Thursday, August 29, 2013

The epidemic of autism or how professionally ignore evidence

By Alma Dzib Goodin, Kathleen Slovec, & Linda Sanders

Epidemiological studies of the United States, show an increase in the number of cases related to the autism spectrum disorders, ranging 4  in 10 000 children in 1960 to 1 in  88  children at 2008. This data are attracting attention of many proffesional, because the question around is if there is a pandemic or if the dagnosis has being used arbitrarily.

Three lines of research are pinpointing that the answer is that without a doubt, there is an inexplicable tendency to mental health professionals to indiscriminately use the word "Autism", which has made raising the voices of professionals who claim that such practice is destroying our children.

The first line of research began around 1990, with studies which have formed a large group of data related to the neurovirologia, whose studies are based on the proteome (study of the proteins) and the relationship between the presence of virus, bacteria and mental disorders.

Several studies worldwide have been written, documenting the effect of several viruses and bacteria on the brain, and also allowed to understand that the blood-brain barrier is not infallible to protect the brains in formation in the womb. 

The attention have been on maternal, perinatal  and intra hospital infections, whose effects,depending on the moment in which they are acquired and their infection capacity, may have sequelae along short, mid and long-term in children brain. 

Some of the effects studied are seizures, language disorders, cognitive, learning disorders, motor development, and has long term, has been linked them with schizophrenia.

The second line of research focuses on bacterias, especially those located in the stomach and the effect on mental processes. Studies have come to change antidepressants for  some patients by pro biotic.

The third call took place some months ago and it was given by the director of the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States, who announced that this Institute would add to the already known diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), research in areas of neuroimaging, genetics, biology, cognitive science and behavioural to provide better services and diagnoses to patients.

In general the field of the study of the autism spectrum disorders, has been dominated by psychiatry for many years, proof of this is its inclusion in the DSM, but if it’s analysed with care, it is possible to find many other disorders that fall into the criteria of diagnosis, which is based on 3 principles: difficulties in communicationin the socialization and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. 

This same difficulties can be found in children with viral infections, metabolic disorders such as disorder in glucose storage, immune system disorders, and inflammatory responses.

Mental health, should not be a political issue, should be a subject of professional research, because finally the development of biomarkers or viral tests that allow specific treatment is cheaper than all the drugs currently used in the long term. 

This is a voice for children with developmental disorders and their families. You deserve the best care that can be provided to them and can be sure that neither genetic nor brain disorders are destination, children can learn.


Arnold, C. (2013) Gut feelings: the future of psyciatry may be inside your stomach. Disponible en red:

Dzib Goodin, A. (2010) Alteraciones del desarrollo por dificultades perinatales y la confusión con los trastornos del espectro autista.  Revista Mexicana de Neuropsicología.  5 (1) 4-9.

Dzib Goodin, A. (2012) El virus HHV-6 y su relación con los trastornos del neurodesarrollo. Cuadernos de Neuropsicología.  6 (2) 85-94.

Dzib Goodin, A. (2013) Dejando de lado el DSM: los pacientes merecen mejores diagnósticos.  Disponible en línea:

Goldeberg, M., & Goldberg, E. (2011) The myth of autism: how a misunderstood epidemic is destroying our children.  Skyshore Publishing. USA.

Insel, T. (2013) Director’s blog: transforming diagnosis. Disponible en red:

Lyte, M (2013) Microbial endocrinology and nutrition: A perspective  on new mechanism by which diet can influence gut-to-brain communication. PharmaNutrition.  1 (1) 35-39.

Miller, JS., Bilder, D., Farley, M., Coon, H., Pinborough-Zimmerman, J., Jenson, W., Rice, CE., Fombone, E. Pingree, CB., Ritvo, E., Ritvo, RA., & McMahon, M. (2012) Autism spectrum disorder reclassified: A second  look at the 1980´s Utah/UCLA autism epidemiology  study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.  43 (1) 200-210.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two languages, one brain: bilingualism

