Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time-keeping Brain Neurons Discovered

The point is that time and space are the deep fundamentals and time training is one of the most important things an education system does.
Time-keeping Brain Neurons Discovered:

"An MIT team led by Institute Professor Ann Graybiel has found groups of neurons in the primate brain that code time with extreme precision. 'All you do is time stamp everything, and then recalling events is easy: you go back and look through your time stamps until you see which ones are correlated with the event,' she says."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Open Source PD for High School Science

version 4 updated 9.08.09 6:00 amEDT

Instead of paying teachers to listen to someone else, what if teachers were paid to listen to each other.

The Paper

It could be a postcard, a letter or an ad in the school newspaper. But whatever it is, it appears in the teacher's mailbox or is handed to the teacher by an AP.
The focus this week is Evolution and BioDiversity, There will be a PD session next Tuesday to brainstorm how we might be able to use what's in the video for our classes.
Reader's note 1 "brainstorm how we might be able to use" is at the heart of the "development" part of "professional development." A combination of face to face plus on line mentoring is the heart of the "professional" part of "professional development." (see argument at the end of the post)
A Taste for Insects 57:53 minutes. is from the University of California's UCTV.
On the web at

Reader's note 2 "" is an easy-ish to remember and type URL. But it is just one path. The other path is using 2D- QR code that is printed on the paper. It might look like the one below. Pointing a cellphone or a web cam will automatically take one to the A Taste for Insects video. That's the experience I'm trying to point to with "clickable print."

"How did the passion for collecting and collections of Darwin, Wallace and others of their period force them to understand and explain biodiversity? What is the legacy of this period of adventure and species discovery and how is it a vital part of current and future evolutionary research? Join Kipling Will, Associate Director of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley for this exploration. (#16071)
The video

The argument
Any time taken away from teachers thinking about and working with their students is wasted time. Teacher time is the scarce resource in school systems. Wasting it increases costs without increasing learning.

My direct experience is in the New York City school systems. I've seen how much money and time is wasted in that context.

With the explosion of great content on the internet this no longer has to be the case. With asynchronous communication on wikis and nings, expert moderated discussions are practical.

With the simple use of a piece of paper and the open source resources on the internet, we can have the same experience we want to give to our students.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Babies Use Their Own Names To Help Learn Language

"Bortfeld's research, which appears in the upcoming April issue of 'Psychological Science,' shows that babies use familiar words such as their names as a sort of 'anchor' into the speech stream. A baby as young as six months can learn to recognize an individual word that follows its own name, even after hearing both words as part of whole sentences, says Bortfeld who worked with colleagues from Brown University and the University of Delaware."

Recognition drives segmentation of the speech stream, and segmentation is a critical step in learning a language," Bortfeld explains. "We know from previous research that babies are recognizing their names in fluent speech by the age of six months, so we hypothesized that they should be able to use that recognition to segment the speech stream and recognize new words.

Much in the same way a person might have difficulty understanding a foreign language because it's hard to tell where one word starts and another begins, babies face a similar challenge in learning language. Bortfeld's research shows babies can begin to discern the beginnings and endings of words that follow their names, meaning their names form a foundation for learning language.

In what can be described as a "popping out" pattern, Bortfeld explains, one familiar word can allow a baby to pick out another word, and that newly familiar word may allow a baby to learn words that follow it.

read more at Science Daily

Familiar And Newly Learned Words Are Processed By The Same Neural Networks In The Brain

"In one of the experiments conducted in the NEURO programme, participants learned the name and/or purpose of 150 ancient tools. They had never heard these words before. The subjects' brain function was measured by means of magnetoencelography during the naming of the tools, both before and after the learning period.

The results show that the brain uses the same neural networks to process both familiar and newly learned words.
. . .
In other words, it seems that the processing of meanings in the brain differs essentially from the processing of names. On the other hand, the performance results indicated that new definitions were learned even faster than new names.

read at Familiar And Newly Learned Words Are Processed By The Same Neural Networks In The Brain:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Employee’s Loyalty To Workplace Damaged By Unfair Treatment

Employee’s Loyalty To Workplace Damaged By Unfair Treatment:
"ScienceDaily (Aug. 27, 2009) — In organizational settings, managers as well as others in leadership roles should perhaps think twice before ridiculing subordinate employees on their choice of lunch, attire, or habits, or generally acting disrespectfully towards them. Recent research from the Journal of Management Studies shows that when an employee believes that he or she has been treated unfairly, the employee is not likely to forgive and forget."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Towards Malaria 'Vaccine': Discovery Opens The Door To Malaria-prevention Therapies

The point is that until the mechanism is defined, it's very hard to fix dysfunctional systems. As in health v disease, so it is in smart v stupid.
. . .
"Researchers at the RI-MUHC and McGill University, discovered that hemozoin, a crystal-like substance may be the missing link that explains why malaria leads to devastating inflammation and fever.

'Our results describe the mechanism by which the hemozoin activates the immune system, resulting in the production of inflammation mediators and in the high fever that we witness in malaria patients,' said study first-author Dr. Marina Tiemi Shio of the RI-MUHC.

Hemozoin is first ingested by 'cleaning' cells called macrophages, explained the researcher which leads to a chain reaction ending in the activation of the inflammasome: an important structure inside immune cells which lead to inflammation. Activation of the inflammasome produces the body's fever mediator, interleukin beta (IL-beta)."
read at Towards Malaria 'Vaccine': Discovery Opens The Door To Malaria-prevention Therapies:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mystery and the Impossible in Math, Science and Beyond (Aug. 8, 2009) |

The point is that scientists are working on the deep mysteries of life. To listen to 57 minutes of what that means click on Mystery and the Impossible in Math, Science and Beyond
(Aug. 8, 2009) |
"Deepak Chopra speaks with Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist and professor famous for his New York Times bestseller book Physics of the Impossible. Chopra also speaks to Amir Aczel, a lecturer in mathematics who wrote the book The Riddle of the Compass."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Revising English Part 4

The point is this series of posts by Jim Burke is best thinking/writing I've seen about the purpose of education.
After considering carefully the ideas of Jago and Scholes, Langer and Marshall, and a long list of others, I arrived at my own sense of what English is.

We need to do more than teach skills and knowledge: We need to cultivate within our students a range of personae, each of which is necessary if they are, as Jago says, “to make a living, make a life, and make a difference” (2009, 1).

Note that each of the following personae has two sides: one devoted to comprehending, interpreting, and analyzing the text or content created by others; the other side dedicated to communicating one’s own ideas and content through whichever means or media that person deems most appropriate to the task and occasion. In other words, each role involves both comprehension and composition. Here is a brief description of these eight personae English teachers attempt to develop in students—and ourselves . . .
Storyteller . . . more at the original post
Philosopher . . more at the original post
Historian . . . more at the original post
Anthropologist more at the original post
Reporter more at the original post
Critic more at the original post
Designer more at the original post
Traveler more at the original post

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tumor Mutations Can Predict Chemo Success

Tumor Mutations Can Predict Chemo Success:
"ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2009) — New work by MIT cancer biologists shows that the interplay between two key genes that are often defective in tumors determines how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy.

