robertogreco + neuroscience   251

Why Your Brain Needs Idle Time – Elemental
"Mental idle time, meanwhile, seems to facilitate creativity and problem-solving. “Our research has found that mind-wandering may foster a particular kind of productivity,” says Jonathan Schooler, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara who has studied mind-wandering extensively. He says overcoming impasses — including what he calls “a-ha!” moments — often happen when people’s minds are free to roam.

Schooler mentions the common experience of not being able to recall a word that’s on the tip of your tongue — no matter how hard you try to think of it. But as soon as you move onto another mental task, the word pops into your head. “I think it’s very possible that some unconscious processes are going on during mind-wandering, and the insights these processes produce then bubble up to the surface,” he says.

It’s also possible that depriving the brain of free time stifles its ability to complete this unconscious work. “I think we need to recognize that the brain’s internal train of thought can be of value in itself,” Schooler says. “In the same way we can experience a sleep deficit, I think we can experience a mind-wandering deficit.”

“Many people find it difficult or stressful to do absolutely nothing,” he adds. Instead, Schooler says “non-demanding” tasks that don’t require much mental engagement seem to be best at fostering “productive” mind-wandering. He mentions activities like going for a walk in a quiet place, doing the dishes, or folding laundry — chores that may occupy your hands or body but that don’t require much from your brain.

While a wandering mind can slip into some unhelpful and unhealthy states of rumination, that doesn’t mean blocking these thoughts with constant distraction is the way to go. “I think it’s about finding balance between being occupied and in the present and letting your mind wander — [and] about thinking positive thoughts and thinking about obstacles that may stand in your way,” says Schooler.

There may be no optimal amount of time you can commit to mental freedom to strike that balance. But if you feel like it takes “remarkable effort” for you to disengage from all your favorite sources of mental stimulation, that’s probably a good sign you need to give your brain more free time, Immordino-Yang says. “To just sit and think is not pleasant when your brain is trained out of practicing that, but that’s really important for well-being,” she adds.

Frank recommends starting small — maybe take a 15-minute, distraction-free walk in the middle of your day. “You might find your world changes,” he says."
brain  jonathnschooler  idleness  2019  cognition  psychology  neuroscience  downtime  daydreaming  mindwandering  walking  quiet  chores  mentalload  cognitiveload  thinking  howwethink  epiphanies  creativity  problemsolving  mentalhealth  attention  distraction  doingnothing 
6 days ago by robertogreco
So cute you could crush it? | University of California
"Until now, research exploring how and why cute aggression occurs has been the domain of behavioral psychology, said Katherine Stavropoulos, an assistant professor of special education at the University of California, Riverside. But recently Stavropoulos, a licensed clinical psychologist with a background in neuroscience, has taken formal study of the phenomenon a few steps further.

In her research, Stavropoulos uses electrophysiology to evaluate surface-level electrical activity that arises from neurons firing in people’s brains. By studying that activity, she gauges neural responses to a range of external stimuli."



"Another result that Stavropoulos said lends weight to prior theories: The relationship between how cute something is and how much cute aggression someone experiences toward it appears to be tied to how overwhelmed that person is feeling.

“Essentially, for people who tend to experience the feeling of ‘not being able to take how cute something is,’ cute aggression happens,” Stavropoulos said. “Our study seems to underscore the idea that cute aggression is the brain’s way of ‘bringing us back down’ by mediating our feelings of being overwhelmed.”

Stavropoulos likened this process of mediation to an evolutionary adaptation. Such an adaptation may have developed as a means of ensuring people are able to continue taking care of creatures they consider particularly cute.

“For example, if you find yourself incapacitated by how cute a baby is — so much so that you simply can’t take care of it — that baby is going to starve,” Stavropoulos said. “Cute aggression may serve as a tempering mechanism that allows us to function and actually take care of something we might first perceive as overwhelmingly cute.”

In the future, Stavropoulos hopes to use electrophysiology to study the neural bases of cute aggression in a variety of populations and groups, such as mothers with postpartum depression, people with autism spectrum disorder, and participants with and without babies or pets.

“I think if you have a child and you’re looking at pictures of cute babies, you might exhibit more cute aggression and stronger neural reactions,” she said. “The same could be true for people who have pets and are looking pictures of cute puppies or other small animals.”"
nervio  cuteness  2018  psychology  katherinestavropoulos  neuroscience  cuteaggression 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Buddhism and the Brain § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Many of Buddhism’s core tenets significantly overlap with findings from modern neurology and neuroscience. So how did Buddhism come close to getting the brain right?"
buddhism  neuroscience  brain  religion  science  2011  davidweisman 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Why there’s no such thing as a gifted child | Education | The Guardian
"Even Einstein was unexceptional in his youth. Now a new book questions our fixation with IQ and says adults can help almost any child become gifted"



"When Maryam Mirzakhani died at the tragically early age of 40 this month, the news stories talked of her as a genius. The only woman to win the Fields Medal – the mathematical equivalent of a Nobel prize – and a Stanford professor since the age of 31, this Iranian-born academic had been on a roll since she started winning gold medals at maths Olympiads in her teens.

It would be easy to assume that someone as special as Mirzakhani must have been one of those gifted children who excel from babyhood. The ones reading Harry Potter at five or admitted to Mensa not much later. The child that takes maths GCSE while still in single figures, or a rarity such as Ruth Lawrence, who was admitted to Oxford while her contemporaries were still in primary school.

But look closer and a different story emerges. Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, one of three siblings in a middle-class family whose father was an engineer. The only part of her childhood that was out of the ordinary was the Iran-Iraq war, which made life hard for the family in her early years. Thankfully it ended around the time she went to secondary school.

Mirzakhani, did go to a highly selective girls’ school but maths wasn’t her interest – reading was. She loved novels and would read anything she could lay her hands on; together with her best friend she would prowl the book stores on the way home from school for works to buy and consume.

As for maths, she did rather poorly at it for the first couple of years in her middle school, but became interested when her elder brother told her about what he’d learned. He shared a famous maths problem from a magazine that fascinated her – and she was hooked. The rest is mathematical history.

Is her background unusual? Apparently not. Most Nobel laureates were unexceptional in childhood. Einstein was slow to talk and was dubbed the dopey one by the family maid. He failed the general part of the entry test to Zurich Polytechnic – though they let him in because of high physics and maths scores. He struggled at work initially, failing to get academic post and being passed over for promotion at the Swiss Patent Office because he wasn’t good enough at machine technology. But he kept plugging away and eventually rewrote the laws of Newtonian mechanics with his theory of relativity.

Lewis Terman, a pioneering American educational psychologist, set up a study in 1921 following 1,470 Californians, who excelled in the newly available IQ tests, throughout their lives. None ended up as the great thinkers of their age that Terman expected they would. But he did miss two future Nobel prize winners – Luis Alvarez and William Shockley, both physicists – whom he dismissed from the study as their test scores were not high enough.

There is a canon of research on high performance, built over the last century, that suggests it goes way beyond tested intelligence. On top of that, research is clear that brains are malleable, new neural pathways can be forged, and IQ isn’t fixed. Just because you can read Harry Potter at five doesn’t mean you will still be ahead of your contemporaries in your teens.

According to my colleague, Prof Deborah Eyre, with whom I’ve collaborated on the book Great Minds and How to Grow Them, the latest neuroscience and psychological research suggests most people, unless they are cognitively impaired, can reach standards of performance associated in school with the gifted and talented. However, they must be taught the right attitudes and approaches to their learning and develop the attributes of high performers – curiosity, persistence and hard work, for example – an approach Eyre calls “high performance learning”. Critically, they need the right support in developing those approaches at home as well as at school.

So, is there even such a thing as a gifted child? It is a highly contested area. Prof Anders Ericsson, an eminent education psychologist at Florida State University, is the co-author of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. After research going back to 1980 into diverse achievements, from music to memory to sport, he doesn’t think unique and innate talents are at the heart of performance. Deliberate practice, that stretches you every step of the way, and around 10,000 hours of it, is what produces the expert. It’s not a magic number – the highest performers move on to doing a whole lot more, of course, and, like Mirzakhani, often find their own unique perspective along the way.

Ericsson’s memory research is particularly interesting because random students, trained in memory techniques for the study, went on to outperform others thought to have innately superior memories – those you might call gifted.

He got into the idea of researching the effects of deliberate practice because of an incident at school, in which he was beaten at chess by someone who used to lose to him. His opponent had clearly practised.

But it is perhaps the work of Benjamin Bloom, another distinguished American educationist working in the 1980s, that gives the most pause for thought and underscores the idea that family is intrinsically important to the concept of high performance.

Bloom’s team looked at a group of extraordinarily high achieving people in disciplines as varied as ballet, swimming, piano, tennis, maths, sculpture and neurology, and interviewed not only the individuals but their parents, too.

He found a pattern of parents encouraging and supporting their children, in particular in areas they enjoyed themselves. Bloom’s outstanding adults had worked very hard and consistently at something they had become hooked on young, and their parents all emerged as having strong work ethics themselves.

While the jury is out on giftedness being innate and other factors potentially making the difference, what is certain is that the behaviours associated with high levels of performance are replicable and most can be taught – even traits such as curiosity.

Eyre says we know how high performers learn. From that she has developed a high performing learning approach that brings together in one package what she calls the advanced cognitive characteristics, and the values, attitudes and attributes of high performance. She is working on the package with a group of pioneer schools, both in Britain and abroad.

But the system needs to be adopted by families, too, to ensure widespread success across classes and cultures. Research in Britain shows the difference parents make if they take part in simple activities pre-school in the home, supporting reading for example. That support shows through years later in better A-level results, according to the Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary study, conducted over 15 years by a team from Oxford and London universities.

Eye-opening spin-off research, which looked in detail at 24 of the 3,000 individuals being studied who were succeeding against the odds, found something remarkable about what was going in at home. Half were on free school meals because of poverty, more than half were living with a single parent, and four in five were living in deprived areas.

The interviews uncovered strong evidence of an adult or adults in the child’s life who valued and supported education, either in the immediate or extended family or in the child’s wider community. Children talked about the need to work hard at school and to listen in class and keep trying. They referenced key adults who had encouraged those attitudes.

Einstein, the epitome of a genius, clearly had curiosity, character and determination. He struggled against rejection in early life but was undeterred. Did he think he was a genius or even gifted? No. He once wrote: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”

And what about Mirzakhani? Her published quotations show someone who was curious and excited by what she did and resilient. One comment sums it up. “Of course, the most rewarding part is the ‘Aha’ moment, the excitement of discovery and enjoyment of understanding something new – the feeling of being on top of a hill and having a clear view. But most of the time, doing mathematics for me is like being on a long hike with no trail and no end in sight.”

The trail took her to the heights of original research into mathematics in a cruelly short life. That sounds like unassailable character. Perhaps that was her gift."
sfsh  parenting  gifted  precocity  children  prodigies  2017  curiosity  rejection  resilience  maryammirzakhani  childhood  math  mathematics  reading  slowlearning  lewisterman  iq  iqtests  tests  testing  luisalvarez  williamshockley  learning  howwelearn  deboraheyre  wendyberliner  neuroscience  psychology  attitude  persistence  hardwork  workethic  andersericsson  performance  practice  benjaminbloom  education  ballet  swimming  piano  tennis  sculpture  neurology  encouragement  support  giftedness  behavior  mindset  genius  character  determination  alberteinstein 
july 2017 by robertogreco
A neuroscientist explains a concept at five different levels
"Wired recently challenged neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri to explain what a connectome is to people with five different levels of potential understanding: a 5-year-old, a 13-year-old, a college student, a neuroscience grad student, and an expert neuroscientist. His goal: “every person here can leave with understanding it at some level”.

Watching this, I kept thinking of Richard Feynman, who was particularly adept at describing concepts to non-experts without sacrificing truth or even nuance. See him explain fire, rubber bands, how trains go around curves, and magnets."

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opqIa5Jiwuw
"The Connectome is a comprehensive diagram of all the neural connections existing in the brain. WIRED has challenged neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri to explain this scientific concept to 5 different people; a 5 year-old, a 13 year-old, a college student, a neuroscience grad student and a connectome entrepreneur."

[See also: "A biologist explains CRISPR to people at five different levels of knowledge"
http://kottke.org/17/05/a-biologist-explains-crispr-to-people-at-five-different-levels-of-knowledge
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sweN8d4_MUg ]
bobbykasthuri  neuroscience  richardfeynman  science  video  explanation  communication  clarity  complexity  teaching  howweteach  classideas 
may 2017 by robertogreco
NOVA - Official Website | School of the Future
"How can the science of learning help us rethink the future of education for all children?"



"Program Description
In a new age of information, rapid innovation, and globalization, how can we prepare our children to compete? Once the envy of the world, American schools are now in trouble. Test scores show our kids lag far behind their peers from other industrialized countries, and as the divide between rich and poor grows wider, the goal of getting all kids ready for college and the workforce gets harder by the day. How can the latest research help us fix education in America? Can the science of learning—including new insights from neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators—reveal how kids’ brains work and tell us which techniques are most likely to engage and inspire growing minds? What role should technology play in the classroom? Teachers, students, parents, and scientists take center stage as NOVA explores a new vision for the “School of the Future.”"
schools  education  future  documentary  towatch  2016  globalization  neuroscience  sfsh  learning  howwelearn 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Arianna Huffington on a Book About Working Less, Resting More - The New York Times
"We hear a lot about the many things that are disrupting the American workplace: the decline of manufacturing, demographics, globalization, automation and, especially, technology. And it’s true — all of those are roiling the world of work, not just in America but worldwide.

But there’s another force transforming the way we work, and that is: nonwork. Or, more specifically, what we’re doing in those few hours when we’re not working. With “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less,” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang superbly illuminates this phenomenon and helps push it along.

What’s being disrupted is our collective delusion that burnout is simply the price we must pay for success. It’s a myth that, as Pang notes, goes back to the Industrial Revolution. That’s when the Cartesian notion of home and work as separate — and opposing — spheres took hold. Home, Pang writes, was “the place where a man could relax and recover from work.” When there was time, that is. Because soon leisure time and nighttime became commodities to monetize. Over the next decades, starting with demands from labor reformers, work hours were pushed back, mostly for safety reasons. But even today, the conversation focuses on “work-life balance,” which implicitly accepts the notion of work and life as Manichaean opposites — perpetually in conflict.

That’s why “Rest” is such a valuable book. If work is our national religion, Pang is the philosopher reintegrating our bifurcated selves. As he adeptly shows, not only are work and rest not in opposition, they’re inextricably bound, each enhancing the other. “Work and rest aren’t opposites like black and white or good and evil,” Pang writes. “They’re more like different points on life’s wave.”

Continue reading the main story
His central thesis is that rest not only makes us more productive and more creative, but also makes our lives “richer and more fulfilling.” But not all rest is created equal — it’s not just about not-working. The most productive kind of rest, according to Pang, is also active and deliberate. And as such, that means rest is a skill. “Rest turns out to be like sex or singing or running,” Pang writes. “Everyone basically knows how to do it, but with a little work and understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better.” Though he’s obviously never heard me sing, I take his point.

