Afterword: Behavior-Brain Relationships in Children
Jack M. Fletcher
University of Texas Medical School at Houston
When I was asked to write an afterword for the 1991 conference sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, my immediate thoughts were to simply summarize the major findings of articles and discuss some of these implications for the study of brain-behavior relationships in children. However, after reviewing the articles, I discovered that there were so many findings that any sort of systematic integration was difficult. It would be hard to extract general principles of brain-behavior relationships that would apply across these syndromes. This problem was compounded by the differences in the depth of research on the three syndromes. In Williams syndrome, there were three chapters focused on the same set of subjects from one center. These articles were nicely interwoven and well-integrated. The four autism articles, however, came from different centers. They reflected varying viewpoints, but accurately reflected the divergence of opinion characteristic of research on children with autism. The three chapters on Turner syndrome were quite disparate and not as well integrated theoretically or methodologically as the other two sets of chapters, reflecting the more rudimentary state of brain-behavior research on Turner syndrome. Goldman-Rakic's article at the beginning laid out elegant conceptual models for approaching childhood syndromes; Denckla's article at the end was integrative and actually the type of afterword I thought should be written.
Left without my original conception of an afterword, I chose to try and place the chapters in a broader context that addresses the history of research in these areas of child development and the contribution of these chapters to the longer term problems of understanding the development of children with