The findings should have an immediate impact on cancer treatment, say Michael Hemann and Michael Yaffe, the two MIT biology professors who led the study. The work could help doctors predict what types of chemotherapy will be effective in a particular tumor, which would help tailor treatments to each patient.

'This isn't something that's going to take five years to do,' says Yaffe, who, along with Hemann is a member of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. 'You could begin doing this tomorrow.'"

14-year-old 'surgeon' to present findings today

The point is you never know what you can do until you try.

"A Jacksonville researcher has developed a way of sewing up patients after hysterectomies that stands to reduce the risk of complications and simplify the tricky procedure for less-seasoned surgeons. Oh, and he's 14 years old. Feel free to read that again. Tony Hansberry II is a ninth-grader who, as it happens, will be presenting his findings today before an auditorium filled with doctors just like any of his board-certified - and decades older - colleagues would. He would say he was following in the footsteps of 'Doogie Howser, M.D.' - if he weren't too young to have heard of the television show. Instead, he says that his remarkable accomplishments are merely steps toward his ultimate goal of becoming a University of Florida-trained neurosurgeon. 'I just want to help people and be respected, knowing that I can save lives,' said Tony, the son of a registered nurse mom and an African Methodist Episcopal church pastor dad. To be sure, he had some help along the way, but, then again, most researchers do. The seeds of his project were planted last summer during his internship at the University of Florida's Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research, based at Shands Jacksonville. To understand why a teenager would be a hospital intern, it's important to know that Tony is a student . . .
read the rest at 14-year-old 'surgeon' to present findings today |

What do we mean by trust?

I think the point is learn how to judge who and what you can trust. The question is what might this mean for education.

Video 2 of 7

Video 3 of 7

Getting together through the generations

The point is this sounds plausible to me.
"Love and sex comprise the dark matter in our high schools. Dark matter is stuff out in the universe that is undetectable, matter whose existence can only be inferred from its gravitational effects on everything else. One couldn't ask for a better definition of love and sex.

I bring this up for two reasons. One, school doors are about to open for the autumn semester and two, schools are publicly concerned about their dropout rate. In Chicago, a good-looking hip-hop artist and recent Chicago Public Schools graduate named Jeremih Felton is encouraging students to remain in school. Calling himself simply Jeremih, the popular singer of the hit song 'Birthday Sex,' and the school district are hoping Jeremih's star power will influence other young people to remain in school. Good for him, although it seems a few people are concerned about some of his hit song's blatantly sexual lyrics. They think perhaps Jeremih is not an appropriate role model for high school students.
. . .
And when Paul Simon sings "When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school it's a wonder I can think at all," I can only nod in agreement, and hope to never again see my own yearbook, a testament to bad taste and unfulfilled promise.

read the full column at Getting together through the generations --

The Paul Simon Song:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

People With Lots Of Working Memory Are Not Easily Distracted:

A working hypothesis is that it's a signal v noise problem in learning. It's only secondarily about "content."
"'Our attention is the continual interplay between what our goals are and what the environment is trying to dictate to us,' Vogel said. 'Often, to be able to complete complex and important goal-directed behavior, we need to be able to ignore salient but irrelevant things, such as advertisements flashing around an article you are trying to read on a computer screen. We found that some people are really good at overriding attention capture, and other people have a difficult time unhooking from it and are really susceptible to irrelevant stimuli.'

Vogel theorizes that people who are good at staying on focus have a good gatekeeper, much like a bouncer or ticket-taker hired to allow only approved people into a nightclub or concert. Understanding how to improve the gatekeeper component, he said, could lead to therapies that help easily distracted people better process what information is allowed in initially, rather than attempting to teach people how to force more information into their memory banks."

Read more @People With Lots Of Working Memory Are Not Easily Distracted:

Friday, August 7, 2009

How to get Boys in High School "Motivated" to get that A

Being a grown up boy, I can only speak from experience for boys. But I'm pretty sure Video 2 works for everyone. Including teachers.

The point of video 1: ". . . maybe by being an A student baby, I could win your love for me."

The point for video 2: The more you know about how world works, the more you can enjoy the magic of being alive.

Video 1.

Video 2.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's the Matter with Memory?

The point is how can you trust your memories?

The full program is over an hour. You can watch it at

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The quantum theory of reincarnation by Roger Ebert

The point is that this is food for thought.

iShift from the Institute of Noetic Sciences
If you thought Roger Ebert was only interested in movies, read "The quantum theory of reincarnation," the latest essay on his award-winning online journal. In it the renowned film critic offers both wide-eyed wonder and speculative rumination on the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, its possible implications, and the role of string theory and ether and of consciousness as "gravitational." A lively series of postings follows. Also featured on the page are a handful of YouTube videos, including the animated double-slit experiment featured in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know!?.

you can read more here

"The God Effect" by Brian Clegg

The point is that the leading edge of science is going in some very strange directions. You can see the 25 books that Clegg has written here. The other point is that he is trained in applying mathematics to warfare. Warfare is about making decisions that have predictable consequences. Some think it is life at its most clear and most dangerous.

Biography at Amazon

Brian has written a number of popular science books, including The Global Warming Survival Kit, The God Effect, on the most remarkable phenomenon of the quantum world (St Martins Press) and The Man Who Stopped Time on the motion picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge (Joseph Henry Press/NAS). Other titles include A Brief History of Infinity (Constable & Robinson) which was launched with a sell-out lecture at the Royal Institution in London, and reached #1 position on Amazon in the general Popular Science category and topped the Amazon popular maths list for over 10 weeks.

Along with further appearances at the RI he has spoken at venues from Oxford and Cambridge Universities to Cheltenham Festival of Science, has contributed to radio and TV programmes, and is a popular speaker at schools. Brian is also editor of the successful book review site and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Brian has Masters degrees from Cambridge University in Natural Sciences and from Lancaster University in Operational Research, a discipline originally developed during the Second World War to apply the power of mathematics to warfare.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sometimes you can't see what's happening, becuase it's happening too fast

If Mozart Increases Spatial Intelligence for some, What does Hip Hop do?

To be clear, there is no assertion that hip hop doesn't increase some kind of intelligence. The question is only what kind?

from Miller-McCune Online Magazine:
"Researchers from the University of London have tested a thesis that may explain why studies of this phenomenon have produced such inconsistent results. In a study just published in the journal Psychology of Music, they conclude that listening to Mozart can indeed spark a certain type of intelligence, but the effect is limited to non-musicians. The reason, it appears, has to do with the different ways musicians and non-musicians process music in the brain.

The term “Mozart effect” can be traced back to a 1993 study, in which a research team led by Frances Rauscher reported that a group of college students outperformed their peers on a test measuring a specific kind of spatial intelligence after listening to one of the Austrian composer’s works: The Sonata for Two Pianos, K. 448.