There are between 6900 And 7500 languages in the world, according to the Ethnologue, which is a renowned database and publication in the field of languages. It is estimated that there is a language for each 862 000 people on the planet.
The most widely spoken languages in the world are Mandarin, Spanish and English in that order, they are all official languages on the United Nations. All communicate to millions of people every day (Loyer, 2010).
Under this immense amount of forms of communication, anyone can be bilingual, by family culture, by choice or by necessity, but whatever the reason why people speak and understand more than one language; this has impact on the perception of the world. Of course, how a language is learned and the motivation for using this social tool, determines its development and the level of linguistic understanding.
Different studies show that  younger any person starts to use a second language, will show a better execution, prosody imitation is more effective and the words will make more sense (Perani, Dehaene, Grassi, Cohen, Cappa, Dupoux, Fazio, and Derrida, 1996). However, this depends on the need that is used as a means of communications, it will depend how much the second language is listened and how much can create conceptual linkages with the world.
On the basis of cerebral flexibility, it is possible to learn a second language regardless of age, so evidenced by immigrants in various countries under diverse needs, they have to learn a second language, albeit notorious characteristics of the native language, in this attempt to speak and share the need for communication (Dzib Goodin, 2012).
Are you advantages being bilingual?
Various studies have shown the benefits of learning a second language in the case of young children, for example, increase meta cognitive skills, because speaker has to think clearly what to say, developing the skills of divergent thinking, and can be more skillful in spatial perception and word games. In addition, when children or elderly people who fluently speak two or more languages are compared with persons who speaks only one language, bilinguals are more capable of associating concepts and remember words (Marian, Faroqi-Shah, Kaushanskaya, Blumenfeld & Sheng, 2009).

In addition, some studies mentioned that the cognitive decline that happens in a natural way with the passage of the years, is slower in the bilingual persons, because apparently the continued use of both languages as a communicative need, makes more relaxed the symptoms of senile dementia (Bialystok, Craik and Luk, 2012).
A recent study shows that the bilingual tend to the use more both cerebral hemispheres, because the languages have different intensities of pronunciation and because sometimes before you say the word, there is a inner image of the word to be able to pronounce it more correctly (Kovelman, Mascho, Millot, Mastic, Moiseff and Shalinsky, 2012).
When we analyze the differences with brain imaging between monolingual and bilingual people who learned the second language from adolescence, there is clear evidence that brain regions differ between languages, but these differences are unclear when the second language learned at the same time as the native language (Jamal, Piche, Napoliello, Perfetti and Eden, 2012). 
In addition, when the second language was learned at the same time than native language, have other advantages, for example, prosody is almost perfect and not incur the language processing that make the people who learn the second language at older age, that is to think in the native language, translate into the second language and pronounce.
Other advantage is there is more solid conceptual structures and brain processing joint allowing greater brain balance (Perani, Dehaene, Grassi, Cohen, Cappa, Dupoux, Fazio and Derrida 1996). And there is apparently a minor tendency to neurodegenerative diseases, because there is no doubt that is a good option that adds much to the cultural and wide background friendly networks (Fox, 2011).
Educational controversy
However, the brain studies usually are conducted with people who meet a feature: are bilingual or multilingual, as it is a priority of research protocols. But what happens during the development of the second language, when it is given by educational needs?.
A usual complaint from parents is that learning a second language is involved in the development of the native language, when it is still has not consolidated. The problem is greater if the child does not have the opportunity to practice the second language constantly, by what is seen only as "another" learning.
But during the learning of the process of language, the errors make sense. Even in the native language, children make mistakes of conceptualization of pronunciation of structure of phrases. Between more uses can have a word, increases the likelihood that is to join the personal vocabulary. 
But it is worth analyzing the process of language: the language is basically built by sounds, each letter has an associated sound, and then they have to recognize the combinations. These combinations create words and words phrases forms. Children learn that order, naturally, since they are immersed in an environment where hear and recognize sounds language all the time (Dzib Goodin, 2011).
That should add grammatical structure to form phrases, and of course, vocabulary. More words are taken in hand, more possibility of wealth in the development of ideas. 
But with the second language, more distance there is between the native language and the second language, more difficulty exists for recognition of sounds, more complexity to remember the words and grammatical structure varies, which makes the task more complex.
The truth is that the brain applies the same rule for all learning: more used, creates more neural networks. So the recommendation is that the learning of the second language, be provided in a context where a necessity, where heard continuously, is created they are structure differences, play with the mistakes, and learn from them. 
More grammatical structures are practiced is easier to recognize them. This is just one reason  there are teachers who use Twitter as a teaching strategy; and students find friends from other places and create a real need of communication. 
Read the subtitles of TV shows or movies is another tool that helps, listen to songs,  watch movies, any  resource can be good if children opens unexpected doors.
Learn or not to learn
Learning a second language allows to know and come into contact with other cultures which enrich the neural networks, without a doubt. As an example, is impressive the difference of scientific production among Latin American countries, compared with the scientific production has in other languages. This allows greater knowledge about the issues and greater advancement of science. 
More languages are developed, more contact you have with others. It has many advantages and personally not I see no a disadvantage. The native language is benefited, learn customs, it is more prone to travel to other countries, that broad conceptual richness of the world.
My only advice is never will be embarrassed out of our native accent, that gives a personal signature to the language. Nor of will embarrassed out of its origins, by which the bilingual, you will always be at some disadvantage with respect to speech and writing of those who use their native language, but one can always print a special color to our communications.
Usually the question is: what is the best age to learn a second language?. There is no age, will do so. The brain is plastic, likes to learn, likes to try new things, it is innovative. If the second language is learned as the need, it will have greater progress, since it has to practice more constantly and learn more from mistakes.
My husband and my mom have the goal of learning English and Spanish respectively, because they want to sit and talk one day without me translating them. And little by little try, at the same time as I wide my language skills every day, because even my level was very good when I met my husband, I have never stopped learning, a word or phrase to the day, and I have given me the opportunity to make mistakes, and ask they repeat me something or smile when someone understood me not.
Never stop learning, when the world is open to teach.