And he illustrates it well, showing how the secret behind many of history’s most creative authors, scientists, thinkers and politicians was that they were very serious and disciplined about rest. “Creativity doesn’t drive the work; the work drives creativity,” Pang writes. “A routine creates a landing place for the muse.”

And as Pang notes, modern science has now validated what the ancients knew: Work “provided the means to live,” while rest “gave meaning to life.” Thousands of years later, we have the science to prove it. “In the last couple decades,” he writes, “discoveries in sleep research, psychology, neuroscience, organizational behavior, sports medicine, sociology and other fields have given us a wealth of insight into the unsung but critical role that rest plays in strengthening the brain, enhancing learning, enabling inspiration, and making innovation sustainable.”

We can’t declare victory quite yet. To experience the kind of rest that fuels creativity and productivity, we need to detach from work. But in our technology-obsessed reality, we carry our entire work world with us wherever we go, right in our pockets. It’s not enough to leave the office, when the office goes to dinner or to a game or home with you. And it’s not enough just to put our devices on vibrate or refrain from checking them. As Sherry Turkle noted in her book “Reclaiming Conversation,” the mere presence of a smartphone or device, even when not being used, alters our inner world. So achieving the kind of detachment we need for productive rest can’t really be done without detaching physically from our devices.

And even though the science has come in, still standing in the way is our ingrained workplace culture that valorizes burnout. “With a few notable exceptions,” Pang writes, “today’s leaders treat stress and overwork as a badge of honor, brag about how little they sleep and how few vacation days they take, and have their reputations as workaholics carefully tended by publicists and corporate P.R. firms.”

Turning that around will require a lot of work. And rest. The path of least resistance — accepting the habits of our current busyness culture and the technology that envelops us and keeps us perpetually connected — won’t make us more productive or more fulfilled. Instead of searching life hacks to make us more efficient and creative, we can avail ourselves of the life hack that’s been around as long as we have: rest. But we have to be as deliberate about it as we are about work. “Rest is not something that the world gives us,” Pang writes. “It’s never been a gift. It’s never been something you do when you’ve finished everything else. If you want rest, you have to take it. You have to resist the lure of busyness, make time for rest, take it seriously, and protect it from a world that is intent on stealing it.”

And you can start by putting down your phone — better yet, put it in another room — and picking up this much-needed book."
alexsoojung-kimpang  ariannahuffington  work  rest  creativity  2016  books  burnout  labor  sleep  workaholism  conservation  sherryturkle  productivity  detachment  neuroscience  psychology  sociology  routine  inspiration  innovation  lifehacks  efficiency 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Will Self: Are humans evolving beyond the need to tell stories? | Books | The Guardian
"Neuroscientists who insist technology is changing our brains may have it wrong. What if we are switching from books to digital entertainment because of a change in our need to communicate?"



"A few years ago I gave a lecture in Oxford that was reprinted in the Guardian under the heading: “The novel is dead (this time it’s for real)”. In it I argued that the novel was losing its cultural centrality due to the digitisation of print: we are entering a new era, one with a radically different form of knowledge technology, and while those of us who have what Marshal McLuhan termed “Gutenberg minds” may find it hard to comprehend – such was our sense of the solidity of the literary world – without the necessity for the physical book itself, there’s no clear requirement for the art forms it gave rise to. I never actually argued that the novel was dead, nor that narrative itself was imperilled, yet whenever I discuss these matters with bookish folk they all exclaim: “But we need stories – people will always need stories.” As if that were an end to the matter.

Non-coincidentally, in line with this shift from print to digital there’s been an increase in the number of scientific studies of narrative forms and our cognitive responses to them. There’s a nice symmetry here: just as the technology arrives to convert the actual into the virtual, so other technologies arise, making it possible for us to look inside the brain and see its actual response to the virtual worlds we fabulate and confabulate. In truth, I find much of this research – which marries arty anxiety with techno-assuredness – to be self-serving, reflecting an ability to win the grants available for modish interdisciplinary studies, rather than some new physical paradigm with which to explain highly complex mental phenomena. Really, neuroscience has taken on the sexy mantle once draped round the shoulders of genetics. A few years ago, each day seemed to bring forth a new gene for this or that. Such “discoveries” rested on a very simplistic view of how the DNA of the human genotype is expressed in us poor, individual phenotypes – and I suspect many of the current discoveries, which link alterations in our highly plastic brains to cognitive functions we can observe using sophisticated equipment, will prove to be equally ill-founded.

The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has been prominent in arguing that our new digital lives are profoundly altering the structure of our brains. This is undoubtedly the case – but then all human activities impact upon the individual brain as they’re happening; this by no means implies a permanent alteration, let alone a heritable one. After all, so far as we can tell the gross neural anatomy of the human has remained unchanged for hundreds of millennia, while the age of bi-directional digital media only properly dates – in my view – from the inception of wireless broadband in the early 2000s, hardly enough time for natural selection to get to work on the adaptive advantages of … tweeting. Nevertheless, pioneering studies have long since shown that licensed London cab drivers, who’ve completed the exhaustive “Knowledge” (which consists of memorising every street and notable building within a six mile radius of Charing Cross), have considerably enlarged posterior hippocampi.

This is the part of brain concerned with way-finding, but it’s also strongly implicated in memory formation; neuroscientists are now discovering that at the cognitive level all three abilities – memory, location, and narration – are intimately bound up. This, too, is hardly surprising: key for humans, throughout their long pre-history as hunter-gatherers, has been the ability to find food, remember where food is and tell the others about it. It’s strange, of course, to think of Pride and Prejudice or Ulysses as simply elaborations upon our biologically determined inclination to give people directions – but then it’s perhaps stranger still to realise that sustained use of satellite navigation, combined with absorbing all our narrative requirements in pictorial rather written form, may transform us into miserable and disoriented amnesiacs.

When he lectured on literature in the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov would draw a map on the blackboard at the beginning of each session, depicting, for example, the floor plan of Austen’s Mansfield Park, or the “two ways” of Proust’s Combray. What Nabokov seems to have understood intuitively is what neuroscience is now proving: reading fiction enables a deeply memorable engagement with our sense of space and place. What the master was perhaps less aware of – because, as yet, this phenomenon was inchoate – was that throughout the 20th century the editing techniques employed in Hollywood films were being increasingly refined. This is the so-called “tyranny of film”: editing methods that compel our attention, rather than leaving us free to absorb the narrative in our own way. Anyone now in middle age will have an intuitive understanding of this: shots are shorter nowadays, and almost all transitions are effected by crosscutting, whereby two ongoing scenes are intercut in order to force upon the viewer the idea of their synchrony. It’s in large part this tyranny that makes contemporary films something of a headache for older viewers, to whom they can seem like a hypnotic swirl of action.

It will come as no surprise to Gutenberg minds to learn that reading is a better means of forming memory than watching films, as is listening to afternoon drama on Radio 4. This is the so-called “visualisation hypothesis” that proposes that people – and children in particular – find it harder not only to remember film as against spoken or written narratives, but also to come up with novel responses to them, because the amount of information they’re given, together with its determinate nature, forecloses imaginative response.

Almost all contemporary parents – and especially those of us who class themselves as “readers” – have engaged in the Great Battle of Screen: attempting to limit our children’s consumption of films, videos, computer games and phone-based social media. We feel intuitively that it can’t be doing our kids any good – they seem mentally distracted as well as physically fidgety: unable to concentrate as they often look from one handheld screen to a second freestanding one, alternating between tweezering some images on a touchscreen and manipulating others using a remote control. Far from admonishing my younger children to “read the classics” – an utterly forlorn hope – I often find myself simply wishing they’d put their phones down long enough to have their attention compelled by the film we’re watching.

If we take seriously the conclusions of these recent neuroscientific studies, one fact is indisputable: whatever the figures for books sales (either in print or digital form), reading for pleasure has been in serious decline for over a decade. That this form of narrative absorption (if you’ll forgive the coinage) is closely correlated with high attainment and wellbeing may tell us nothing about the underlying causation, but the studies do demonstrate that the suite of cognitive aptitudes needed to decipher text and turn it into living, breathing, visible and tangible worlds seem to wither away once we stop turning the pages and start goggling at virtual tales.

Of course, the sidelining of reading narrative (and along with it the semi-retirement of all those narrative forms we love) is small potatoes compared with the loss of our capacity for episodic memory: would we be quite so quick to post those fantastic holiday photographs on Facebook if we knew that in so doing we’d imperil our ability to recall unaided our walk along the perfect crescent of sand, and our first ecstatic kiss? You might’ve thought that as a novelist who depends on fully attuned Gutenberg minds to read his increasingly complex and confusing texts I’d be dismayed by this craven new couch-based world; and, as a novelist, I am.

I began writing my books on a manual typewriter at around the same time wireless broadband became ubiquitous, sensing it was inimical not only to the act of writing, but that of reading as well: a novel should be a self-contained and self-explanatory world (at least, that’s how the form has evolved), and it needs to be created in the same cognitive mode as it’s consumed: the writer hunkering down into his own episodic memories, and using his own canonical knowledge, while imagining all the things he’s describing, rather than Googling them to see what someone else thinks they look like. I also sense the decline in committed reading among the young that these studies claim: true, the number of those who’ve ever been inclined “to get up in the morning in the fullness of youth”, as Nietzsche so eloquently put it, “and open a book” has always been small; but then it’s worth recalling the sting in the tail of his remark: “now that’s what I call vicious”.

And there is something vicious about all that book learning, especially when it had to be done by rote. There’s something vicious as well about the baby boomer generation, which, not content to dominate the cultural landscape, also demands that everyone younger than us survey it in the same way. For the past five years I’ve been working on a trilogy of novels that aim to map the connections between technological change, warfare and human psychopathology, so obviously I’m attempting to respond to the zeitgeist using this increasingly obsolete art form. My view is that we’re deluded if we think new technologies come into existence because of clearly defined human objectives – let alone benevolent ones – and it’s this that should shape our response to them. No, the history of the 20th century – and now the 21st – is replete with examples of technologies that were developed purely in order to facilitate the killing of people at … [more]
willself  communication  digital  writing  howwewrite  entertainment  books  socialmedia  neuroscience  2016  marshallmcluhan  gutenbergminds  print  change  singularity  videogames  gaming  games  poetry  novels  susangreenfield  rote  rotelearning  twitter  knowledge  education  brain  wayfinding  memory  location  narration  navigation  vladimirnabokov  proust  janeausten  film  video  attention  editing  reading  howweread  visualizationhypothesis  visualization  text  imagery  images  cognition  literacy  multiliteracies  memories  nietzsche  booklearning  technology  mobile  phones  mentalillness  ptsd  humans  humanity  digitalmedia  richardbrautigan  narrative  storytelling 
november 2016 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses — Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases...
"
Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases are producing destabilizing changes in the Earth’s climate. And that human beings evolved from other species over millions of years. And that Barack Obama is a Christian. And that Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the death of Vince Foster.

Large numbers of Americans deny those and many other assertions. Why? Because the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades — and because the internet has given a voice to every kook who makes a contrary assertion. What we’re left with is a chaos of competing claims, none of which has the authority to dispel the others as untrue.


—Damon Linker [https://theweek.com/articles/645664/rise-american-conspiracy-theory ]

Most of what Damon says here is exactly right, but he’s leaving out another major factor: the toxic combination of habitual arrogance and habitual error that afflicts so many of our “authorities.” Consider the amazingly inaccurate track record of expert economic forecasters [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/finance-why-economic-models-are-always-wrong/ ]. Consider the vast claims made by neuroscientists wielding fMRI machines — machines that consistently yield false results [http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/07/algorithms-used-to-study-brain-activity-may-be-exaggerating-results/ ]. And consider the constant cheerleading for expert bullshit from much of the media.

It is true that “the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades” — but it is also true that some of those authorities deserve to be attacked, and indeed to be attacked more strongly than they are. So in this situation, what is the ordinary person to do? How is she supposed to tell the difference between the reliable expertise of climate scientists and the unreliable “expertise” of yet another neuroscience charlatan? Isn’t it perfectly understandable that in such a noisy environment she will say, “Yeah, right, ‘experts’ — who needs that crap?”"
alanjacobs  damonlinker  arrogance  experts  trustworthiness  science  neuroscience  2016  confidence  skepticism  economics  economists  politics  debate  information  criticalthinking  media 
september 2016 by robertogreco
The Limits of “Grit” - The New Yorker
"For children, the situation has grown worse as we’ve slackened our efforts to fight poverty. In 1966, when Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives were a major national priority, the poverty rate among American children was eighteen per cent. Now it is twenty-two per cent. If we suffer from a grit deficiency in this country, it shows up in our unwillingness to face what is obviously true—that poverty is the real cause of failing schools.

In this context, grit appears as a new hope. As the federal programs stalled, psychologists, neuroscientists, pediatricians, education reformers, and journalists began looking at the lives of children in a different way. Their central finding: non-cognitive skills play just as great a role as talent and native intelligence (I.Q.) in the academic and social success of children, and maybe even a greater role. In brief, we are obsessed with talent, but we should also be obsessed with effort. Duckworth is both benefitting from this line of thought and expanding it herself. The finding about non-cognitive skills is being treated as a revelation, and maybe it should be; among other things, it opens possible avenues for action. Could cultivating grit and other character traits be the cure, the silver bullet that ends low performance?"



"Now, there’s something very odd about this list. There’s nothing in it about honesty or courage; nothing about integrity, kindliness, responsibility for others. The list is innocent of ethics, any notion of moral development, any mention of the behaviors by which character has traditionally been marked. Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth would seem to be preparing children for personal success only—doing well at school, getting into college, getting a job, especially a corporate job where such docility as is suggested by these approved traits (gratitude?) would be much appreciated by managers. Putting it politically, the “character” inculcated in students by Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth is perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy. Putting it morally and existentially, the list is timid and empty. The creativity and wildness that were once our grace to imagine as part of human existence would be extinguished by strict adherence to these instrumentalist guidelines."



"Not just Duckworth’s research but the entire process feels tautological: we will decide what elements of “character” are essential to success, and we will inculcate these attributes in children, measuring and grading the children accordingly, and shutting down, as collateral damage, many other attributes of character and many children as well. Among other things, we will give up the sentimental notion that one of the cardinal functions of education is to bring out the individual nature of every child.

Can so narrow an ideal of character flourish in a society as abundantly and variously gifted as our own? Duckworth’s view of life is devoted exclusively to doing, at the expense of being. She seems indifferent to originality or creativity or even simple thoughtfulness. We must all gear up, for grit is a cause, an imp of force. “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” Through much of “Grit,” she gives the impression that quitting any activity before achieving mastery is a cop-out. (“How many of us vow to knit sweaters for all our friends but only manage half a sleeve before putting down the needles? Ditto for home vegetable gardens, compost bins, and diets.”) But what is the value of these projects? Surely some things are more worth pursuing than others. If grit mania really flowers, one can imagine a mass of grimly determined people exhausting themselves and everyone around them with obsessional devotion to semi-worthless tasks—a race of American squares, anxious, compulsive, and constrained. They can never try hard enough.

