The general theme of the course is to offer suggestions on how therapists can use our current knowledge of brain structures, function, and possible neuroplasticity to maximize the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions in clinical practice.
One topic included in this two-day course is Neurogenesis and Developmental Disorders
A review of the development of Central Nervous System (CNS) structures and related disorders will be provided. The Neuronal Group Selection Theory (NGST) proposed by Edelman is discussed in relation to Primary and Secondary variability in the motor control system. Primary variability is characterized by abundant variation brought about by explorative activity of the nervous system – there is variation in motor behavior, but no ability to adapt to specifics of the situation. Secondary variability suggests that the CNS uses information produced by behavior (Primary Variability) and experience for selecting motor behaviors that fit the situation best. Clinical problems related to CNS disorders and resulting limitations in Primary and Secondary Variability are explored in the course. Motor disabilities, for example in children with cerebral palsy, are examples of limitations in both Primary and Secondary Variability.
The connections, functions, and importance of white matter tracts (myelination) within the CNS are discussed and results of a new non-invasive method for studying the development and connections of these tracts (diffusion tensor imaging) will be summarized. For example, brain imaging in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) was initiated when it was noted that autistic babies have a larger head circumference than peers. Head size is comparable at birth, but greater acceleration around one year of age is noted. This might indicate a developmental disorder in brain regions responsible for higher cognitive functions, such as the frontal cortex. This accelerated growth slows and no significant differences in head circumference are noted in adolescence and adulthood. Studies of children with ASD related to specific CNS structures, such as the temporal lobe and cerebellum, will also be summarized.