The test subjects were asked to mentally unfold a piece of paper that had been folded over several times and then cut. Those who listened to Mozart were able to identify the correct shape of the unfolded paper more quickly than those who had sat in silence for 10 minutes, or those who had listened to a tape of relaxing sounds.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Unlearning 101: Education

Unlearning 101: Education:
St. Louis's Gateway Arch is one of the world's largest optical illusions. It appears to be much taller Gateway-arch than it is wide. The reality is that it is as high as it is wide. The problem is that the illusion can't be overcome just by taking another look -- only an objective measurement will do.

The relationship to unlearning is this: You can't simply rely on what you see to be the sole determinent of truth. In many cases only objective measurement will do.

For example, as I explained in this video, people often "see" patterns when none exist. Alternatively, we tend to view people based more on their surroundings and Gateway2environment than on who they truly are.

If you want to unlearn, my recommendation is to recall the old phrase: "Trust but verify."

"We are so good at seeing patterns that often we see them where none exist." Anonymous

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Invisible Ink? What Rorschach Tests Really Tell Us

The point is that you think what you think becasue you see what what see. My bet is that the problem is not the test. The problem is how you set the norms that say "normal" vs "pathological."
"Proponents of the CS claimed that it also provided a wealth of information for non-patient adults and children. However, critics of this system argue that the norms established by CS are out of date and based on small sample sizes. Furthermore, the CS norms are not representative of the population and actually classify a portion of normal subjects as having pathological tendencies. Many studies have also called into question the scoring reliability of the CS; that is, a number of experiments have shown that two practitioners will score one subject very differently using the CS method. The authors observe that 'disagreements can have particularly serious implications if the test results are used to reach important clinical or legal recommendations.'

read more at Invisible Ink? What Rorschach Tests Really Tell Us:

Today’s Parents 'Not To Blame' For Teenage Problem Behavior

The point is
Differences in the monitoring of teenage children, according to family type and income, have narrowed. For example in 1994, 14–15 year olds from single parent families were more likely to be out late without their parents knowing where compared with two parent families, but by 2005 this difference had disappeared.
. . .
A team led by Professor Frances Gardner from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Oxford found no evidence of a general decline in parenting. Their findings show that differences in parenting according to family structure and income have narrowed over the last 25 years. However, the task of parenting is changing and could be getting increasingly stressful, particularly for some groups.
. . .

The research highlights a different set of challenges for parents compared with 25 years ago. Young people now are reliant on their parents for longer, with higher proportions of 20–24 year olds living with their parents. Many more remain in some kind of education or training into their late teens. In addition, the development of new technology, such as mobile phones and the Internet, has created new monitoring challenges for parents.

'Today’s parents have had to develop skills that are significantly different and arguably more complex than 25 years ago, and this could be increasing the stress involved in parenting,’ Professor Gardner said.

read more at Today’s Parents 'Not To Blame' For Teenage Problem Behavior: "


The point is that looking at twitter should help understand how communication works for people and for birds.

Twitter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. While the service costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees.

Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide. It is sometimes described as the "SMS of the Internet"[3] since the use of Twitter's application programming interface for sending and receiving short text messages by other applications often eclipses the direct use of Twitter.

Twitter is ranked as one of the 50 most popular websites worldwide by Alexa's web traffic analysis.[4] Although estimates of the number of daily users vary because the company does not release the number of active accounts, a February 2009 blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network[5] based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits.[5] In March 2009, a blog ranked Twitter as the fastest-growing site in the Member Communities category for February 2009. Twitter had a monthly growth of 1,382 percent, Zimbio of 240 percent, followed by Facebook with an increase of 228 percent.[6] However, only 40 percent of Twitter's users are retained.[7]

Friday, July 31, 2009

Roadmap for the Brain |

"Doctors designed a computer program specifically for Stacy using four different imaging technologies -- MRI, functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging and CT angiography. Surgeons mapped out a 3-D image of the tumor and brain. With this clear picture, the tumor went from inoperable to treatable because doctors could see vital vessels and maneuver around them.

'The size of the tumor was so large that I needed to know where the arteries and veins were located,' John Tew, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, told Ivanhoe.

'This allows you to do basically sort of a virtual surgery before actually going in and doing the surgery on the patient,' James Leach, M.D., Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, told Ivanhoe.

Doctors removed 90 percent of Stacy's tumor without harming healthy brain tissue. She was talking and walking the same night.

read more at Roadmap for the Brain |
Ivanhoe's Medical Breakthroughs:

Overconfidence Among Teenage Students Can Stunt Crucial Reading Skills

'While some self-confidence is helpful, overconfident 15-year-olds are often below-average readers in all 34 countries we studied,' says Ming Ming Chiu, the lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction in the University at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education. 'In contrast, under-confident 15-year-olds are more likely to be above-average readers in all 34 countries.'"

read more @ Overconfidence Among Teenage Students Can Stunt Crucial Reading Skills:

Game Utilizes Human Intuition To Help Computers Solve Complex Problems

The point is that play has always been at the heart of learning. Usually it's called a "hobby." Sometimes it's called a "passion." But mostly it's tinkering around with reality in the service of playing with it.

Game Utilizes Human Intuition To Help Computers Solve Complex Problems:
"ScienceDaily (July 30, 2009) — A new computer game prototype combines work and play to help solve a fundamental problem underlying many computer hardware design tasks.

The online logic puzzle is called FunSAT, and it could help integrated circuit designers select and arrange transistors and their connections on silicon microchips, among other applications.

Designing chip architecture for the best performance and smallest size is an exceedingly difficult task that's outsourced to computers these days. But computers simply flip through possible arrangements in their search. They lack the human capacities for intuition and visual pattern recognition that could yield a better or even optimal design. That's where FunSAT comes in.

Stories We Tell About National Trauma Reflect Our Psychological Well-being

The point is that the stories we tell ourselves can reflect and affect our health.
Stories We Tell About National Trauma Reflect Our Psychological Well-being:
"ScienceDaily (July 31, 2009) — A new study by psychologists at the University at Buffalo and the F. W. Olin College of Engineering finds that in the aftermath of national trauma, the ability to make sense out of what happened has implications for individual well-being and that the kinds of stories people tell about the incident predict very different psychological outcomes for them."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

History of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The point is that to understand how a word has evolved, it's important to know about its history.

History of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Hyperactivity has long been part of the human condition. Sir Alexander Crichton describes "mental restlessness" in his 1798 book.[1][2] The terminology used to describe the symptoms of ADHD has gone through many changes over history including: "minimal brain damage", "minimal brain dysfunction", "learning/behavioral disabilities" and "hyperactivity". In the DSM-II (1968) it was the "Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood". In the DSM-III "ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder) with or without hyperactivity" was introduced. In 1987 this was changed to ADHD in the DSM-III-R and subsequent editions.[3]

ADHD : One View

Happiness Formula | The science of happiness

Found by ConorMac.
BBC NEWS | Programmes |
Happiness Formula | The science of happiness:
"A new six-part BBC series, starting this week, looks at the newest research from around the world to find out what could it be that makes us happy.

