Rewiring children’s damaged brains


Children with FAS work on improving motor skills at Jackson Elementary in Abbotsford, BC, Jan. 19, 2010.

Anne McIlroy

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 10:05PM EST Last updated on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 3:43AM EST

They are testing different approaches – including computer games and other specialized training – in hopes of helping kids with FASD strengthen connections in their brains and boost their cognitive skills.

Dr. Bertram and his colleagues have assessed all eight kids with FASD who are hard at play at various stations in the gymnasium. All are good at something, perhaps the fine motor skills needed to pluck a rib out of a cartoonish chest or the co-ordination needed for the interactive videogame Dance Dance Revolution.

The idea is that improving one area of brain function, in this case motor skills, will also boost their ability to pay attention and to regulate their impulses. He is still analyzing the data from the 35 kids who have been through the program, but the preliminary results have been encouraging, he says.

“We call it transfer of learning, or transfer of performance,” Dr. Bertram says.

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