Duckworth’s single-mindedness could pose something of a danger to the literal-minded. Young people who stick to their obsessions could wind up out on a limb, without a market for their skills. Spelling ability is nice, if somewhat less useful than, say, the ability to make a mixed drink—a Negroni, a Tom Collins. But what do you do with it? Are the thirteen-year-old champion spellers going to go through life spelling out difficult words to astonished listeners? I realize, of course, that persistence in childhood may pay off years later in some unrelated activity. But I’m an owlish enough parent to insist that the champion spellers might have spent their time reading something good—or interacting with other kids. And what if a child has only moderate talent for her particular passion? Mike Egan, a former member of the United States Marine Band, wrote a letter to the Times Book Review in response to Judith Shulevitz’s review of Duckworth’s book. “Anyone who would tell a child that the only thing standing between him or her and world-class achievement is sufficient work,” Egan wrote, “ought to be jailed for child abuse.”

Duckworth not only ignores the actual market for skills and talents, she barely acknowledges that success has more than a casual relation to family income. After all, few of us can stick to a passion year after year that doesn’t pay off—not without serious support. Speaking for myself, the most important element in my social capital as an upper-middle-class New York guy was, indeed, capital—my parents carried me for a number of years as I fumbled my way to a career as a journalist and critic. Did I have grit? I suppose so, but their support made persistence possible.

After many examples of success, Duckworth announces a theory: “Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = achievement.” It’s hardly E=mc2. It’s hardly a theory at all—it’s more like a pop way of formalizing commonplace observation and single-mindedness. Compare Duckworth’s book in this respect with Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” Gladwell also traced the backgrounds of extraordinarily accomplished people—the computer geniuses Bill Gates and Bill Joy, business tycoons, top lawyers in New York, and so on. And Gladwell discovered that, yes, his world-beaters devoted years to learning and to practice: ten thousand hours, he says, is the rough amount of time it takes for talented people to become masters.

Yet, if perseverance is central to Gladwell’s outliers, it’s hardly the sole reason for their success. Family background, opportunity, culture, landing at the right place at the right time, the over-all state of the economy—all these elements, operating at once, allow some talented people to do much better than other talented people. Gladwell provides the history and context of successful lives. Duckworth—indifferent to class, race, history, society, culture—strips success of its human reality, and her single-minded theory may explain very little. Is there any good football team, for instance, that doesn’t believe in endless practice, endurance, overcoming pain and exhaustion? All professional football teams train hard, so grit can’t be the necessary explanation for the Seahawks’ success. Pete Carroll and his coaches must be bringing other qualities, other strategies, to the field. Observing those special qualities is where actual understanding might begin."
grit  2016  angeladuckworth  race  class  luck  perseverance  daviddenby  education  mastery  practice  kipp  character  classism  elitism  obsessions  malcolmgladwell  serendipity  mikeegan  judithshulevitz  capital  privilege  success  effort  talent  skill  achievement  history  culture  society  edreform  nep  pisa  testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  socialscience  paultough  children  schools  poverty  eq  neuroscience  jackshonkoff  martinseligman  learnedoptimism  depression  pessimism  optimism  davelevin  dominicrandolph  honesty  courage  integrity  kindliness  kindness  samuelabrams 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life
"Our Mission

The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.

Based at the University of California, Berkeley, the GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: Not only do we sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, we help people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. Since 2001, we have been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life. And we have been without peer in our award-winning efforts to translate and disseminate this science to the public.

We have pursued this mission through the following activities, which are supported by people like you:

Greater Good, our online magazine, is home to a rich array of award-winning media, including articles, videos, quizzes, and podcasts—all available for free. With nearly five million annual readers, the research-based stories, tools, and tips on the site make cutting-edge research practical and accessible to the general public, especially parents, educators, health professionals, business leaders, and policy makers.

Greater Good in Action is a clearinghouse of the best research-based practices for fostering happiness, resilience, kindness, and connection. Synthesizing hundreds of scientific studies, it presents each practice in a step-by-step format that’s easy to navigate, digest, and act on.

The Science of Happiness, our free online course, is taught by the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, who lead students through a 10-week exploration of what it means to lead a happy and meaningful life. Students engage with some of the most provocative and practical lessons from a variety of disciplines, discovering how this science can be applied to their own lives. More than 300,000 students from around the world have enrolled in the course to date; evidence suggests that it boosts well-being and reduces stress.

The GGSC Education Program supports the well-being of students, teachers, and school leaders through a variety of activities, including Greater Good Education articles that cover new trends in social-emotional learning and contemplative practice in education. The program also runs an annual Summer Institute for Educators, which equips education professionals with social-emotional learning tools that benefit themselves and their students, and cultivate a positive school climate.

GGSC Events bring together leading scientists, educators, and members of the public to discuss concrete strategies for promoting the greater good. Our Science of a Meaningful Life seminar series has included presentations by luminaries like Paul Ekman, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Barbara Fredrickson, and Philip Zimbardo, many of which can be watched in our video archive.

The Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude project supports the scientific research and promotes evidence-based practices of gratitude in schools, workplaces, homes, and communities. This initiative is supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation and run in collaboration with the University of California, Davis.

Fellowships to UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students are the flagship of the Center’s scientific initiatives. The GGSC’s fellowship program supports scholars whose work relates to our mission, from across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines. Previous GGSC fellows have gone on to top research and teaching positions at universities nationwide, providing a significant boost to the science of compassion, resilience, altruism, and happiness.

These programs are supported by donors large and small—and we hope you’ll consider signing up as a member. You can also sign up for our free newsletter to receive updates on our work.

To learn more about the GGSC, please download our brochure, which includes our “Six Habits of Happiness.”

Our Core Beliefs

• Compassion is a fundamental human trait, with deep psychological and evolutionary roots. By creating environments that foster cooperation and altruism, we help nurture the positive side of human nature.
• Happiness is not simply dependent on a person’s genes. It is a set of skills that can be taught, and, with practice, developed over time.
• Happiness and altruism are intertwined—doing good is an essential ingredient to being happy, and happiness helps spur kindness and generosity.
• Science should do more than help us understand human behavior and emotion in the abstract; it should be applied toward improving people’s personal and professional lives.
• Studying the roots of good, healthy, and positive behavior is just as important as studying human pathologies. To promote individual and social well-being, science must examine how people overcome difficult circumstances and how they develop positive emotions and relationships.
• Individual well-being promotes social well-being, and social well-being promotes individual well-being. The well-being of society as a whole can best be achieved by providing information, tools, and skills to those people directly responsible for shaping the well-being of others."
via:aimeegiles  education  happiness  psychology  research  science  neuroscience  sociology  well-being  resilience  compassion  society  ucberkeley  berkeley  ggsc  greatergoodsciencecenter  paulekman  jonkabat-zinn  barbarafredrickson  philipzimbardo  ucdavis  altruism  kindness  generosity  behavior  humans  human  life  living  cooperation 
january 2016 by robertogreco
We're Thinking About ADHD All Wrong, Says A Top Pediatrician : NPR Ed : NPR
"Diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are up around 30 percent compared with 20 years ago. These days, if a 2-year-old won't sit still for circle time in preschool, she's liable to be referred for evaluation, which can put her on track for early intervention and potentially a lifetime of medication.

In an editorial just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Dimitri Christakis argues that we've got this all wrong. He's a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and the director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Children's Hospital in Seattle.

Parents, schools and doctors, he says, should completely rethink this highly medicalized framework for attention difficulties.

"ADHD does a disservice to children as a diagnosis," Christakis tells NPR Ed.

Here's why. Researchers are currently debating the nature of ADHD. They have found some genetic markers for it, but the recent rise in diagnoses is too swift to be explained by changes in our genes. Neuroscientists, too, are finding brain wiring patterns characteristic of the disorder.

But the current process of diagnosis amounts to giving a questionnaire to parents and doctors. If they identify six out of nine specific behaviors, then the child officially has ADHD.

"If you fall on this side of the line, we label and medicate you," says Christakis. "But on the other side of the line, we do nothing."

This process is, necessarily, subjective. But there's an awful lot of infrastructure and, frankly, money behind it, especially in our education system. A clinical diagnosis of "chronic or acute" attentional difficulties gives public school students a legal right to special accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. But a child who falls just short of that diagnosis is left without any right to extra support.

Christakis says that, instead, we should be thinking more about a spectrum of "attentional capacity" that varies from individual to individual and situation to situation.

Think of it as a bell curve: On the far left would be someone like Thomas Edison, Mr. "Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration," laboring for weeks or months on a single problem. On the far right is someone with severe ADHD.

Attentional capacity, Christakis says, is chief among a cluster of non-academic skills that education researchers have recently become very excited about: executive functioning, self-regulation, grit. Basically, these involve the ability to delay gratification, manage your time and attention and stay on a path toward a goal.

Every child — every person — struggles with this sometimes. Reading to, singing and playing with young children, and making sure older children get a chance to move around, are interventions that can help all students to a lesser or greater extent. "Our job is to have every child maximize attentional capacity," Christakis explains.

Mark Mahone, a pediatric neuropsychologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute for children with special needs, agrees with Christakis' concept of a spectrum for attentional disorder. "The current thinking in the field is that attentional capacity and skills do occur on a continuum or spectrum." He also says that in general, pediatrics is evolving toward the idea of proactively supporting attentional functioning in everyone.

But, Mahone says, it doesn't mean that diagnoses and medication aren't helpful and appropriate in severe cases of ADHD. And, he says, there is strong, and growing, evidence of specific brain abnormalities associated with severe ADHD symptoms, which would lend support to the concept of ADHD as a brain disease."
adhd  anyakamenetz  2016  pediatrics  medicine  dimitrichristakis  children  schools  education  parenting  genetics  neuroscience  subjectivity 
january 2016 by robertogreco
What Art Unveils - The New York Times
"I think a lot about art. As a philosopher working on perception and consciousness, and as a teacher and writer, maybe more than most. It’s part of my work, but it is a pleasure, too. The task of getting a better sense of what art is — how it works, why it matters to us and what it can tell us about ourselves — is one of the greatest that we face, and it is also endlessly rewarding. But at times it also seems just endless, because art itself can be so hard to grasp. And so is the question of how to approach it. Is there a way of thinking about art that will get us closer to an understanding of its essential nature, and our own?

These days, as I’ve discussed here before, the trend is to try to answer these questions in the key of neuroscience. I recommend a different approach, but not because I don’t think it is crucial to explore the links between art and our biological nature. The problem is that neuroscience has yet to frame an adequate conception of our nature. You look in vain in the writings of neuroscientists for satisfying accounts of experience or consciousness. For this reason, I believe, we can’t use neuroscience to explain art and its place in our lives. Indeed, if I am right, the order of explanation may go in the other direction: Art can help us frame a better picture of our human nature.

This may be one of the sources of art’s abiding value. Art is a way of learning about ourselves. Works of art are tools, but they have been made strange, and that is the source of their power.

I begin with two commonplaces. First, artists make stuff. Pictures, sculptures, performances, songs; art has always been bound up with manufacture and craft, with tinkering and artifice. Second, and I think this is equally uncontroversial, the measure of art, the source of its value, is rarely how well it is made, or how effective it is in fulfilling this or that function. In contrast with mere technology, art doesn’t have to work to be good.

I don’t deny that artists sometimes make stuff that does work. For example, Leonardo’s portrait of Duke Ludovico’s teenage mistress, “The Lady With an Ermine,” works in the sense that it, well, it shows her. The same could be said of a photograph on a shopping website: it shows the jacket and lets you decide whether to order it. I only mean that the value of the artwork never boils down to this kind of application.

Why do artists make stuff if the familiar criteria of success or failure in the domain of manufacture are not dispositive when it comes to art? Why are artists so bent on making stuff? To what end?

My hypothesis is that artists make stuff not because the stuff they make is special in itself, but because making stuff is special for us. Making activities — technology, for short — constitute us as a species. Artists make stuff because in doing so they reveal something deep and important about our nature, indeed, I would go so far as to say, about our biological nature.

One of the reasons I’m skeptical of the neuroscientific approach is that it is too individualist, and too concerned alone with what goes on in the head, to comprehend the way social activities of making and doing contribute in this way to making us.

Human beings, I propose, are designers by nature. We are makers and consumers of technologies. Knives, clothing, dwellings, but also language, pictures, email, commercial air travel and social media. Tools and technologies organize us; they do so individually — think of the way chairs and doorknobs mold your posture and the way you move; and they do so collectively — think of the way the telephone or email have changed how we communicate. Technologies solve problems, but they also let us frame new problems. For example, there would be no higher mathematics without mathematical notations. Tools like the rake extend our bodies; tools like writing extend our minds.

Technologies organize us, but they do so only insofar as they are embedded in our lives. This is a crucial idea. Take a doorknob, for example. A simple bit of technology, yes, but one that presupposes a vast and remarkable social background. Doorknobs exist in the context of a whole form of life, a whole biology — the existence of doors, and buildings, and passages, the human body, the hand, and so on. A designer of doorknobs makes a simple artifact but he or she does so with an eye to its mesh with this larger cognitive and anthropological framework.

When you walk up to a door, you don’t stop to inspect the doorknob; you just go right through. Doorknobs don’t puzzle us. They do not puzzle us just to the degree that we are able to take everything that they presuppose — the whole background practice — for granted. If that cultural practice were strange to us, if we didn’t understand the human body or the fact that human beings live in buildings, if we were aliens from another planet, doorknobs would seem very strange and very puzzling indeed.

This brings us to art. Design, the work of technology, stops, and art begins, when we are unable to take the background of our familiar technologies and activities for granted, and when we can no longer take for granted what is, in fact, a precondition of the very natural-seeming intelligibility of such things as doorknobs and pictures, words and sounds. When you and are I talking, I don’t pay attention to the noises you are making; your language is a transparency through which I encounter you. Design, at least when it is optimal, is transparent in just this way; it disappears from view and gets absorbed in application. You study the digital image of the shirt on the website, you don’t contemplate its image.

Art, in contrast, makes things strange. You do contemplate the image, when you examine Leonardo’s depiction of the lady with the ermine. You are likely, for example, to notice her jarringly oversized and masculine hand and to wonder why Leonardo draws our attention to that feature of this otherwise beautiful young person. Art disrupts plain looking and it does so on purpose. By doing so it discloses just what plain looking conceals.

Art unveils us ourselves. Art is a making activity because we are by nature and culture organized by making activities. A work of art is a strange tool. It is an alien implement that affords us the opportunity to bring into view everything that was hidden in the background.

