Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Developmental Delays, Von Economo Cells

by Chris Chaos
The Human Brain
Developmental Delay: the condition of a child being less developed mentally or physically than is normal for its age. A combination of Autism, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Tourettes Syndrome, OCD, dyspraxia or dyslexia.

Here we will explore the various developmental delays, the possible causes, the indicators and other ways to treat them alternative to medications.

Delay: impede the process or progress of; retard; hinder....

When related to the growth of a child this is alarming; anything that could be a roadblock to the properly forming body and brain. In today's industrialized world of quick fixes, microwaved meals, instant gratification, plastic fork, disposable plate and throwaway culture, logic and reason are tossed aside in the interest of convenience, replace-ability and ease.

Fast Food Culture
If you pass an unhealthy fast food restaurant around lunch time or dinner time you will see lines in the ease of use drive thru..and yet you will still see people complaining over the wait times. Think back to your grandparents time when they took the time to shop each and everyday for fresh and healthy foods not contaminated by additives, sodium, fats and other detrimental ingredients. The trade off for the modern human is the ease and convenience to practically eat anything they want at anytime they the expense of their health.

At the time of this writing (2016) the average American is very stressed at the economy, the price of commodities, lack of job prospects and the discomfort of seeking higher education. People turn to distractions to sway their attention from the negatives of modern adult life and they are usually highly unhealthy and detrimental to their health. Some turn to video games, smoking cigarettes/pot, eating sweets or to more harsh activities like sex, drugs, excessive drinking of alcohol or any other enterprise that if done in excess is harmful.

Keeping with all the above in mind and knowing how toxic it can be to the human body, if any of the mentioned activities were to find their way into a growing infant or child's body, it would wreak havoc much more than in an adult who is fully grown or already in decline. If insufficient vitamins and nutrients are not reaching a growing child's mind or body, it may not form correctly.

Over the course of many years a handful of animals evolved from standing and walking on four legs to using only two legs. The remaining two legs began to be utilized to perform other tasks and an opposable thumb developed, these legs then became know as hands. Animals that truly stand on two feet are called bipeds. Humans, primates and birds had to expand their body parts, muscles and organs to make the upright position work, the neocortex, new brain developed out of the the reptilian brain, the old brain being the  brain-stem and cerebellum, i.e. archeo cortex. In addition to standing upright, this caused the pelvis in humans to shrink.
Neocortex, Limic Brain, Reptilian Brain

Human fetuses should optimally stay in the womb and be birthed in the 21st month as opposed to being prematurely birthed in the 9th month. A baby experiencing birth prior to the 9 month mark will come into undo stress to the developing nervous system. The obvious issue with a baby being born in the 21st month is that the babies head would be too large to be birthed through the existing hips and birth canal. At birth the human brain is 350cc and will grow to 1400cc in adulthood. Because of this early birth schedule quite a few things can negatively occur while the brain still is forming and being nurtured outside of the womb (juvenilization). This is when some of the symptoms can first appear. (Autism, ADHD, ADD, Tourettes Syndrome, OCD, dyspraxia and dyslexia) Genetic predispositions can come into play also, if passed from the mother there is a 30% chance, but a 70% chance if from the father, it is a genetic probability but not certain.
Agouti Mice

DNA is not a destiny, check out some studies on agouti mice, when changing the diet it is possible to change their death from cancer/diabetes end result. Diet can change the way genes express themselves.
Two genetically identical mice look vastly different—one is lean and brown, the other is fat and yellow. How is this possible? Epigenetic pioneer Randy Jirtle explains the breakthrough study that gives us new clues into the understanding of obesity and diabetes in mice—and possibly humans.

Research findings from Agouti mice study

Evolution in birthing, how some other animals got around Mother Nature with birthing strategies:
Marsupials: A joey (in kangaroos) is born and then crawls into the pouch where it can grow larger.

Dolphins: They dispensed of the pelvis bone that us land dwellers cannot so the baby dolphin can grow until full term.

Neanderthal: Developed a larger pelvis, but, in short, due to the extra food and care needed, became extinct.