We all want to be happy but the problem has always been that you can't measure happiness.

Happiness has always been seen as too vague a concept, as Lord Layard, Professor of Economics at the LSE and author of 'Happiness - lessons from a new science' points out.

'There is a problem with the word happiness.

'When you use the word happy, it often has the sort of context of balloons floating up into the sky or something frivolous.'

Now scientists say they can actually measure happiness."

Cortechs Labs - Tools for seeing what's going on in living brains

The point is
CorTechs has received SBIR funding from the US National Institute of Aging to use data collected from the NIH and pharmaceutical-industry co-sponsored Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) project, to establish an indication for use for NeuroQuant® as an adjunctive tool in the assessment of patients with AD.
Cortechs Labs - About CorTechs Labs : Company Overview: "CorTechs Labs Inc is a group of scientists, engineers, business professionals, and clinical specialists dedicated to bringing cutting edge brain image analysis technologies to the commercial market.

CorTechs was incorporated in 2001 by leaders in neuroimaging research in order to create advanced medical image analysis solutions for quantitative analysis of the structure and function of the human brain. An extensive and growing body of scientific and clinical research indicates that such tools may help physicians to more effectively diagnose and treat serious neurological disorders that affect millions of patients worldwide. It is our mission to effectively translate the fruits of such research into routine clinical practice.

Many empirical studies have shown that neurodegenerative disorders produce changes in the brain that can be measured with MRI scanning. Accurately characterizing the extent and progression of cortical atrophy from MRIs can only be accomplished only by comparing numerical information with normative data. Existing semi-manual methods for deriving numerical information from MRI scans are too slow and expensive for use outside of small research studies, and lack the reliability necessary for routine clinical application. CorTechs' quantitative image analysis technologies offer a solution to this problem."

Mental, Emotional And Behavioral Disorders Can Be Prevented In Young People

The question to ask is how can you tell the difference between "mental disorder" and/or "acting like a dumb kid" and/or a natural maturing of cognitive functions?

No doubt acting like a dumb kid and/or having "mental, emotional and behavior disorders"can lead to very serious mental consequences and reduced chances of making good decisions in a complex world.

But is the best way to think about "either/or? " Or is the best way to think about it and/or X and/or Y and/or Z?

"ScienceDaily (July 30, 2009) — Around one in five young people in the U.S. have a current mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. About half of all adults with mental disorders recalled that their disorders began by their mid-teens and three-quarters by their mid-20s. Early onset of mental health problems have been associated with poor outcomes such as failure to complete high school, increased risk for psychiatric and substance problems, and teen pregnancy.
. . .

A new article by Mary E. Evans, RN, PhD, FAAN, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing assesses the recently released government report on preventing these disorders among young people. Dr. Evans' paper concludes that using certain interventional programs in schools, communities and health care settings, risk for mental illness can be better identified and treated.

The article highlights the fact that specific risk and protective factors have been identified for many disorders.
more at Mental, Emotional And Behavioral Disorders Can Be Prevented In Young People:

Biomarkers May Help Predict Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease In Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment

Biomarkers May Help Predict Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease In Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment:
"ScienceDaily (July 30, 2009) — Several cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers showed good accuracy in identifying patients with mild cognitive impairment who progressed to Alzheimer disease, according to a new study.
. . .
Because of the type of progression of the disease, there is a need for methods enabling early diagnosis. "Treatments would need to be initiated very early in the disease process, before the neurodegenerative process is too severe. Much focus has thus been directed on patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is a syndrome characterized by cognitive impairment beyond the age-adjusted norm, but not severe enough to fulfill the criteria for dementia," the authors write.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The English Teacher's Companion: English Goes to Work (Part 1)

The point is that this is a very clear, well written framework to see how the study of language fits into education. It's a four part series and is best read over there.

My Photo
The English Teacher's Companion: English Goes to Work (Part 1):

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Songbirds’ Elaborate Cries For Food Show First Signs Of Vocal Learning

The point is that it's sometimes easier to see the mechanisms of communication when we look at non human social animals. Learning to learn evolves from vocal learning.
Songbirds’ Elaborate Cries For Food Show First Signs Of Vocal Learning:
"ScienceDaily (July 27, 2009) — Only a handful of social animals — songbirds, some marine mammals, some bats and humans — learn to actively style their vocal communications. Babies, for instance, start by babbling, their first chance to experiment with sounds. Now, new research in songbirds shows that vocal experimentation may begin with their earliest vocalizations — food begging calls — and perhaps for a more devious reason than previously believed. The findings could change the way we think about the evolution of vocal learning."

It may have started as cheating,” says Fernando Nottebohm, head of the Laboratory of Animal Behavior at The Rockefeller University. “By generating a diversity of calls, young birds may trick their parents into losing track of whom they last fed, in effect creating the impression of several individuals.” In this scenario, the most agile vocal dissembler would get more than its fair share of food at the expense of its siblings.

Nottebohm and Wan-chun Liu, a research assistant professor who made the original observations, are quick to say that the interpretation remains speculative for now, but if true, it would complicate the conventional wisdom that vocal learning evolved as an adjunct to reproductive behavior. In temperate climates, most often only male songbirds sing. The message conveyed by song is simple: I am a male robin, mature, single and ready to breed; females are welcome, males stay away. Depending on the listener, song is a lure or a threat. By imitating the song of established seniors with whom they would have to compete, young breeders presumably gained an advantage in courtship and territorial defense.

The vocal imitation expressed by adults, however, is a complex behavior requiring sophisticated underlying brain circuits, Nottebohm says. How would birds with only innate, genetically foreordained vocal repertoires have evolved the ability?
. . .
Males producing food begging calls also showed an increased expression of c-fos, a neural activity marker in a section of the forebrain known as the robust nucleus, which later plays a role in the control of learned song.

Here's how that plays out with scientists who study human languages.

Scientist at Work: Tucker Childs
Linguist’s Preservation Kit Has New Digital Tools
New York Times July 28. 2009

If You're Happy, Then We Know It: New Research Measures Mood

The point is that analysis of words and citations can reveal the shape of knowledge creation. More at Tough Love for Xerox.

If You're Happy, Then We Know It: New Research Measures Mood:
". . . what if you had a remote-sensing mechanism that could record how millions of people around the world were feeling on any particular day — without their knowing?

Large-scale happiness
That's exactly what Peter Dodds and Chris Danforth, a mathematician and computer scientist working in the Advanced Computing Center at the University of Vermont, have created.

Their methods show that Election Day, November 4, 2008, was the happiest day in four years. The day of Michael Jackson's death, one of the unhappiest.

'The proliferation of personal online writing such as blogs gives us the opportunity to measure emotional levels in real time,' they write in their study, 'Measuring the Happiness of Large-Scale Written Expression: Songs, Blogs, and Presidents,3' now available in an early online edition of the journal.

