Monday, October 23, 2006

Know thyself - avoid depression

A high sense of self-worth can prevent depressive actions, but it appears that simply having an accurate picture of self-worth may also prevent depression.

I would be interested to see more of how they isolated that factor. Accurate by who's standards? Wouldn't it have to be accurate by your own standards? And if you have a positive indication of "accuracy" of self-worth, isn't that kind of the same thing as positive self-worth?

From the news release it's hard to see what the finding implicates.

Ethnic Happiness!

Apparently, having a good perception of your ethnic background, and taking some pride in it, can give you a little shot in the arm of happiness.

Essentially this is just taking ethnic regard and plugging it into a larger issue of self-worth. If you have a high sense of self-worth, you're more likely to be happy. By incorporating ethnicity into that equasion you have one more source of positive self-worth

Beyond Pavlov

This story sounds better than it actually is. They've found a cicadian gene that seems to regulate eating time.

Really though, it's just a genetic/neurological look at how scheduled activities are accounted for. Basically taking Pavlovian conditioning down to a genetic level.

I'm not terribly impressed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gender difference perception matters

The perceived differences in gender abilities in the domain of math, apparently affects women's performance in math.

The study says that if women believed that men were naturally better at math than women, they performed more poorly than women who thought there were no inherent differences across gender.

This is broaching on fairly established theories on trait vs. entity theory, but this is the first study that I've seen that specifies the performance of women in the math domain.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Work that Brain!

Don't let your concept of fitness just be from the neck down.

The new term "cognitive fitness" is becoming popular in neuropsychological as well as geropsychological researchers. They're starting to discover that regular "workouts" for the mind can keep your cognitive ability in shape as well.

Pair that with the finding recently (posted below) that physical fitness was the single largest contributor to determining cognitive fitness in old age, and you kind of have to come to the conclusion that you need to develop a lifelong fitness regimen for your body and your mind.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Laptops for a whole country

How freaking cool is this story:

Libya to buy laptops for all nations kids

A former(?) terrorist nation that is seemingly reformed is now spending its considerable oil money on 1.2 million laptops for the school-age children of the nation. That is just plain awesome. Seriously, I'm geeking out here.

Cognitive psychology "books"

Hat tip via The Mouse Trap - check out this particular post - I recommend reading the whole thing (and even more highly recommend reading The Mouse Trap on a regular basis). But here are the basics.

There is a free online Cognitive Psychology textbook.

Or, if you want to, you could submit proposals for books about cognitive neuroscience

Or, you could check out an online collaborative project similar to Wikipedia: the "Citizendium" - which looks to be a more purely academic/official expert contributed online resource. I look forward to seeing it as it develops.

Mind Mapping game

A couple of recent discoveries around the very cool concept of "Mind Mapping" - first, go here to find a company that makes software that uses the mind-map method to record stuff. You have to see it in action to appreciate it.

Second, check out this totally cool mind-map game of word association: Funny Farm

You start out on a mostly blank board that has one box labeled "On the farm" and a few blank boxes connected to it. The blank boxes conceal words that are related to the words connected to it, and guessing a word reveals it and more connected boxes. In this way, you fill out an ever-growing network of words. Some will give you access to other parts of the map, until you get to the far corners of the map, which give you clues to a larger riddle. (hat tip: Download Squad)

Listening for more than sound

Sensory feedback during speech: The brain attunes to more than just sound

When we speak, our ability to effectively produce words is dependent not only on auditory feedback signals to the brain, but also on so-called somatosensory information that informs the brain of the relative positioning of different parts of the body--a process known as proprioception. Cues of this sort that might be relevant during speech include those that inform the brain of the openness of the jaw or the changing positions of the tongue or lips.

Our brains pay attention to more than we give them credit for.

I did a little experiment with this a few weeks ago. I had a class I'm teaching do a group exercise. When they began talking I closed my eyes and tried to pick out conversations. I had only limited success, my ability to do so was limited to who spoke the loudest, and even then my perception was not very clear. However, when I opened my eyes and looked at one person I could (with very few exceptions) pick out exactly what they were saying, almost to the point of drowning out all surrounding conversations.

So, pay attention when you listen.

Playing games with your mind

A St. Louis area teenager can play Space Invaders using his mind.

My first comment is: Space Invaders?

Second comment: this is pretty cool.
The Washington University subject mastered the first two levels of play, using just his imagination.

The teenager, a patient at St. Louis Children's Hospital, had a grid atop his brain to record brain surface signals, a brain-machine interface technique that uses electrocorticographic (ECoG) activity - data taken invasively right from the brain surface. It is an alternative to a frequently used technique to study humans called electroencephalographic activity (EEG) - data taken non-invasively by electrodes outside the brain on the scalp. Engineers programmed the Atari software to interface with the brain-machine interface system.

What I really want to see is brain control fed by PET scans or something similar. The technology probably isn't mature enough, but it would still be way cool to get 3-D interactivity. Cause, let's face it, it could have been Space Invaders, or Pong; they both involve the same principle: back and fort, shoot. Three basic commands. I wonder what the increase in difficulty is at a programing level to be able to move from that 1 dimentional movement (side/side) to being able to control an object in two directional planes (forward/backward/side/side). Then how much more complicated is it to move an object in a "3D" environment such as you find in Quake for example?

Still, despite limitations, you have to take baby steps, and this was a pretty big baby step.

Old people are smart too!

An interesting report based on a very long term study (started in 1932) that says that childhood IQ and physical fitness are good indicators of cognitive ability in old age. But physical fitness was found to be the biggest contributor to those results.

Quoth the article:

In determining whether physical fitness is associated with more successful cognitive aging, the study examined 460 men and women who had been participants of the Scottish Mental Survey of 1932. The participants were tested using the same cognitive test at age 11 and age 79.

Results show physical fitness contributed more than three percent of the differences in cognitive ability in old age after accounting for participant's test scores at age 11. Physical fitness is defined by time to walk six meters, grip strength and lung function.

"The other remarkable result was that childhood IQ was significantly related to lung function at age 79," said study author Ian Deary, PhD, FRCPE, with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. "Participants with a high IQ as a child were more likely to have better lung function at age 79. This could be because people with higher intelligence might respond more favorably to health messages about staying fit."

However, the study found physical fitness has a greater impact on cognitive ability in old age than childhood IQ.

Now get out there and exercise!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Play, children! Play like the wind!

Report: Kids need more time for play

More here.

I've been intensely interested with play as a form of education, and while this isn't strictly in line with that subject, it still gives information that is invaluable. Kids need to play. They need time to create and to explore on their own. While it may not be structured learning, it is one of the best environments to help with learning in general.

Train to be a party-goer

Yep, now we have techniques to help us [url=http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-10/dru-tyb100506.php]train our brain to listen for your friends at a party[/url].

Wow, and here I was worried that I'd go to a party and not be able to talk to my friends.

Well, that's not quite fair. More accurately the area of the brain that helps us pick out specific audio signals amongst noise was identified, which is actually pretty cool. It's a trick that we can't quite figure out how to get computers to do yet.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Zapping your selfishness

No really. Read this story:

Study Spots the Brain's Selfishness 'Off-Switch'

The fun part about that story is that they "disabled" the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to test the effect that portion of the brain had on "selfishness."