Neanderthal Pelvis

CHIMPS VS HUMANS - Comparing Development  Von Economo Cells [*]

In chimps day 224 of pregnancy (pregnancy usually lasts 230-250 days)
In humans, 4 months after birth

Brain size at birth:              Chimp               Human
                                            350cc            350cc
Walking around:                    1 month        1 year
Adult at:                               7 months        18 years

Regions of the brain containing Von Economo neurons (VENs). (a) A lateral view of the brain, with fronto-insular cortex (FI) shown in red. (b) A medial view of the brain, with anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) shown in red. Adapted from Von Economo and Koskinas

In humans, the Spindle cells (Von Economo) form around the 4 month mark. If no spindle cells form there can be true autism. Spindle cells only form in humans, our primate cousins and whales, many things can affect the growth of spindle cells such as birth trauma and the mothers diet while pregnant. The first wave of brain cells that develop in the womb give you potential for intelligence and the second wave that develop at the 4 month mark after birth provides you with the ability to concentrate.

Neurotransmitters are the great communicators in the world of biology. A Neurotransmitter is a chemical or peptide substance that transmits nerve impulses across synapses (space between two neurons), that effect motor coordination, mood, behavior, and other physiological activities, such as heart rate. Psychiatric medications act by altering the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the synapse or by altering neurotransmission itself. For example SSRIs act by blocking reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin from the synapse, increasing the ability of serotonin to bind to serotonin receptors. An example of altering neurotransmission can be seen in anti-psychotic medications, these medications antagonize (blockade) dopamine receptors in the brain, making it near impossible for dopamine transmission to occur.

...and now the Deficits.

ENDORPHIN'S: They are the brain's natural painkillers. High sugar levels from a bad diet can alter the ways the receptors work.

SEROTONIN: low levels are associated with impulsive behaviors and depression

SENSITIVITY: A diet high in carbohydrates can cause excessive insulin to be produced.

If you combine all three of the above mentioned, you have a recipe for disaster, a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows that will be mirrored by excessive mood swings. Sugar addiction is brain based and the Mental Health Foundation's "Feeding the Mind" reports that people eat approximately 9 pounds of additives a year.

...and now the Deficeits.


• Assist with problem-solving
• Able to generalize situations
• Good spatial ability Severe: • Disorganized thoughts
• Loose associations
• Disabling compulsions
• Tics
• Stereotypic behaviors    Mild: • Poor impulse control
• Poor spatial ability
• Inability to have abstract thinking Severe: • Parkinson’s disease
• Endocrine changes
• Movement disorders


• Dull
• Low energy
• Depression


• Dull
• Low energy
• Depression
• Muscle weakness


• Irritability
• Hostility
• Depression
• Sleep disturbance


• Lack of inhibition
• Poor recent memory
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Euphoria
• Parkinson’s disease
• Antisocial
• Manic behavior
• Speech blockage


• Decreased protein synthesis
• Lack of overall “sharpness” in mental functions
• Inability to synthesize GABA
• Lack of ability to calm oneself


• Irritability
• Seizures
• Huntington’s disease
• Epilepsy


Hypersensitivity to pain and stress
• Inability to experience pleasure

Oppressive Compulsory Disorder:
Individuals carry out a compulsion to reduce anxiety they feel from an obsession.  Perseveration is the inability to a thought out of your head. OCD is not associated with a specific gene, so it is not genetic. OCD is associated with Tics (involuntary movement or groan), disorders and other learning/behavioral problems. OCD is usually developed as opposed to being inherited.


In addition, Von Economo cells also form during this time (second generation cells) and play an important role in:

*the development of intelligent behavior
* responding to change
* dealing with conflicting thoughts
* recognition or errors and avoidance of errors
* deciding to act
* increased activity associated with love, anger and hate
* control of blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and digestion

Spindle Cells

(FROM WIKIPEDIA) In 1999, Professor John Allman, a neuroscientist, and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology found signals from the ACC are received in Brodmann's area 10, in the frontal polar cortex, where regulation of cognitive dissonance (disambiguation between alternatives) is thought to occur. According to Allman, this neural relay appears to convey motivation to act, and concerns the recognition of error. Self-control – and avoidance of error – is thus facilitated by the executive gatekeeping function of the ACC, as it regulates the interference patterns of neural signals between these two brain regions.

