Posts Tagged ‘ Brain ’

Increase Your Child’s Vocabulary By Putting Emotion Into Words

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Toddlers and young kids learn words rapidly. It’s amazing to watch their vocabularies grow. And one of the ways they learn naturally is by attending to the emotion in words. 

This may sound obvious. But think about how we often teach young kids new words. Drills, lists, repetition.

All of this could be spiced up pretty easily by adding some emotion to the words. Let them hear how the words are really used. Almost any new word can be used in a way that emphasizes some type of emotion – even if it’s a little subtle.

A new study published in Child Development demonstrates this principle experimentally.

While there’s still a lot of nuance to understanding more about the role that emotion plays in children’s ability to learn new words, it’s quite clear that a little affect goes a long way. So embellish those lists and flashcards with a bit of emotion.

Brain and Heart via

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Behavioral Interventions For Autism: A Small Breakthrough?

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Autism is a biological disorder. That said, recent research continues to reinforce the power of behavioral interventions – and a recent study may be pointing the way to a small breakthrough. 

In October, Dr. Geraldine Dawson and colleagues published a paper showing exciting results from a relatively new intervention called the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). Previous studies demonstrated that the ESDM leads to improvements in a number of developmental domains – including reduction of symptoms, and increases in social behavior, language and IQ performance. The latest study revealed something especially remarkable – ESDM resulted in “normalized patterns of brain activity” in kids with autism when viewing a human face as compared to other objects. Since a fundamental goal of behavioral intervention is to improve interest in the social world, these results were especially powerful – the kids who participated in ESDM not only behaved differently, but their brains were functioning differently in real time.

ESDM applies learning principles – such as those used in more traditional ABA interventions – to shape and reinforce social behaviors as they happen in the stream of daily interaction. Parents as well as therapists are trained to administer the intervention program. And it is very intensive – it takes lots of hours every week, and the recent study evaluated kids after two years of intervention. No doubt, all these features are critical reasons why it may be having such a beneficial effect.

I see this work as signaling a breakthrough in intervention in two ways. First, it reminds us that just because a developmental disorder may be biological/genetic in origin, that does not mean that interventions need to be biological to produce substantial changes in developmental patterns. Second, creative interventions that utilize learning principles within the flow of everyday interaction – and incorporate the collaboration of therapists and parents – may be particularly effective in “reprogramming” both social behavior and how the brain processes social information.

We will continue to see lots of research on the biology of autism, and this work continues to be extremely important. But I do hope that we see more and more effort (and scientific and social resources) aimed at developing and refining behavioral interventions that hold considerable promise for promoting positive developmental changes in kids with autism.

Human Brain Research and Autism via


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