It's a fairly recent technique but you can use low level electric currents or strong opposing magnetic fields to temporarily "disable" areas of the brain. It's a pretty interesting way of doing, essentially, on-demand "deficit" research. Call me crazy, but I'm not signing up anytime soon to participate in a study where someone zaps my brain.

I'm just paranoid that way.

Your digital brain...

Okay, so maybe some of those analogies of our brain being like a computer aren't so far off after all.

Map your kid's brain

C'mon - go ahead and map it, it's safe! No, really!

Happiness

Another fantastic article at the newly discovered BPS Research Digest (not so much a blog as a site for articles with an RSS feed) - seems that a lot of research shows that if you want to be happy, you need to get out and do stuff that will make you happy.

Lot's of cool info in the article on diverging opinions on the matter.

Quantity or timing?

Seems that the amount of time you spend gaming isn't the issue, it's when you spend your time gaming that counts.

Go outside!

This isn't exactly new news, and I'm pretty sure I have blogged it already, but here is a great article on the benefits natural sunlight can have on cognition.

So, put down the keyboard/mouse/joystick/game-controller/remote and get yourself outside already.

Free will - by way of food

Here is an absolutely fascinating story. I'm linking to a synopsis post that has 3 links in it. I highly recommend following each of the three links and reading each of the articles.

Now, I'm not up on the current research of "free will" - but it has become a hot topic recently.

As a strange aside, there has been quite a bit of pot stirring by Scott Adams on his Dilbert blog - just read this sample post, his opinion is a bit extreme (and I'm fairly certain he doesn't have a full grasp of all the neurological research on the subject either), but the comments on any of his posts about "wet robots" are incredibly fascinating to read to see the general reaction.

Anyway, this seems like a subject that really hits hard at the grey area between philosophy and science. As I said, I'm not versed enough in the most current research on the subject to form a truly well reasoned opinion, but it is absolutely fascinating.

It has some of the form of the creation vs. evolution debate in it, in that it is a clash of what science can observe and what individuals feel or "know" - but this one has a little less of the religious edge to it.

I need to do some reading.

Psychology and Neuroscience

A nice article on trying to link psychology and neuroscience.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mmmm....[insert food item]....

Well, I would think that Pavlov's dog proved this particular theory long, long ago. But hey, if you want to put it more concretely into the neuroscience realm, more power to ya'.

Only friends can stop friends...

...from going on a bender.

So, if you have friends who are booze-hounds, you're more likely to be one, and vice versa.

Don't stare at this post!

Seems that the harder you look at something, the less you actually see.

The theory is that by looking too hard we exhaust our vision resources.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Avoiding peer-review

A good article on the rise of non-peer reviewed online journals.

Basically, it is "Pay to publish" on the non-peer reviewed journals, and they rely on online critiques by peers.

The fun part of the article is that for nearly every "minus" they chalk up to non-peer-reviewed journals the exact same argument is used against peer-reviewed journals.

It's all a question of content and conversation. Jeff Jarvis has it right when he says it's all about the conversation. If you have good material, and it stands up to scientific scrutiny then it really doesn't matter where you publish it.

Resistance against new ways of doing things is not really an answer - or a solution. If traditional peer-reviewed journals feel threatened, then make your system better so that you take the market share back. Debasing and bringing someone else down to elevate yourself doesn't work. It never has, and even if it has short term gains, in the long run it will kill you.

No, the best answer is to respond to market changes by either taking away the need for a shift in the market by improving your product, or to change with the shifting landscape. Peer-reviewed jornals do not hold any moral high-ground - so we'll see how this whole thing shakes out over the next decade or so.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Primers

AlphaPsy has a wonderful post that has links to prior posts in which they created primers to various aspects of psychology.

Very valuable link.

Unified psychology?

I recently discovered PsyBlog, and I'm loving it so far. One of PsyBlog's concerns is the unification of psychology, and she addresses one of the major hurdles in a recent post: Fuzzy Terminology

Her thoughts echo some that I've had for some time after reading this article on how biology suffers from a lack of clear terminolgy.

It seems that there is a hierarchy in science, the hard sciences get a little more respect, followed by the "soft" sciences, with social sciences bringing up the rear. The reputation of the hard sciences like chemistry of physics is solid because they are able to produce concrete results that are quite simply difficult to ignore. Soft sciences like biology are a little more difficult to pin down for concrete results and results often vary so there isn't as much consistency as with the hard sciences. Social sciences are even further behind in this area. Nothing is consistent at a level that even comes near the hard sciences.

I am beginning to be more of the opinion that it could very easily be linked to the fact that we have no unified language for describing research results. We are so busy staking out new territory for our academic houses that we lose sight of what makes other hard sciences so strong - unity. Even in the areas where there is not agreement between researchers, they still have common language and understanding to point out very specifically why there is disagreement.

Unity in psychology - I'd like to see it too, but I don't hold a very optomistic view of the possibility.

The nature of music

Check out this absolutely fantastic post on Sound and Mind:

‘The nature of music from a biological perspective’


The article has a link to an issue of Cognition that is entirely devoted to music. I am giddy just thinking about it. Two of my favorite subjects colide: music and neuroscience. The link takes you to the journal but you do have to pay for the articles. Hmmm, I may have to check it out and see if ASU libraries have this online. Hooray for academia!

I sense several hours of thoughtful reading in my future.

A shorter discussion can be found here.

Please....don't sing....

Study identifies part of brain responsible for tone deafness

I attend church on a regular basis and can I just point out that this must be a HUGE portion of a large number of some folks brains. Ugh!

I know - tone deafness and the ability to sing are not the same thing, but it doesn't make it any less annoying.

Good news for worldwide education

Intel will begin production of thier "sub $400" notebooks soon.

Very cool.

Psychology on pre-schoolers

Although, really, it's more a cross between operant conditioning and modeling in my book.

The key: consistency yields results.

Well, duh.

Brain drugs

I posted a few days ago about my excitement for brain steroids. Well, now: I WANT MY LEPTIN!!!

Sweet!

The Scientology of the education system

Montessori education provides better outcomes than traditional methods, study indicates

The title is a bit harsh, but not too far from the truth. Montessori methodology was literaly created out of thin air, and was mostly driven by the needs of the environment they were created in. There has been in the past very little scientific testing to verify (or not) the eduational methodolgy of the Montessori schools.

The dark side of motivation

This author has some very interesting thoughts on motivation theories.

Her basic take is that most motivational theories focus on positive behavior, and don't really take account for "evil" or bad behavior. I've had discussions about this before, and really what it comes down to is not the behavior itself, but rather what drives the behavior. Bad or evil behavior can easily be motivating for certain personalities depending on what they deem is a "reward" - so the theories themselves are not driven by "good" or "bad" behavior.

The end of "natural" ability

There was a fantastic article in Scientific American in July that addressed this issue as well, and here is another fine article that speaks to the same thing:

Outstanding Performers: Created, not Born?

This seems to be a fairly hot topic right now, and one that interests me greatly. Motivation is a huge interest of mine, and this research seems to point to motivation having even more importance in the creation of "genius" or "creativity" than we previously thought.