Autism, ADHD, ADD, Toretts Syndrome, OCD, dyspraxia or dyslexia are symptoms not conditions. The previously mentioned symptoms never occurs alone. Treat the condition, not the symptom. Symptomatic treatment is not recommended. For example, if your arm hurts you may take a pain pill to relieve it, but if the cause of this pain is that you broke your arm then you would only be treating the symptom and not the condition.  A second example would be: If your fire alarm goes off and the beeping is annoying you, you could take the batteries out to stop the noise but the more logical course of action would be to look for the fire that might be causing the alarm to go off. This holds true even for issues concerning your mental health.

Secondary dyslexia is caused by a failure of convergence when the brain cannot make the eyes symmetrically towards the nose while reading and track across the page. This is one of the easiest delays to diagnose and treat there for this test should be requested and pushed for.

Childhood Tics are so common (1 in 5), that it may very well be a normal phase of development. Most of the traits of Tourette's that you see in pop culture are false. Usually Tourette's involves minor motor movement and/or vocal tics. The expletives that many associate with Tourette's are the product of Hollywood imagination and exaggeration. Tourette's is connected to certain transmitters, notably dopamine and serotonin. 

BUT WHAT CAUSES AUTISM..or other developmental delays?

Birth issues that raise the probability of developmental delays:
Fetal distress: stuck in the birth canal, umbilical cord wrapped around the neck
Secondary fetal distress: forceps
Trauma:  dislocation/fracture, broken bones, hemorrhaging, bleeding under scalp

I see no correlation between vaccinations and autism, ADHD, ADD, Torettes, OCD, dyspraxia or dyslexia. But since several vaccinations are administered prior to the 4th month after birth it may be difficult to determine and narrow down what may have caused the spindle cells failure to form. Food additives and a lack of Omega-3 fats in a child's diet can cause developmental delays. Research does show that Omega 3 does help protect against the negative effects of ADHD, Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Apoptosis, programmed cell death and these secondary cells not navigating to their proper location during development will also impede proper growth.

Contributing factors that may lead to autism are: genetics, pollution, food additives, poisoning or infection during pregnancy. Von Economo cells are absent in true autism and are very low in autistic people.

The vaccination schedule is below (from website):

Hepatitis B (1st dose at birth, 2nd dose between 1st and 2nd month, 3rd dose between 6th and 18 months)

Rotavirus (1st does at 2 months, 2nd dose at 4 months)

Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (1st dose at 2 months, 2nd dose at 4 months, 3rd dose at 6 months, 4th dose at 15-18 months, 5th dose at 4-6 years old)

haemophilus influenzae type b (1st dose at 2 months, 2nd dose at 4th month, 3rd/4th dose 12 month-18 months)

Pneumococcal conjugate (1st dose at 2 months, 2nd dose at 4 months, 3rd dose at 6 months)

Inactivated poliovirus (1st dose at 2 months, 2nd dose at 4 months, 3rd dose at 6 months-18 months and 4th dose at 4-6 years)

Influenza (Annual dose 1 or 2 year year)

Measles, mumps, rubella (1st dose at 12-18 months, 2nd dose at 4-6 years)

Varicella (1st dose at 12-18 months, 2nd dose at 4-6 years)

Hepatitis A (1st dose at 12-18 months)

Human papillomavirus1 2 (HPV2:         (1st dose at 11-12 years)
females only; HPV4: males and females)

Meningococcal1 3 (Hib-MenCY     (1st dose at 11-12 years, Booster at 16-18 years)
> 6 weeks; MenACWY-D >9 mos; MenACWY-CRM = 2 mos)

More info at:

According to The National Literacy Survey, in 1992 50% of Americans aged 16 and above have significant issues with reading. 27% cannot handle reading a newspaper with acceptable comprehension. A follow up study in 2003 showed that 14% of adults had below basic prose literacy. In the 16-18 age group 37% had only the basic reading skills with 11 % below basic.

