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Virtual “Brain Games” roundtable: Why we can, and SHOULD, train our brains

brainGames_new seasonIn prepa­ra­tion for the new sea­son of Nation­al Geographic’s Brain Games, start­ing this Sun­day Feb­ru­ary 14th, their pro­duc­ers asked us to par­tic­i­pate in a vir­tu­al round­table around this thought-pro­vok­ing ques­tion:

Do you think indi­vid­u­als can train their brain to respond in a par­tic­u­lar way to cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, or do you think our brain’s innate “star­tle response” is too hard­wired to alter?

Short answer: Read the rest of this entry »

Can video games inspire altruism?

(Editor’s Note: we are pleased to bring you this arti­cle thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine).

Gam­ing for Good
Research sug­gests that games like Lem­mings, where the goal is to help oth­ers, inspire real-life acts of altru­ism.
— By Kyle Smith

For years, video games have been linked to aggres­sion and vio­lence, with researchers and media reports sug­gest­ing that vio­lent games have inspired or even caused vio­lent acts.

But a new study sug­gests that video games can be a force for good, find­ing that games with pos­i­tive objec­tives can actu­al­ly inspire peo­ple to per­form acts of altru­ism.

lemmings-435x285Over four exper­i­ments, Tobias Gre­it­e­mey­er and Sil­ia Oss­wald, researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sus­sex in Eng­land and Lud­wig-Max­i­m­il­ian Uni­ver­si­ty in Ger­many, respec­tive­ly, had par­tic­i­pants play either a “proso­cial” game—a game where the goal is to help others—or a “neu­tral” game, mean­ing it has no char­ac­ters with whom to inter­act pos­i­tive­ly or neg­a­tive­ly, like Tetris. Then the researchers placed the par­tic­i­pants in sit­u­a­tions where they had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to help oth­ers, rang­ing from low-risk sit­u­a­tions, such as see­ing a dropped cup of pen­cils, to high-risk ones, like wit­ness­ing an angry ex-boyfriend harass an exper­i­menter.

Gre­it­e­mey­er and Oss­wald want­ed to see if the par­tic­i­pants wee more like­ly to inter­vene Read the rest of this entry »

Playing the Blame Game: Video Games Pros and Cons

Play­ing the Blame Game
– Video games stand accused of caus­ing obe­si­ty, vio­lence, and lousy grades. But new research paints a sur­pris­ing­ly com­pli­cat­ed and pos­i­tive pic­ture, reports Greater Good Mag­a­zine’s Jere­my Adam Smith.

Cheryl Olson had seen her teenage son play video games. But like many par­ents, she didn’t know much about them.

Then in 2004 the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice asked Olson and her hus­band, Lawrence Kut­ner, to run a fed­er­al­ly fund­ed study of how video games affect ado­les­cents.

Olson and Kut­ner are the co-founders and direc­tors of the Har­vard Med­ical School’s Cen­ter for Men­tal Health and Media. Olson, a pub­lic health researcher, had stud­ied the effects of media on behav­ior but had nev­er exam­ined video games, either in her research or in her per­son­al life.

And so the first thing she did was watch over the shoul­der of her son, Michael, as he played his video games. Then, two years into her research—which com­bined sur­veys and focus groups of junior high school students—Michael urged her to pick up a joy­stick. “I def­i­nite­ly felt they should be famil­iar with the games if they were doing the research,” says Michael, who was 16 at the time and is now 18.

Olson start­ed with the PC game Read the rest of this entry »

Brain and Cognition Expert Contributors

As you have prob­a­bly noticed, a grow­ing num­ber of Expert Con­trib­u­tors are writ­ing in our blog, so that we can col­lec­tive­ly dis­cuss the lat­est research and trends on cog­ni­tive and brain health, and the impli­ca­tions of brain research in gen­er­al for our every­day lives. 

If you haven’t done so already, make sure to sub­scribe to our newslet­ter (above) and our RSS feed (on the right).

Below you have the pro­files of some of our Con­trib­u­tors and links to their best arti­cles with us so far. Enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Mindsight-by Daniel Goleman

Daniel Gole­man requires no intro­duc­tion. Per­son­al­ly, of all his books I have read, the one I found most stim­u­lat­ing was Destruc­tive Emo­tions: A Sci­en­tif­ic Dia­logue With the Dalai Lama, a superb overview of what emo­tions are and how we can put them to good use. He is now con­duct­ing a great series of audio inter­views includ­ing one with George Lucas on Edu­cat­ing Hearts and Minds: Rethink­ing Edu­ca­tion.

We are hon­ored to bring you a guest post by Daniel Gole­man, thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine, a UC-Berke­ley-based quar­ter­ly mag­a­zine that high­lights ground break­ing sci­en­tif­ic research into the roots of com­pas­sion and altru­ism. Enjoy!

- Alvaro

—————-

The Pow­er of Mind­sight

How can we free our­selves from pris­ons of the past?

– By Daniel Gole­man

When you were young, which of these did you feel more often?

a) No mat­ter what I do, my par­ents love me;

b) I can’t seem to please my par­ents, no mat­ter what I do;

c) My par­ents don’t real­ly notice me.

Read the rest of this entry »

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