cultural psychologist at the University of Virginia. The study’s co-author, Dr. Jonathon Cohen, Director of Princeton’s Center for the Study of Brain, Mind and Behavior, concluded: “people used emotion-related brain areas to decide the personal moral questions far more than when they decided impersonal, or nonmoral questions.”

(Fall, 2001) The National Coalition of Girl’s Schools Membership Update newsletter stated: “in addition to CNN, the Scripps Howard News Service, which syndicates stories to top newspapers nationwide, and Viewpoints, a syndicated public affairs radio program with more than 140 affiliates, interviewed NCGS Executive Director, Meg Moulton." The interview was part of a news story about the new-found popularity of all-girls schools; 35 new girl’s schools have been founded since 1996.

(March 21, 2001) Robert Lee Hotz, Times Science Writer, in a Friday, March 16 2001 article states “by scanning the brains of people reading English, French and Italian, researchers for the first time have demonstrated that dyslexia can be more severe depending on which written language and French, make the condition worse because their spelling is so dramatically at odds with how words sound, the researchers discovered.” Using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners, the reasearchers showed that, regardless of the language, people with dyslexia had less neural activity in key areas of the brain responsible for decoding sounds and matching them to the visual cues of the alphabet.” According to Eraldo Paulesu, neuropsychologist at the University of Milan Biocca in Italy, who led the study, “Our results are clear-cut. They show that dyslexia has a universal basis in the brain.”

(December 16, 2000) The United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered an updated warning for the acne drug Accutane: “May cause depression, psychotic symptoms and rarely, suicide attempts and suicide.” The warning was issued “after a dozen people who committed suicide were found to have taken the medication.” Even the manufacturer suggests Accutane only be used as a last resort “because of the risk of severe side effects” states Linda Chae, in the FreeLife Wellness Update.

(September 12, 2001) An Education Week on the web article by Eric Schaps, Ester Schaeffer and Sanford McDonnell states “character development is not a simple matter. One’s character develops over time, and is formed in many ways: through exposure to the actions and attitudes of others we have come to trust...through engaging in moral action, such as service to others...and through open, considered dialogue about the complexities of moral situations and alternative responses. On the other hand, there is little evidence that moralizing to children or giving them direct instruction in moral principles has much effect.”

(April 27, 2000) Lawrence H. Diller, M.D. in an article appearing on www.salon.com writes about a medical examiner’s findings in Pontiac, Michigan, strongly linking long-term use of Ritalin to a 14-year old’s death. “Death was due to cardiac arrest secondary to blockage of coronary arteries that supplied blood to his heart…typical of the damage seen in adults who chronically abuse stimulants. The boy had been prescribed Ritalin for ADHD for 10 years. Two other children who were taking Ritalin have died in Texas and Ohio.” Another article, by Kelly Patricia O’Meara, appearing on InsightMag.com, stated the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded thirty years ago that Ritalin was pharmacologically similar to Cocaine in the pattern of abuse it fostered and cited it as a Schedule II drug – the most addictive in medical use. Now a “recently concluded study at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) not only confirms the similarities between Cocaine and Ritalin, but finds that Ritalin is more potent than cocaine in its effect on the dopamine system, which many doctors believe is one of the areas of the brain that is most affect by drugs such as Ritalin and Cocaine.” The study, lead by Nora Volkow, psychiatrist and associate laboratory director for life sciences at BNL, was published in the Journal of Neuroscience and in the Journal of the American Medical Association. O’Meara also quotes an article appearing last February in the Journal of the American Medical Association, entitled, “Trends in the Prescribing of Psychotropic Medications to Preschoolers,” stating psychotropic medications have tripled in preschoolers ages 2 to 4 during a five-year period…during the last 15 years the use of Ritalin increased by 311 percent for those ages 15 to 19 and 170 percent for those ages 4 to 14.” An article by Tom DeWeese, at the American Policy Center, states “virtually all of the students who showed up at school and began shooting…” had been prescribed stimulants or anti-depressants. “Eric Harris of Columbine HS fame was taking Luvoc, an antidepressant. T.J. Solomon who wounded six classmates at Heritage High School was on Ritalin. Shawn Cooper who fired off two shotgun rounds in Notus, Idaho, was on Ritalin. Kip Kindel was on both Ritalin and Prozac!” He also reports “when Jill and Michael Carroll of Albany, NY, grew fearful of the side effects of Ritalin on their seven year old son, the Department of Social Services filed charges against them for educational neglect.”

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