Man, this is a hot topic - here's another article on the subject.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I think she's quite attractive...

Seems that beauty is not so much in the eye of the beholder, but in the brain of the beholder.

So - easy on the brain? The phrase doesn't quite have the same romantic ring as other "beauty" phrases, but I actually kind of like it.

The Vulcan mind

References to green blood notwithstanding, this finding on how copper plays a more important role in brain chemistry is quite interesting.

There is some interesting new developments in brain chemistry and the potential developments of corresponding medicines or treatments. The advances in the realm of Alzheimers is particularly promising.

I look forward to steroids for the brain.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mouse Brains!

Institute unveils full atlas of mouse brain

How cool is this? But, dig the first paragraph:
A brain institute funded by software billionaire Paul Allen says it has completed its first project: a map of the mouse brain down to details of individual cells. Work is already beginning on a similar map of the human brain.

Keep in mind that a "cellular" level map would not be accurate to that level for every individual, but rather as an aggregate. Still, this is a pretty impressive development. Now all they have to do is ramp up the number of cells by a factor of 100 and we should be good to go.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Stop talking over there!

Multitasking is no problem, but double talk overwhelms us

So, no talking in the back of the class - I know you can't listen to both of us, so pick one!

Music to take tests by...

Music helps patients tune out test anxiety

So - if we allow iPods into the classroom for a test, students would do better? Just asking.

Actually, it's in regards to medical tests (often invasive and seldom comfotable) - so I doubt that it would translate, but it's fun to think about.

The zone!

While not a post specifically related to brain development, it is significant to note that gaming has such a profound effect on attention (it puts kids in "the zone"). How sweet would it be if we could harness that type of attention and direct it toward educational goals.

I am increasingly of the opinion that the difficulty of the transition from a totally engaging and entertaining game to educational material is entirely a peception paradigm in an older generation of educators and theorists that don't understand the gaming phenomenon and see it as useless or worse.

It is very similar to the rap vs. sonnet argument: a teenager has no problem memorizing the words to a very complex and long rap song (a definite form of poetry) yet can barely recall a line from a sonnet by Shakespear (a supposedly superior mode of poetry). The difference is there, but I don't think it's as big of a difference as we make it out to be.

Debunking Gardner's MI theory?

Beth Visser at Brock University is putting Gardner's MI theory to the test, and she isn't impressed (or at least the data she generated does not do Gardner’s theory any favors).

Whatever the data might appear to suggest, I’m of the opinion that this gentleman’s reaction a bit extreme. It’s a little too early to simply throw out Gardner's MI theory as bunk based on one assessment and say that it is a waste of time from a policy standpoint.

Really what it comes down to is the basic question of what exactly intelligence is. IQ tests as such are a good measure of general intelligence, just as they are also a good measure of the ability to read and take tests. However, there are multiple aspects of personal identity and skill that are quite difficult to test empirically, such as personal charisma (in a leadership domain) and creativity (in an artistic domain). Creativity can be tested in certain ways, but again, from a purely artistic standpoint, it becomes a little more objective and difficult to test. Certainly those can be generally tested (or at least identified) through questioning experts or peers on their feelings/observations – but a true empirical test just doesn’t work that well.

So, while there may be questions regarding the universal applicability of Gardner’s MI theory, and more questions still regarding policy decisions guided by its conclusions, the basic premise on which it is founded remains. What is intelligence? And until we find evidence or methodology that can conclusively point to “intelligence” I think we need to keep a broader view in mind. Gardner’s MI theory takes the stage along with several other theories and will have to continue to share that stage until something more inclusive and conclusive is found.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Science vs. U.S. children

U.S. science education lags, study finds

Well, I can't argue too much with the overall conclusions of this study. It's been a pretty consistent finding over the years - but I would like to know how the science questions are framed. Are they built around standard knowledge (lear by rote) or are they application questions (learned by principle)?

The question being, are other countries learning science fact or science principle? And what does the U.S. curricula emphasize? The style of teaching can make a big difference in the overall effect over the life of an individual and their ability to apply lessons learned to more than just the specifics they've been taught.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Video gaming for health

Video games: Medicine for the body

I've often thought video gaming was theraputic, but for completely different reasons.

Reign in those emotions!

How the brain keeps emotions at bay

More here.

NewScientist special report: the brain

Lot's of good stuff in this special report on the brain.

Lots of good articles and some links that I have since added to my sidebar. A few of the articles are locked for subscribers, but the majority are available.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Immigrants keep pace

Making the grade: Immigrant children keep academic pace with peers

More good news on immigrants and education.

Music = better memory

Music lessons help young memories

Well, well...a nice little benefit for forcing jr. to take those piano lessons after all.

More on the same subject here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bad news

Study finds US bias against women in science

This doesn't seem like good news, if for no other reason than diversity of thought is always a good thing in science.

Racial studies

Some interesting articles about racial tension and mitigation interventions.

Here, here, and here.

You are what you....say?

Brain's action center is all talk

Yep - if you say it, you probably will do it.

To be fast, you must be slow...

Slow brain waves play key role in coordinating complex activity

Zen-like statements aside, this is pretty fun stuff.

English education

Immigrant children's verbal development varies based on race/ethnicity

So, referring to the prior post, maybe the two findings have some bearing on each other.

Good news

Children of immigrants pursue math and science as pathways to upward mobility

Quite an impressive finding. I wonder if there are variances across cultural lines?

I'm fine coach!

Concussion in athletes: Can they accurately evaluate their own condition?

Yea, not surprising - if you have damage to your brain in some form (permanent or not) it might be a little difficult to accurately judge your state of health. If you use a broken machine to diagnose another machine, you have a good chance that the diagnosis will be incorrect.

What will this accomplish?

Symposium will explore science's next great ideas

Seriously - a symposium on what hasn't happened yet, and speculating on what will be the future. I'd be willing to bet serious money that everything they're looking at is already well on it's way as far as development or production, and only about 10% of "future" projects will ever come to fruition.

How about a symposium on something like "how can we creatively apply what we already know" - that might prove much more useful

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

More on those whacky teenagers

Seems they just cannot be compared to adults - and trying to understand them from an adult perspective just doesn't help much.

Men vs. Women

Well, if you ignore all the issues surrounding the validity of IQ scores and intelligence research in general, this is a pretty interesting article.

Or it is complete BS if you have little regard for such issues.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A legitimate beef....

Parents want concrete support not parenting lessons

So, parents don't want to have someone being condescending and patronizing, they'd rather have real help.

Imagine that.

Creativity and Genius

A topic that I've been thinking about for quite a while now. My primary interests being in defining consciouness, but a big step in that direction would be to define what makes people creative or qualifies them as "genius". Anyway, two excellent articles on the topic - one references the other, but still, well written.

How Geniuses Work


Creativity + Genius

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Digital divide

I'm not terribly certain that the so called "digital divide" is something to be worried about. It might be a SEC thing, or it could be a cultural thing - I think it's too early to come to any firm conclusions about it.

Students with gadgets

This article summarizes one of the problems with education today - teachers coming from an old paradigm of technology cannot deal well with the new tech paradigm. Although some are adapting, and some are not.

Basically - figure out a way to understand and accomodate students, or lose them.

