Girls & autism

The gender effect is a hot topic in autism research and one that could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating a condition that affects at least 1 in 68 U.S. children.

Better understanding of gender’s role is key to helping the most people, said Kevin Pelphrey, an autism researcher at George Washington University. “Autism may not be the same thing in boys and girls.”


The causes of autism aren’t known but various genetic mutations are thought to play a role and outside factors including older parents and premature birth also have been implicated.

Brain imaging suggests there may be an additional explanation for why many girls with autism have more subtle symptoms, Pelphrey said.

“The surprising thing we are finding is that even in girls who clearly have autism,” brain regions involved in social behavior that are normally affected are less severely impaired, he said. Read more

Animal magnetism

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Brain foods may help avoid dementia

berriesThe Daily Herald Newspaper shared on September 12, 2016 that a study, recently published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, suggests that eating certain “brain foods” decreases your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

The neurological disorder is the sixth-leading cause of death in America, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

A “brain food” is a food that is believed to be beneficial to your brain because it helps increase your intellectual power.

A few brain power foods include: leafy greens, blueberries, seeds and nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, lentils, legumes and whole grains. These foods are part of a Mediterranean-style diet, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, which also reported that this diet lowers the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

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National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month

lombardCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Sara Nalbach asks, “Did you know that in 2008 Lombard joined The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in proclaiming September as National Recovery Month? ( Is it time for you or someone you love to come to and start the recovery journey?”

In its 27th year, Recovery Month aims to “educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life” ( “The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.”

The 2016 Recovery Month theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” This year’s theme highlights the important idea that addiction and recovery are not just about the addict; family, friends, co-workers–the entire support system can impact and be impacted by a person’s struggle with addiction (

There are many resources available to help the addict and those impacted by a loved one’s addiction to come to a new way of living that includes healthier choices in coping, stress management, self-care and overall mental and physical health. It is a personal journey, one that can start today.

What will you do this month to help yourself or someone you love who is struggling with addiction? Here are a few resources to get you started.


An online Addiction Assessment:

A great article about addiction and getting help:

SAMHSA National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s Youtube channel for Recovery Month:

DuPage County Alcoholics Anonymous:

24/7 hotline (630) 653-6556

Northern Illinois Al Anon and Alateen:

(630) 627-4441


Recovery is an action. Come to recovery, come to a new way of living. Just make the call and take a step in a different direction than the one you are on. It just might save your life or the life of someone you love.

Live music may make you happier

live musicAccording to a recent study in the journal Psychology of Music, live music events have been found to be positively correlated with a person’s sense of well-being.

For the study, researchers at Deakin University in Australia administered a survey to 1,000 respondents and discovered that those who attended community music events — including live shows at local cafes, clubs, concerts and festivals — or even simply danced in a crowd, reported higher levels of overall life satisfaction, reports.

The researchers focused on self-reported degrees of subjective well-being to determine a person’s level of happiness and found that the sense of community experienced at a live-music event was one of the most important factors.

The study suggests it’s not so much which band is observed, but the engagement between artist and fan, as well as the connection fostered among audience members, that is important.

By highlighting the interpersonal benefits of seeking out live music, the researchers hope that this can spur the development of new interventions to help treat anxiety and depression.

Senior programs, communities offer activities that can lengthen your life

Jean Murphy, a Daily Herald Correspondent, shared that loneliness and social isolation are literally bad for your health. Recent studies find that they are as much of a threat to your longevity as obesity is.

Studies of this phenomenon are coming in from around the world.

For instance, data from 3 million participants in a Brigham Young University study found that living on your own can increase your risk of premature death by 32 percent while loneliness raises the risk by 26 percent and isolation increases it by 29 percent, the Huffington Post reported.

A separate University of Chicago study explained that loneliness raises your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and that can lead to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

In addition, researchers at the University of York in Great Britain, according to a CNN report, combined data from earlier studies done in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia to determine that loneliness and social isolation are equal to anxiety when it comes to causing heart disease and they are as much at fault as work stress when it comes to inducing a stroke. Smoking cigarettes remains a higher risk for these health problems, however.

Researchers suggest that people who live alone have worse diets; don’t exercise or sleep as much; and are less likely to pay attention to their medical problems, the CNN report continued. In addition, the stress and sadness of isolation drives up blood pressure, leading to heart disease and shortening life spans.

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What Poverty Does to Kids' Brains

brainThe Outreach House in Lombard shared this article
from Mother Jones
that speaks about
how growing up
poor leads to slower
brain development
and lower test scores,
according to a new study.


This study ( suggests that growing up poor affects brain development at an early age, and those brain changes can have huge effects on academic achievement.

Researchers from Duke University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison tracked nearly 400 children and young adults in a longitudinal study over the course of six years, between 2001 and 2007. Every two years, the researchers met with the participants,whose socioeconomic backgrounds ranged from far below the poverty line to far above it.

At each meeting, the participants would undergo a brain scan, which measured the amount of gray matter in parts of the brain that are key to academic achievement: the frontal lobe (which helps with executive functioning and emotion regulation), the temporal lobe (memory an academically, like visual processing, math computation, visual motor coordination, concept formation, and more.

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