Their answer to Edgeworth's daydream begins with a website, http://www.wefeelfine.org4 that mines through some 2.3 million blogs, looking for sentences beginning with "I feel" or "I am feeling."

"We gathered nearly 10 million sentences from their site," Dodds says. Then, drawing on a standardized "psychological valence" of words established by the Affective Norms for English Words (ANEW) study, each sentence receives a happiness score. In the ANEW study, a large pool of participants graded their reaction to 1,034 words, forming a kind of "happy-unhappy" scale from 1 to 9. For example, "triumphant" averaged 8.87, "paradise" 8.72, "pancakes" 6.08, "vanity" 4.30, "hostage" 2.20, and "suicide" 1.25.

Monday, July 27, 2009

NSF Funds Science of Learning Centers

NNSF Funds Science of Learning Center at Dartmouth -
US National Science Foundation (NSF)

"Center for Cognitive and Educational Neuroscience will study the mechanisms of human learning across contexts

February 1, 2005
This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

ARLINGTON, Va.--The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $21.8 million to Dartmouth College to establish the Center for Cognitive and Educational Neuroscience (CCEN). The CCEN comprises a multidisciplinary team that includes cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and education to explore how the human brain’s learning processes interact with educational experiences across the lifespan.

The CCEN team will address such complex questions as:

* What are the “windows” for learning as a child develops?
* How do social, emotional and cultural factors influence learning?
* Why are some things hard to learn?
* What factors contribute to the successful transfer of learning from one field of knowledge to another?"
. . .
“Questions like these call for the kind of integrated, interdisciplinary work fostered by a Science of Learning Center,” said Soo-Siang Lim, lead program officer for the NSF’s Science of Learning initiative. “With the Dartmouth center and the other three centers at University of Washington, Boston University, and Carnegie Mellon University, NSF is poised to see breakthrough research in fundamental questions about how people learn.”

New Science Of Learning Offers Preview Of Tomorrow's Classroom

New Science Of Learning Offers Preview Of Tomorrow's Classroom:
"To understand how children learn and improve our educational system, we need to understand what all of these fields can contribute,” explains Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Terrence J. Sejnowski, Ph.D., professor and head of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and co-director of the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC) at the University of California, San Diego, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. “Our brains have evolved to learn and adapt to new environments; if we can create the right environment for a child, magic happens.”"

Multitasking Ability Can Be Improved Through Training

The point is that the brain is plastic and can be improved through training. It's not about content as much as it is about practice.

Multitasking Ability Can Be Improved Through Training: "'We found that a key limitation to efficient multitasking is the speed with which our prefrontal cortex processes information, and that this speed can be drastically increased through training and practice,” Paul E. Dux, a former research fellow at Vanderbilt, and now a faculty member at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and co-author of the study, said. “Specifically, we found that with training, the 'thinking' regions of our brain become very fast at doing each task, thereby quickly freeing them up to take on other tasks.'"

What do you mean when you think "people like me?"

Disabled? Who? Me? �
from Education On The Plate
"People are always asking me silly questions. Well, they’re silly to me and I doubt the questions, or any answers I might give, have any real import to the inquisitor.
. . .

I’m talking about questions like,
“What is your favorite song?”
“What’s your favorite fruit?”
“What single malt whisky do you like best.”

I answer questions like that by saying it is a matter of context. When selecting a whisky to sip on during an evening of conversation with friends (defined as people who have never asked me anything like one of the questions above) I sometimes enjoy the peppery flavor of Talisker, but on a damp foggy night in late autumn when I am sitting in my chair reading and listening to the muffled sounds outside, the iodine-laced Laphroaig appeals to me. Or when looking for a light refreshment….

At some point I’ll really hit my stride and say something like, “you see, context determines everything, even what we call disabilities.”

A long time ago I was involved in the disability rights movement on Cape Cod. This was long before the American with Disabilities Act. I belonged to an organization whose main activities involved teaching what I then considered to be “normal” people (I know, but I was young and foolish and this story is about how I learned better) about disabilities.
As a commenter to the post, I said,
Kids and editors looking for copy are always prowling around for the top ten, top 100, top 1000. It’s very satisfying because it’s about “me” or “people like us.”

It always feels good to be part of a tribe. As long as you don’t mix up “me” or “people like us’ with everyone else.

Mourning the Death of Handwriting - TIME

The point is that "We've given up beauty for speed, artistry for efficiency. And yes, maybe we are a little bit lazy."

Mourning the Death of Handwriting - TIME:
Why? Technology is only part of the reason. A study published in the February issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology found that just 9% of American high school students use an in-class computer more than once a week. The cause of the decline in handwriting may lie not so much in computers as in standardized testing.

The Federal Government's landmark 1983 report A Nation at Risk, on the dismal state of public education, ushered in a new era of standardized assessment that has intensified since the passage in 2002 of the No Child Left Behind Act. "In schools today, they're teaching to the tests," says Tamara Thornton, a University of Buffalo professor and the author of a history of American handwriting. "If something isn't on a test, it's viewed as a luxury." Garcia agrees. "It's getting harder and harder to balance what's on the test with the rest of what children need to know," she says. "Reading is on there, but handwriting isn't, so it's not as important." In other words, schools don't care how a child holds her pencil as long as she can read.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

John Seely Brown: Tinkering as a Mode of Knowledge Production

The Anthropology of YouTube

Presented at the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum at Jazz at Lincoln Center. About 10 minutes of it is a minor update (rehash) of An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube, but the rest is new. The gathering may have been the highest concentration of amazingly creative and concerned global citizens I have ever been around. Hallway conversations were different than your typical conversations. Instead of lots of people saying, 'You know, somebody should ...' there were lots of people saying, 'So I did this, this, and this, and now Im working on doing this, this, and this and we should collaborate ...' In other words, it was a bunch of people blessed with what I once heard Yochai Benkler and Henry Jenkins call critical optimism. Nobody there was blindly optimistic, thinking technology was going to make everything better. They were all continually trying to figure out where we are, where we might be going, and the possible downsides and dangers of new technologies so we can use the new technologies to serve human purposes. In other words, it was my kind of crowd. Special thanks to Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej for organizing the conference.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The importance of Wikitude for Print and High School Education

Enabling the Ecosystem: WIKITUDE, Part One | AndroidGuys: "ML: WIKITUDE is an augmented reality world browser which supports the visualization of IP based information within the physical world. In other words, WIKITUDE enables the world to become a platform for information to be displayed in a mixed reality, within a situational context. WIKITUDE is also a platform for AR development API and a crowdsourced geo-information portal,"

The Future of Education: Technology and How People Learn

The point is "There’s a mimicking of biology: instead of top-down control, we see a bottom-up, evolutionary-based set of rules, based on parallelism rather than serialism. Wright applies a Darwinian analogy, echoing the set of Darwin-related themes bouncing around Aspen this week."
The Future of Education: Technology and How People Learn:
. . . "Gardner gives us the Five Minds in Under Five Minutes (pretty impressive speed here…): the five are the disciplined mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, and the ethical mind. The disciplined mind is about becoming an expert in something. It’s hard to imagine that the digital media are helping in this respect. The synthesizing mind, some have said, is the most important in the digital era: to sort through lots more information than has ever before been available to human beings. Digital natives like to search, but it’s unclear that they are in fact good at it. The creating mind comes up with new approaches, new methods. Creating minds think outside the box — but you need the box first, which are from your discipline and your synthesis. One of the big questions: can these media help creativity, or might they instead inhibit creativity, by giving too much of a frame and discouraging going beyond that box.

