Language

Music Training Enhances Brainstem Activity to Speech Sounds

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
February 22, 2010
Abstract: 

At a Feb. 20 press briefing held during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, a Northwestern University neuroscientist argued that music training has profound effects that shape the sensory system and should be a mainstay of K-12 education. Kraus presented her own research and the research of other neuroscientists suggesting music education can be an effective strategy in helping typically developing children as well as children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately encode speech.

Early Intervention for Toddlers With Autism Highly Effective, Study Finds

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
November 30, 2009
Abstract: 

A novel early intervention program for very young children with autism -- some as young as 18 months -- is effective for improving IQ, language ability and social interaction, a comprehensive new study has found.

Neuropsychological performance 10 years after immunization in infancy with thimerosal-containing vaccines

Source: 
Pediatrics, Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D'Elia L, Chariotti F, Salmaso S.
Date Published: 
January 2009
Year Published: 
2009

Thimerosal, a mercury compound used as a preservative in vaccines administered during infancy, has been suspected to affect neuropsychological development. We compared the neuropsychological performance, 10 years after vaccination, of 2 groups of children exposed randomly to different amounts of thimerosal through immunization. Children who were enrolled in an efficacy trial of pertussis vaccines in 1992–1993 were contacted in 2003. Two groups of children were identified, according to thimerosal content in vaccines assigned randomly in the first year of life (cumulative ethylmercury intake of 62.5 or 137.5 µg), and were compared with respect to neuropsychological outcomes. Eleven standardized neuropsychological tests, for a total of 24 outcomes, were administered to children during school hours. Mean scores of neuropsychological tests in the domains of memory and learning, attention, executive functions, visuospatial functions, language, and motor skills were compared according to thimerosal exposure and gender. Nearly 70% of the invited subjects participated in the neuropsychological assessment (N = 1403). Among the 24 neuropsychological outcomes that were evaluated, only 2 were significantly associated with thimerosal exposure. Girls with higher thimerosal intake had lower mean scores in the finger-tapping test with the dominant hand and in the Boston Naming Test. Given the large number of statistical comparisons performed, the few associations found between thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological development might be attributable to chance. The associations found, although statistically significant, were based on small differences in mean test scores, and their clinical relevance remains to be determined.

Linkage, Association, and Gene Expression Analyses Identify CNTNAP2 as an Autism-Susceptibility Gene

Source: 
American Journal of Human Genetics, Alarcon, Abrahams, et al.
Date Published: 
January 2008
Year Published: 
2008

Autism is a genetically complex neurodevelopmental syndrome in which language deficits are a core feature. We describe results from two complimentary approaches used to identify risk variants on chromosome 7 that likely contribute to the etiology of autism. A two-stage association study tested 2758 SNPs across a 10 Mb 7q35 language-related autism QTL in AGRE (Autism Genetic Resource Exchange) trios and found significant association with Contactin Associated Protein-Like 2 (CNTNAP2), a strong a priori candidate. Male-only containing families were identified as primarily responsible for this association signal, consistent with the strong male affection bias in ASD and other language-based disorders. Gene-expression analyses in developing human brain further identified CNTNAP2 as enriched in circuits important for language development. Together, these results provide convergent evidence for involvement of CNTNAP2, a Neurexin family member, in autism, and demonstrate a connection between genetic risk for autism and specific brain structures.

Infant and Toddler Oral and Manual Motor Skills Predict Later Speech Fluency in Autism

Source: 
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Gernsbacher, Sauer et al
Date Published: 
2008

 

Infant and toddler oral-motor and manual-motor skills inter-correlated significantly, distinguished autistic children from typically developing children, and distinguished autistic children whose current-day speech was minimally fluent, moderately fluent, and highly fluent. These results were corroborated by analysis of historical home video and verified with current-day assessment.