ADHD is in the range of 10% more common in adults with alcohol use disorder than in the general population. 50% of adults who reported ADHD symptoms also had a substance abuse disorder (alcohol/drugs). Some claim that crime could just about be halved in 10 years if ADHD was more recognized and treated properly.

Ritalin does not treat ADHD, it merely suppresses the aspects and makes the child "manageable".
Ritalin side effects:
fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeats;
feeling like you might pass out;
fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
aggression, restlessness, hallucinations, unusual behavior, or motor tics (muscle twitches);
easy bruising, purple spots on your skin; or
dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

Less serious side effects may include:
stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite;
vision problems, dizziness, mild headache;
sweating, mild skin rash;
numbness, tingling, or cold feeling in your hands or feet;
nervous feeling, sleep problems (insomnia); or
weight loss.
Rarely, males (including young boys and teens) may have a painful or prolonged erection lasting 4 or more hours while using this medication.

**Note: This is just a guide and not definite, every child develops at a different pace
Being late to various milestones can cause delays, for an example, if a child has a delay going from crawling to walking they may have a hand and motor skill delay. When a baby goes from crawling to walking it frees up the hands to do other tasks and increase dexterity. 

Physical: Overview (0-6 months)

Touch: feels pain (0-1 month)
Vision: color vision is limited (0-1 month)
Can take swipes at dangling objects with hands (1-5 months)
Vision: attracted to high-contrast patterns/edges (0-2 months)
Vision: focuses on objects from 8 to 15 inches away (0-2 months)
Vision: tracks slowly moving objects (0-2 months)
Hearing: well developed, except for very quiet sounds (0-3 months)
Smell: prefers sweet smells over bitter or acidic smells (0-3 months)
Smell: recognizes scent of mother’s breastmilk (0-3 months)
Taste: prefers sweet over bitter tastes (0-3 months)
Displays rooting and sucking reflexes (0-4 months)
Can raise the head from a prone position (0-2 months)
Vision: can discriminate among basic colors (1-5 months)
Vision: can focus on objects up to 3 feet away (1-5 months)
Brings hand to mouth (1-3 months)
Opens and shuts hands (1-3 months)
Grasps and shakes hand toys (1-4 months)
Vision: can use movement to identify objects (1-5 months)
Touch: can distinguish between lumpy and smooth objects with mouth (1-7 months)
Can reach voluntarily for things (3-6 months)
Vision: depth perception begins to develop (3-7 months)
Vision: develops full color vision (4-7 months)
May sit easily without support (5-7 months)
Can reach out and grasp moving objects (5-8 months)

Physical: Overview (6-12 months)

Can sit alone (7-10 months)
Crawls forward on belly (8-10 months)
Lets objects go voluntarily (8-11 months)
Uses pincer grasp (8-11 months)
Places objects into and out of containers (8-12 months)
Capable of poking with index finger (8-13 months)
Walks holding on to furniture (9-11 months)
Stands alone easily (10-12 months)
Begins walking alone (10-13 months)

Physical: Overview (12-24 months )

Uses thumb and forefinger to explore objects, turn knobs and dials, etc. (12-20 months)
Capable of copying simple horizontal and vertical lines and building towers (14-24 months)
Can walk up and down stairs holding on to support (15-24 months)
Can scribble with a crayon (16-20 months)
Can turn over containers to pour out contents (16-24 months)
May begin to show hand preference, but may not fully decide for several more years (17-33 months)
Masters the skill of unassisted walking (18-24 months)
Begins to run (20-24 months)

