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Brain Development Through Bilingual Education and Activities Requiring Self-Control

How To Help Your Child’s Brain Grow Up Strong (NPR):

- “Kids who learn two lan­guages young are bet­ter able to learn abstract rules and to reverse rules that they’ve already learned,” says Aamodt. “They’re less like­ly to have dif­fi­cul­ty choos­ing between con­flict­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties when there are two pos­si­ble respons­es that both present them­selves. They’re also bet­ter at fig­ur­ing out what oth­er peo­ple are think­ing, which is prob­a­bly because they have to fig­ure out which lan­guage to use every time they talk to Read the rest of this entry »

Working memory: a better predictor of academic success than IQ?

Work­ing mem­o­ry is the abil­i­ty to hold infor­ma­tion in your head and

via Flickr (Plasticinaa)

Pic: Flickr (Plas­tic­i­naa)

manip­u­late it men­tal­ly. You use this men­tal work­space when adding up two num­bers spo­ken to you by some­one else with­out being able to use pen and paper or a cal­cu­la­tor. Chil­dren at school need this mem­o­ry on a dai­ly basis for a vari­ety of tasks such as fol­low­ing teach­ers’ instruc­tions or remem­ber­ing sen­tences they have been asked to write down.

The main goal of our recent paper pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Exper­i­men­tal Child Psy­chol­o­gy was to inves­ti­gate the pre­dic­tive pow­er of work­ing mem­o­ry and IQ in learn­ing in typ­i­cal­ly devel­op­ing chil­dren over a six-year peri­od. This issue is impor­tant because dis­tin­guish­ing between the cog­ni­tive skills under­pin­ning suc­cess in learn­ing is cru­cial for ear­ly screen­ing and inter­ven­tion.

In this study, typ­i­cal­ly devel­op­ing stu­dents were test­ed for their IQ and work­ing mem­o­ry at 5 years old and again when they were 11 years old. They were also test­ed on their aca­d­e­m­ic attain­ments in read­ing, spelling and maths.

Find­ings and Edu­ca­tion­al Impli­ca­tions

The find­ings revealed that a child’s suc­cess in all aspects of learn­ing is down to how good their work­ing mem­o­ry is regard­less of IQ score. Crit­i­cal­ly, work­ing mem­o­ry at the start of for­mal edu­ca­tion is a more pow­er­ful pre­dic­tor of sub­se­quent aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess than IQ in the ear­ly years.

This unique find­ing is impor­tant as it address­es Read the rest of this entry »

Comparing Working Memory Training & Medication Treatment for ADHD

Work­ing mem­o­ry (WM) is the cog­ni­tive sys­tem respon­si­ble for the tem­po­rary stor­age and manip­u­la­tion of infor­ma­tion and plays an impor­tant role in both learn­ing and focus­ing atten­tion. Con­sid­er­able research has doc­u­ment­ed that many chil­dren and adults with ADHD have WM deficits and that this con­tributes to dif­fi­cul­ties asso­ci­at­ed with the dis­or­der. For an excel­lent intro­duc­tion to the role of WM deficits in ADHD, click here.

A sim­ple exam­ple illus­trates the impor­tance of WM for par­tic­u­lar aca­d­e­m­ic tasks. Try adding 3 and 9 in your head. That was prob­a­bly easy for you. Now try­ing adding 33 and 99. That was prob­a­bly more dif­fi­cult. Final­ly, try adding 333 and 999. This is quite chal­leng­ing for most adults even though each cal­cu­la­tion required is triv­ial­ly easy. The chal­lenge occurred because you need to store infor­ma­tion — the sum of 3+9 in the one’s col­umn and then ten’s col­umn — as you process the remain­ing part of the prob­lem, i.e., 3+9 in the hun­dred’s col­umn, and this taxed your WM. If your WM capac­i­ty was exceed­ed, you could not com­plete the prob­lem suc­cess­ful­ly.

This sim­ple prob­lem also illus­trates the dif­fer­ence between short-term mem­o­ry (STM) and WM. Short-term mem­o­ry sim­ply involves retain­ing infor­ma­tion in mind for short peri­ods of time, e.g., remem­ber­ing that the prob­lem you need to solve is 333+999. Work­ing mem­o­ry, in con­trast, involves men­tal­ly manip­u­lat­ing — or ‘work­ing’ with — retained infor­ma­tion and comes into play in a wide range of learn­ing activ­i­ties. For exam­ple, to answer ques­tions about a sci­ence chap­ter, a child not only has to cor­rect­ly retain fac­tu­al infor­ma­tion but must men­tal­ly work with that infor­ma­tion to answer ques­tions about it. Thus, when a child’s WM capac­i­ty is low rel­a­tive to peers, aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance is like­ly to be com­pro­mised in mul­ti­ple areas.

Because WM deficits play an impor­tant role in the strug­gles expe­ri­enced by many indi­vid­u­als with ADHD, it is impor­tant to con­sid­er how dif­fer­ent inter­ven­tions address this aspect of the dis­or­der. In this study, the authors were inter­est­ed in com­par­ing the impact of Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing and stim­u­lant med­ica­tion treat­ment on the WM per­for­mance of chil­dren diag­nosed with ADHD.