Imagine your brain....

Cool new brain imaging developments (or rather vizualizatino of brain images) coming from students.

Feelings matter less for teenagers

Huh, who would have thought that teenagers don't care about the feelings of others.

Not much of a surprise really. And it definitely follows in the footsteps of earlier research that shows teenagers don't understand how to recognize emotions very well either.

More here.

All nighters

Apparently, if you want to pull an all nighter - stay away from laughing gas.

Education vs. Learning

A few very salient thoughts on the difference between the American education system vs. the American Learning system

More here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Prediction? Pain.

Anticipation plays a powerful role in human memory, brain study finds

Increase the anticipation (primarily negative) of learning, and increase the retantion. Pretty good finding.

More here.

Steroids for the brain

Proteins necessary for brain development found to be critical for long-term memory

This would be exceedingly cool if it led to any kind of drugs that could help out in brain development or possibly even to fighting diseases like alzheimers.

The value of learning

Researchers identify neurons that assign value during learning

Kind of interesting.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The 'G' spot...continued

Study: No ‘God spot’ in the human brain

Posted about it earlier, but now it's maing the rounds in major media outlets.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The G Spot

Brain scan of nuns finds no single 'God spot' in the brain, Université de Montréal study finds

Sorry for the title, couldn't resist.

Actually, this is very close to a study I've wanted to do for about 5 years now. I would have chosen to use more than just representatives from one religion though. Religiously "strong" representatives from multiple religions. I am betting that we'll find one of two things: 1)each individual uses different parts of their brain in "religious" settings; 2)each religion's adherents brains will be affected slightly differently based on philosophy and approach.

I think #2 would be really, REALLY interesting, but #1 would be the result I'd put my money on.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Expert brains

Wired News: Music Makes Your Brain Happy

A fun article in Wired that talks a little about a recent upsurge in the interest in trying to define (or find) causes for genius or "natural" ability. There is also a Scientific American article (in the July issue I think) that treats the subject.

More here and here.

Happy Birthday!

Without even realizing it, Searching for Mind is now 2 years old.

Crazy. I've been blogging since 2001 or so in one form or another, but this is the blog that has generated the most interest for me personally, so I hope to keep it up for a lot longer.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Games for socialites

Some online video games found to promote 'sociability,' researchers say

They could have asked a gamer - we've know this for some time now. The same goes for telecommuters - there's really not much difference between the fundamental state of both parties.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Color is perception

True colors are in the brain of the beholder

I blogged about this some time ago, but it looks like vision has far less to do with determining color and our brains do the bulk of the interpretation.

Thank goodness we don't have Microsoft brains

Scientists learn how the brain 'boots up' to process information from the senses

I didn't know that our brains ran software.[/sarcasm]

I hate the simplified way the media treats these types of developments.

Children are still children

Kids need more time than adults give them, study finds

Turns out that children are still children despite higher expectations.

Algebra for babies

Infants, as early as six months, do see errors in arithmetic

More here and here.

Bad news for OBGYNs

Ultrasound Affects Fetal Mouse Brains

Ethically it would be very difficult to study this on a human fetus, but the implication is there, so what do you do now? What kind of effect does it have? Long term? Short term?

This is a very intriguing study.

Alert Jimmy the Greek

Brain's gambling circuitry identified

Vegas would be happy - now all we have to do is figure out how to non-invasively stimulate specific areas of the brain

Super teacher!

Novelty aids learning

This is something that any good teacher should know.

Must...remember...trivia....

Brain imaging identifies best memorization strategies

Now this is research that has some real practical value. Very cool.

Still more brain/computer modeling

Blue Brain Project

Modeling the brain, from a structure/architecture POV.

Brain control

Brain-controlled device could help the disabled

I'm pretty sure I blogged this earlier, but here it is again. An extremely cool development.

This is your computer on brains....

'Brainbox' Computer Mimics Human Brain

The struggle to copy the complex perfection of the brain continues....

Actually, this is more about modelling the "up time" of the human brain.

Stimulate my brain, baby....

Brain stimulation that may boost vision from the corner of your eye

Kind of interesting, but I'm not sure entirely what to make of it yet.

Trial and error

Researchers find new learning strategy

Well, not so much new as re-defined. Trial and error was thought to be a good learning method as long as the error was small. However, it turns out that error doesn't scale. Error corrections in the opposite direction of the error tends to help learning.

So, go make a mistake or two.

Friday, July 28, 2006

You put your neuron in, you put your neuron out...

MIT researchers watch brain in action

We're getting closer and closer to seeing individual cells interact in real time. This is a fairly oblique step in that direction, but it is a step nevertheless.

No....really?

Study suggests TV watching lowers physical activity

Holy. Crap.

Also in the news: study shows that bears crap in the woods.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nature vs. Nurture

After the Bell Curve

Wild data about IQ scores and SEC environments. This is generating lots of discussion in the blogoshphere right now - and justifiably so.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Concentrate!

FuturePundit: Distractions Reduce Learning

Bad news for all those students that try and study in noisy environments. Not that they'll pay attention to this study.

More here.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Google your education

Virtual Video Map

Scroll to the bottom for a description of what this particular GoogleMash is about.

Somebody has their thinking cap on - that's for sure. Totally cool development on the cheap.

...so is swimming with sharks

Drinking can be dangerous

And running with scisors, and playing with venomous snakes, and....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Homework sucks....

Hard-working at school, sluggish at home

Another brilliant moment in educational research. The scientists conducting the study,
[found] that students' general level of conscientiousness predicts how much effort they put into their homework. ...[The scientists] also found that students' beliefs about how well they will perform on their homework, their interest in the subject and their beliefs about the relevance of the assignments predicts their homework behavior


So, if I'm generally a conscientious student, I'm confident in my ability, I like the subject and find that it has practical application in my life, I'm more apt to complete the homework assignment.

[heavy sarcasm]Really?[/heavy sarcasm]

Boys vs. Girls: part 2

Study: Boys trail girls in literacy scores

Seems that I've heard that this was the case for quite a while, but I guess this study distinguishes between SEC and gender, so that's new in a way.

Politics on the brain

Political allegiance impacts brain's response to candidates

Not surprising. If your schema differ from positions presented by a particular politician (or the perception of that politician based on his party allegiance) then you're not going to react well.

Work vs. Home

Self-esteem key to not letting the job get in the way of your relationship

Also, not working a 60hr week will help.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

More brains!

Brainy Brains

So, brain size isn't the key factor (which has been well established for years) - the real issue is how our brain develops.

I remain colored in a surprised hue.

News of the obvious

Mindless Reading' Comes Under Closer Study

The upshot - if you don't pay attention to what you read, you don't retain the information.

Well, color me surprised.

New brain tools

'Touching' the brain

I want to see more of this.

I'll give you a beating!

Carrot or stick? It's the same...

Apparently avoiding punishment gives the brain a similar effect as recieving a reward. Behaviorists: take note!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

You say alpha I say alfa

Chinese, English speakers handle math differently

This is an extremely interesting finding, especially in light of recent findings that math may be "pre-wired" in the brain just like language.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Um...yea, like we didn't know that....

