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The Mental Game: How High-Level Athletes Remain Calm and Focused

The Mental Preparation of High-Level Athletes (briefing paper by the Dana Foundation):

“Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra is credited with saying that “90 percent of the game is half mental.” Over the years, the line has been appropriated beyond the world of baseball to explain the importance of factors like focus and motivation Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Study Links Emotional Self-Regulation and Math Performance

Brain Study Points to Potential Treatments for Math Anxiety (Education Week):

  • “The study, published this morning in the journal Cerebral Cortex, is a continuation of work on highly math-anxious people being conducted by Sian L. Beilock, associate psychology professor at the University of Chicago, and doctoral candidate Ian M. Lyons. In prior research, Beilock has found that just the thought of doing math problems can trigger stress responses in people with math anxiety, and adult teachers can pass their trepidation about math on to their students.” Read the rest of this entry »

Who Says This is The Classroom of the Future?

The New York Times has recently published several very good and seemingly unrelated articles…let’s try and connect some dots. What if we questioned the very premise behind naming some classrooms the “classrooms of the future” simply because they have been adding technology in literally mindless ways? What if the Education of the Future (sometimes also referred to as “21st Century Skills”) wasn’t so much about the How we educate but about the What we want students to learn and develop, applying what we know about mind and brain to the needs they are likely to face during the next 50-70 years of their lives? Read the rest of this entry »

Distracted in the Workplace? Meet Maggie Jackson’s Book

Today we’ll discuss some of the cognitive implications of “always on” workplaces and lifestyles via a fascinating interview with Maggie Jackson, an award-winning author and journalist. Her latest book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, describes Distracted by Maggie Jacksonthe implications of our busy work and life environments and offers important reflections to help us thrive in them.

This is a 2-part interview conducted via e-mail: we will publish the continuation on Thursday March 12th.

Alvaro Fernandez: New York Times columnist David Brooks said last year that we live in a Cognitive Age, and encouraged readers to be aware of this change and try and adapt to the new reality. Can you explain the cognitive demands of today’s workplaces that weren’t there 30-40 years ago?

Maggie Jackson: Our workplaces have changed enormously in recent decades, and it’s easy to point to the Blackberry or the laptop as the sources of our culture of speed and overload and distraction. But it’s important to note first that our 24/7, fragmented work culture has deeper roots. With the first high-tech inventions, such as the cinema, phonograph, telegraph, rail, and car, came radical changes in human experience of time and space. Distance was shattered  long before email and red-eye flights. Telegraph operators  not online daters  experienced the first virtual love affairs, as evidenced by the 1890s novel Wired Love. Now, we wrestle with the effects of changes seeded long ago.

Today, the cognitive and physical demands on workers are steep. Consider 24/7 living. At great cost to our health, we operate in a sleepless, hurried world, ignoring cues of sun and season, the Industrial Age inventions of the weekend and vacation, and the rhythms of biology. We try to break the fetters of time and live like perpetual motion machines. That’s one reason why we feel overloaded and stressed conditions that are corrosive to problem-solving and clear thinking.

At the same time, our technologies allow us access to millions of information bites producing an abundance of data that is both wondrous and dangerous. Unless we have the will, discipline and frameworks for turning this information into wisdom, we remain stuck on the surface of Read the rest of this entry »

What You Can do to Improve Memory (and Why It Deteriorates in Old Age)

After about age 50, most people begin to experience a decline in memory capability. Why is that? One obvious answer is that the small arteries of the brain begin to clog up, often as a result of a lifetime of eating the wrong things and a lack of exercise. If that lifetime has been stressful, many neurons may have been killed by stress hormones. Given theImprove Memory Bill Klemm most recent scientific literature, reviewed in my book Thank You, Brain, For All You Remember. What You Forgot Was My Fault, dead neurons can’t be replaced, except in the hippocampus, which is fortunate for memory because the hippocampus is essential for making certain kinds of memories permanent. Another cause is incipient Alzheimer’s disease; autopsies show that many people have the lesions of the disease but have never shown symptoms, presumably because a lifetime of exceptional mental activity has built up a “cognitive reserve.

So is there anything you can do about it besides exercise like crazy, eat healthy foods that you don’t like all that much, pop your statin pills, and take up yoga?

Yes. In short: focus, focus, focus.

Changing thinking styles can help. Research shows that Read the rest of this entry »

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