NEXUS: Building Brainy Kids News

Have a great  Independence Day!


There are  two NEXUS ideas  to recommend to you  – both about  making connections.


1. Mind Body Connections: “Some developmental  problems might in fact stem from abnormalities in the way neurons and blood vessels sync up as they mature.” according to Elizabeth M.C. Hillman’s piece: “Out for Blood”, pp 59-65 in the  July/August 2014 issue of  Scientific American Mind. Hillman explains  recent inquiry into circulatory issues that may fail to nurture neurons properly in utero causing neurological abnormalities and  in later life causing dementias. Without healthy blood, neurons die, she suggests. She says “historically neuroscientists have seen blood vessels in the brain as mundane roadway, irrelevant to the neurons they support.”Now, scientists are suggesting  new connections.

2. Behavior and Neuron Connections: Child mental and substance abuse disorders may be better understood as  the nexus between a boy or girl’s neurodevelopment and their behavioral patterns, as suggests in commentary recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association... Below is a summary of NIMH Director Thomas  Insel’s   Comments: Child Mental Health and Brain Development. 06/18/2014 02:14 PM EDT

If you go to MedlinePlus [medlineplus@service.govdelivery.com]---You may l Listen to the NLM Director's Comments on "Child Mental Health and Brain Development" summarized below. The transcript is also available. Free: MedlinePlus and the U.S. National Library of Medicine, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

Thomas Insel M.D., the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, notes health care providers currently perceive child mental health and substance abuse disorders as behavioral or developmental. Dr. Insel does not dispute this point; however, he suggests there may be an alternative explanation. Insel explains scientists are just beginning to understand the possible links among some mental health and substance abuse disorders and a child’s neurodevelopment, or abnormal brain development.

Insel writes ‘Shifting from a behavioral to a neurodevelopmental focus becomes especially important as more is learned about human brain development’

The Director explains the human brain continues to develop well into the third decade of life and cortical maturation is not complete until age 25.

He further emphasizes ‘the prolonged period of brain development provides a template for understanding the emergence of behavioral and cognitive symptoms’

Noting  research that suggests the maturation of a child’s frontal cortex may be two to three years delayed in some kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),  Insel acknowledges frontal cortex symptoms suggest the presence of a disorder, the finding explains little about underlying mechanisms or why there may be a possible link  between ADHD and the frontal cortex development within a child’s brain.

“the  hunt is on for predictive, brain-based biomarkers or cognitive tests to identify the presymptomatic phases of several neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia’ quotes Insel; and he adds that there is an urgent need to find innovative approaches to assist kids with mental illness and substance abuse. Research  suggests both are the predominant noncommunicable disorders among children. In addition, Insel adds 50 percent of adults with mental disorders report their onset occurred by age 14 or younger.

Insel writes ‘mental and substance abuse disorders are common and disabling in young people, with profound consequences for health, economic, and social outcomes throughout the life span. The enormity of this public health challenge is increased by the limited understanding of the cause and treatment of these disorders’ (end of quote).  He  concludes that now is the time to shift from a behavior and symptom-based diagnoses of mental health and substance abuse and to attain a deeper understanding of the neurodevelopmental trajectories among boys and girls. Once the latter occurs, Insel notes the results may open a door to new, alternative treatments to support a child’s brain development and overall health.

 Meanwhile, Dr. Insel’s agency - the National Institute on Mental Health - provides an overview of child and adolescent mental health within the ‘overviews’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s child mental health health topic page. A website from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides advice about when to seek help for a child in the ‘diagnosis/symptoms’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s child mental health health topic page

Links to specific, evidence-based information about childhood depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety, and child traumatic stress are available within the ‘specific conditions’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s child mental health health topic page

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s child mental health disease health topic page type ‘child mental health’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page, then, click on ‘child mental health (National Library of Medicine).’ MedlinePlus.gov also has comprehensive health topic pages on child behavior disorders and mental health and behavior.

Best, Lainge


Lainge Bailey, Coordinator for ...


Building Together Strong Outcomes

Among Children and Youth

A committee of ...

The Advisory Board fot the Joe and Fredona Gartlan Center for Community Mental Health

In Mount Vernon's District of Fairfax County, Virginia

Contact ...

by email:

laingeb@cox.net or



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