If I am right, art isn’t a phenomenon to be explained. Not by neuroscience, and not by philosophy. Art is itself a research practice, a way of investigating the world and ourselves. Art displays us to ourselves, and in a way makes us anew, by disrupting our habitual activities of doing and making."
culture  art  design  learning  perception  glvo  making  humans  2015  alvanoë  philosophy  purpose  via:Taryn  neuroscience  research  investigation  howwelearn  transparency  technology  tools  probelmsolving  social 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The High Cost of Neuromyths in Education | Edutopia
"The Left/Right Brain Myth
Take for example the myth of left and right brains. Why has it taken over two decades to debunk the left brain/right brain myths? There was never any neuroscience research supporting claims that both sides of the brain needed physical exercise that "crosses the midline," such as tapping the left shoulder with the right hand. Yet individuals and school districts spent considerable sums for programs claiming to provide critical activation of both sides of the brain to overcome the deficiencies of weak right or left brains that held back student intelligence and success.

But more problematic than a single myth is the difficulty in eroding that myth. Over 20 years ago, neuroimaging demonstrated that both sides of the brain are in constant communication, transmitting neural signals from one hemisphere to the other. Although parts of the brain are particularly active during certain memory or learning activities, all brain activities requiring cognition activate neural networks on both sides of the brain. Yet the myth persists.

The Learning-Style Myth
Despite absence of valid supporting research, many products continue to promise more effective results when learning style is matched to teaching modality. Programs promise that their surveys or analytic tools yield vital information defining students' specific learning styles. Their prescribed instruction differentiates not by mastery or interest, but on the sensory modality declared to be most effective for each learner and his or her "learning style."

No reliable research has ever demonstrated that instruction designated as appropriate for any "tested" learning style is effective because it matches that style. The research is missing several important control validations. For example, there are no statistically valid studies comparing the response of a mixed-learning-style control group with the results of a learning-style-matched group. To qualify as "effective," there must be support of claims that superior outcomes are the direct result of teaching to individual learning styles and not a general result to the instruction. There is no evidence that "visual learners" have better outcomes to instruction designed for "visual learners" than do mixed-style learners taught using the same instruction. Without comparison groups, the before and after results could simply mean that the particular instruction is the most effective method for teaching that specific content to all students (Pashler, et al).

The "We Use Only 10 Percent of Our Brains" Myth
Some neuromyths take on life because the language of neuroscience is not familiar or easily translatable. This is certainly true with some of our own "eduspeak" (consider the reaction to phonemic awareness or summative feedback outside of a school). The neuromyth that we use only ten percent of our brainpower is beyond "lost in translation" -- it's a bad translation to begin with.

Some attribute the myth to mistranslations of mistranslations. In a book forward, journalist Lowell Thomas over-interpreted this statement written in the mid 1800s by William James, the father of modern psychology: "As a rule, men habitually use only a small part of their powers which they actually possess." Thomas made that generalization more concrete by: "Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average person develops only ten per cent of his latent mental ability."

To clarify the science, consider that the brain weighs three pounds and uses about 20 percent of the body's limited oxygen and glucose resources. The brain has built-in efficiency systems to keep it trim -- it destroys unused or disconnected islands of brain connections. When networks are not activated frequently enough to build up the strong walls of myelin and multiple dendrite connections, they are pruned away, assuring more availability of metabolic resources for the most-used brain networks. Hence, we have "neurons that fire together" (the construction aspect of neuroplasticity) and its flipside, "use it or lose it."

Further myth-busting comes from neuroimaging research techniques, such as PET (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans. These scans show that we use and activate most of our brains most of the time, and essentially all of our brains at some time each day."
neuroscience  2015  education  myths  learningstyles  leftrightbrain  leftbrain  rightbrain  brain  science 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer - NYTimes.com
"A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
cancer  death  life  neuroscience  living  oliversacks  2015  legacy  individuality  davidhume  health  dying  mortality  audacity  clarity  goodbyes  perspective  humanism  privilege  adventure  consciousness 
february 2015 by robertogreco
In other words: inside the lives and minds of real-time translators | Mosaic
"The world’s most powerful computers can’t perform accurate real-time translation. Yet interpreters do it with ease. Geoff Watts meets the neuroscientists who are starting to explain this remarkable ability."



"I ask Moser-Mercer if interpreters ever do anything else while interpreting. In a job dominated by women, she tells me, some knit – or used to when it was a more popular pastime. And you can see how a regular manual action might complement the cerebral activity of translation. But a crossword puzzle? Moser-Mercer hasn’t tried it, but she tells me that under exceptional circumstances – a familiar topic, lucid speakers, etc. – she thinks she could.

That such a feat might be possible suggests that interesting things are indeed happening in the brains of simultaneous interpreters. And there are other reasons for thinking that interpreters’ brains have been shaped by their profession. They’re good at ignoring themselves, for example. Under normal circumstances listening to your voice is essential to monitoring your speech. But interpreters have to concentrate on the word they’re translating, so they learn to pay less attention to their own voice.

This was first demonstrated 20 years ago in a simple experiment devised by Franco Fabbro and his colleagues at the University of Trieste in Italy. Fabbro asked 24 students to recite the days of the week and the months of the year in reverse order while listening to themselves through headphones. First they heard themselves with no delay. They then repeated the exercise with delayed feedback of 150, 200 and 250 milliseconds. Even a slight delay subverts speech, forcing listeners to slow down, stutter, slur and even come to a halt. Sure enough, many of the students made errors. But half of the group were in their third or fourth year at the university’s School of Translators and Interpreters, and these students suffered no significant disruption.

Some habits acquired in the workplace may carry over to the home. One way that experienced interpreters acquire speed is by learning to predict what speakers are about to say. “I will always anticipate the end of a sentence, no matter who I’m talking to and whether or not I’m wearing a headset,” says Moser-Mercer. “I will never wait for you to finish your sentence. Many of us interpreters know this from our spouses and kids. ‘You never let me finish…’ And it’s true. We’re always trying to jump in.”

Interpreters also have to be able to cope with stress and exercise self-control when working with difficult speakers. I read one review, based on questionnaires given to interpreters, which suggested that members of the profession are, as a consequence, highly strung, temperamental, touchy and prima donna-ish. Maybe. But I couldn’t see it in Marisa, Carmen or Anne."



"The story that is emerging from the Geneva work – that interpretation is about coordinating more specialised brain areas – seems to gel with interpreters’ descriptions of how they work. To be really effective, for example, a simultaneous interpreter needs a repertoire of approaches. “The process has to adapt to varying circumstances,” says Moser-Mercer, who still does 40 to 50 days of interpretation a year, mainly for UN agencies. “There could be poor sound quality, or a speaker with an accent, or it might be a topic I don’t know much about. For instance, I wouldn’t interpret a fast speaker in the same way I would a slow one. It’s a different set of strategies. If there isn’t time to focus on each and every word that comes in you have to do a kind of intelligent sampling.” It may be that the flexible operation of the brain networks underpinning interpretation allows interpreters to optimise strategies for dealing with different types of speech. And different interpreters listening to the same material may use different strategies."
translation  via:alexismadrigal  2014  neuroscience  geoffwatts  languages  language  brain  simultaneousinterpretation  interpreters 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Speed Kills: Fast is never fast enough - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In the past 50 years, two economies that operate at two different speeds have emerged. In one, wealth is created by selling labor or stuff; in the other, by trading signs that are signs of other signs. The virtual assets scale at a speed much greater than the real assets. A worker can produce only so many motorcycles, a teacher can teach only so many students, and a doctor can see only so many patients a day. In high-speed markets, by contrast, billions of dollars are won or lost in billionths of a second. In this new world, wealth begets wealth at an unprecedented rate. No matter how many new jobs are created in the real economy, the wealth gap created by the speed gap will never be closed. It will continue to widen at an ever-faster rate until there is a fundamental change in values.

One of the most basic values that must be rethought is growth, which has not always been the standard by which economic success is measured. The use of the gross national product and gross domestic product to evaluate relative economic performance is largely the product of the Cold War. As the battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union expanded to include the economy, the question became whether capitalism or communism could deliver more goods faster."



"The problem is not only, as Michael Lewis argues in Flash Boys, finding a technological fix for markets that are rigged; the problem is that the entire system rests on values that have become distorted: individualism, utility, efficiency, productivity, competition, consumption, and speed. Furthermore, this regime has repressed values that now need to be cultivated: sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness. If psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdowns are to be avoided, we need what Nietzsche aptly labeled a "transvaluation of values."



"The growing concern about the effectiveness of primary, secondary, and postsecondary education has led to a preoccupation with the evaluation of students and teachers. For harried administrators, the fastest and most efficient way to make these assessments is to adopt quantitative methods that have proved most effective in the business world. Measuring inputs, outputs, and throughputs has become the accepted way to calculate educational costs and benefits. While quantitative assessment is effective for some activities and subjects, many of the most important aspects of education cannot be quantified. When people believe that what cannot be measured is not real, education and, by extension society, loses its soul.

Today’s young people are not merely distracted—the Internet and video games are actually rewiring their brains. Neuroscientists have found significant differences in the brains of "addicted" adolescents and "healthy" users. The next edition of the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will very likely specify Internet addiction as an area for further research. The epidemic of ADHD provides additional evidence of the deleterious effects of the excessive use of digital media. Physicians concerned about the inability of their patients to concentrate freely prescribe Ritalin, which is speed, while students staying up all night to study take Ritalin to give them a competitive advantage.

Rather than resisting these pressures, anxious parents exacerbate them by programming their kids for what they believe will be success from the time they are in prekindergarten. But the knowledge that matters cannot be programmed, and creativity cannot be rushed but must be cultivated slowly and patiently. As leading scientists, writers, and artists have long insisted, the most imaginative ideas often emerge in moments of idleness.

Many people lament the fact that young people do not read or write as much as they once did. But that is wrong—the issue is not how much they are reading and writing; indeed they are, arguably, reading and writing more than ever before. The problem is how they are reading and what they are writing. There is a growing body of evidence that people read and write differently online. Once again the crucial variable is speed. The claim that faster is always better is nowhere more questionable than when reading, writing, and thinking.

All too often, online reading resembles rapid information processing rather than slow, careful, deliberate reflection. Researchers have discovered what they describe as an "F-shaped pattern" for reading web content, in which as people read down a page, they scan fewer and fewer words in a line. When speed is essential, the shorter, the better; complexity gives way to simplicity, and depth of meaning is dissipated in surfaces over which fickle eyes surf. Fragmentary emails, flashy websites, tweets in 140 characters or less, unedited blogs filled with mistakes. Obscurity, ambiguity, and uncertainty, which are the lifeblood of art, literature, and philosophy, become decoding problems to be resolved by the reductive either/or of digital logic.

Finally, vocationalization. With the skyrocketing cost of college, parents, students, and politicians have become understandably concerned about the utility of higher education. Will college prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace? Which major will help get a job? Administrators and admission officers defend the value of higher education in economic terms by citing the increased lifetime earning potential for college graduates. While financial matters are not unimportant, value cannot be measured in economic terms alone. The preoccupation with what seems to be practical and useful in the marketplace has led to a decline in the perceived value of the arts and humanities, which many people now regard as impractical luxuries.

That development reflects a serious misunderstanding of what is practical and impractical, as well as the confusion between the practical and the vocational. As the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report on the humanities and social sciences, "The Heart of the Matter," insists, the humanities and liberal arts have never been more important than in today’s globalized world. Education focused on STEM disciplines is not enough—to survive and perhaps even thrive in the 21st century, students need to study religion, philosophy, art, languages, literature, and history. Young people must learn that memory cannot be outsourced to machines, and short-term solutions to long-term problems are never enough. Above all, educators are responsible for teaching students how to think critically and creatively about the values that guide their lives and inform society as a whole.

That cannot be done quickly—it will take the time that too many people think they do not have.

Acceleration is unsustainable. Eventually, speed kills. The slowing down required to delay or even avoid the implosion of interrelated systems that sustain our lives does not merely involve pausing to smell the roses or taking more time with one’s family, though those are important.

Within the long arc of history, it becomes clear that the obsession with speed is a recent development that reflects values that have become destructive. Not all reality is virtual, and the quick might not inherit the earth. Complex systems are not infinitely adaptive, and when they collapse, it happens suddenly and usually unexpectedly. Time is quickly running out."
speed  health  life  trends  2014  via:anne  marktaylor  filippomarinetti  futurists  futuristmanifesto  modernism  modernity  charliechaplin  efficiency  living  slow  thorsteinveblen  wealth  inequality  values  us  growth  economics  writing  finance  education  highered  highereducation  communication  internet  web  online  complexity  systemsthinking  systems  humanities  liberalarts  stem  criticalthinking  creativity  reflection  productivity  reading  howweread  howwewrite  thinking  schools  schooling  evaluation  assessment  quantification  standardization  standardizedtesting  society  interdisciplinary  professionalization  specialization  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  learning  howwelearn  howwethink  neuroscience  slowness  deliberation  patience  generosity  consumption  competition  competitiveness  subtlety  sustainability  community  cooperation  nietzsche  capitalism  latecapitalism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Connecting Our Global Brain: Tiffany Shlain (Future of StoryTelling 2014) - YouTube
"Filmmaker and Webby Award Founder Tiffany Shlain compares the Internet to a child’s developing brain. Our brains grow most rapidly during the first years of our lives, and studies have shown storytelling is one of the most effective ways to form those important neural connections. The Internet is in a similarly early stage as much of the world comes online, and conscientious, well-told online storytelling will help connect people around the globe."
brain  internet  tiffanyshlain  2014  storytelling  networks  howwelearn  web  online  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  fiction  children  neuroscience 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The internet isn't harming our love of 'deep reading', it's cultivating it | Steven Poole | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"In our culture of excitable neuroscientism a lot of such arguments employ the sexy word "brain" and so sound scientifically objective, but they are really socio-cultural arguments. No doubt there are many kinds of task-specific neural developments (ie "brain" types) that have been lost in the mists of evolutionary time, and whose absence we have no reason to regret. Not many people in advanced industrial societies today, for example, grow up developing the mental skills required to kill tasty large mammals with a well-hurled spear. But we don't read hand-wringing stories about how we have lost the antelope-hunting brain. So there needs to be a further demonstration that the "deep-reading brain" is something worth valuing. And this is never going to be a (neuro)scientific argument; it's a cultural argument."



"And yet the assumption in such doomy pronouncements that we might all be slaves to skimming and thus be allowing our brains to atrophy sounds fantastically condescending, just as it did when expressed in Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows. This kind of paternalistic fatalism seems ably refuted by sales of Young Adult blockbusters, as well as by researchers who bother to find out what young people actually do.

According to John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital, for example, a teenager's "news-gathering process" alternated skimming or "grazing" with a "deep dive" when she found something she could really get her teeth into.

