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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Navigating The Many Dangers of Experience

As with “expert,” the root of expe­ri­ence is “experiri,” a Latin word mean­ing “to try out.” Peo­ple with a lot of expe­ri­ence should be will­ing to try new things, as their knowl­edge should pro­vide more con­text and points of view, enable more explo­ration of an issue, and min­i­mize risk with deci­sions. How­ev­er, high­ly expe­ri­enced peo­ple tend to fall into the habits of the past. Once we have accu­mu­lat­ed a valu­able base of knowl­edge, expe­ri­ence pro­vides a use­ful short­cut for deci­sion mak­ing. Rely­ing on expe­ri­ence is very fast and very effi­cient, but it is also poten­tial­ly very dan­ger­ous. Oper­at­ing with the least effort pos­si­ble, the brain retrieves what­ev­er quick­ly seems to fit. We apply past pat­terns to the future. Rather than call upon its amaz­ing cre­ativ­i­ty, too often the brain works as noth­ing but a huge stor­age bin of prece­dents.

Because “close is good enough” as our brain fills in the blanks, we Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Michael Posner on Developing Brain Networks and Self-Control

Dr. Pos­ner will pro­vide an update on lat­est research and appli­ca­tions to devel­op brain net­works and self-con­trol, at the upcom­ing 2012 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (June 7–14th, 2012).

Michael Pos­ner is Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus at the Uni­ver­sity of Ore­gon and Adjunct Pro­fes­sor at the Weill Med­ical Col­lege in New York (Sack­ler Insti­tute). He is cur­rently engaged in a project with Mary K. Roth­bart to under­stand the devel­op­ment Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching is the art of changing the brain

James Zull is a pro­fes­sor of Biol­o­gy. He is also Direc­tor Emer­i­tus of the Uni­ver­si­ty Cen­ter for Inno­va­tion in Teach­ing and Edu­ca­tion at Case West­ern Reserve Uni­ver­si­ty in Ohio. The Art of Changing  the Brain - James ZullThese roles most assured­ly coa­lesced in his 2002 book, The Art of Chang­ing the Brain: Enrich­ing the Prac­tice of Teach­ing by Explor­ing the Biol­o­gy of Learn­ing.

This is a book for both teach­ers and par­ents (because par­ents are also teach­ers!) Writ­ten with the earnest­ness of first-per­son expe­ri­ence and reflec­tion, and a life­time of exper­tise in biol­o­gy, Zull makes a well-round­ed case for his ideas. He offers those ideas for your perusal, pro­vid­ing much sup­port­ing evi­dence, but he doesn’t try to ram them into your psy­che. Rather, he prac­tices what he preach­es by engag­ing you with sto­ries, inform­ing you with fact, and encour­ag­ing your think­ing by the way he posits his ideas.

I have read a num­ber of books that trans­late cur­rent brain research into prac­tice while pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for teach­ers to imple­ment. This is the first book I have read that pro­vides a bio­log­i­cal, and clear­ly ratio­nal, overview of learn­ing and the brain. Zull pro­vokes you into think­ing Read the rest of this entry »

Helping Young and Old Fish Learn How To Think

- “There are these two young fish swim­ming along, and they hap­pen to meet an old­er fish swim­ming the oth­er way, who nods at them and says, “Morn­ing, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then even­tu­al­ly one of them looks over at the oth­er and goes, “What the hell is water?”

- “If at this moment, you’re wor­ried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explain­ing what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The imme­di­ate point of the fish sto­ry is that…”

Keep read­ing the mas­ter­ful com­mence­ment speech giv­en by David Fos­ter Wal­lace to the 2005 grad­u­at­ing  class at Keny­on Col­lege, pub­lished in the Wall Street Jour­nal today:

David Fos­ter Wal­lace on Life and Work (WSJ).

The whole piece makes for the most beau­ti­ful med­i­ta­tion, to savor word by word. The whole arti­cle is real­ly a quote worth read­ing, but let me fea­ture this one

- “Learn­ing how to think” real­ly means how to exer­cise some con­trol over how and what you think. It means being con­scious and aware enough to choose what you pay atten­tion to and to choose how you con­struct mean­ing from expe­ri­ence.”

What a poet­ic intro­duc­tion to brain and cog­ni­tive fit­ness: learn­ing, think, exer­cise, con­trol, con­scious, aware, choose, pay atten­tion, con­struct mean­ing, expe­ri­ence.

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