Bialystok, E., Craik, FIM., Luk, G. (2012)Bilingualism: consequences for mind and brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 16 (4) 240-250.
Balázs, B. (1998) Bilingualism. Linguistic Society of America. Available at:
Crystal. D. (1972) Language development in children. Journal of the Society of Teachers of the Deaf11, 1972, 4-11.
Dreifus, C. (2011) The bilingual Advantage: Available at:
Dzib Goodin, A. (2011) Reading and writing: more than just unite letters. Available at:
Dzib Goodin, A. (2012) Chicago: el lugar de los acentos. Available at:
Fox. K (2011) Ellen Bialystok: bilingual brains are more healthy. The Guardian/The Observer. Available online:
Jamal, NI., Piche, A., Napoliello, MA., Perfetti, CA., and Eden GF. (2012) Neural basis of single-word reading in Spanish-English bilinguals. Human Brain Mapping. 33 (1) 235-245.
Kovelman, I., Mascho, K., Millot, l., Mastic, A., Moiseff, B., and Shalinsky, MH. (2012) At the rhythm of language: brain bases of language - related frequency perception in children. NeuroImage, 60 (1) 673-682
Loyer, R.  (2010) Exactly how many languages are there in the world?. Available at:
Marian, V., Faroqi-Shah, Y., Kaushanskaya, M., Blumenfeld, HK., & Sheng, l. (2009) Bilingualism: Consequences for Language, Cognition, Development, and the Brain . The ASHA Leader. Available at:
Perani, D., S. Dehaene, D. Grassi, l. Cohen, S. Cappa, E. Dupoux, f. Fazio, and  Derrida, J. (1996). Brain processing of native and foreign languages. Neuroreport.7 2439-2444.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Globalization and internationalization: Current future of higher education?

 By Alma Dzib Goodin & Dolores Luna Hogan

Some months ago we interviewed to an English professor and he said the only thing that he would change about higher education in his country was current education should teach more life skills. His reply caused me a bit of confusion, but when asked the same question to a Spanish professor, he said that higher education in Spain would have to be more adaptable to the needs of graduates. 
Higher education with not academic plans, or centered on research and scientific application seemed to have no sense in traditional thinking, but the point that did change this trend is the competitiveness. This aspect is widely exposed by Newman, Couturier and Scurry (2004) who argue that the future of higher education must be oriented to the market system, whose goal is to create competitive skills that allow students to have better job opportunities in the future and that graduates continue learning to adapt to the needs of environment.

However, these requirements,  should not be in the immediate context, but in a broader perspective as evidenced by the European model which seeks the intensification of worldwide competition, focused on the knowledge societies which takes as its basis the ambitious goals of the Bologna and Copenhagen processes for vocational training (Powell, Bernhard and Graf 2012).

