MAC News, Summer 2018

News articles of interest to the MAC community.

Teaching neuroscience through comics- Matteo Farinella is a neuroscientist and artist who figured out a way to teach neuroscience to a lay audience. He uses comics to present a guided tour of the brain for a layperson. It was first published in 2013 and is available online.  He hopes that his comics can change attitudes about science. You can be introduced to his work by going to neurocomics. (Columbia, Spring/Summer 2018)

Brain networks in autism- The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health analyzed more than 1,000 brain scans of those with autism, finding new insights into their functioning.  A newly developed approach examined individual brain networks with more precision that prior studies. It found that the brains of two people with autism are different from each other, in a difference larger than differences in brains of two people without autism.  Six brain regions were mapped using Personalized Intrinsic Network Topography (PINT) Results showed that these brain networks may not only be disconnected but also displaced. The problem in treatment is the wide variability in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.  This study emphasizes the importance of accounting for individual differences to develop innovative and personalized treatment approaches. The lead author of the study is Dr. Erin Dickie (Science Daily, May 14, 2018,

Brain Function Firm Misled- Neurocore, a “brain performance” business backed by Betsy DeVos, has agreed to stop advertising success rates because it could not provide  support for its claims. DeVos and her husband gave $5 million to the company which claimed to cure a variety of maladies. (Brain-Function Firm Backed by DeVos Misled in Ads, Eric Green, The New York Times, June 27, 2018)

Special Education Enrollments Increase – The number of those in special education has increased from 6.6 million in 2013-2014 to 6.7 million in 2015-2016.  This constitutes 13.2 percent of all students in classrooms across the country. Slightly more than 1/3 had specific learning disabilities, 20% had speech or language impairments, 14% were classified as other health impaired, 9% had autism, 6% had developmental delay, and 6% had an intellectual disability.  (Shaun Heasley, Special Education Enrollment Trends Upward, June 5, 2018, Disability Scoop)