A Model of Brain Functioning
Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst
old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and
new together into a reconciling law.
From the outset of our discussion on brain–behavior relationships, it is important to recognize that there are important brain differences between children and adults. Every child neuropsychology text will make this proclamation with great conviction, and then report literature on adult patients. Before you conclude that this is a condemnation of such texts, it is not. There is much more literature on adults' brain functioning than there is on children's, so this limitation affects almost all neuropsychological texts, including ours. Our book is somewhat different, however, in that we focus on developmental issues and primarily report literature relevant to clinical practice with children. Although there is much less brain research on children than on adults, this situation is changing at a phenomenal rate. With the advent of noninvasive neuroimaging techniques, there are more and more data both on typical children and on those with disabilities. The broad conclusion that there are significant brain–behavior differences between adults and children is true, but recent findings continue to dispel early beliefs that children with genetic or traumatic causes for their learning problems do not suffer the same deleterious effects as adults with these conditions. In fact, quite the contrary may be true: Some studies have suggested more adverse outcomes for children, depending on the developmental level at which a disorder is first recognized and treated. In addition, it is important to realize that we are talking not just about developmental issues applied to genetics and trauma, but about the many types of learning disorders that have been linked to abnormal brain development (Kolb & Fantie, 1997).
Development must be taken into account in any consideration of brain function and dysfunction. We always find it interesting when clinicians say that they can diagnose attention deficits in