This global competitiveness opens a new business perspective, directly related to higher education in the context of economic trends. Graduates have job opportunities in other parts of the world, attracted by the international markets, with the involvement of the need for a multicultural vision.
In this respect educational internalization, includes policies and practices that quickly become a premise in the academic and institutional systems and of course becomes a need for the graduates and the companies that strive to have the best talent with them. At this sense the primary motivation for developing skills and programs aimed at the internationalization includes commercial advantages, knowledge of first level and of course, a good dose of foreign language (Altbach and Knight, 2007).

One of the lines that more have been used to support the competitive processes is extracurricular courses that help graduates adapt to the working environments, these courses are offered at a personal or business level to complement, rectify or implement skills or knowledge that were not acquired during the studies. In this sense, the courses focus on self-directed learning, transformational and self-development (Merriam, Caffarella and Baumgartner, 2007). 

China is one of the best examples, Chinese Higher Education  has expanded its educational networks, being third place in scientific production, research and development (Scientific American Editors, 2012) and the country with better and  clearer plans and goals on the issue of globalization and internationalization (Altbach & Wang, 2012).

However the Chinese example has not been followed up by many countries, except perhaps India and Brazil, you have followed such a course. The United Kingdom begins to create exchanges with China but not follow uniform patterns, in part because the labor market has not been understood, as Li & Roberts (2012) studies suggest, the access to networks of high level in China determines the development of better level of commitments that begins to open the doors to the graduates of China in other countries.

The goal, from this perspective, is creating plans and programs of higher education beyond the walls of institutions, if they want to promote the development of the population, higher education has to understand the labor market and gaze in other territories driving consistent with reality market policies that allow the increase in migration flows with high level expert fields that begin to be created or which are consolidated with international work. Finally, we live in a globalized world.


Altbach, P. & Wang, Q. (2012) Can China keep rising?. Scientific American. 307 (4) 46-47.
Altbach, P., and Knight, J. (2007) The internalization of Higher Education: motivations and realities. Journal of Studies in International Education. 11 (3) 290-305.
Li, X., & Roberts, J. (2012) A stages approach to the internationalization of higher education? The entry of UK universities into China. The Service Industries Journal. 32 (7) 1011-1038.

Merriam, SB., Caffarella, RS., Baumgartner, LM. (2007) Learning in adulthood. A comprehensive guide.  John Wiley & Sons. Inc. USA.
Newman, F., Couturier, L., Scurry, J. (2004) The Future of Higher Education: Rhetoric, reality, and the risk of the market. John Wiley & Sons, USA.
Powell, J., Bernhard, N., and Graf, N. (2012) The emergent European model in skill formation. Comparing Higher Education and vocational training in the Bologna and Copenhagen processes. Sociology of Education. 85 (3) 240-258.

Scientific American Editor (2012) The world’s best countries in science. Scientific American. 307 (4) 44-45.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How much do science cost?

Alma Dzib Goodin & Kathleen Slovec 
Developing countries has science and technology as a goal to achieve progress and effective people's transformation, while in the developed countries the science and technology is a factor of impact on their economies.

There is no doubt science saves lives, but it seems the price is high to the economy of scientists whom never gets the same recognition as sport teams or are paid properly for their work.

What  do a scientist do?, ask questions to solve specific problems or create basic research that solve other problems and a time that they have done this, their work is to publish their findings.

Publishing means reading other scientists, because ideas do not emerge from nothing, are confronting models and theories that allow them to know if their ideas are correct, if not, must return to the laboratory or the field to continue working, all this is paid by universities, institutes or laboratories.

These places must provide to scientist of everything they need, and  pay annual premiums rates for having access to journals and databases that will enable it to have resources to work. Libraries are well aware of the cost of each of the magazines and each year they must decide if it is worthwhile or not continue magazine subscriptions.

If the library does not subscribe to a specific magazine, the scientist or group of scientists must pay between $36 and $300 dollars for save to a single article. The other option is having acces for hours, days or months, but the price can be between $20 and $71 dollars. If an average article require between 50 and 100 references, articles and books, we are talking about a lot of money invested in a single publication. From here the science has a cost and very high.