How to build a better brain

The article is about a policy paper for CA schools that basically says if you want to help your kids, have a good relationship with them and show them lots of love.

[heavy sarcasm]Really...[/heavy sarcasm]

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dig those crazy sounds!

A neural mosaic of tones

A pretty cool imaging development. I wonder if we have the processing speed to image a symphony. Not a Philip Glass level piece of tonal garbage, but a real symphony (Beethoven) and be able to pinpoint how the brain processes the tones together.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'll...never...make...it...

Challenge is in the eye of the beholder: A heavy burden can slant our world

Hmmm...so our perceptions are all different depending on our circumstances and mental states. My amazement knows no bounds.

Boys vs. Girls

The Truth about Boys and Girls

A very nicely done article.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The sky is blue - part 4 (or so)

Erotic images elicit strong response from brain

This is such an obvious truth that it's almost painful to read. Why do you think theh porn industry is so large?

Don't worry....Be happy!

UMHS Press Release: Hope I die before I get old?

Great report. Seems that as you age you acquire more emotional tools to help you interpret reasons for happiness. Teenagers are unhappy because they don't yet have the capacity for the long view of things, so momentary or temporary events that cause unhappiness are seen as long term, or even permanent.

Now if we could just get teenagers to actually understand this concept....

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hippocampus goes both ways

Amnesiac study offers insights into how working memory works

"Their findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, overturn the established view of the hippocampus and offers insight on how the brain forms and recalls memories by piecing together related bits of experiences."

Very, very cool. I love research that turns years of prior assumptions on their head.

Me learn English!

Basque grammar in the brain

Enhancing a well know fact that brains are geared to understand language, this research focuses on word order and grammatical mistakes.

iPod learning

How the latest learning technology takes the rap

"The research seeks to develop a model for optimizing student learning -- taking the focus away from content delivery."

Basically they're putting learing into podcasts, but not really following any new theory of education, just doing the same old stuff using a new tool (podcasts).

The Brain Master!

Master planners in brain may coordinate other areas' roles in cognitive tasks

Somewhat related to the prior post, but this one seems to have covered more areas besides navigation.

I should have taken that left turn.....

Where we change our mind

The headline is misleading. It should read, where we make decisions when navigating a 3D wire-frame maze.

But, you know, details etc.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Worse than it sounds

Number of children and teens treated with antipsychotics increases sharply

When I first read the title I was a bit skeptical, but the rise is apparently for rather severe psychotic episodes.

It's called a snit

Intermittent explosive disorder affects up to 16 million Americans

The description doesn't sound so much like a disorder as just somebody losing control for a little while. I had several episodes like those described in the article when I was younger - but none since I cared about and learned how to marshal my emotions.

Sorry - I just don't buy that it is a "disorder".

Well, color me EEGreen

FuturePundit: Rhythmic Light And Sound Raise IQ In ADD Kids

A very interesting series of articles on the same subject. I always thought that light/sound therapy stuff was bogus (Especially when Sharper Image started to market it in the early 90s) - guess I was wrong.

Have another coffee, baby...

Coffee makes us more likely to say 'yes'

So, Starbucks is the new booze-joint.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mmmmm....brain images

Honda says brain waves control robot

Well, not so much brain waves, as brain images. It looks at fMRI type images and interprets them into robot hand motions. But, hey, a big step in the right direction.

Mmmmm...brain chemicals

If the chemistry is right … you might remember this

Upshot: a new chemical that assists in neuronal communication was identified.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Uh...okay....

Women Get Drunk, High and Addicted More Easily Than Men Do

I know a few college guys who just went "Woo-hoo!"

Behaviorism meets cognitivism

The brain's executive is an 'event planner'

I love studies that show how behavioristic experiments look inside the "black box" - it's just fun.

Oh, and the planning thing is cool too.

A good example is the best teacher

How do children learn about science and God?

The upshot is that children learn not only from what we say, but from what we do and the context of the lesson. [sarcasm]Go figure.[/sarcasm]

Signing Time!

Toddlers learn better through interactive video

I guess this explains the "Baby Einstein" "Dora" and "Blue's Clues" phenomenon.

Now if it would only make those shows more watchable from an adult perspective. I won't even begin to talk about Barney.

The more we know - the less we know

Flick of whiskers helps tease out brain's 'shadow' signaling system

First adults grow new neurons (90's), then we find that glial cells actually contribute to communication (early 00's) and now this.

We really don't understand that much about the brain - but we're getting there.

A serious problem

Length of deprivation in infants affects intellectual development for years

It's unfortunate that this situation had to exist at all, but at least we're learning more about the needs of children.

Your opinions suck

Brain study yields insight into machinery of prejudice

Well, from my perspective anyway.

Yet more nural goodness from fMRI imaging.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Glory days

Our memory wears rose-colored glasses

Not surprising really - simply a study to support the "The older I get the better I was" idea.

In the Zone

Lost in thought: Brain research

I'm pretty sure I blogged this earlier - but if not, this is pretty cool research. Very similar to the "in the zone" research done in the 80's.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Woa! The sky is...like...blue!

Good news, bad news for tube-watching tots

The tag-line under the headline says "When it comes to screen tim, experts say content is key" The article is full of good-v-bad of media watching (tv, computer, other electronic media) with the conclusion that educational content that is age-appropriate is good, and content that is non-educational and/or too complex is bad.

[sarcasm]Well, color me surprised.[/sarcasm]

Yea...that's the ticket...

People Generally Lie to Preserve Self-Esteem

I imagine that some people even lie to themselves to preserve self esteem.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Feel the burn...

Kids Get Slight Work-Out Playing Video Games

Well, if you include raising your heart rate from excitement a workout, then yes - the sweaty tub of lard lounging in front of the boob-tube/PC for hours on end playing "Halo"...they do get a slight workout.

And this is significant enough to qualify as news?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Game that language!

Making adult language learning child's play

I cannot express how happy I am to see game developments in the realm of education. There are more and more applications of "fun" or "games" in education being tied to technology in better ways than simple "Skinner Box" applications. I love it.

Not the needle!

Neurobiology of dread gives scientists clues about human decision making

This was picked up by a lot of news outlets - the main headline being something along the lines of "which is worse? The anticipation or the actual pain?"

Not a bad capsule, but certainly incomplete in the analysis. Read the whole thing.

The colors.....Look at the colors!

Research shows how visual stimulation turns up genes to shape the brain

Visual stimulation actually turns on different developmental genes - cool.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ask a woman who has given birth...

Brain differences could explain why males and females experience pain relief differently

I'm telling you - this stuff needs its own blog.

Caught in the moment

Watching the brain switch off 'self'

So they can see when I turn control over to an experience rather than maintaining control myself. Have they been able to identify anything similar in hypnosis? It probably wouldn't be universal (since the ability to be hypnotized isn't universal) - but it would be interesting to see if the two activities were similar.

I see words

'Word-vision' brain area confirmed

Well, I see the shape of a word anyway - we don'r really read words letter by letter. This is a pretty cool development though.

Sooooo.....that's bad?

Both alcoholism and chronic smoking can damage the brain's prefrontal cortex

Gee - substances that are bad for you also cause damage to the brain? Who'd have thought?

