Scientific Case Studies
How the Attitude of Acceptance, Enthusiasm and Learning through Motivation Affects Brain Development in Children with Autism: A Literature Review
Joana Prata, Rui Coelho and Wenn Lawson
Research on the autism spectrum (AS) has expanded tremendously over the last two decades with exciting insights into underlying neurobiology. Neuroplasticity, the remarkable ability of the brain to form new connections as a result of experience, is not limited to specific parts of the brain nor does it have a time limit meaning that growth and learning are on-going processes.
In this review we explore the impact of the attitude of acceptance, enthusiasm and learning through motivation on brain development in children on the AS. The first part of the review focusses on the impact of attitude on social, emotional and cognitive development, while the second part focusses on the impact of attitude on brain biology.
Bridging Autism Spectrum Disorders and Schizophrenia through inflammation and biomarkers – pre-clinical and clinical investigations
Joana Prata, Susana G. Santos, Maria Inês Almeida, Rui Coelho and Mário A. Barbosa
In recent years, evidence supporting a link between inflammation and neuropsychiatric disorders has been mounting. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia share some clinical similarities which we hypothesize might reflect the same biological basis, namely, in terms of inflammation. However, the diagnosis of ASD and schizophrenia relies solely on clinical symptoms, and to date, there is no clinically useful biomarker to diagnose or monitor the course of such illnesses.
The focus of this review is the central role that inflammation plays in ASD and schizophrenia. It spans from pre-clinical animal models to clinical research and excludes in vitro studies. Four major areas are covered: (1) microglia, the inflammatory brain resident myeloid cells, (2) biomarkers, including circulating cytokines, oxidative stress markers, and microRNA players, known to influence cellular processes at brain and immune levels, (3) effect of anti-psychotics on biomarkers and other predictors of response, and (4) impact of gender on response to immune activation, biomarkers, and response to anti-psychotic treatments.
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