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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 »

Musical training as mental exercise for cognitive performance

We often hear (glad­ly!) how teach­ers use our blog arti­cles and brain teasers in their class­es. We also hear how many psy­chol­o­gy and biol­o­gy teach­ers are get­ting their stu­dents excit­ed about brain research, and, to con­tribute to their efforts, we like to rec­og­nize some great ini­tia­tives.

Last year, Jef­frey Gonce, a Psy­chol­o­gy teacher at Red Land High School (West Shore School Dis­trict, PA) asked his stu­dents to “com­plete a project describ­ing a recent brain (or genet­ic) study that affects behav­ior.” The stu­dents could opt to post their arti­cles online, and Jef­frey was kind enough to send us a link to read the results. We enjoyed read­ing them all, and pub­lished in our blog this beau­ti­ful essay, titled “Tis bet­ter to give than receive”, writ­ten by Alexan­dra, which Piano musical training was sub­se­quent­ly includ­ed in a num­ber of neu­ro­science an psy­chol­o­gy blogs.

This year, Jef­frey also sent us his stu­dents’ essays, and we are going to rec­og­nize and pub­lish this great essay by high school stu­dent Megan. Enjoy!
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It has long been the source of sci­en­tif­ic debate as to whether music can improve the cog­ni­tive process­es in chil­dren. Referred to by some as “The Mozart Effect,” a strong Read the rest of this entry »

TED Conference wants more brains and synapses

TED Con­fer­ence, a great annu­al con­fer­ence on any­thing and every­thing new and mean­ing­ful, announces the pub­lic launch of their revamped web­site with great con­tent and social net­work­ing tools, all under the ban­ner “Ideas worth spread­ing”.

You can exer­cise your mind by learn­ing about most sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy sub­jects through won­der­ful TEDTalks video clips. Some exam­ples:

and many many more.

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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