FREE INFORMATION SESSIONS
Wednesday, June 29
Monday, July 25th, 2016
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Please contact SIRRI
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If you are unable to attend,
please call for a free
Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA)
We are a Pre-Approved Facility
What can ESA funds be spent on?
According to the Arizona Department of Education, "Additional eligible expenses for children with special needs include:
• Educational therapies or services from a licensed or accredited practitioner or provider"
Please contact us or azed.gov
for details on using your ESA.
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
- 1 packet of strawberries
- 8-oz cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 10 blueberries (as needed)
- Remove the stems from the strawberries, and using a melon baller, scoop out a hole from the top of each strawberry.
- Cut a small part of the bottom with a sharp knife to create a flat surface for the strawberries to stand on.
- Using a hand mixer, mix together the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract until fluffy and light.
- Into a piping bag lined with a star tip, transfer the cream cheese mixture and pipe the filling into each of the prepared strawberries.
- Top each cream cheese pile with a blueberry.
Read more at https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/gluten-free-recipes/fourth-of-july-recipes/#0BJMJJvHhtXjzFpL.99
Finding sleep's sweet spot
Study connects early bedtime and 'adequate' sleep with heart healthy choices
April 21, 2016
Source: University of Delaware
|No one is telling you what time to go to bed with this, but researchers are making a strong case that the duration and timing of your sleep are closely associated with whether your behavior is heart-healthy.|
Night owls should take special note of a new study by University of Delaware researcher Freda Patterson and collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the University of Arizona College of Medicine, who found that the early-to-bed, early-to-rise approach aligns much better with cardiovascular health.
Sleep deficits and poor-quality sleep have been linked to obesity and a myriad of health problems, but this study shows that when it comes to promoting healthy hearts, it's not a matter of getting more sleep. It's a matter of getting adequate sleep at optimal times.
Doing that seems to reduce the kind of behaviors -- smoking, sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary choices -- that put hearts in harm's way.
"There are some who believe that sleep as a physiological function is upstream to these heart-health behaviors," said Patterson, assistant professor of behavioral health and nutrition in the University's College of Health Sciences. "If that is true, the implication would be that if we can modify sleep as a central risk factor, we might be in much better position to leverage or modify some of our most stubborn cardiovascular risk behaviors such as tobacco use."
The study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, examined the duration and approximate timing of sleep to see what patterns might be linked to the three prime suspects of cardiovascular trouble -- smoking, poor diet and sedentary habits. Those three behaviors have been blamed for about 40 percent of cardiovascular deaths in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The study had an enormous pool of data with which to work, drawing from the United Kingdom's Biobank Resource and a sample of 439,933 adults, between the ages of 40-69.
They found several strong connections, but first, a few notes about definitions and methods.
The study defined short sleep as less than six hours, adequate sleep as seven to eight hours, and long sleep as nine hours or more. Respondents were categorized by their self-reported sleep-timing or "chronotype" -- whether they considered themselves a morning person, more morning than evening, more evening than morning, or an evening person.
Participants were asked about their physical activity, how much time they spent using a computer or watching TV on an average day, how many servings of fruits and vegetables they had each day and how many cigarettes they typically smoked in an average day.
And the bottom line was this -- those whose sleep was either short or long and the night owls who went to bed later were more likely than adequate sleepers and those who went to bed earlier to smoke, remain sedentary and eat fewer fruits and vegetables.
"These data suggest that it's not just sleep deprivation that relates to cardiovascular risk behaviors, but too much sleep can relate as well," Patterson said. "Oftentimes, health messages say we need to get more sleep, but this may be too simplistic. Going to bed earlier and getting adequate sleep was associated with better heart health behaviors."
The American Health Association reports that only 5-10 percent of adults meet ideal standards in diet, physical activity and tobacco use. The rest of us have work to do.
"We know that people who are active tend to have better sleep patterns, and we also know that people who do not get their sleep are less likely to be active," Patterson said. "A pressing question for practitioners and researchers is how do you leverage one to improve the other?"
Data on the population studied were derived from the United Kingdom Biobank Resource, which draws on the UK's national health service. Subjects were between 40-69 years old during the four-year data collection period, which went from 2006-10.
Despite the enormous sample size, the data had some limitations, Patterson said. Population diversity was limited, for example. Ninety-five percent of respondents were white. And the data were largely based on self-report.
Further study is required to determine whether promoting adequate sleep and earlier-to-bed patterns would improve heart health.
University of Delaware. (2016, April 21). Finding sleep's sweet spot: Study connects early bedtime and 'adequate' sleep with heart healthy choices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421113137.htm
SIRRI offers these services
for both children & adults:
- Neurofeedback & Biofeedback
- QEEG / Brain Mapping
- Cognitive Retraining: memory, processing & problem solving skills
- Attention, Concentration & Focus Training
- Auditory & Visual Processing
- Reading Development: fluency & comprehension
- Balance, Coordination & Motor Planning Development
- Stress & Anxiety Management
- Peak Performance
Scientists think you can rewire your brain without taking drugs or changing your lifestyle
By Olivia Goldhill
May 21, 2016
|Imagine a treatment that involves sitting in a chair, with electrodes attached to your skull. The electrodes are attached to a computer that measure activity in your brain and then send feedback to regulate your brainwaves. Are you rolling your eyes at this weak sci-fi portrayal of futuristic mind-bending medicine?|
Though it may sound farfetched, neurofeedback has been around since the 1960s. The evidence is not definitive, but there’s growing research to suggest that neurofeedback could be used to treat ADHD, migraines, PTSD, or simply improve mood.