And such nutritious, dense, lengthy pieces of writing are, of course, becoming ever more popular on the very same internet that pessimists blame for destroying our attention spans. More and more online magazine startups are devoted to in-depth reportage or cheerfully non-topical discussions of ideas over many thousands of beautifully typeset words. Ideal, you might even say, for slow reading.

For me, the only fly in the ointment is my insuperable allergy to the kitschy, infantilising generic term for such pieces, "long reads". (We don't call albums "long listens" or epic dinners "long eats".) The alternative, "longform", is simply oxymoronic – sheer length is not a form. What was wrong with "essays" again? Presumably the old-school littérateurs of the Slow Reading Movement could approve of that one."
reading  neuroscience  society  culture  attention  2014  stevenpoole  slowreading  distraction  nicholascarr  longreads  howweread  listening  grazing  johnpalfrey  ursgasser  skimming 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Get Happy!! | The Nation
"For Margaret Thatcher as for today’s happiness industry, there is no such thing as society."



"Whether such discontent is more intense or pervasive now than it was fifty or 150 years ago is an unanswerable question. “There have been periods happier and others more desperate than ours,” the conservative cultural critic Ernest van den Haag observed in 1956. “But we don’t know which.” Samuel Beckett put the matter more sweepingly and poetically: “The tears of the world are a constant quantity,” he wrote, and “the same is true of the laugh.” But while it is impossible to chart the ebb and flow of emotions historically, to identify some epochs as happier or sadder than others, it is possible to explore the ways that dominant notions of happiness reflect the changing needs and desires of the culturally powerful at various historical moments. One can write the history of ideas about happiness, if not of happiness itself.

And that is another reason the current spate of happiness manuals is so depressing: their ideas of happiness embody the conventional wisdom of our time, which can best be characterized as scientism—a concept not to be confused with science, as Steven Pinker did in a recent New Republic polemic that attempted to bridge the seeming divide between the humanities and the sciences. The vast majority of practicing scientists (except for a few propagandists like Pinker) probably do not embrace scientism, but it is the idiom journalists use to popularize scientific findings for a nonscientific audience. It is not, to be sure, an outlook based on the scientific method—the patient weighing of experimental results, the reframing of questions in response to contrary evidence, the willingness to live with epistemological uncertainty. Quite the contrary: scientism is a revival of the nineteenth-century positivist faith that a reified “science” has discovered (or is about to discover) all the important truths about human life. Precise measurement and rigorous calculation, in this view, are the basis for finally settling enduring metaphysical and moral controversies—explaining consciousness and choice, replacing ambiguity with certainty. The most problematic applications of scientism have usually arisen in the behavioral sciences, where the varieties and perversities of experience have often been reduced to quantitative data that are alleged to reveal an enduring “human nature.”

The scientism on display in the happiness manuals offers a strikingly vacuous worldview, one devoid of history, culture or political economy. Its chief method is self-reported survey research; its twin conceptual pillars are pop evolutionary psychology, based on just-so stories about what human life was like on the African savannah 100,000 years ago, and pop neuroscience, based on sweeping, unsubstantiated claims about brain function gleaned from fragments of contemporary research. The worldview of the happiness manuals, like that in other self-help literature, epitomizes “the triumph of the therapeutic” described some decades ago by the sociologist Philip Rieff: the creation of a world where all overarching structures of meaning have collapsed, and there is “nothing at stake beyond a manipulatable sense of well-being.” With good reason, Rieff attributed the triumph of the therapeutic to the shrinking authority of Christianity in the West. But because he did not see the connections between therapeutic and capitalist worldviews, he could not foresee their convergence in late twentieth-century neoliberalism. For Margaret Thatcher as for the happiness industry, “There is no such thing as society.” There are only individuals, regulating their inner and outer lives in order to sustain and increase personal satisfaction."



"In the Skidelskys’ vision of the good society, noncoercive paternalism would be balanced by localism. The state would bear responsibility for promoting basic goods, would ensure that the fruits of productivity are shared more evenly, and would reduce the pressure to consume—perhaps through a progressive expenditure tax like the one proposed by the economist Robert Frank. This would restrain what he calls the “runaway spending at the top,” which belies the myth that the 1 percent is the “investing class” and has “spawned a luxury fever,” Frank writes, that “has us all in its grip.” To that same end—the dampening of consumption—the Skidelskys propose eliminating advertising as a deductible business expense. They are also refreshingly resistant to free-market globaloney. The good life, they make clear, is not (and cannot be) dependent on globalization: “Developed countries will have to rely more on domestic sources of production to satisfy their needs; developing market economies will need to abandon export-growth models that rely on ever-increasing consumption demand in developed countries.” Scaling back consumption means scaling down international trade. This is not an ascetic agenda—the charge so often leveled against critics of consumer culture, as if consumption is the only imaginable form of leisure. On the contrary: How Much Is Enough? is an effort to imagine possibilities for a satisfying life beyond market discipline.

The Skidelskys want to revive a more capacious sense of leisure, and they conclude their book by underscoring the material basis for it: a “long-term decrease in the demand for labor resulting from continuous improvements in labor productivity.” This has already happened, but the fruits of increased productivity have gone to CEOs and shareholders. Were those gains to be redirected to the workers themselves, the results would be startling: reductions in working hours, early retirements, experiments in work sharing, the thirty-five-hour week and the like. Who knows? People might even be happier.

This vision is timely, a crucial contribution to contemporary political debate. But what gives it arresting force is the commitment behind it. The Skidelskys deploy a tone of moral seriousness that few on the left seem willing to risk today—at least with respect to imagining the good life. Moral seriousness is always a tricky business; no one likes a scold. But after all the Skidelskys’ apt examples and patient arguments, they have established the authority to make this claim: “At the core of our system is a moral decay that is tolerated only because the cleansing of its Augean stables is too traumatic to contemplate.” How Much Is Enough? gets it right. Reading its bracing criticism and humane proposals, I felt a sense, however fleeting, of real happiness."
happiness  culture  stevenpinker  science  scientism  evolutionarypsychology  psychology  self-help  jacksonlears  neuroscience  via:annegalloway  chance  gameoflife  miltonbradley  christianity  individualism  history  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  society  well-being  leisure  labor  localism  socialdemocracy  neoliberalism  shimonedelman  oliverburkeman  robertskidelsky  edwardskidelsky  sonjalyubomirsky  christopherpeterson  jilllepore  cliffordgeetz  money  self-betterment  johnmaynardkeynes  socialism  policy  government  morality  adamsmith  marxism  karlmarx  pleasure  relationships  humans  humanism 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Why we are all accidental musicians - life - 15 October 2013 - New Scientist
"Music makes us smarter because it lets us practise living with uncertainty, argues Jay Schulkin in Reflections on the Musical Mind

FOR neuroscientist Jay Schulkin, music provides an enjoyable but at times testing workout for the brain, much as sport does for the body. Indeed, for him, listening to music is a microcosm of living one's life.

In Reflections on the Musical Mind, he reminds us that we live in a world of uncertainty, always needing to predict the future with imprecise, or absent, information. So evolution has honed us to make judgements based on aesthetics, and to find slight deviations from the familiar – especially in music – both interesting and attractive."
music  2013  jayschulkin  uncertainty  unpredictability  neuroscience 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Bursting the Neuro-Utopian Bubble - NYTimes.com
"Pyschosocial problems cannot simply be solved in the neuroscientist’s lab."



"Psychology has traditionally concerned itself with the ways in which we engage with the world and grow into social beings with the hope of improving our personal relationships and communal well-being. Neuroscience could complement this project by offering better information about the material substrate of consciousness, but it is rather, and often self-consciously, a usurper, a harbinger of a new psychological paradigm that replaces the socially formed self with the active brain. It neglects the forms of private and public conversation that hold out the possibility of self-transformation for instrumental dissections of the brain that promise only self-manipulation. Its future is not one that is worked toward in concert with other human beings, but one that is physiologically shaped by a vanguard of synthetic biologists."



"This is not to question the intentions of neuroscientists. Doubtless they are driven, at least in part, by a desire to better human life. But as Freud argued back in 1930, the forces of civilization have a strange tendency to work at cross-purposes with themselves, imperiling the very projects they also make possible. By humbly claiming ignorance about the “causes” of mental problems, and thus the need for a project like the Brain Initiative, neuroscientists unconsciously repress all that we know about the alienating, unequal, and dissatisfying world in which we live and the harmful effects it has on the psyche, thus unwittingly foreclosing the kind of communicative work that could alleviate mental disorder.

Like many others, I worry that the work of neuroscience will fall, almost of necessity, into the wrong hands – say, corporations interested in controlling consumers at a neurobiological level; but its development in the “right” hands is, perhaps, even more disconcerting."
via:ablerism  neuroscience  psychology  benjaminfong  science  socialscience  2013 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Inner Voices - Radiolab
"From the silent words of a child forming her first thought, to the inner heckler that taunts you when the pressure's on, a look at how the voices in our heads shape us -- for better and for worse."

"Where would we be without the voices in our heads? To get at this question, Charles Fernyhough raises another: can children think before they have words? According to Fernyhough, a Russian psychologist named Lev Vygotsky developed a theory about how the words and voices we hear as kids turn from speech outside our heads, to speech inside our heads... and help steer our reasoning and decision-making.

But, of course, not all the voices echoing inside our skulls are friendly helpers. Claude Steele describes how big an impact negative inner voices can have when we're stressed, and just how powerful words and stereotypes can be."



"Mel Blanc was known as "the man of 1,000 voices," but the actual number may have been closer to 1,500. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety, Barney Rubble -- all Mel. His characters made him one of the most beloved men in America, and they may have also saved his life.



Producer Sean Cole heads to the Blanc family house outside LA to ask Mel's son Noel Blanc about the night when Mel nearly died in a car crash on Dead Man's Curve, and the moment two weeks later when Bugs Bunny emerged from Mel's coma before Mel did. Neurosurgeon Louis Conway, who attended to Mel at the time, and NYU brain scientist Orrin Devinsky help Sean and Noel weigh what it might mean to be rescued by a figment of your own imagination, and whether one self can win out over another in a moment of crisis."



Bob Milne is one of the best ragtime piano players in the world, and a preternaturally talented musician -- he can play technically challenging pieces of music on demand while carrying on a conversation and cracking jokes. But according to Penn State neuroscientist Kerstin Betterman, our brains just aren't wired to do that. So she decided to investigate Bob's brain, and when she did, she discovered that Bob has an even more amazing ability... one that we can hardly believe, and science can't explain. Reporter Jessica Benko helps us get inside Bob's remarkably musical mind."
radiolab  melblanc  brain  thinking  neuroscience  bugsbunny  music  voices  vygotsky  charlesfernyhough  language  claudesteele  education  iq  codeswitching  personalities  acting  bobmilne  jessicabenko  kerstinbetterman  piano  ragtime  schizophrenia  2013 
june 2013 by robertogreco
We're Only Beginning to Understand How Our Brains Make Maps - Emily Badger - The Atlantic Cities
"Every time you walk out your front door and past the mailbox, for instance, a neuron in your hippocampus fires as you move through that exact location – next to the mailbox – with a real-world precision down to as little as 30 centimeters. When you come home from work and pass the same spot at night, the neuron fires again, just as it will the next morning. "Each neuron cares for one place," says Mayank Mehta, a neurophysicist at UCLA. "And it doesn't care for any other place in the world.""

[via: http://ucresearch.tumblr.com/post/53534971187/every-time-you-walk-out-your-front-door-and-past ]
mapping  maps  memory  mayankmehra  neuroscience  2013  emilybadger  placecells  brain  place  location 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The RoboRoach: Control a living insect from your smartphone! by Backyard Brains — Kickstarter
"The RoboRoach is the world's first commercially available cyborg! That's right... A real-life Insect Cyborg! Part cockroach and part machine. This is not a gimmick... just good ol' fashion neuroscience, evolution and engineering."

[See also: http://qz.com/92551/worlds-first-commercial-cyborg-scuttles-onto-kickstarter/ ]

[Related: Garnet Hertz: http://www.conceptlab.com/ ]
ios  cockroaches  electronics  biology  cyborgs  neuroscience  engineering  2013  kickstarter 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Backyard Brains
"As grad students at the University of Michigan, co-founders Tim and Greg often interacted with schoolchildren during neuroscience outreach events. We often wanted to show real "spiking" activity to students, but this was impossible due to the high cost of equipment. By using off-the-shelf electronics, we designed kits that could provide insight into the inner workings of the nervous system.

Our first product, the Spikerbox, uses invertebrates to help you learn about how the cells in the brain work to communicate. We also have an EMG SpikerBox that you can use to record electrical activity produced by cells in human muscles. We just recently launched the Completo which is a full tabletop, portable electrophysiology rig. All of our products are accompanied with Lesson Plans and Experiments to make learning (and teaching) neuroscience a breeze.

We also have three products that are still in beta: the RoboRoach, that can give you insight into neurostimulation, a Micromanipulator that can help you position your electrodes precisely, and a RoachScope that allows you to turn your mobile phone into a microscope.

Thank you for your interest in Backyard Brains."

[See also: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/backyardbrains/the-roboroach-control-a-living-insect-from-your-sm and http://qz.com/92551/worlds-first-commercial-cyborg-scuttles-onto-kickstarter/ ]

[Related: Garnet Hertz: http://www.conceptlab.com/ ]
biology  neuroscience  technology  backyardbrains  greggage  timengineer  kyleshannon  chile  michigan  annarbor  electronics  cockroaches  roboroach  spikerbox  projectideas  neurostimulation 
june 2013 by robertogreco
On Burnout
I remember reading this published insight[1] from Marissa Mayer a few months ago:

Burnout is caused by resentment

Which sounded amazing, until this guy who dated a neuroscientist commented[2]:

No. Burnout is caused when you repeatedly make large amounts of sacrifice and or effort into high-risk problems that fail. It's the result of a negative prediction error in the nucleus accumbens. You effectively condition your brain to associate work with failure.

Subconsciously, then eventually, consciously, you wonder if it's worth it. The best way to prevent burnout is to follow up a serious failure with doing small things that you know are going to work. As a biologist, I frequently put in 50-70 and sometimes 100 hour workweeks. The very nature of experimental science (lots of unkowns) means that failure happens. The nature of the culture means that grad students are "groomed" by sticking them on low-probability of success, high reward fishing expeditions (gotta get those nature, science papers) I used to burn out for months after accumulating many many hours of work on high-risk projects. I saw other grad students get it really bad, and burn out for years.

During my first postdoc, I dated a neuroscientist and reprogrammed my work habits. On the heels of the failure of a project where I have spent weeks building up for, I will quickly force myself to do routine molecular biology, or general lab tasks, or a repeat of an experiment that I have gotten to work in the past. These all have an immediate reward. Now I don't burn out anymore, and find it easier to re-attempt very difficult things, with a clearer mindset.

For coders, I would posit that most burnout comes on the heels of failure that is not in the hands of the coder (management decisions, market realities, etc). My suggested remedy would be to reassociate work with success by doing routine things such as debugging or code testing that will restore the act of working with the little "pops" of endorphins.

