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November 11, 1968

Phylogeny, Ontogeny, and Brain-Damaged Children

JAMA. 1968;206(7):1576. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150070114034

To the Editor:—  I note with interest that the AMA discredits the unwarranted growing use of the Doman-Delacato treatment for brain-damaged children (205, Aug 19, 1968, adv p10).Doman and Delacato quote "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" as the basis of their theory. Applied to the development of reading and handedness, Doman and Delacato have things reversed.1

  1. Phylogenetically, writing originated about 5,000 BC, but handedness developed during the Bronze age (1500 to 700 BC)

  2. Ontologically, the ability to read, may come as late as 10 to 12 years of age but right-left orientation may be as late as 12 to 15 years of age.

Investigation of the tonic neck reflex for determination of cerebral dominance showed neither hemisphere dominant in 50% of the 500 children in the first three elementary grades1 (total population done), and at the seventh-grade level 40% showed neither hemisphere dominant.Controlled studies by Freeman