Exercise and the ADHD Child

Just as the human body is designed to be active, the brain also needs activity (physical not just mental activity).  Exercise can boost learning power and relieve ADHD symptoms three different ways.

  1. First, exercise can improve attention span, alertness, and motivation, thus optimizing our productivity and overall mindset.  How? It does this by boosting the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which regulates the signaling processes of the brain.
  2. Second, exercise  aids the cellular basis of learning.  It helps neurons bind to each other – making new connections.
  3. It also triggers the development of new nerve cells (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that handles learning and memory.

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Retained Primitive Reflexes: A Possible Cause of ADHD

Have you ever tried touching a baby’s hand? Try doing so the next time you encounter a baby, and you’ll notice that he or she will automatically grip your finger in response. This endearing behavior is actually one of the baby’s many neonatal reflexes – a primitive set of automatic reactions to specific stimuli. Babies’ neonatal reflexes are located in the most primitive part of the brain, the brainstem, and have evolved to protect them from harm and to aid in their neurological development. As the baby grows up, the reflexes in the brain stem comes under the control of regions like the cerebral cortex, which are responsible for more evolved thinking.
Sometimes, the integration between primitive reflexes and higher thinking does not happen correctly, meaning the baby carries the primitive reflexes onto childhood. This occurrence is referred to as retained primitive reflexes. Its causes are unknown, but experts in this field suggest that it might be due to physical, hormonal, or chemical trauma in the womb. Caesarean birth or a traumatic birth (i.e. the use of foreceps) can also contribute to a retained primitive reflex.

What happens to a child who kept his or her primitive reflexes? The symptoms depend on which specific primitive reflex failed to integrate with the rest of the central nervous system. You’ll notice that many of these problems are among the diagnostic symptoms of ADHD. Continue reading

Your Cerebellum

In the past several decades the Cerebellum (or little brain) was previously considered a center strictly involved in balance and coordination.  While this is in fact true, it’s role does not end there.

The cerebellum contains more than 50% of the brains neurons (brain cells).

The latest research in neuroscience now shows that the cerebellum is kind of like an orchestra director of the brain. It is involved in many aspects of coordinating brain activity.

The cerebellum is a co-processor of higher brain function and is linked to the opposite cerebral cortex.  There is a direct neurological connection between the cerebellum and cortical areas of the brain associated with learning.

A poor functioning cerebellum can lead to clumsy moments, thoughts, emotions and even social interactions being clumsy.