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NEWS:

Penn State Study Shows Aphasia May Not Solely Be A Language Disorder

Aphasia, a language disorder commonly diagnosed in stroke patients, may not be solely a language issue as traditionally believed, according to a Penn State study.

The study adds to a growing body of research highlighting other cognitive functions affected by aphasia, and indicates that the consequences of brain damage in aphasia patients may be more extensive than originally thought.

"The findings are significant because they can influence how patients with aphasia are treated to ensure a more complete recovery," said Chaleece Sandberg, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at Penn State and principal investigator of the study.

"Aphasia is considered to be strictly a language deficit, but as a field we are starting to embrace the notion that language is not distinct from other functions, and that it is really integrated with many other functions," Sandberg said.

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Why Do Those With Autism Avoid Eye Contact

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often find it difficult to look others in the eyes. This avoidance has typically been interpreted as a sign of social and personal indifference, but reports from people with autism suggests otherwise. Many say that looking others in the eye is uncomfortable or stressful for them -- some will even say that "it burns" -- all of which points to a neurological cause. Now, a team of investigators based at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital has shed light on the brain mechanisms involved in this behavior. They reported their findings in a Scientific Reports paper published online this month.

"The findings demonstrate that, contrary to what has been thought, the apparent lack of interpersonal interest among people with autism is not due to a lack of concern," says Nouchine Hadjikhani, MD, PhD

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Toy Cars Modified By University Of Rhode Island Students Deliver Fun, Physical Benefits

Who doesn’t remember the simple joy of zipping around the yard in a toy car? Every kid should have that experience, and thanks to Lil’ Rhody Riders — an ongoing student leadership project at the University of Rhode Island — they can.

Lil’ Rhody Riders provides mobility, freedom and plain-old fun to children with disabilities by modifying toy cars so they can operate them. Annie Kostenbauer and Cara Pineau, doctoral students in physical therapy in the College of Health Sciences/Academic Health Collaborative, are leading Lil’ Rhody Riders this year. They are designing and building four cars with help from College of Engineering students.

Their first car, for a boy with cerebral palsy, has proven challenging on several fronts. “His legs and arms have trouble bending, and he’s very tall and thin,” said Kostenbauer, of Monument, Colo. “He can’t fit in the car, so we made a seat on top of i

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Balance And Movement Improved In Animal Model Of Parkinson’s Disease

FINDINGS

Researchers at UCLA have developed a molecular compound that improves balance and coordination in mice with early stage Parkinson’s disease. Further, the drug, called CLR01, reduced the amount of a toxic protein in the brain that is thought to be one of the prime culprits in the development of the disorder.

BACKGROUND

Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement. It’s estimated that as many as 1 million Americans live with Parkinson’s, and that roughly 60,000 are diagnosed with it each year. There is no cure. The disease is chronic and progressive, and over time can worsen from tremors in a person’s hands and slow movements, to impaired balance and coordination and, ultimately, overall rigidity of the body, including difficulty swallowing and speaking.

While the cause is not known, growing evidence points to the protein alpha-synuclein. The protein

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