Thursday, July 07, 2005

Third and Final day of ODC

The first keynote talk of the day was given by Prof Mark Onslow: "Shock! Horror! Excitement! A 10yr retrospective on stuttering." I have heard a similar talk at the IFA congress in Montreal. I am sorry to say, but I still dont understand exactly what he wants to say. First, he only talks and rarely uses slides, except for a few pics on Star Treck! I need to see text in front of me. Second, he often speaks about more general aspects of theory building like saying that multi-factorial models are impossible to falsify. But I dont really understand what it means for PDS research, and really I should understand what he means as I have spent a lot of time thinking about more fundamental issues in theory building as a theorist... So I kind of dont know what to think about his ideas as it dont know exactly what they are. Unfortunately, I didnt have the opportunity to talk to him.

Three other talks stand out. Prof. Henry-Annie Bijleveld from Brussels's talk on basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is a brain structure that also controls timing and automatisms. She talked about how they could help to understand the intersection between psychological and physiological aspects of stammering. I also enjoyed the talk by Kate Watkins, a fellow at one of Oxford's colleges. Her talk was really the most professional one. She seems to be a very good and dilligent researcher, and her brain scan pictures looked really cool. We were having lunch together. She is new to PDS but that might actually be a good thing to be without baggage. I also enjoyed Katrin Neumann's talk. But there was much information to digest. She seems to be in disagreement with Watkins on some results like the anomalies. Kate said that she thought they were mostly consequences (for reasons I forgot), but Katrin probably thinks more about them as a cause and that they are permament and do not change after therapy. Per Alm's comment was: "This was a lot of information to take in. I will have a look at it at home!".

Overall, I really think that PDS research is moving forward. Per Alm's work, the brain research by Watkins and by Neuman, and Ingham's are good science. The signals they see are getting strong enough to constrain or rule out certain theories. I think we are now really starting to see real breakthroughs in theory building.

And you will hear about it here on the blog!!!! By the way, Per Alm agreed to be guest writer on my blog... So you will hear from him, too.

Tomorrow... GOSSIP on ODC... sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll :-)

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