“Environmental Enrichment as an Effective Treatment for Autism"
Michael Leon, PhD
Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, Associate Dean of Biological Sciences
University of California, Irvine
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When: Thursday, November 1, 2012, 5:30-6:30
Where: UC Irvine Campus, Med Ed Building, Telemed Theater, lower level Room B001
Summary: Enriched environments enable rodent brains to compensate for a wide range of neurological challenges, but this approach has not been used very much in the treatment of human neurological disorders. In a randomized controlled study, we treated 3-12 year-old autistic children with the environmental enrichment over six months. This therapy produced clear improvements in both cognition and the expression of maladaptive behaviors compared to standard-care controls. IQ scores improved by 10.7 points more in the enrichment group than in the standard care group. Autism symptoms improved significantly more in the enrichment group than in controls. Moreover, 42% of the enriched group and only one control child had a clinically significant improvement. Finally, 69% of parents in the enriched group indicated and 29% of the control parents reported improvement in their child. This kind of environmental enrichment may be effective in ameliorating the symptoms of a wide range of neurological disorders.
Michael Leon received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is currently Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, as well as Associate Dean of Biological Sciences. His research interests include sensory coding, the neurobiology of early learning, and the treatment of neurological disorders.
This talk and opportunity for discussion is part of a monthly series offered by the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine. All are welcome. There is no fee and no RSVP is required. For additional information, please visit www.sscim.uci.edu or call 949.824.5763.