Babies - developmental machines

Infants can organise visual information at just four months

We continue to discover that we give our children far too little credit for their abilities.

Well, duh...

Fussy babies and postpartum depression linked, study finds

Not brain related, but we have a new baby and this seems like a complete no-brainer. If fussy babies don't cause depression, they certainly cause frustration and unhappiness.

As a #2 sibling - this is good news

Older children not smarter than their younger sibs, study finds

Ha! Take that Leigh-Anne! In your face!

Get better educated - live longer

Education level linked with presence of coronary artery calcium deposits

Or, get more education, avoid heart attacks. Cool.

Anything you can do, I can do better...

Girls have big advantage over boys on timed tests

More gender differences. I seriously need to start a gender differences blog.

More technology helping the learning field

Technology to improve learning for visually-impaired children

Awesome development.

Don't bring me down, man...

Other people influence us and we don't even know it

Fascinating research - it will probably be picked up quickly by advertising researchers and turned into even more advanced viral marketing strategies.

Your brain on alcohol

Brain study considers motor function, cognition with alcohol consumption

Hopefully this study leads to more research.

Drowning in the gene pool

Feinstein researchers identify intelligence gene

Identifying it is one thing - being able to understand it is entirely different.

Money for administration

Cash $trapped Colleges?

While I normally steer away from politically oriented posts here, I found this report extremely distressing. I don't know how true or accurate it is, but this quote really caught my eye:
In a recent conference call on the plan, both lawmakers rebuffed three attempts to get them on record explaining why college and university administrators have nothing to do with the exploding cost of higher education. It’s a valid question: Economist Richard Vedder finds that the ratio of college administrators to students is at least three-to-one. That gives collegians more bureaucrats per capita than they have biological parents.

And what of the service that American colleges and universities deliver? “Over half of students graduating from four-year colleges in the U. S. lack the literacy to deal with such ‘real life’ tasks as understanding newspaper editorials, comparing credit card offers, or summarizing the results of a survey,” reads a quote from David Schaefer in the latest issue of The American Enterprise. “Nor do they have the math skills needed to balance their checkbooks, according to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts."


3 to 1 administrators to students? Really? How is that even remotely justifiable? I'm not sure I would buy into the "half of students graduating" part - but even if it's 1/4 then that's too high.

The final quote of the page is also worth considering:

What do the recent college grads themselves tell us? They are, according to most college and university promotional literature, higher education’s ultimate customer.

“You think, six months ago I had a great on-campus job and social life,” recent graduate Nicole Relyea told msn.com’s M. P. Dunleavy. “Now, I’m living at home, I have two friends and no academic stimulation for the first time in 20 years—sitting in the basement, surfing the internet, looking for work.”

“It’s like, wow, I was just studying the cultural history of the aborigines and now I’m looking at jobs where the main duties are answering the phone and typing. How are you supposed to make that shift? It’s really something nobody prepares you for.”


That rings much more true to me - I see a lot of that coming from recent graduates. I'm not sure how high the percentages are, but again, even a small percentage isn't a good thing.

Like I said - a distressing report. Please, someone point me to another report that gives an opposing viewpoint.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More gender differences

UCI researchers find that, even at rest, men's and women's brains behave differently

I'd love to find a site that is cataloging all of the gender difference research that is out there. Perhaps I'll start one myself.

Generalities

Brain compensates for aging by becoming less 'specialized'

Exactly the opposite of a career path!

More brain tendencies

Is the brain wired for faces?

Taste, geometry, language, walking, grammar - we've got lot's going on in there.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I can't say I'm surprised

Study: Sex-filled media linked to promiscuity

Over the course of my lifetime the age of sexual activity appears to be getting younger and younger. Something had to be causing it - and this study certainly isn't a surprise.

However, it does bring into question studies that show whether or not video-games and violent media content cause violence in teenagers as well. I've seen studies both ways.

Junk in - junk out; makes a lot of sense to me.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Intelligence = immaturity

Cortex matures faster in youth with highest IQ

Okay, so not generally, but in developing children. At least when speaking of brain development anyway.

More here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'd like a memory upgrade, please.

Brain cells fused with computer chips

Well, we're not quite at a "Johny Mnemonic" stage yet, or even a "Ghost in the Shell" state - but still, pretty dang fun.

Perchance to dream...

Asleep or awake we retain memory

This is pretty cool stuff. Seems we process information dynamically throughout the course of a day - equally awake or asleep.

Cool.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Following the money

Brain-scanning technology reveals how we process brands and products

I'm surprised that it took this long for us to see some developments in brain-scanning technology following after market money.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You got to set...the mood.

Mood affects young and old differently, study finds

Not terribly surprising, but still a good bit of data that once again reinforces the differences between older and younger brains.

Oooo....moving stuff!

How the brain sees people in motion

Vision and perception is more a matter of brain development than simply a genetic thing - and this is another cool development along that line of thinking.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Standards are a good thing

UCI receives major grant to help create national methods and standards for functional brain imaging

Especially where brain research is involved. More stringent standards could lead to more easily verifiable research. And that is a very good thing.

SATs - again and again and....

Repeated test-taking better for retention than repeated studying, research shows

Don't get too worked up yet. The study was based on "self tests" - or testing yourself on what you've learned - a method that has long been effective in enhancing learning. Now it just has some more backing.

I don't have any friends...

Peer exclusion among children results in reduced classroom participation and academic achievement

Not really a surprise, but definitely worth consideration. What's a good way to combat this?

I think I can...

Confidence in memory performance helps older adults remember

Actually, it's more about knowing strategies that can help with memory retention that provide the confidence. Still - confidence does do marvelous things.

Sad, but true

Depressed older adults more likely to become cognitively impaired

I'm seeing this every day with my grandmother. Everyone is saying she is showing early Alzheimer's - which may be true, but she is also showing signs of just not caring any longer. Her existence isn't an enriching or plesant one and it shows in her attitude towards life.

Get your math right here!

Scientists find brain function most important to maths ability

Yes, but can they enhance it?

Brain games

'Brain Training' Video Game Huge Hit Among Japanese Elderly

Yet another example of how including game or play type activities into learning is a fantastic way to go.

Cool new memory developments

New research data on the link between learning results and working memory

Just start reading - two very cool new developments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hunger = enhanced learning

Learning and memory stimulated by gut hormone

I thought we had established that food was a good thing when we're trying to learn - but apparently that may be in doubt.

Mmmmm...brain chemicals...

Researchers find molecule that may hold key to learning and memory

The key word is "may" - but an interesting finding none the less.

I reject your reality and substitute my own...

Humans ignore motion and other cues in favor of a fictional stable world

Our brain - master of all it survey's. Literally.

Ewww...it's green!

Great (taste) expectations: Study shows brain anticipates taste, shifts gears

Again, I posted about this earlier - this is just some follow-up info.

Maybe it's not genetic...

Approach to school affects how girls compare with boys in math

The title is for humor purposes for the most part - and possibly for former Harvard presidents.

Anyway - an interesting finding.

Grammar on the brain

Evolutionary traces of grammar

I posted about this in the "Grammar Hard Wired in the Brain" post - but this is a more comprehensive article.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Man, research is GREAT

Boys face greater burns risk than girls, says new research

Once again, we see more research that any male will read and say "Duh!"