Par­tic­i­pants were 25 8–11 year-old chil­dren with ADHD (21 boy and 4 girls) who were Placebo effect, mind hacksbeing treat­ed with stim­u­lant med­ica­tion. Chil­dren’s mem­o­ry per­for­mance was assessed on 4 occa­sions using the Auto­mat­ed Work­ing Mem­o­ry Assess­ment (AWMA), a com­put­er­ized test that mea­sures ver­bal short-term mem­o­ry, ver­bal work­ing mem­o­ry, visuo-spa­tial short-term mem­o­ry, and visuo-spa­tial work­ing mem­o­ry.

At time 1, the assess­ment was con­duct­ed when chil­dren had been off med­ica­tion for at least 24 hours. The sec­ond assess­ment occurred an aver­age of 5 months lat­er and when chil­dren were on med­ica­tion. The third assess­ment occurred after chil­dren had com­plet­ed 5 weeks of Cogmed Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing using the stan­dard train­ing pro­to­col (see below). The final assess­ment occurred approx­i­mate­ly 6 months after train­ing had end­ed. This design enabled the researchers to make the fol­low­ing com­par­isons:

- WM per­for­mance on med­ica­tion vs. off med­ica­tion (T1 vs T2)
— WM per­for­mance on med­ica­tion vs. after train­ing (T2 vs. T3)
— WM per­for­mance imme­di­ate­ly after train­ing end­ed vs. 6 months fol­low­ing train­ing (T3 vs. T4)

This final com­par­i­son pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion on whether any ben­e­fits pro­vid­ed by the train­ing had endured.

In addi­tion to mea­sur­ing STM and WM at each time point, mea­sures of IQ were col­lect­ed at times 1, 2, and 3.

- Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing -

WM train­ing was con­duct­ed using the stan­dard Cogmed train­ing pro­to­col with each child Cogmed working memory trainingcom­plet­ing 20–25 train­ing ses­sions with­in a 25 day peri­od. The train­ing requires the stor­age and manip­u­la­tion of sequences of ver­bal, e.g., repeat­ing back a sequence of dig­its in reverse order, and/or visuo-spa­tial infor­ma­tion, e.g., recall­ing the loca­tion of objects on dif­fer­ent por­tions of the com­put­er screen.

Dif­fi­cul­ty lev­el is cal­i­brat­ed on a tri­al by tri­al basis so the child is always work­ing at a lev­el that close­ly match­es their per­for­mance. For exam­ple, if a child suc­cess­ful­ly recalled three dig­its in reverse order, on the next tri­al he had to recall four. When a tri­al was failed, the next tri­al was made eas­i­er by reduc­ing the num­ber of items to be recalled. This method of ‘adap­tive train­ing’ is thought to be a key ele­ment because it requires the child to ‘stretch’ their WM capac­i­ty to move through the pro­gram.

- Results -

- Impact of Short-Term Mem­o­ry and Work­ing Mem­o­ry -

Med­ica­tion vs. no med­ica­tion — When test­ed on med­ica­tion, Read the rest of this entry »

Carnival of Education #159: Briefing the Next US President on 35 Issues

Dear Mr or Mrs Next US Pres­i­dent,

Thank you for stop­ping dur­ing recess for a quick study ses­siMeditation School Studentson. 35 edu­ca­tors have col­lab­o­rat­ed to present this Car­ni­val of Edu­ca­tion as a use­ful les­son plan for you and your edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy team on what our real con­cerns and sug­ges­tions are.

In case this is your first vis­it to our Sharp­Brains blog, let me first of all point out some use­ful resources to stay sane dur­ing the rest of the cam­paign: select­ed Brain Teasers, a list of 21 great Brain Books, over a dozen inter­views with lead­ing sci­en­tists on learn­ing and brain-based top­ics, and more.

With­out fur­ther ado, let’s pro­ceed to the issues raised. We hope they pro­vide, at the very least, good men­tal stim­u­la­tion for you and your advi­sors.

Edu­ca­tion as a Sys­tem

The First Step Is Failure

Joanne Jacobs, edu­ca­tor, blog­ger and author of Our School: The Inspir­ing Sto­ry of Two Teach­ers, One Big Idea and the Char­ter School That Beat the Odds, par­tic­i­pates today in our Author Speaks Series with an excel­lent arti­cle on how “Schools won’t improve until admin­is­tra­tors and teach­ers can admit the prob­lems, ana­lyze what’s going wrong and try new strate­gies. Stu­dents won’t improve if they think they’re “spe­cial” just the way they are.” Enjoy, and feel free to add your com­ment to engage in a stim­u­lat­ing con­ver­sa­tion.Our School: Joanne Jacobs

———————–
The First Step Is Fail­ure
By Joanne Jacobs

When self-esteem became an edu­ca­tion watch­word in 1986, I thought it was a harm­less fad. I was wrong: It wasn’t harm­less. Many teach­ers were per­suad­ed that stu­dents should be pumped up with praise, regard­less of their per­for­mance. Schools low­ered expec­ta­tions so stu­dents couldn’t fail. Every­one got an “I Am Spe­cial” stick­er. Till the stan­dards and account­abil­i­ty move­ment kicked in, stu­dents often were judged by how they felt about learn­ing not by whether they’d actu­al­ly learned some­thing.

Read the rest of this entry »

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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