Some are effusive about the results. Newsweek journalist Winston Ross described two professionally administered neurofeedback treatments. “After the first session, I felt as if I’d just finished meditating, and the world seemed a little brighter. After the second, I felt like I’d taken a Xanax,” he wrote.
Ross reported that rising interest in the concept means there are now take-home, do-it-yourself versions of the treatment, though experts do advise against it. “It could be really great for you, or it could really mess you up,” warned Kirk Little, a Cincinnati psychologist and president of the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research.
On the more scientific end, some of the strongest support for neurofeedback is in connection with ADHD. As The Washington Post reported, a trial of 104 children found neurofeedback could be a “promising attention training treatment for children with ADHD.”
In these cases, the computer would monitor for brainwave patterns that show focus and attention. In one form of treatment, reported on by NPR, focused brainwaves are rewarded by images of flowers and birdsong. The brain associates focus with positive reward, and becomes better at controlling attention over time.
There are also stories of neurofeedback improving recovery from brain surgery, epileptic seizures, or chronic pain.
“We don’t know exactly how neurofeedback works,” Deborah Stokes, an Alexandria psychologist told the Washington Post. “It’s a process where if clients get out of their own way, they relax. Over time, they get the desired brain pattern, feel calm and function better. This encourages them to stay with it.”
As the treatment can cost thousands, it’s currently more likely to be an option for those with difficult-to-treat conditions who are struggling with more typical medicine. But though neurofeedback isn’t quite a high-tech alternative to the calming effects of yoga, there’s just enough evidence to keep scientists interested. And the growing body of research could ultimately turn this sci-fi scenario into a sensible treatment option.
What Is Brain Plasticity and Why Is It So Important?
By Duncan Banks
April 12, 2016
SciTech Connect Elsevier
|Neuroplasticity – or brain plasticity – is the ability of the brain to modify its connections or re-wire itself. Without this ability, any brain, not just the human brain, would be unable to develop from infancy through to adulthood or recover from brain injury.|
What makes the brain special is that, unlike a computer, it processes sensory and motor signals in parallel. It has many neural pathways that can replicate another’s function so that small errors in development or temporary loss of function through damage can be easily corrected by rerouting signals along a different pathway.
The problem becomes severe when errors in development are large, such as the effects of the Zika virus on brain development in the womb, or as a result of damage from a blow to the head or following a stroke. Yet, even in these examples, given the right conditions the brain can overcome adversity so that some function is recovered.
The brain’s anatomy ensures that certain areas of the brain have certain functions. This is something that is predetermined by your genes. For example, there is an area of the brain that is devoted to movement of the right arm. Damage to this part of the brain will impair movement of the right arm. But since a different part of the brain processes sensation from the arm, you can feel the arm but can’t move it. This “modular” arrangement means that a region of the brain unrelated to sensation or motor function is not able to take on a new role. In other words, neuroplasticity is not synonymous with the brain being infinitely malleable.
Part of the body’s ability to recover following damage to the brain can be explained by the damaged area of the brain getting better, but most is the result of neuroplasticity – forming new neural connections. In a study of Caenorhabditis elegans, a type of nematode used as a model organism in research, it was found that losing the sense of touch enhanced the sense of smell. This suggests that losing one sense rewires others. It is well known that, in humans, losing one’s sight early in life can heighten other senses, especially hearing.
As in the developing infant, the key to developing new connections is environmental enrichment that relies on sensory (visual, auditory, tactile, smell) and motor stimuli. The more sensory and motor stimulation a person receives, the more likely they will be to recover from brain trauma. For example, some of the types of sensory stimulation used to treat stroke patients includes training in virtual environments, music therapy and mentally practising physical movements.
The basic structure of the brain is established before birth by your genes. But its continued development relies heavily on a process called developmental plasticity, where developmental processes change neurons and synaptic connections. In the immature brain this includes making or losing synapses, the migration of neurons through the developing brain or by the rerouting and sprouting of neurons.
There are very few places in the mature brain where new neurons are formed. The exceptions are the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus (an area involved in memory and emotions) and the sub-ventricular zone of the lateral ventricle, where new neurons are generated and then migrate through to the olfactory bulb (an area involved in processing the sense of smell). Although the formation of new neurons in this way is not considered to be an example of neuroplasticity it might contribute to the way the brain recovers from damage.
Growing then pruning
As the brain grows, individual neurons mature, first by sending out multiple branches (axons, which transmit information from the neuron, and dendrites, which receive information) and then by increasing the number of synaptic contacts with specific connections.
At birth, each infant neuron in the cerebral cortex has about 2,500 synapses. By two or three-years-old, the number of synapses per neuron increases to about 15,000 as the infant explores its world and learns new skills – a process called synaptogenesis. But by adulthood the number of synapses halves, so-called synaptic pruning.
Whether the brain retains the ability to increase synaptogenesis is debatable, but it could explain why aggressive treatment after a stroke can appear to reverse the damage caused by the lack of blood supply to an area of the brain by reinforcing the function of undamaged connections.
Forging new paths
We continue to have the ability to learn new activities, skills or languages even into old age. This retained ability requires the brain to have a mechanism available to remember so that knowledge is retained over time for future recall. This is another example of neuroplasticity and is most likely to involve structural and biochemical changes at the level of the synapse.
Reinforcement or repetitive activities will eventually lead the adult brain to remember the new activity. By the same mechanism, the enriched and stimulating environment offered to the damaged brain will eventually lead to recovery. So if the brain is so plastic, why doesn’t everyone who has a stroke recover full function? The answer is that it depends on your age (younger brains have a better chance of recovery), the size of the area damaged and, more importantly, the treatments offered during rehabilitation.
The author of this article is Duncan Banks, Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, The Open University.
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