Boys are born pyromaniacs - it's a genetic thing.

Interpret my intent will ya'?

Dartmouth study finds how the brain interprets the intent of others

We can identify the spot where we interpret the intent of others. Cool.

Developmental and not genetic?

Born with a love of speech

Interesting theory about how babies distinguish speech from other sounds.

More technology helping communication

Technology helps disabled kids find their voice

Related to a prior post about learning language via the use of games and similar technologies.

Games to learn languages

Video Games Help U.S. Soldiers Learn Arab Language, Culture

This is very, VERY cool - and one of the best developments in education. I've been thinking and dreaming of applications like this for at least 10 years. Sweet.

More here and here.

Are you a "Bright"?

'Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,' by Daniel C. Dennett

I am not. And after reading this book review, I'm guessing Mr. Wieseltier isn't either.

I'm curious what others think of this review and method of thinking.

More on the "Bright" world-view here.

Wow. I'm not sure condescending is a strong enough word.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Don't learn when you're angry

How 'hot' emotional brain interferes with 'cool' processing

If you have lots of emotional distraction, you won't form memories as well.

So, the old "Don't drive when you're angry." mantra can now be applied to learning.

Monday, February 13, 2006

WAY before PBS shows

Baby got math

This is pretty darned cool. The experiment is described as well, which is nice.

I'm telling you, before long we're going to see that strange things like fashion sense are an innate thing in humans.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Violence and a kid's brain

Cognitive daily strikes again, this time with a post about recent research on the effect of violent movies on a child's brain. Kudos to the researchers for acknowledging that the results may simply be due to arousal rather than an isolated violence effect.

This study is set up very well by prior research that shows that images with emotional or violent content are more memorable than generic content images. I'm curious to see if the same effects would be found in adults or what kind of effect happens to children under 8.

It's too bad that fMRI testing is so darned difficult and expensive to do. I can think of hundreds of experiments I'd run if I had the time, money and willing volunteers.

Grouping or referential grouping?

Check out this exceedingly cool post over at Cognitive Daily. Experiments and everything!

Seriously, I can't do it justice, just go and read it.

Monkey see....

Brain Has "Face Place" for Recognition, Monkey Study Confirms

An interesting development for monkeys - I wonder if it would be quite as compartmentalized in the more complex human brain?

All the parents say: Duh!

FOXNews.com - Science News - Brains of Young Adults Not Fully Mature

Is there any 40 year old (or thereabouts) that will read this story and say "Wow! I had no idea!"?

Actually, that's a little unfair. Maturity of experience is not the same as a mature brain, so this finding is actually quite interesting.

Ask a grandmother....

Rockabye baby: Research shows gentle singing soothes sick infants

Okay - not necessarily brain related....but still, you have to admire the cajones of a researcher that wants to prove what is possibly the oldest grandma trick in the book - singing to soothe a crying baby.

Hey, this is what publishing is all about - find what hasn't been researched and go for it.

Help for the dyslexic

Brain images show individual dyslexic children respond to spelling treatment

Good news I'm sure. Now if we could just pinpoint what exactly causes dyslexia or what exactly the effects are, we'll be in business.

3rd world intelligence?

Long-term poverty affects mental health of children

That's a rather harsh title for the post, but essentially it hits the mark. Poor nutrition and an impoverished environment in which to gain experience would seem to be a sure-fire recepie for poor cognitive development.

But can it identify stupidity?

Brain scans may predict cognitive decline in normal people

This is actually a pretty cool development - imagine if you could identify very early on if you were starting to lose your cognitive abilities - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

What did you expect?

Expectations Influence Sense of Taste

Anyone with a young child knows this is true at least from a behavioral aspect. But it is interesting that we find that perception (which is essentially the same as expectation) affects nearly every part of our sensory experience.

Boys in education

The lost boys

This is a good article on a story that has been building for some time. Boys are now the ones that aren't getting the education and girls are statistically taking over.

There are various positions that can be taken, and a number of theories as to why and what to do about it; but the bottom line is hard to ignore - fewer boys are getting a college education.

Me speak English good!

Scientists find ability for grammar hardwired into humans

Next they're going to tell us that the ability to cook hot dogs is hard wired into the brain.

Good new for the gregarious 1st grader

Social first graders more likely to become good readers

Knowing my son, I'd say this is good news. That boy will talk/play with anyone. And he loves to read, which is also a good sign.

Unhappy parents = unhappy child

Parental conflict may affect children's behavior and learning by disrupting their sleep

This is a study that rings true, unfortunately. More here and here.

Bad boy = bad reader

Reading and behavior problems intertwined in boys

This doesn't necessarily surprise me. I guess being a teacher's pet/brown noser has cognitive advantages as well.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Game Skillz = intelligence

Video game offers new way to test intelligence

I'm not quite sure what to do with this story. I'm all about implementing gaming technology more into education (or at the least game type activity) - but using it to measure intelligence? I don't see this as being any more valid than a paper-and-pencil test.

Tall = intelligent

Tall men get better education

Sorry, but the simplified equasions as titles just give me a kick. It's addicting.

But, as a 6'4" man myself, I'm darned happy to hear this.

Tall = intelligent

Tall men get better education/a>

Sorry, but the simplified equasions as titles just give me a kick. It's addicting.

But, as a 6'4" man myself, I'm darned happy to hear this.

Does this explain "extreme" sports?

Intelligence may contribute to health inequalities

Snarky comment aside, I know several people who would seriously question the idea of IQ scores in the first place, but in reality it seems that the effects of the study could also be explained by socio-economic factors as well, so the conclusion is somewhat dubious.

Wait...wait...I know who she is....

A fork in memory lane: UCSD research indicates hippocampus supports two aspects of recognition

As the article states, the hippocampus is an area of the brain that we really don't understand very well, and the details of how it functions are a pretty wide open debate. Any development that increases our knowledge in this field is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

So, if I say I'm invisible....?

Words help deterimine what we see

This sort of harks back to a study done on a small tribe of indians in Brazil who had no word for certain colors - they had "green" and "not green" - and had difficulty with perception of other colors. This study backs that one up with more specific results.

Feel no pain...

Research shows brain's ability to overcome pain and thirst

Not that this teaches people HOW to turn off pain or thirst, it just identifies where it happens.

Liar, Liar, brain on fire...

Who's the liar? Brain MRI stands up to polygraph test

The first rumblings of this type of technology came to light about a year ago if I remember correctly. Keep in mind that this technology has a long way to go, it isn't exactly portable to a courtroom yet, and it hasn't been tested enough to be even close to courtroom ready yet; but, hey, it looks promising, doesn't it?

I wonder if they could use it to ferret out memories that are false, but that the individual percieves as reliable and accurate.

I think this technology is the perfect example of "this is a great idea, just don't test it on me" thing.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Healthy body = healthy brain

Scientists Suggest That Immune Cells Help to Maintain Cognition and Brain Cell Renewal

There have been other developments around this idea earlier this year, but the article below is quite informative. Basically, our immune system plays a role in our brains, contrary to prior belief.

Self-knowledge = purchasing history?

