Friday, September 29, 2006


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!!!


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.