That is not to say that having a healthy life schedule makes burnout less likely (I think it does; and one should have a healthy lifestyle for its own sake) but I don't think it addresses the main issue.

Then I finally realized how many times I've burnt out in my life, and I became much better into avoiding it. Which is really hard to do.

And it seems to me that this is one of the many points that Ben Horowitz talks about on his What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology[3]

[1] http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Burnout-is-caused-by-resentment.html
[2] http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Burnout-is-caused-by-resentment.html#comment-478842490
[3] http://bhorowitz.com/2011/04/01/what%E2%80%99s-the-most-difficult-ceo-skill-managing-your-own-psychology/ "
life  working  burnout  neuroscience  failure  psychology  workhabits  work  via:tealtan 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Why You Never Truly Leave High School: New science on its corrosive, traumatizing effects. -- New York Magazine
"Our self-image from those years, in other words, is especially adhesive. So, too, are our preferences. “There’s no reason why, at the age of 60, I should still be listening to the Allman Brothers,” Steinberg says. “Yet no matter how old you are, the music you listen to for the rest of your life is probably what you listened to when you were an adolescent.” Only extremely recent advances in neuroscience have begun to help explain why.

It turns out that just before adolescence, the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that governs our ability to reason, grasp abstractions, control impulses, and self-­reflect—undergoes a huge flurry of activity, giving young adults the intellectual capacity to form an identity, to develop the notion of a self. Any cultural stimuli we are exposed to during puberty can, therefore, make more of an impression, because we’re now perceiving them discerningly and metacognitively as things to sweep into our self-concepts or reject (I am the kind of person who likes the Allman Brothers). “During times when your identity is in transition,” says Steinberg, “it’s possible you store memories better than you do in times of stability.”"



"Until the Great Depression, the majority of American adolescents didn’t even graduate from high school. Once kids hit their teen years, they did a variety of things: farmed, helped run the home, earned a regular wage. Before the banning of child labor, they worked in factories and textile mills and mines. All were different roads to adulthood; many were undesirable, if not outright Dickensian. But these disparate paths did arguably have one virtue in common: They placed adolescent children alongside adults. They were not sequestered as they matured. Now teens live in a biosphere of their own. In their recent book Escaping the Endless Adolescence, psychologists Joseph and Claudia Worrell Allen note that teenagers today spend just 16 hours per week interacting with adults and 60 with their cohort. One century ago, it was almost exactly the reverse.

Something happens when children spend so much time apart from adult company. They start to generate a culture with independent values and priorities. James Coleman, a renowned mid-century sociologist, was among the first to analyze that culture in his seminal 1961 work, The Adolescent Society, and he wasn’t very impressed. “Our society has within its midst a set of small teen-age societies,” he wrote, “which focus teen-age interests and attitudes on things far removed from adult responsibilities.” Yes, his words were prudish, but many parents have had some version of these misgivings ever since, especially those who’ve consciously opted not to send their kids into the Roman amphi­theater. (From the website of the National Home Education Network: “Ironically, one of the reasons many of us have chosen to educate our own is precisely this very issue of socialization! Children spending time with individuals of all ages more closely resembles real life than does a same-age school setting.”)"
adolescence  adolescents  childhood  culture  argentina  photography  identity  highschool  society  socialization  social  memory  memories  stability  change  transition  neuroscience  ervinggoffman  brenébrown  shame  self-consciousness  tavigevinson  kojiueno  winnieholzman  kurtvonnegut  deborahyurgelun-todd  popularity  facebook  keithhampton  breakfastclub  peers  self-image  paulfeig  robertfaris  irinawrning  patlevitt  laurencesteinberg  deborahcarr  robertcrosnoe  jamescoleman  unschooling  deschooling  development  sociology  psychology  agesegregation  teens  parenting  vonnegut 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Modern Luxury | Riviera San Diego | Salk It to Me
"Is the Salk Institute’s architecture overrated? I don’t think it’s overrated at all. When I saw crumbling Greek temples overlooking the sea, all I could think of was a thousand years from now Kahn’s buildings will still be here.



How does architecture challenge the eye and brain? Architecture is so multidimensional. We’re much better at, say, reading faces; we quickly respond to a wild animal threat or a person’s mood.

Vision and synesthesia? I’ve been told I have a very special form of synesthesia: I have an oval-shaped [mental] map that I can readily visualize that represents the days of the week: Saturday is white, Sunday is yellow, Monday is blue, etcetera. Functionally, it’s a very handy thing to have.

Latest journal article? An essay in the January issue of Leonardo about the sensory tricks I experienced when I visited a chapel in Naples to see a celebrated, life-size marble sculpture of the shrouded body of Jesus. It’s an extraordinary piece of art and one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen.



Ideal S.D. weekend? I love the solitude of the Carrizo Badlands in Anza-Borrego. I have hiked and camped there. The stars are magical and humbling.

Surprise us... One of my favorite things to do is to stand with my son under the Lindbergh Field flight path at the corner of Laurel and Pacific Highway. There’s nothing like a 50-ton machine roaring by 100 feet above your head."
lajolla  sandiego  anza-borrego  tomalbright  neuroscience  salkinstitute  synesthesia  2013  friends 
march 2013 by robertogreco
ignorance in science | Abler.
"This crucial element in science was being left out for the students. The undone part of science that gets us into the lab early and keeps us there late, the thing that ‘turns your crank,’ the very driving force of science, the exhilaration of the unknown: all this is missing from our classrooms. In short, we are failing to teach the ignorance, the most critical part of the whole operation.

And so it occurred to me that perhaps I should mention some of what we don’t know, what we still need to find out, what are still mysteries, what still needs to be done—so that these students can get out there and find out, solve the mysteries and do these undone things. That is, I should teach them ignorance. Finally, I thought: a subject I can excel in."
science  ignorance  learning  mindset  neuroscience  sarahendren  stuartfirestein  unschooling  deschooling  2006  2013  teaching  education 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Why Listening Is So Much More Than Hearing - NYTimes.com
"This is because hearing has evolved as our alarm system — it operates out of line of sight and works even while you are asleep. And because there is no place in the universe that is totally silent, your auditory system has evolved a complex and automatic “volume control,” fine-tuned by development and experience, to keep most sounds off your cognitive radar unless they might be of use as a signal that something dangerous or wonderful is somewhere within the kilometer or so that your ears can detect.

This is where attention kicks in."
sound  sethhorowitz  2012  neuroscience  attention  listening  hearing  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Richard Elmore: Futures of School Reform - C-SPAN Video Library
"general drift here is from left to more radical... I do not believe that the institutional structure of public schooling anymore. I view the work that I continue to do with schools, and I take it seriously, as palliative care for a dying institution.""

"The central organizing principle for society and for learning...is going to be network relationships."

"It will not accommodate well, in fact the longer we stay with the hierarchy model, the worse the disassociation between learning and schooling will be."

"The mobile classroom in the mobile public schools in this country is designed point for point to be exactly the opposite of what we are learning about humans, how human beings develop cognitively."

"how do we handle issues of access when learning starts to migrate away from schooling?… what is the mechanism by which neuroscience becomes part of the way we think about learning and what consequences does that have for the way we design learning environments? I refuse to call them schools."

[Alt link: http://www.c-span.org/video/?308871-1/EducationReform28 ]
networkrelationships  relationships  adhoc  informal  informallearning  schooling  thisishuge  edreform  reform  neuroscience  change  networks  networkedlearning  institutionalization  institutions  self-servinginstitutions  flattening  policy  scale  sugatamitra  hierarchies  nestedhierarchies  bureaucracy  hierarchy  cv  lcproject  learning  teaching  2012  radicalism  radicals  deschooling  unschooling  richardelmore  via:lukeneff  education  radicalization  canon  horizontality 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks
"The idea that a neurological explanation could exhaust the meaning of experience was already being mocked as “medical materialism” by… William James a century ago…

Indeed, despite their technical paraphernalia of neurotransmitters and anterior temporal gyruses, modern pop brain books are offering a spiritual topography…

None of the foregoing should be taken to imply that fMRI and other brain-investigation techniques are useless: there is beautiful and amazing science in how they work and what well-designed experiments can teach us. [example]…

In this light, one might humbly venture a preliminary diagnosis of the pop brain hacks’ chronic intellectual error. It is that they misleadingly assume we always know how to interpret such “hidden” information, and that it is always more reliably meaningful than what lies in plain view. The hucksters of neuroscientism are the conspiracy theorists of the human animal, the 9/11 Truthers of the life of the mind."
self-improvement  self-help  neuroflâneurship  neuroprocrastination  neurogastronomy  neuromarketing  meurotheology  neuromagic  neuropolitics  christopherchabris  elainefox  samharris  popscience  neurobabble  neurobollocks  neurotrash  neuro  neurofillintheblank  chrismooney  johnarden  paulfletcher  williamjames  artmarkman  jonathanhaidt  robertkurzban  fMRI  descartes  jonahlehrer  malcolmgladwell  2012  stevenpoole  brain  science  neuroscience 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The Church of Assisted Belief - DWFE
"DWFE propose the formation of The Church of Assisted Belief (C of AB) as a way to offer non-believers the chance to explore an experience that is currently allied with organised religion. Neuroscientists have set out to uncover a possible neurological basis for religious belief. Their experiments have explored the idea that feelings associated with religious convictions have a physiological foundation, and they have attempted to replicate such feelings within a controlled environment."
michaelpresinger  neuroscience  religion  mattward  design  art  belief  dwfe  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Dad’s Idea – Jack Cheng
“Just my thought,” he’ll continue. He always says “just my thought” before anything he knows is a hunch, an uninformed, unscientifically-proven, unwikipediaed hypothesis. But hunch or not, the words that follow are always spoken with absolute conviction. His eyes light up & his forehead wrinkles and he leans forward, & his mouth is half open and his top teeth are showing & he has a look of sheer amazement on his face…

There have been scientific experiments conducted to discover what goes on in our brains when we experience near-death events—like getting hit by a car or falling off a ladder—as if they were happening in slow motion. The findings are in line with Dad’s hunch…

But I don’t tell Dad any of this. I don’t tell him because I don’t want to dispel its magic by inserting my own. I don’t want him to stop being excited about his idea. I don’t want him to ever stop asking me about it, because every time he asks, it’s a reminder. To make next week longer & more memorable than this…"
slow  life  experience  offline  online  routine  repetition  neuroscience  brain  learning  motion  travel  movement  attention  selfishness  selflessness  engagement  magic  excitement  relationships  hunches  2012  parents  presence  time  memories  memory  jackcheng  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
The Curse of Bigness | Christopher Ketcham | Orion Magazine
"Small groups of people prove to be more cohesive, effective, creative in getting things done. In the 1970s, the English management expert and business scholar Charles Handy put the ideal group size in work environments at “between five and seven” for “best participation, for highest all-round involvement.” Alexander Paul Hare, author of the classic Creativity in Small Groups, showed that groups sized between four and seven were most successful at problem solving, largely because small groups, as Hare observed, are more democratic: egalitarian, mutualist, co-operative, inclusive. Hundreds of studies in factories and workplaces confirm that workers divided into small groups enjoy lower absenteeism, less sickness, higher productivity, greater social interaction, higher morale—most likely because the conditions allow them to engage what is best in being human, to share the meaning and fruits of their labor…"
gandhi  buddhisteconomics  buddhism  energy  efschumacher  competition  paulgoodman  alienation  charlesperrow  representativedemocracy  profits  goldmansachs  standardoil  gm  innovation  committees  efficiency  standardization  corporatocracy  corporatism  economics  louisbrandeis  gigantism  growth  decentralization  human  humans  community  communities  biology  nature  size  2010  christopherketcham  toobigtosucceed  toobigtofail  power  howwework  howwelearn  hierarchy  groupdynamics  inclusiveness  inclusion  cooperation  egalitarian  egalitarianism  democratic  collaboration  management  alexanderpaulhare  tcsnmy8  tcsnmy  morale  productivity  neuroscience  social  scale  bigness  creativity  charleshandy  openstudioproject  lcproject  groupsize  cv  small  inclusivity  inlcusivity  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Reinvention of the Self § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Marmosets are the ideal experimental animal: a primate brain trapped inside the body of a rat."

"The structure of our brain, from the details of our dendrites to the density of our hippocampus, is incredibly influenced by our surroundings. Put a primate under stressful conditions, and its brain begins to starve. It stops creating new cells. The cells it already has retreat inwards. The mind is disfigured.

The social implications of this research are staggering. If boring environments, stressful noises, and the primate’s particular slot in the dominance hierarchy all shape the architecture of the brain—and Gould’s team has shown that they do—then the playing field isn’t level. Poverty and stress aren’t just an idea: they are an anatomy. Some brains never even have a chance."

"The genius of the scientific method, however, is that it accepts no permanent solution. Skepticism is its solvent, for every theory is imperfect. Scientific facts are meaningful precisely because they are ephemeral, because a new observation, a more honest observation, can always alter them. This is what happened to Rakic’s theory of the fixed brain. It was, to use Karl Popper’s verb, falsified."

"Neurogenesis is an optimistic idea. Though Gould’s lab has thoroughly demonstrated the long-term consequences of deprivation and stress, the brain, like skin, can heal itself, as Gould is now beginning to document, finding hopeful antidotes to neurogenesis-inhibiting injuries. “My hunch is that a lot of these abnormalities [caused by stress] can be fixed in adulthood,” she says. “I think that there’s a lot of evidence for the resiliency of the brain.”"

"The mind is like a muscle: it swells with exercise. Gould’s and Kozorovitskiy’s work reminds us not only how easy it is to hurt a brain, but how little it takes for that brain to heal. Give a primate just a few extra playthings, and its neurons are capable of escaping the downward cycle of stress."