Physical: Overview (2-3 years )
A Good Helper

Can make on own vertical, horizontal, and circular strokes with pen or crayon (24-36 months)
Capable of turning rotating handles, such as doorknobs (26-37 months)
Capable of walking up and down stairs, alternating feet (27-36 months)
Capable of holding pencil in writing position (28-38 months)
Can screw and unscrew jars and lids (29-36 months)
Capable of turning pages one at a time (29-37 months)
Bends over easily without falling (30-36 months)
Capable of pedaling a tricycle (30-36 months)
Runs easily (32-39 months)
Physical: Overview (3-5 years)
Becomes primarily left-handed or right-handed (38-48 months)
Capable of standing on one foot for up to five seconds (39-47 months)
Capable of using scissors with some dexterity (40-48 months)
Goes upstairs and downstairs without support (40-48 months)
May begin to copy some capital letters (41-48 months)
Draws a person with two to four body parts (41-50 months)
Can throw a ball overhand (42-49 months)
Can move forward and backward with ease (42-51 months)
Copies triangles, squares, and other geometric patterns (49-60 months)
Capable of dressing and undressing without assistance (50-59 months)
Hops, somersaults, swings, and climbs (51-59 months)
Stands on one foot for ten seconds or longer (52-58 months)
Draws a person with body, some details (53-57 months)


The control group, individuals without autism are on the left and regularly looking in to the eyes. The autistic group is on the right and as you can tell by the red lines, they routinely avoid looking others in the eye.

 An early cue and sign of Autism in infants is "gaze avoidance", which is the tendency to avoid eye contact. One of the central causes of social impairments in autism is abnormal eye contact and under/nonresponsiveness to facial cues.

There is computer technology and software that allows researchers the ability to track where a person is looking when presented with images in front of them. In examples there where several studies conducted (Brendon Nacewicz, University of Wisconsin-Madison) that compared several boys with autism, their brothers that did not have autism and several unrelated boys as the control group. Suprising the researchers, the siblings that did not display signs of autism showed the same level of avoidance as did the brothers affected by autism.
On the left it depicts a person sans Autism looking in the eye. On the right you see that a person with Autism avoids looking the person in the eye (Autism Spectrum Disorder)

A Magnetic Resonance scan was then performed on all of the boys in the group and it was discovered that their amygdalas was smaller in the boys that were affected with Autism and their unaffected brothers. It appears that in the unaffected brothers their brains developed in other ways to compensate for the smaller amygdala. Different areas of the brain work together when it comes to processing faces. Behavioral therapies are being developed to hopefully stimulate and develop areas of the brain that developed naturally in the non-autistic brothers.
In Figure A we still see the Autistic subject still does not focus on the eyes. In Figure B the non Autistic subject focuses on and around the eyes.

Also discovered during the MRI sessions was that the brain activity into and out of the amygdala is improperly connected and not enough connections to the pre-frontal cortex but having too many connections to the hippocampus more primitive brain structures involved in emotional processing. The disruption in these pathways is a direct contributor to social impairments that are seen in autism.

Children with autism tend to avoid looking into another person’s eyes, as indicated by the representation of eye  movements and fixation (where the gaze settles) at right. Children who do not have autism tend to look at another person’s eyes and keep their gaze there, as indicated at left. Eye movements are indicated by yellow lines and parts of the face where the eye stops and fixates are shown with red circles that grow larger the longer participants gaze at a certain spot. New research suggests gaze and fixation patterns are similar among children with autism and their non-autistic siblings. Images courtesy of Brendon Nacewicz, University of Wisconsin-Madison

[*] Spindle-cell. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileSpindle-cell.png#mediaFileSpindle-cell.png

[*]Spindle or Von Economo Neurons (VENs) are bipolar neurons in the anterior cingulate, frontoinsular, and dorsoloteral prefrontal cortices of great apes (humans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans), and while previously thought to be unique to the great apes, have more recently been found in cetaceans (humpback, fin, killer, and sperm whales) [8]. Because of their morphology and anatomical location, it has been speculated that VENs may play an important role in intuitive choice in social situations and that their dysfunction may be a factor in autism and Alzheimer's. VENs were first described by Constantin Von Economo in 1925, and their exclusivity to the great apes was discovered by John Allman, Patrick Hof, and others, in 1999.

(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at

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