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                April 2012 CTA Newsletter
IN THIS ISSUE
Supreme Court Considers LIfe Without Parole for Juveniles
Child Trauma Symposium May 31 - June 1

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EARLY CHILDHOOD NMT RECORDING PACKAGE

 

  NMT TRAINING CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS
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Greetings!     Over the last twenty years, the work of the ChildTrauma Academy has often played a role in the creation or modification of more developmentally sensitive, trauma-informed policy. This ranges from the central role Dr. Perry played in the public engagement campaigns regarding the importance of early childhood and brain development to the need for more developmentally sensitive, trauma-informed systems in education, child welfare, mental health and childcare settings.  Our work has also informed changes in the juvenile justice system. 
    This past month, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases which sought to challenge the constitutionality of sentencing those 14 years old and younger to life without parole for convictions of murder (they ruled in 2005 that it was unconstitutional by means of cruel and usual punishment to sentence a juvenile to life for other crimes).  39 States currently have laws that allow the sentence of life without parole to be passed for a person of any age convicted of murder.  While the Justices debated several key points, central to their ruling is the question of how developed a juvenile's brain is at the age of fourteen - or younger - and how to determine at what age a person should be held absolutely accountable for his or her actions. The short commentary below considers this question from a neurodevelopmental perspective - science that the Justices will consider as they debate and ultimately rule on in these very important cases.      
Aspects of Neurodevelopment in Early Adolescence 

            During the process of brain development there are a variety of "micro- architectural" processes that take place to create the final mature and fully functional brain. Some of these processes such as neurogenesis (birth of nerve cells) take place primarily in utero; by the time we are born, for example, the vast majority of neurons we use throughout life are present - though a number of important examples of post-natal neurogenesis are seen in key parts of the brain under a variety of conditions. The process of creating the majority of connections from neuron to neuron - synaptogenesis - occurs primarily in the first years of life; again, by the time you are five, the majority of the neural connections that underlie core functioning in all domains are in place. And again, key sculpting and synaptogenesis take place throughout life, but far fewer than in early childhood. In early adolescence, however, the key microarchitectural process involved in development is myelination. Myelination creates an "insulating" covering of the axons that span the distance from the "receptive" dendritic areas, to the cell body and then down the axon to the pre-synaptic terminal (this is a bit of an oversimplification). In essence myelination plays a major role of increasing the efficiency and speed of existing neural connections; similar to the difference between a "dial-up" (slow) and fiber optic (blazing fast) internet connection. This increased efficiency allows a quantum leap in the speed and complexity of neural network communication that appears to underlie improved cortical functioning - including the improved capacity of the cortex to modulate and regulate the lower more "impulsive" networks/areas of the brain.  The process of myelination in key areas of the cortex plays a major role in increase the "executive functioning," and cortical modulating capacity of the brain. And the balance between the reactivity of the lower and simpler regulatory areas of the brain (which can be increased by trauma) and the strength of the cortical networks that modulate these lower areas is a major determinant of self control, attention, impulse control and a variety of inter-related crucial capacities of the developing child, youth and adult. The more myelinated and mature the cortex the more capable one is of "cortical modulation" (a capacity that can be estimated with the CTA's NMT Clinical Practice Tools "Brain Map") and self-regulation - key traits in a successful person. The fact that an adolescent does not yet have these capacities developed is a major factor that the US Supreme Court is being asked to consider in these cases that are challenging the sentencing of youth to life in prison. In 2009, the US Supreme Court decided these neurodevelopmental factors were crucial to their decision to declare the death penalty for adolescents unconstitutional. Dr. Perry participated in the development and writing of Amicus Briefs for both the 2009 and the 2012 US Supreme Court cases. You can read the Amicus Brief outlining some of the key research to be considered by the court here. For review of all of the briefs presented in this case visit this link.

 

 

 

Symposium on Child Trauma in the Public Sector: May 31 - June 1, 2012   

  

 

"Many children experience stressful events that challenge their coping resources.  Some children experience a single harrowing event or multiple adverse events which impact their development and their behavior.  Everyone whose work brings them into the lives of children needs to understand the latest research and policies regarding child trauma."

 

   The ChildTrauma Academy's Senior Fellow, Dr. Bruce Perry, and CTA Fellow, Dr. Gene Griffin will be participating in this unique event sponsored by their primary academic affiliation, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University School of Medicine.   

   Save the Date!  The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and School of Law at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL will be hosting a Symposium on Child Trauma in the Public Sector for Policy Makers, Clinicians, Health Care Providers, Child Advocates, Attorneys, Judges, Probation Officers, and Educators.  This symposium will feature headline speakers Dr. Carl Bell, Dr. John Constantino, Dr. Bruce Perry, Bryan Samuels (Commissioner of Federal HHS, Administration on Children, Youth and Families), and Dr. Elizabeth Sowell.   Click here to see the event webpage.


New CTA Product - Early Childhood Recording Package - Now Available 

 

The new Early Childhood Recording Package consists of seven recordings -- an introduction and six, live clinical case discussions led by Dr. Perry.  Each recording is approximately 90 minutes in length and can be stopped, paused and restarted at your convenience.  Recordings do not expire. 

 

A case abstract and metric report are included for the six cases - each of which address a specific early childhood issue while highlighting NMT principles.  The NMT web-based Clinical Practice Tools are used as well.

 

For more information including pricing for this package, click here.  

 

 

Registration Now Open for Fall 2012 NMT Case-Based Training Series

 

We have just opened registration for the Fall 2012 NMT Case-Based Training Series!  The Fall Series will consist of ten 90-minute Sessions and begin on September 21, 2012.  All Sessions take place on Fridays from 11:30 - 1:00pm CST, and you may register to participate Live or receive recordings of each session - viewable at your convenience!   

 

And....for anyone who missed the Winter 2012 NMT Case-based Training Series, it is still possible to enroll for the web-recorded versions.  This option allows optimal flexibility and the experience is essentially the same as the live session but with the added feature of complete flexibility in when and how often you choose to listen to the sessions.  Contact the CTA or click here for more information

 

Click here to view the complete Fall 2012 Series information including dates and to register.

 

A final update: we are moving towards a rolling enrollment process for our NMT Individual and Site Certification Programs.   Stay tuned for full details soon.

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Sincerely,


Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.
The ChildTrauma Academy