. . . There’s a mimicking of biology: instead of top-down control, we see a bottom-up, evolutionary-based set of rules, based on parallelism rather than serialism. Wright applies a Darwinian analogy, echoing the set of Darwin-related themes bouncing around Aspen this week.

Arthur Benjamin's Formula for Changing Math Education

Are engineers the Rock Stars of Tomorrow?

Engineering Students Rock -- Mechanical Engineers Rock Out On Guitars They Construct Themselves

See the video by clicking the title:

Engineering Students Rock -- Mechanical Engineers Rock Out On Guitars They Construct Themselves:
January 1, 2009 — Mechanical engineers combined their skills with that of electrical engineering and computer science to create a college class inspired by the Guitar Hero game. The hands-on course requires students to build their own guitar. To do this, students choose a shape for the guitar, which is cut out of lumber by a computer. Located under the guitar strings, magnets detect vibrations and wire coils send an electronic signal to an amplifier and speaker. Effects pedals can also distort the sound and add special effects."

The video at clicking the title:

DNA 'Sloppier Copier' Surprisingly Efficient: Three Major Puzzles About Famous Enzyme Solved

DNA 'Sloppier Copier' Surprisingly Efficient: Three Major Puzzles About Famous Enzyme Solved:
"The enzyme known as DNA polymerase V (pol V) comes in when a cell's DNA is reeling from radiation damage or other serious blows. Pol V copies the damaged DNA as best it can – saving the life of the bacterial cell at the cost of adding hundreds of random mutations.

The July 16 Nature study reveals pol V's key attributes: economy of motion and quickness to engage.

The study also solves two other stubborn mysteries about the mechanics of DNA repair: the exact composition of the active form of pol V and the crucial role of a protein filament, known as RecA*, that is always present around DNA repair sites, but was never shown to be directly involved."

The Good Life: Where Psychology Stands On Living Well

The point is that as it has been said, science is just common sense, systematically applied. Just a quibble with the snippet. I would put "feeling healthy and safe" at the top of the list. It's the necessary, but not sufficient condition for everything else.

The Good Life: Where Psychology Stands On Living Well:
"So far we have learned from psychology that a good life includes experiencing more positive than negative feelings, feeling like your life has been lived well, continually using your talents and strengths, having close interpersonal relationships, being engaged at work and other activities, being a part of a social community, perceiving that life has a meaning, and feeling healthy and safe. And while these conclusions may seem like common sense, we as humans fall short on knowing just how to obtain and maintain these qualities.

Psychology still has a ways to go until the perfect formula for a good life is found. As Park and Peterson put it, "At present, psychology knows more about people's problems and how to solve them than it does about what it means to live well and how to encourage and maintain such a life." They suggest researchers across all disciplines of psychology come together and collaborate on their findings, perhaps pulling together a more complete picture of the human experience.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Potential New Drug Target For Diabetes And Alzheimer's Disease

The point is that experiments on rodents can help us understand how Alzheimer's works in people.

Potential New Drug Target For Diabetes And Alzheimer's Disease
"The study, which focuses on diabetic rodents, appears this month in PLoS One and is the first to show a role in glucose metabolism for humanin, a small protein (peptide). The researchers also demonstrated that humanin resembles the peptide leptin by acting on the brain to influence glucose metabolism.

Humanin is found in mitochondria — structures that populate the cytoplasm of cells and provide them with energy. The peptide was first detected in brain nerve cells in 2001, and subsequent studies suggest that it protects nerve cells from death associated with Alzheimer's and other brain disease."

An Evolutionary Approach to Financial History

The point is that an evolutionary approach to learning makes the most sense to me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Teen’s Report Causes International Twitter

Web Watch: Teen’s Report Causes International Twitter: "The 15-year-old was put to work in the bank’s media and internet research department where he wrote How Teenagers Consume Media, a report that has caused a sensation among fund managers, CEOs, and analysts in Tokyo, London, and on Wall Street. The report, which Matthew says reflects the collective views of about 300 teenagers, appears to spell doom and gloom for print and traditional media. He said teens don’t read newspapers or listen to the radio because they can access this media more easily on the Web. Robson also claims that “teens don’t use Twitter,” adding that it appeals to an older crowd.

Edward Hill-Wood, Robson’s Morgan Stanley supervisor said the report proved to be “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen. So we published it.”"

To get the PDF How Teenagers Consume Media

Top News - What educators can learn from brain research

"As technology advances, new discoveries based on brain mapping are helping researchers understand how students learn. And those discoveries, in turn, are enriching and informing classroom practices in a growing number of schools.

Thanks to functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)--a type of non-invasive, low-radiation brain scan that measures neural activity in response to certain stimuli, and the most recently developed forms of neuroimaging--researchers are learning more about how we learn than many thought possible."

Worth the click to read the rest:
Top News - What educators can learn from brain research:

Newsweek should consider clickable magazines to replace K -12 textbooks.

McClatchy Watch:
Amazing stat of the day: Newsweek's paid newsstand circulation is less than 67,000 copies a week: "Newsweek lost $20.3 million in the first quarter of this year on revenue of $46.1 million. Those are ugly numbers. But given the circulation statistics, they're hardly surprising. It's a little hard to see why—especially in an age of real-time online news—The Washington Post Co. is keeping Newsweek alive. Readers (and advertisers) just don't seem to care."

Misdiagnosis Of Disorders Of Consciousness Still Commonplace

The point is that if they can't diagnose a vegetative state, how can they diagnose much more subtle cognitive problems with certainty.

Misdiagnosis Of Disorders Of Consciousness Still Commonplace:
"ScienceDaily (July 21, 2009) — A sixteen-month study of consensus-based diagnosis of patients with disorders of consciousness has shown that 41% of cases of minimally conscious state (MCS) were misdiagnosed as vegetative state (VS), a condition associated with a much lower chance of recovery. Researchers have demonstrated that standardized neurobehavioral assessment is more sensitive than diagnoses determined by clinical consensus.

