Thursday, February 07, 2008

Eye Blinks

There's this new study out on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect. The group who published the paper went out to a bunch of 5 year olds with FAE and they tried to condition a response in them.

You remember conditioned response right?
Good ole Pavlov's Dogs.
Salivate at the ring of a bell.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alchol Effect - that's the label given to the brain damage that is done to a fetus when a woman drinks during pregnancy.

Well, these children were supposed to be conditioned to blink at the ring of the bell. Using a puff of air and a bell ringing these kids were supposed to learn to blink except these kids didn't get it. Didn't get conditioned that is. Puff of air, that produced the blink. Puff of air with bell, that produced the blink. After a few times a normal kid would blink on the bell. But not for the FAE kids. Ring the bell, no blink.

Every newspaper article I've read about it talks about how this might be a definative test for FAS. There is no test now, it's syndrome which is a collection of symptoms - meet some criteria, provide the history, and you get the label. So a test would be... helpful.

As I read the article I felt it said something else. This "no blink effect" describes the very essence of FAE. The part of the brain that learns just doesn't always get it. Or sometimes it gets it but then it often forgets it. If maybe it does get it, but it comes ten seconds too late.

I waiting on the full text of the study. I'll be interested in what it says. I wonder if these kids could learn the blink given enough time and enough repetitions.

I'm hoping for the blink, the eventual blink. I have to believe in the eventual blink.

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