How we view ourselves affects perception of products and brands

Similarly related to the prior post - it seems that there is some nice research around self-concept and how it affects our daily actions.

Knowing yourself

Identifying the source of negative emotions greatly reduces their influence on unrelated decisions

Okay, I'm an admitted sci-fi fan, and I really like the show SG-1 on the Sci-Fi Network. Last night had a rather nice quote,
To resist the influence of others, knowledge of one’s self is most important.

An interesting concept, and somewhat relevant when considering the idea stated in the referenced article.

Does better/more self-knowledge lead to better decision making? How do you quantify self-knowledge?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Actor = memory genius?

'To be or, or ... um ... line!'

Well, probably not - but by certain definitions, it is definitely worth a thought.

Use it or lose it

Use your brain, halve your risk of dementia

This seems like old news to me - although, perhaps this has simply been an assumption and not proven via research.

Killing your brain

Chronic drinking and smoking cause both separate and interactive brain injury

So, smoking and driking are bad for your health in new and different ways. Go figure.

Peer pressure

Children's peer relationships have enormous influence

I'd like to see a study that links this finding to education.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Looking at stress

Penn research permits first-ever visualization of psychological stress in the human brain

I think I blogged this earlier but still, a very cool development.

The representative from Emory has the floor

Emory study lights up the political brain

Apparently politicians rely on emotion rather than fact when making decisions. This is not a surprise to the active observer, but it is nice to have it proven via brain imaging.

Also - I am a bit disappointed because this was a study I've been thinking of for some time, but someone beat me to the punch.

Another summary here: Political bias affects brain activity, study finds

Fishmonger momma

Diet and the unborn child

Yet another story that shows evidence that eating fish (and specifically Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fish) increases the possibility of raising the intelligence level of your children.

Monday, January 23, 2006

An apple a day

Age-related memory improvement linked with consumption of apple products

Boy, if ever there was a post that cried out to be associated with that ole aphorism - this one is it.

Still, a very interesting finding to say the least.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Taste is also hard-wired

How taste response is hard-wired into the brain

Here is the taste article I referred to earlier.

I should note, however, that we only have suggestive evidence of something like "hard-wiring" in the brain. The concept is much more complex than our electronic understanding of something that is "hard-wired" - the brain is so much more complex than simple electrical engineering.

Hard-wired may mean "pre-disposed" or it could mean that we simply learn it exceptionally rapidly in comparisson to other skills.

Still, the number of things for which our brains seem prepared in some way to recieve is pretty amazing.

One more geometry story

Indigenous Amazonians display core understanding of geometry

Just a different write-up of the geometry story linked to earlier.

This is good news

The brain is broadly wired for reproduction

Generally speaking anyway.

Remembering what you see

Working memory retains visual details despite distractions

Which explains why you can enjoy the scenery while you hike. HA! Kidding! That is a very lame interpretation, sorry.

Evolutionists would interpret this as a survival instinct I suppose.

We know more than we think

We’re hard-wired for geometry

How cool is this? We're hard wired for language, a study recently (which I need to track down) says we're hard wired for taste, and now it seems that we're pre-disposed to understanding geometry.

Exceedingly cool.

Protect your thoughts

Imune cells protect cognitive process

Yet another complex development in our understanding of the brain. Wild stuff.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Go you chicken fat go!

Exercise is linked to later onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Sorry for the obscure reference - but this is pretty good news if true.

Why men like the 3 stooges

Men get a bigger kick from revenge

Someone once said "There's nothing funnier than someone else's misery."

Well, it's funny for guys anyway.

Teenagers: not so bright

CNN.com - Report: Teen drivers pose broad risk

A few posts ago I mentioned that teenagers really don't have the tools to make sound decisions regarding their personal protection. Looks like they can't make sound decisions regarding other peoples safety either.

Teens, as much as they refuse to admit it (or even be aware of it), are simply not mentally equiped to deal with many of the decisions they are forced to make.

They have some hard lessons to learn.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Plasticity

Not sure if I blogged this already or not. Oh, well.

A new window into structural plasticity in the adult visual cortex

A follow-up to the "The more we know..." post concerning changing brain structures.

Blogging your academic career

TeensÂ’ bold blogs spur warnings

An interesting article that looks at how schools are reacting to student'ss blogs.

Okay - I get that teens aren't the brightest folks around. They don't have the life experience to realize the very real danger that posting personal information on a public site presents. They also are not equipped (for the most part) with the mental maturity to make sound decisions regarding what and what not to post.

However, all that aside (which is not meant to be a flippant comment) schools are really running the risk of breaching the 1st amendment gap by infringing on a student's right to free speech.

This is not an area of expertise for me, but I sense that litigation will ensue over these matters sooner rather than later.

It's a brave new world of instant and ubiquitous communication - schools (and governments for that matter) need to adapt. The consequences could very well be something that is completely unanticipated. I predict legal fallout, but it could just as easily be something far different and much more difficult to deal with.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's coming - like it or not

Online classes popular on campus as well as off

Actually, the central tenet of the article - that institutions are facing a dilema about online classes (and their reasons for why) is pretty accurate from what I've seen.

My prediction? Get ready for it. You can't stop it - you'll probably see about a 50/50 mix of brick & mortar vs. online classes before too long. If you gear up for that kind of volume now, you'll be in a fantastic position for success when the tide comes in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oh...Oh...I know! Pick me!

Experts debate whether certain research should be restricted

I will now consult my crystal ball and tell you what the answer will be: Yes and no - depending on circumstances, current policy and how much money will be made.

Whew! I'm drained now. I think I'll go sleep for 8 hours to have 10 minutes of cognitive impairment.

Color me surprised

'Play' model of information system design makes teammates of users and designers

Well, holy cow. Imagine that. Getting feedback from actual users may improve product design.

Shocking.

Not a morning person...

Morning grogginess more debilitating than sleep deprivation

This is a very interesting study and should have impact on decision making chains at say - the military level and in hospitals in particular.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Zapping your brain

New procedure reveals the secrets of the brain

I'm not sure how I feel about this study. They zap your brain with electrodes (into the actual cortex, not just stimulation on the scalp) and then measure the effects. The potential applications are interesting - but, still, I'm not really excited about somebody sticking electrodes in my noodle.

No thanks.

Early to bed...

Losing sleep undoes the rejuvenating effects new learning has on the brain

This is a freaky-cool article. Every student on the planet should read this. Not that they would pay any attention to it - but one never knows.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What does it do?

Discovery challenges view of brain function

First we discover that glial cells may actually have something to do with neuronal communication, and now this.

You gotta love the 21st century.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Learning Theory

Go forth and read this wonderful post by the increasingly indespensible Creating Passionate Users: Crash course in learning theory.

This site consitently pushes out some of the best posts available in the blogosphere.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Truth - that ugly wench...

The Dilbert Blog: Your Body Hates You

Not brain related in the slightest. But darned funny. And it get's funnier (and more true) the older you are when you read it.

Gender Gap?

Where The Boys Aren't

An interesting article - and one that, once I thought about it, didn't surprise me. Of course, being in the education department, I think it is a little heavy on the female representation anyway (I've had classes where I was the only male present), but I have noticed more women than men on campus for several years.

I'd be very interested to hear the take of some professors on this trend.