"Neurogenesis is a field that doubts itself. Because it has been scorned from the start, its proponents talk most emphatically about what they don’t know, about all the essential questions that remain unanswered. Their modesty is accurate: The purpose of all of our new cells remains obscure. No one knows how experiments done in rodents will relate to humans, or whether neurogenesis is just a small part of our mind’s essential plasticity."
uncertainty  trophins  childhoodstress  children  childhood  lizgould  biology  geniakozorovitskiy  resilience  resiliency  neuronova  jonasfrisén  fernandonottebohm  robertsapolsky  serotonin  prozac  antidepressants  depression  pharmacology  psychiatry  psychology  ronaldduman  michaelkaplan  josephaltman  paskorakic  brucemcewen  christianmirescu  neurogenesis  howwelearn  science  permanence  adaptability  change  ephemeral  observation  scientificmethod  research  stress  poverty  surroundings  environment  primates  marmosets  brain  neuroscience  elizabethgould  via:litherland  2006  ephemerality  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
David Byrne's Journal: 12.13.11: Odyshape
"We instinctively want to believe that a merit-based world exists—that with some hard work, focus, time, effort and perseverance, you too will be rewarded with the body you see on the billboard. The same also applies to our notions of economic well-being. As a result, you have Bill O’Reilly and Newt Gingrich (among many others) implying that poor people are poor simply because they aren’t trying hard enough (note the clever segue from Barbie to politics and economics). The implication is that poor people, or anyone who isn’t successful, just aren’t applying themselves or trying hard enough. Also, that less than fabulously attractive people similarly aren’t going to the gym enough. The corollary is that Bill and Newt are as wealthy as they are because they worked hard. This, excuse me, is bullshit…

Sadly, this dissonance between what is possible image wise, and what is being aimed for by many normal women, is making many of them nutso."
davidbyrne  odyshape  2011  science  politics  sociology  anthropology  darwin  sexualselection  geoffreymiller  photoshop  girls  women  gender  truth  brain  vision  normal  economics  luck  barbie  beingbarbie  henrikehrsson  arvidguterstam  björnvanderhoort  perception  neuroscience  via:lukeneff  bodyimage  femininity  charlesdarwin  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Synesthesia's blended senses - latimes.com
"The study of synesthesia has helped shift the way scientists think about the brain. In the past, they have focused on matching different areas with specific functions; now, the entire organ is viewed as a tapestry of interwoven connections.

"The whole system is a giant network," Eagleman says. "It's no longer sufficient to think about single areas in isolation."

Like synesthesia, many neurological disorders — such as schizophrenia, autism,Alzheimer's disease, depression and epilepsy — have been linked to abnormal communication between brain regions. The hope is that as neuroscientists learn about how the connections in the synesthetic brain differ from those in normal brains, they will also gain insight into how these differences develop — and how they sometimes manifest as harmful disorders."
davideagleman  sensoryprocessingdysfunction  depression  epilepsy  alzheimers  schizophrenia  autism  music  sudio  sounds  smells  colors  numbers  ucsd  networks  senses  brain  neuroscience  2012  synesthesia  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Syllabi: Researching Synesthesia
"The cause of synesthesia is still subject to research, but it’s generally believed to be the result of a genetic mutation on the X chromosome, explaining its dominance in woman and high heritability. Some researchers think its heritability could suggest an evolutionary benefit. Sickle cell anemia, for example, can be deadly, but also provides malaria immunity. Does synesthesia provide a similar benefit?

It might if you’re a mathmetician or an artist. One of the peculiarities of some forms of synesthesia is that equations are visualised in 3D space, which might help someone like physicist Richard Feynmann, another famous synesthete, with his work. David Hockney, also a synesthete, once told Robert Burton that when he was designing a piece of art intended to accompany a production of a Maurice Ravel piece, he listened to the relevant section of the score and “the tree painted itself.” It’s also been suggested that savants like Daniel Tammett get their incredible skills from…"
vladimirnabokov  danieltammett  davidhockney  vsramachandran  davideagleman  neuroscience  synesthesia  2012  richardfeynman  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Blue Brain Project - Wikipedia
"The Blue Brain Project is an attempt to create a synthetic brain by reverse-engineering the mammalian brain down to the molecular level.
The aim of the project, founded in May 2005 by the Brain and Mind Institute of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland) is to study the brain's architectural and functional principles. The project is headed by the Institute's director, Henry Markram. Using a Blue Gene supercomputer running Michael Hines's NEURON software, the simulation does not consist simply of an artificial neural network, but involves a biologically realistic model of neurons.[1][2][not in citation given] It is hoped that it will eventually shed light on the nature of consciousness.[citation needed]

There are a number of sub-projects, including the Cajal Blue Brain, coordinated by the Supercomputing and Visualization Center of Madrid (CeSViMa), and others run by universities and independent laboratories in the UK, US, and Israel."
stumbleduponwhilesearching  reverse-engineering  bluebrainproject  bluebrain  wikipedia  singularity  transhumanism  neuroscience  brain  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Persistence Of Memory | Wired Science | Wired.com
"The great mystery of memory is how it endures. The typical neural protein only lasts for a few weeks, the cortex in a constant state of reincarnation. How, then, do our memories persist? It’s as if our remembered past can outlast the brain itself.

But wait: the mystery gets even more mysterious. A neuronal memory cannot simply be strong: it must also be specific. While each neuron has only a single nucleus, it has a teeming mass of dendritic branches. These twigs wander off in every direction, connecting to other neurons at dendritic synapses (imagine two trees whose branches touch in a dense forest). It is at these tiny crossings that our memories are made: not in the trunk of the neuronal tree, but in its sprawling canopy.

This means that every memory – represented as an altered connection between cells – cannot simply endure. It must endure in an incredibly precise way, so that the wiring diagram remains intact even as the mind gets remade, those proteins continually recycled."
brainscience  biology  science  kausiksi  2012  jonahlehrer  neuroscience  brain  mind  memory  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond - NYTimes.com
"To isolate the specific impact of schooling on mental skills, Dr. Lachman & her colleagues tried to control for other likely reasons one person might outshine another—differences in income, parental achievement, gender, physical activity & age. After all, we know that the children of affluent, educated parents have a raft of advantages that could account for greater mental heft down the road. College graduates are able to compound their advantages because they can pour more resources into their minds & bodies.

Still, when Lachman & Dr. Tun reviewed results, they were surprised to discover that into middle age and beyond, people could make up for educational disadvantages encountered earlier in life."

[This doesn't make much sense to me. Is this really the cause & effect? "[A] college degree appears to slow the brain’s aging process." Or are people inclined to go to college wired this way, or the jobs that they're likely to have after college allowing them to keep their minds sharp?]
dementia  margielachman  knowledge  genecohen  brain  intelligence  howardgardner  psychology  patriciacohen  williamosler  neuroscience  mind  minds  aging  education  age  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Socrates' nightmare - The New York Times [Not buying all of this, but liking some material within]
"At the core of Socrates' arguments lay his concerns for the young. He believed that the seeming permanence of the printed word would delude them into thinking they had accessed the heart of knowledge, rather than simply decoded it. To Socrates, only the arduous process of probing, analyzing and ultimately internalizing knowledge would enable the young to develop a lifelong approach to thinking that would lead them ultimately to wisdom, virtue and "friendship with [their] god."

To Socrates, only the examined word and the "examined life" were worth pursuing, and literacy short-circuited both…

"Perhaps no one was more eloquent about the true purpose of reading than French novelist Marcel Proust, who wrote: "that which is the end of their [the author's] wisdom is but the beginning of ours." The act of going beyond the text to think new thoughts is a developmental, learnable approach toward knowledge."

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/16192942818 ]
edwardtenner  brain  neuroscience  text  print  knowledge  sensemaking  meaningmaking  undertsanding  digital  2007  maryannewolf  literacy  reading  criticalthinking  thinking  examinedlife  learning  socrates  proust  marcelproust 
january 2012 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Schools that matter
"People who've heard me talk about middle schools have probably heard me say something like, "this age group has a million legitimate things to worry about every day, and none of them are in our curriculum."

I say this repeatedly because (a) I believe it to be true - that the evolutionary purpose of adolescence is unrelated to our program of schooling - and that (b) those who misunderstand this drive kids between, say, 12 and 25 crazy - and not in good ways - with special damage happening to the 12-16-year-old group, many of whom lose complete interest in what we call "education" and never really return…"
teens  schools  middleschool  teaching  learning  education  2011  irasocol  neuroscience  teenagebrain  unschooling  deschooling  attention  society  capitalism  industrialrevolution  adolescence  youth  tcsnmy  lcproject  maxweber  alisongopnik  laurencesteinberg  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
National Geographic Magazine - NGM.com
"Moody. Impulsive. Maddening. Why do teenagers act the way they do? Viewed through the eyes of evolution, their most exasperating traits may be the key to success as adults."

[Photo series here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/10/teenage-brains/cahana-photography#/ ]

[Via: http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2011/10/schools-that-matter.html ]
teens  adaptivebrain  science  psychology  teenbrain  adolescence  learning  2011  nationalgeographic  evolution  naturalselection  neuroscience  youth  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
Developing Your Creative Practice: Tips from Brian Eno :: Tips :: The 99 Percent
"1. Freeform capture. Grab from a range of sources without editorializing…

2. Blank state. Start with new tools, from nothing, and toy around…

3. Deliberate limitations. Before a project begins, develop specific limitations…

4. Opposing forces. Sometimes it’s best to generate a forced collision of ideas…

5. Creative prompts. In the ‘70s Eno developed his Oblique Strategies cards, a series of prompts modeled after the I Ching to disrupt the process and encourage a new way of encountering a creative problem. On the cards are statements and questions like: “Would anybody want it?” “Try faking it!” “Only a part, not the whole.” “Work at a different speed.” “Disconnect from desire.” “Turn it upside down.” “Use an old idea."…

In the end, don’t underestimate your personal feelings about a project. Eno states: “Nearly all the things I do that are of any merit at all start off as just being good fun.” Amen to that."
art  creativity  music  productivity  brain  neuroscience  via:preoccupations  brianeno  2011  jonahlehrer  ideation  classideas  innovation  noticing  limitations  constraints  making  doing  glvo  howwework  process  idleness  boredom  thinking  ideas  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Neuroskeptic: Is Sleep Brain Defragmentation?
"A new paper from some Stanford neuroscientists argues that the function of sleep is to reorganize neural connections - a bit like a disk defrag for the brain - although it's also a bit like compressing files to make more room, and a bit like a system reset: Synaptic plasticity in sleep: learning, homeostasis and disease"<br />
<br />
[via: http://slavin.tumblr.com/post/9513544909/is-sleep-brain-defragmentation ]
sleep  defragmentation  brain  neuroscience  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Rhetoric Of Neuroscience | Wired Science | Wired.com
"The language of neuroscience definitely fuels an “anxious parenting” mentality–everything you do molds the child’s brain, permanently influencing your child’s future life (job, mental health, intelligence, and so forth). This is scary stuff–some of the language I look at uses neuroscience to suggest that a single mistake at the wrong time (an aggressive tone, yelling at the child) can have permanent effects on the child’s emotional stability. Of course, we have always had various ways of promoting – as well as contesting – the anxious parenting mentality, so the neuroscientific version isn’t totally new, it’s just the latest reinvention. But the neuroscientific language and images give it a particularly persuasive quality that I think is especially nerve-wracking–popular magazine features tell us that we can see, on a second-by-second basis, how our every word and behavior are permanently influencing our child’s brain."
jonahlehrer  davijohnsonthornton  parenting  anxiety  anxiousparenting  permanence  fear  neuroscience  language  rhetoric  2011  brain  science 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Handwriting Is History - Miller-McCune
"Writing words by hand is a technology that’s just too slow for our times, and our minds."

"I transferred him to a private school where he was allowed to dictate his writing assignments. For his fourth-grade assignments, I sat at the computer, my laptop on the dining room table, as he paced the dining room, wildly gesticulating, sometimes stopping to put his hand on his chin in thought, but mainly speaking without stopping. I am a fast typist, but I could not keep up; I had to break his train of words. He spoke aloud in full clauses and paragraphs. What would have taken him about three or four hours (I am not exaggerating) by hand took him about four minutes by mouth."

"The moral of the story is that what we want from writing — what Simon wants and what the Sumerians wanted — is cognitive automaticity, the ability to think as fast as possible, freed as much as can be from the strictures of whichever technology we must use to record our thoughts."
handwriting  future  communication  writing  education  history  neuroscience  schooling  2011  annetrubek  learning  unschooling  deschooling  efficiency  typing  speed  cognitiveautomacity  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations
"Explanations of psychological phenomena seem to generate more public interest when they contain neuroscientific information. Even irrelevant neuroscience information in an explanation of a psychological phenomenon may interfere with people’s abilities to critically consider the underlying logic of this explanation…<br />
<br />
The neuroscience information had a particularly striking effect on nonexperts’ judgments of bad explanations, masking otherwise salient problems in these explanations."
psychology  neuroscience  science  publicinterest  persuasion  2011  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
The Brain on Trial - Magazine - The Atlantic
"Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order."

"Neuroscience is beginning to touch on questions that were once only in the domain of philosophers and psychologists, questions about how people make decisions and the degree to which those decisions are truly “free.” These are not idle questions. Ultimately, they will shape the future of legal theory and create a more biologically informed jurisprudence. "
science  psychology  philosophy  behavior  biology  crime  punishment  nature  nurture  naturenurture  davideagleman  2011  mentalillness  mentalhealth  brain  impulsivity  impulse-control  adolescence  incarceration  adolescents  law  legal  future  forwardthinking  thinking  somnambulism  social  socialpolicy  rehabilitation  neuroscience  criminality  recidivism  predictions  data  brainchemistry  pathology  pathologies  tourettes  alzheimers  schizophrenia  mania  depression  murder  blame  blameworthiness  capitalpunishment  logic  freewill  will  jurisprudence  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Oscillatory Thoughts: We are all inattentive superheroes
"…amazed by the actual experience of sensation. Even beyond the philosophical wonder of passively sampling our outside environment in a shared, meaningful fashion is the ridiculous sensitivity of our senses.

We're used to thinking of our senses as being pretty shite: we can't see as well as eagles, we can't hear as well as bats, and we can't smell as well as dogs. Or so we're used to thinking.

It turns out that humans can, in fact, detect as few as 2 photons entering the retina. 2. As in, 1-plus-1.

It is often said that, under ideal conditions, a young, healthy person can see a candle flame from 30 miles away. That's like being able to see a candle in Times Square from Stamford, Connecticut. Or seeing a candle in Candlestick Park from Napa.

Similarly, it appears that the limits to our threshold of hearing may actually be Brownian motion. That means that we can almost hear the random movements of atoms.

We can also smell as few as 30 molecules of certain substances."
science  brain  attention  neuroscience  senses  human  2011  superheroes  superpowers  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Artwork that flourishes after brain damage can shed light for researchers - latimes.com
"Many people who have suffered brain damage turn to creating art. Researchers are studying them to help unravel how the brain works."

[Images here: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-diseases-art-photos,0,7504652.photogallery ]
art  brain  outsiderart  neuroscience  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Does Depression Help Us Think Better? | Wired Science | Wired.com
"In other words, Thomson and Andrews imagined depression as a way of forcing the mind to focus on its problems. Although rumination feels terrible, it might make it easier for us to pay continuous attention to our dilemmas. According to Andrews and Thomson, the mood disorder is part of a “coordinated system” that exists “for the specific purpose of effectively analyzing the complex life problem that triggered the depression.” If depression didn’t exist — if we didn’t react to stress and trauma with endless ruminations — then we would be less likely to solve our predicaments."