The researchers prospectively followed 103 patients with mixed etiologies and compared the clinical consensus diagnosis provided by the physician on the basis of the medical staff's daily observations to diagnoses derived from the CRS-R. They found that of the 44 patients diagnosed with VS based on the clinical consensus of the medical team, 18 (41%) were found to be in MCS following standardized assessment with the CRS-R. According to Laureys, "It is likely that the examiners' reliance on unstructured bedside observations contributed to the high rate of misdiagnosis of VS patients. Unlike traditional bedside assessment, the CRS-R guards against misdiagnosis by incorporating items that directly reflect the existing diagnostic criteria for MCS, and by operationalizing scoring criteria for the identification of behaviors associated with consciousness".

The researchers conclude, "The results of this study suggest that the systematic use of a sensitive standardized neurobehavioral assessment scale may help decrease diagnostic error and limit diagnostic uncertainty".

Brain's Center For Perceiving 3-D Motion Is Identified

Brain's Center For Perceiving 3-D Motion Is Identified: "Neuroscientists have now pinpointed where and how the brain processes 3-D motion using specially developed computer displays and an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine to scan the brain.

They found, surprisingly, that 3-D motion processing occurs in an area in the brain—located just behind the left and right ears—long thought to only be responsible for processing two-dimensional motion (up, down, left and right).

This area, known simply as MT , and its underlying neuron circuitry are so well studied that most scientists had concluded that 3-D motion must be processed elsewhere. Until now."

Trash Or Treasure? Families And Their Beloved Possessions

The point is that objects are one way humans can see their personal history, family history, national history and the history of the human race. That's why Print can be so important.

Read the full column at Science News.

Amber M. Epp (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Linda L. Price (University of Arizona, Tucson) conducted a two-year case study that tracked the origins, movements, and placement of one family's objects. "It is not necessarily the history of an object that rescues it from being discarded, but also its place in a network of other objects, practices, and spaces that determine whether and when it's replaceable," the authors write.

"Our study suggests that families should consider the downstream consequences when introducing new products or services into their homes," the authors write. "It's important for families to be conscious about which activities or objects are important to preserve, especially during times of change."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is Learning? . . . according to Wikipedia

If the object is to improve learning, it makes sense to define the terms. The learning we're interested is the kind that is best done by children coming of age. That's usually between about 13 and 20 years old. The place where that is supposed to happen is in last years of high school and first years of college.

From wikipedia:

Learning is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, preferences or understanding, and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.

Human learning may occur as part of education or personal development. It may be goal-oriented and may be aided by motivation. The study of how learning occurs is part of neuropsychology, educational psychology, learning theory, and pedagogy.

Learning may occur as a result of habituation or classical conditioning, seen in many animal species, or as a result of more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals[1][2] and humans. Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness. There is evidence for human behavioral learning prenatally, in which habituation has been observed as early as 32 weeks into gestation, indicating that the central nervous system is sufficiently developed and primed for learning and memory to occur very early on in development.

Study Calls For New Approach To Teaching English As A Lingua Franca

The point is that speaking a language is both a token of group membership and a method to communicate. It's hard to be a member of a group. It's much easier to learn to communicate.

Study Calls For New Approach To Teaching English As A Lingua Franca:
"Doctoral student, Wafa Zoghbor from the School of Education said, “I was taught English as a foreign language and after years of learning Standard English pronunciation I found a wide gap between the target I have been trying to achieve and the level of intelligibility required to communicate effectively. Very few users of English today would claim that aiming at native-like pronunciation is necessary or even desirable. I hope that my contribution to this field can challenge the existing stereotypes of teaching English pronunciation. ”

Her research explores the notion that teaching native pronunciation might eliminate a significant indicator of an individual’s identity. She said, “We recognise Indian, South African, Egyptian and Chinese speakers from their accents. As long as they are intelligible and have the potential to communicate effectively there should be no reason for them not to retain their accents – something which they might like to do as this accent carries their identity, ethnicity and indicates the group of people they belong to.”"

Lumosity - Brain Exercises

I haven't tried it yet, but could be interesting.
Lumosity -
From the website:
# Shown to improve memory and attention
# Detailed feedback and improvement tracking
# Fun and easy: full workout in less than 10 minutes/day
# Start your training today"

'Heart Healthy' Diet And Ongoing, Moderate Physical Activity May Protect Against Cognitive Decline

My bet is that it has more to do with exercise than what people eat. Since correlation does not equal causation, it's still too hard to isolate the contribution each plays.

'Heart Healthy' Diet And Ongoing, Moderate Physical Activity May Protect Against Cognitive Decline:
"ScienceDaily (July 20, 2009) — Eating a 'heart healthy' diet and maintaining or increasing participation in moderate physical activity may help preserve our memory and thinking abilities as we age, according to new research reported July 14 at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD 2009) in Vienna.
. . .
Studies have found that older adults who are physically active may experience slower rates of cognitive decline. Less is known about the impact of changes in physical activity levels on rate of cognitive decline.
. . .

Alzheimer's Risk Gene May Reduce Benefits of Physical Activity to Cognitive Ability

While the relationship of physical activity with cognitive performance as we age is a subject of considerable research, much less is known about how this relationship is impacted by the Alzheimer's risk gene Apolipoprotein E (APOE). The APOE gene comes in three types, or alleles, known as e2, e3, and e4. Each person gets one type of APOE from each parent, making the possible combinations: e2/e2, e2/e3, e2/e4, e3/e3, e3/e4, e4/e4. Having two copies of e4 conveys the highest risk for Alzheimer's; having one e4 also raises one's risk. E3 is the most common type. E2, though rare, is thought to be protective.

. . .

n their analysis, the researchers found that physical activity was associated with enhanced cognitive function, and that this relationship was differentially influenced by the person's APOE genotype: non-E4 carriers and people with one copy of E4 performed better than people with two copies of E4. After adjusting for age, ethnicity, severe chronic medical illness, lean body mass, and education, aerobic physical activity continued to show a statistically significant association with cognitive function in non-E4 carriers but not in people with E4 (any combination)

"In our nationally representative sample, persons who reported higher levels of aerobic physical activity had better memory than those who reported no such activity. This was especially true in those people who didn't have the APOE-e4 Alzheimer's risk gene," Obisesan said.

"Because physical activity is a low-cost, low-risk, readily available intervention, it may prove to be an important public health strategy to reduce or prevent memory loss and other symptoms of mental decline in the elderly. Future rigorous clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings," Obisesan added.

Could Older Population Have Enough Exposure To Past H1N1 Flu Strains To Avoid Infection?

The point is that there is an ongoing competition between viruses and other living things. It's one of the reasons that looking at history through the lens of demography, genes and evolution can be so useful in figuring out why what happens, happens.

Could Older Population Have Enough Exposure To Past H1N1 Flu Strains To Avoid Infection?: "ScienceDaily (June 25, 2009) — A letter to the editor by Rhode Island Hospital infectious diseases specialist Leonard Mermel, DO, identifies characteristics of the outbreak of H1N1 in 1977 and speculates its impact on this pandemic.