After months, or years of work and happy with their discoveries,  scientist has three options: If they live in Latin America they can send their article to journals that do not charge for posting and are often open-free- access. These magazines work in universities or research institutes, however gratuity has a cost: time.

Submit a paper to a journal in Latin America requires at least 6 months to receive a response that only says: "we have received your article or not interested in your article ". Sometimes those 6 months are just to apologize because "we had not had chance to review your email and attachment but we will be in touch with you". 

In other occasions that time easily becomes a year of waiting, after which you can get a message saying: your article is accepted without modification and will be published as soon as it is possible (that can be up to 3 years later from this message) or your item requires modifications, in such case it will be necessary either, never desired message: “your article not observes our publication criteria”.

In such a case, if researcher had an idea that was novel or important to the world, after one, two or three years, certainly it  lost impact, because science progresses fast.

Why it takes so much scientific publications?, simple: the editorial committees are researchers who are not paid by reading articles, but that this work is part of the ordinary academic functions that are added to give class, meet alumni and of course publish their own articles. 

But let’s suppose that our research is so important to look higher and send this article to a magazine out of Latin America, it must be  translated into English and search a different magazine, those that cost more, let’s say Science. Well first of all, your chances of being published is 1 in 10, since it is known that 90% of the articles are rejected, because everybody want to see ideas posted there.

Other magazines have a rate of rejection between 50% and 70%, think in a high impact journal and have a higher rejection rate. The rejection does not always occur because it is not a good article or it did not meticulously check every detail of the study, but because it does not conform to the editorial policies. Add to the cost time, mental confusion, because a rejection, is a rejection  and it’s painful!.

If accepts that rejection, nobody gonna you pay to this  scientist all those long working hours, years of research or the multiple disappointments before publication, no!.

So there are magazines which are referred as Open Access, which offered free articles to readers, but wait!... are really free? for whom?

Open Access Journals operate with stringent editorial committees, remember that magazines take care of their prestige, and apparently do not reject articles, actually they are very kind to help make modifications and have much experience in publishing.

This new magazines get the article, review it, amending and when a message tells you that it is ready for publication, it seems that the sky shines and his scientific life will benefit, with a little luck one day our scientist will win a Nobel prize... but wait ... not so fast, The article must be published first  and the cost of publication goes on ranges from $500 in a little-known magazine to $2900 dollars if you want to see your name in PLOS Biology, that Yes!  Your  friends and colleagues  will not pay for reading it, but scientist will have to pay the price of Fame.

Suddenly science becomes a fruitful business and you don't need to be rocket science to have part of the slice. 

Suppose that scientists not published and that they decide to present their work at conferences and symposium, don't worry, just have to pay for registration fees to events and of course expenses for transportation, meals and accommodation, in addition to convince the University authorities that their research is a priority.

What does cause all this?, in addition to a helplessness learned for scientists, they are faced with the pressure to publish and disseminate their work in the quick and easy way, using false information, making case flies in the face of ethical conduct, leaving the science in a bad role front society. The most recent case is the National Institute of Health in the United States, who is accused of not informing parents about the risk of their children during an investigation. 

If the scientist is stopped for a moment how many times have you seen published articles where the data is inconsistent with a hypothesis?, so this makes think to students that everything in  science should be perfect, when it is not.

No doubt the cost of science is big and the unfortunate thing is that the way of scientific journalism is equally miserable. Only 1 of 10 scientific journalists receives a salary, so dedicated to publish without taking much time to check sources. Finally who cares about science?.

So do not expect to win a Nobel for a research, because it is worth mentioning that awards are earned by those who have more known in the high scientific areas, so in addition to research, read and publishing, scientists must spend time socializing


Tredennick, a. (2013)Why I published in PLoS ONE. And why I probably won't again for awhile.

Nature (2013) Beware the impact factor. Nature Materials. 12 (89) DOI: 10. 1038/nmat3566

Tort ABL, Targino ZH, Amaral OB (2012) Rising Publication Delays Inflate Journal Impact Factors. PLoS ONE 7 (12): e53374. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053374

PLoS (WD) Publication Fees. Available at:

Chambers, C., & Munafo, M. (2013) Trust in science would be improved by study pre registration. The Guardian. Available at:

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