"Perhaps Aristotle was a little bit right when he declared: “All men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and in politics, even Socrates and Plato, had a melancholic habitus; indeed some suffered even from melancholic disease.”"
science  psychology  depression  health  jonahlehrer  research  brain  neuroscience  melancholy  socrates  plato  criticalthinking  thinking  decisionmaking  2011  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Jonah Lehrer on Buildings, Health and Creativity | Head Case - WSJ.com
"Although we're only starting to grasp how the insides of buildings influence the insides of the mind, it's possible to begin prescribing different kinds of spaces for different tasks. If we're performing a job that requires accuracy and focus (say, copy editing a manuscript), we should seek out confined spaces with a red color scheme. But for tasks that require a little bit of creativity, we seem to benefit from high ceilings, lots of windows and bright blue walls that match the sky."
learning  design  architecture  science  psychology  jonahlehrer  2011  ceilings  schooldesign  creativity  focus  thinking  neuroscience  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
This Space: Hesitation before rebirth
""Kafka stays awake during the gaps when we are sleeping."<br />
<br />
…explaining to her son why Kafka's fantastic fiction is necessary to the project of literary realism. By remaining awake his writing follows "through to the end, to the bitter, unsayable end, whether or not there are traces left on the page." <br />
<br />
It's been said that stories such as A Country Doctor are expanded metaphors but, according to…Aaron Mishara, Kafka's staying awake while others slept had a direct influence on his fiction…no metaphor is involved. Mishara's remarkable paper Kafka, paranoic doubles & the brain claims Kafka suffered from dream-like hallucinations during a sleep-deprived state while writing & his work "provides data about the structure of the human self…documents processes "that are not limited to the individual's experience of self in its historical context, nor the individual's 'autobiographical' memory, but reflect the very structure of human self as a transformative process of self-transcendence"."
kafka  writing  literature  neuroscience  self  metaphor  humanself  human  psychology  sleep  aaronmishara  brain  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Deb Roy: The birth of a word | Video on TED.com
"MIT researcher Deb Roy wanted to understand how his infant son learned language -- so he wired up his house with videocameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son's life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video to watch "gaaaa" slowly turn into "water." Astonishing, data-rich research with deep implications for how we learn."
debroy  language  science  ted  languageacquisition  learning  infants  children  childhood  environment  visualization  video  mit  neuroscience  social  spacetimeworms  naturenurture  speech  words  memorymachines  memory  lifelogging  tracking  audio  recording  classideas  patternrecognition  patterns  vocabulary  media  television  tv  socialmedia  eventstucture  conversation  semanticanalysis  wordscapes  communication  communicationdynamics  engagement  data  socialgraph  contentgraph  coviewing  behavior  socialstructures  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
DELUSIONS OF GENDER by Cordelia Fine reviewed by Carol Tavris - TLS
"Cordelia Fine has produced a witty and meticulously researched exposé of the sloppy studies that pass for scientific evidence in so many of today's bestselling books on sex differences"
gender  science  brain  psychology  neuroscience  cordeliafine  research  books  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
conscious star stuff: Left Brain vs Right Brain and Other Myths About the Brain
"Last night I ran across Mercedes-Benz’s newest cool-yet-so-cringe-worthy ad campaign.  While the artwork itself is pretty damn awesome, the idea that our personalities and skills are a product of the prevalence of one hemisphere of our brain over another is rubbish. Another popular claim is the one that we only use 10% of our brains, while geniuses like Newton, Einstein, Michaelangelo and Da Vinci used much more.  Yes, this one is rubbish too."
mythbusting  neuroscience  brain  rightbrain  leftbrain  misconceptions  myths  imtiredofthistoo  learning  education  tcsnmy  classideas  advertising  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Superfamous - Folkert Gorter
"Disclaimer: As you read this, you do not really see the pixels, the screen, your hands, and the surroundings, but an internal and three-dimensional image that reproduces them almost exactly and that is constructed by your brain. The photons emitted by your screen strike the retina of your eyes, which transform them into electrochemical information; the optic nerves relay this information to the visual cortex at the back of the head, where a cascade-like network of nerve cells separates the input into categories (form, color, movement, depth, etc.).

How the brain goes about reuniting these sets of categorized information into a coherent image is still a mystery. This also means that the neurological basis of consciousness is unknown. (source = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cosmic_Serpent )"
design  portfolio  webdesign  neuroscience  folkertgorter  losangeles  perception  images  imageprocessing  eyes  brain  humor  consciousness  webdev  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Secrets of a Mind-Gamer - NYTimes.com
"He reasoned that just about anything could be imprinted upon our memories, and kept in good order, simply by constructing a building in the imagination and filling it with imagery of what needed to be recalled. This imagined edifice could then be walked through at any time in the future. Such a building would later come to be called a memory palace."

"What began as an exercise in participatory journalism became an obsession. True, what I hoped for before I started hadn’t come to pass: these techniques didn’t improve my underlying memory (the “hardware” of “Rhetorica ad Herennium”). I still lost my car keys. And I was hardly a fount of poetry. Even once I was able to squirrel away more than 30 digits a minute in memory palaces, I seldom memorized the phone numbers of people I actually wanted to call. It was easier to punch them into my cellphone. The techniques worked; I just didn’t always use them. Why bother when there’s paper, a computer or a cellphone to remember for you?"
memory  psychology  brain  science  joshuafoer  memorization  spatial  evolution  competition  neuroscience  training  simonidesofceos  simonides  rhetoricaadherennium  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Don’t leave learning to the young. Older brains can grow, too. - NYTimes.com
"Whether it is by learning a new language, traveling to a new place, developing a passion for beekeeping or simply thinking about an old problem in a new way, all of us can find ways to stimulate our brains to grow, in the coming year and those to follow. Just as physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy body, challenging one’s brain, keeping it active, engaged, flexible and playful, is not only fun. It is essential to cognitive fitness."
brain  neuroscience  plasticity  oliversacks  learning  openminded  curiosity  adaptability  flexibility  challenge  growth  2011  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Living in a Dream World: The Role of Daydreaming in Problem-Solving and Creativity: Scientific American
"Daydreams are an inner world where we can rehearse the future and imagine new adventures without risk. Allowing the mind to roam freely can aid creativity—but only if we pay attention to the content of our daydreams.Neuroscientists have identified the “default network”—a web of brain regions that become active when we mentally drift away from the task at hand into our own reveries.When daydreaming turns addictive and compulsive, it can overwhelm normal functioning, impeding relationships and work."
daydreaming  neuroscience  thinking  imagination  attention  cv  brain  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Time Hack — Day 11: Watch paint dry
"But researchers argue that boredom, or taking breaks from the chaos of daily life, may actually be beneficial for you.

With the use of brain imaging technology, neuroscientists have found that our brains may be highly active when in a state of rest, or when you are “bored”. In fact, the brain only uses 5% less energy in its resting state, compared to moments when a person is actively engaged in an activity.

Additionally, psychologists argue the slight change in brain activity could have a dramatically positive influence on an individual’s perception of time. Like when you are asleep, time seems to slip by just a bit faster when you’re bored – making constructive, active moments in your day seem that much more dynamic and memorable."
boredom  psychology  brain  time  perception  neuroscience  via:rushtheiceberg  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
What the science of human nature can teach us : The New Yorker
"cognitive revolution…provides different perspective on our lives…emphasizes relative importance of emotion over pure reason, social connections over individual choice, moral intuition over abstract logic, perceptiveness over I.Q…

We’ve spent generation trying to reorganize schools to make them better, but truth is people learn from people they love…

…she communicated distinction btwn mental strength & mental character…stressed importance of collecting conflicting information before making up mind…calibrating certainty level to strength of evidence…enduring uncertainty for long stretches as answer became clear…correcting for biases…

…gifts he was most grateful for had been passed along by teachers & parents inadvertently…official education was mostly forgotten or useless…

There weren’t even words for traits that matter most—having sense of contours of reality, being aware of how things flow, having ability to read situations the way a master seaman reads rhythm of ocean."
psychology  neuroscience  science  brain  culture  toshare  tcsnmy  learning  whatmatters  emotions  emotionalintelligence  eq  davidbrooks  uncertainty  relationships  teaching  education  careers  consciousness  cognitiverevolution  cognition  morality  preceptiveness  cv  observation  connections  connectivism  love  bias  character  certainty  reality  schools  unschooling  deschooling  people  society  flow  experience  racetonowhere  fulfillment  happiness  subconscious  shrequest1  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
DustMapper.com
"Our mission at DustMapper.com is to troubleshoot, debug, and map out the full spectrum of perspectives in human conflict.

You might experience conflict in your organization, project, or dealings with outside agencies. This could take the form of misunderstandings, miscommunication, unclear expectations, degraded dialog, threats, abusive language, violation of boundaries, or marginalization of perspectives.

Unmitigated conflict can lead to psychological trauma, organizational dysfunction, social tension, diplomatic breakdown and violence.

However, much good can come when conflict is properly acknowledged. Positive results can include expanded knowledge, role differentiation, appreciation for diversity, and new depth within relationships.

Through the mapping out of perspectives, both the negative and positive effects of conflict become visible, and thus addressable."
conflict  maps  mapping  dustmapper  human  organizations  mathematics  communication  diplomacy  spirituality  technology  evolution  neuroscience  psychology  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Anosognosia - Wikipedia
"Anosognosia is a condition in which a person who suffers disability seems unaware of the existence of his or her disability. Unlike denial, which is a defense mechanism, Anasognosia is rooted in physiology (for example, damage to the frontal or parietal lobe due to illness and disease). This may include unawareness of quite dramatic impairments, such as blindness or paralysis. It was first named by neurologist Joseph Babinski in 1914,[1] although relatively little has been discovered about the cause of the condition since its initial identification. The word comes from the Greek words "nosos" disease and "gnosis" knowledge (an- / a- is a negative prefix)."

[via: http://readingbyeugene.com/2010/12/23/the-top-five-long-reads-of-2010/ ]
psychology  neuroscience  health  science  brain  words  classideas  toshare  anosognosia  dunning-krugereffect  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Method of loci - Wikipedia
"'the method of loci', an imaginal technique known to the ancient Greeks and Romans and described by Yates (1966) in her book The Art of Memory as well as by Luria (1969). In this technique the subject memorizes the layout of some building, or the arrangement of shops on a street, or any geographical entity which is composed of a number of discrete loci. When desiring to remember a set of items the subject literally 'walks' through these loci and commits an item to each one by forming an image between the item and any distinguishing feature of that locus. Retrieval of items is achieved by 'walking' through the loci, allowing the latter to activate the desired items. The efficacy of this technique has been well established (Ross and Lawrence 1968, Crovitz 1969, 1971, Briggs, Hawkins and Crovitz 1970, Lea 1975), as is the minimal interference seen with its use."
memory  mnemonics  productivity  thinking  neurobiology  psychology  location  spatial  spatialawareness  spatialthinking  methodofloci  memoryplace  spacialrelationships  order  recall  lists  faces  digits  neuroscience  via:lukeneff  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Persuasion: The Sleeper Effect — PsyBlog
"There are all kinds of everyday situations where the sleeper effect occurs. Like when the travel supplement recommends a great resort, then we read at the bottom the trip's cost was covered by the resort. Or there's an article telling us about the health benefits of milk and then we read at the bottom that the author is the head of the Milk Marketing Board. Any time we receive a persuasive message before we find out who the source is, the sleeper effect can come into play.<br />
<br />
Naturally, then, canny information consumers will want to know the source of a message before they read it."
advertising  influence  media  neuroscience  persuasion  classideas  bias  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Children of the Code Video
"Our premise is this: regardless of particular methods of instruction, the better educators and parents understand the challenges involved in learning to read the better they can help children through those challenges. Thus, the mission of the Children of the Code Project is to help educators, parents, and all who care for children develop a deeper first-person understanding of the challenges involved in learning to read."
dyslexia  learning  schools  education  reading  learningdisabilities  emotionaldanger  english  language  history  literacy  behavior  disability  brain  cognition  differentiation  neuroscience  specialed  teaching  disabilities  children  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Jonah Lehrer's Head Case Column on Thanksgiving Overeating - WSJ.com
"In recent years, neuroscience has begun to solve the mystery of overeating. It turns out to have little to do with our taste buds, or even with our conscious desire for certain foods. Instead, the impulse to overeat depends on the pleasures of the stomach and intestines, which have an uncanny ability to detect the presence of calories. When we reach for that third helping of turkey, we are obeying the wishes of the gut, following a bodily desire that's difficult to resist."
food  eating  jonahlehrer  neuroscience  obesity  health  taste  overeating  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
The Cognitive Cost Of Expertise | Wired Science | Wired.com
"Now for the bad news: Expertise might also come with a dark side, as all those learned patterns make it harder for us to integrate wholly new knowledge. Consider a recent paper that investigated the mnemonic performance of London taxi drivers. In the world of neuroscience, London cabbies are best known for their demonstration of structural plasticity in the hippocampus, a brain area devoted (in part) to spatial memory. Because the cabbies are required to memorize the entire urban map of London – it’s the most rigorous driving test in the world – their posterior hippocampi swell and expand, leading to permanent changes in the brain. Knowledge shapes matter."
neuroscience  psychology  constraints  jonahlehrer  perception  brain  chess  thinking  science  expertise  memory  plasticity  generalists  specialization  mindchanges  permanence  specialists  mindchanging  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Why Doesn't Anyone Pay Attention Anymore? | HASTAC
[A response to: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/technology/21brain.html?pagewanted=all ]

"We need to distinguish what scientists know about human neurophysiology from our all-too-human discomfort w/ cultural & social change. I've been an English professor for >20 years & have heard how students don't pay attention, can't read a long novel anymore, & are in decline against some unspecified norm of idealized past quite literally every year…we measure our kids' deficits by our glowing & often inflated idea of how much better "we" (our entire generation) were. This is not really a discussion about biology of attention; it's about sociology of change…Virtually all of our current institutions of learning have evolved to prepare youth for industrial age model of work…sit still, don't move, come on time, do this subject then that one in order to pass end-of-grade item-response test. Who wouldn't find video games more stimulating than a typical school day—& more relevant to challenges & obstacles ahead?…mismatch btwn way they are being taught & what they need to learn."
cathydavidson  education  learning  neuroscience  neurophysiology  deschooling  unschooling  technology  distraction  attention  brain  internet  teaching  teens  change  society  generations  idealizedpast  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Children, Wired: For Better and for Worse — Daphne Bavelier, C. Shawn Green, and Matthew W.G. Dye [.pdf]
"Children encounter technology constantly at home and in school. Television, DVDs, video games, the Internet, and smart phones all play a formative role in children’s development. The term ‘‘technology’ subsumes a large variety of somewhat independent items, and it is no surprise that current research indicates causes for both optimism and concern depending upon the content of the technology, the context in which the technology immerses the user, and the user’s developmental stage. Furthermore, because the field is still in its infancy, results can be surprising: video games designed to be reasonably mindless result in widespread enhancements of various abilities, acting, we will argue, as exemplary learning tools. Counterintuitive outcomes like these, besides being practically relevant, challenge and eventually lead to refinement of theories concerning fundamental principles of brain plasticity and learning."
cognitive  brain  neuroscience  videogames  internet  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  children  learning  counterintuitive  plasticity  development  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
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