Mermel notes that in the late 1970s, an influenza H1N1 reappeared in humans. It had a pandemic-like spread that began in younger aged individuals. This strain, known as the "Russian flu" H1N1, was similar to H1N1 strains that circulated internationally between 1946 and 1957. The Russian flu spread rapidly across the former Soviet Union, initially affecting individuals between the ages of 14 and 20 in schools, as well as young military personnel, and later spread to preschool children. Individuals older than age 30, however, had dramatically lower attack rates and the overall mortality was low. The epidemic peaked rapidly, with a relatively short duration.

H1N1 Influenza Pandemic Modeling For Public Health Action

The point is that if genes = viruses and memes=genes in the world of learning, then it's plausible to believe the mathematical modeling of memes could help measure learning. The only way to manage something is to be able to measure it.
H1N1 Influenza Pandemic Modeling For Public Health Action: "ScienceDaily (July 21, 2009) — Mathematical modelling can help inform public health policy in outbreaks such as the H1N1 pandemic, write members of the Pandemic Influenza Outbreak Research Modelling Team in Canada in a CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) article. These models are useful tools for simulating plausible scenarios, developing control strategies and identifying important areas for immediate research.
. . .
Mathematical models have shown that small seasonal variations in transmission of the influenza virus can drive large annual surges in the disease.
. . .

The authors conclude that "making these models better understood and more accessible will provide a valuable additional weapon in the fight against emerging infectious diseases."

In a related article, Canada's first human-to-human transmission of the H1N1 influenza virus is presented in a research case study. The article looks at the cluster of cases in Nova Scotia in April 2009 and outlines transmission, diagnostic testing and public health measures to control the outbreak.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss

The point is this might be one of the underlying nueral mechanisms for the "thirst for knowledge."
Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss: "The authors conclude that the same dopamine neurons that signal primitive rewards like food and water also signal the cognitive reward of advance information. Importantly, this finding has important implications for modern theories of reinforcement learning. 'Our data shows the need for a new class of models that assign information a positive value,' says Dr. Bromberg-Martin. 'Dopamine neurons might treat information as desirable because it can help us learn how to predict and control our environment.'"

Trying to learn how learning works -

The point is that a science of learning is emerging from the art of teaching and learning.
Trying to learn how learning works -
"'New insights from many different fields are converging to create a new science of learning that may transform educational practices,' begins a report led by Andrew Meltzoff of the University of Washington in Seattle. The review in the current Science magazine makes the case for psychologists, neuroscientists, roboticists and teachers combining to quietly create a new field that combines everything from how brains grow to how classrooms work into a new kind of learning research.

For example, a companion study in the current Science by John Gabrieli of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, illustrates how neuroscience and education researchers have teamed up to tackle dyslexia, a difficulty with reading and vocabulary that afflicts 5% to 17% of children. Behavioral and brain measures can now identify dyslexic tendencies in infants, and lead to teaching that can "prevent dyslexia from occurring in the majority of children who would otherwise develop dyslexia," according to the study.
. . .
In April, President Obama called on National Academy of Sciences members to "think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering" and announced an initiative to raise those TIMSS scores.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Delinquent Behavior Among Boys 'Contagious,' Study Finds

The point is that if behavior is framed as a contagious disease and the accelerator is the culture, then small changes in in the culture can lead to huge changes in the behavior.

Delinquent Behavior Among Boys 'Contagious,' Study Finds: "The more intense the help given by the juvenile justice system, the greater was its negative impact,' Dr. Tremblay stresses. 'Our findings take on even greater importance given that the juvenile justice system in the province of Quebec has the reputation of being among the best. Most countries spend considerable financial resources to fund programs and institutions that group deviant youths together in order to help them. The problem is that delinquent behavior is contagious, especially among adolescents. Putting deviant adolescents together creates a culture of deviance, which increases the likelihood of continued criminal behavior.

Learning Is Both Social And Computational, Supported By Neural Systems Linking People

The point is that given the plasticity of the brain a science of life long learning is possible.

Learning Is Both Social And Computational, Supported By Neural Systems Linking People:
"ScienceDaily (July 19, 2009) — Education is on the cusp of a transformation because of recent scientific findings in neuroscience, psychology, and machine learning that are converging to create foundations for a new science of learning.

Writing in the July 17 edition of the journal Science, researchers report that this shift is being driven by three principles that are emerging from cross-disciplinary work: learning is computational, learning is social, and learning is supported by brain circuits linking perception and action that connect people to one another. This new science of learning, the researchers believe, may shed light into the origins of human intelligence.

"We are not left alone to understand the world like Robinson Crusoe was on his island," said Andrew Meltzoff, lead author of the paper and co-director of the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. "These principles support learning across the life span and are particularly important in explaining children's rapid learning in two unique domains of human intelligence, language and social understanding.

"Social interaction is more important than we previously thought and underpins early learning. Research has shown that humans learn best from other humans, and a large part of this is timing, sensitive timing between a parent or a tutor and the child," said Meltzoff, who is a developmental psychologist.

"We are trying to understand how the child's brain works – how computational abilities are changed in the presence of another person, and trying to use these three principles as leverage for learning and improving education," added co-author Patricia Kuhl, a neuroscientist and co-director of the UW's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

BBC Earth TwitterNews July 18, 2009

In High Schools, Science is often taught as something that happened then. The fact is that science is something that is happening now. Below is an example of what a daily or weekly Science A4 might look like. It could be delivered as a standalone. Or it could be the sidebar for a student newspaper, a clickable newspaper.

Unlike a textbook, it could be delivered fresh every day or every week. When students get fresh food for thought, it's much more likely that they will think. If CodeZ QR is embedded, it gives the teacher/mentor information about which student is looking, when and where. That information can be shared with parents and other teachers. As that body of information is analyzed, it will make it practical for the teacher to use it to plan appropriate interventions.

  1. BBC_Earth
    BBC_Earth BBC Science&Nature: Brazil demands return of UK waste
  2. BBC_Earth First Deepwater Well Off Libya: Exxon Mobil began drilling the first deepwater explorat..
  3. BBC_Earth Telegraph: British companies accused of dumping toxic waste

  4. BBC_EarthTelegraph: Most polluting postcodes in Britain identified in heart of middle England
  5. BBC_EarthTelegraph: Bottom 1000 least polluting postcodes in Britain
  6. Petroleum Product Demand at Ten Year Low: An article at the Oil and Gas Journal website..
  7. BBC_EarthScienceDaily: Reintroduced Chinese Alligators Now Multiplying In The Wild In China

  8. Micronesia Islands Seek Help: The President of the Federated States of Micronesia has a..
  9. Amazon and Manaus Rivers in Flood: Earth Observatory has satellite images that show spe..
  10. Unconventional Gas Conference: The 11th annual Unconventional Gas Conference will be be..
  11. BBC_EarthEnviroCentric: NASA, CU-Boulder airborne expedition chases Arctic sea ice questions: A small NASA ..
  12. BBC_EarthDiscovery Earth: Climate Changes May be Slower Than Expected