“Sixty-six years ago today, more than 70,000 10 and 11-year-old children across Scotland took an intelligence test…now they have formed the foundation of a remarkable research project which is producing valuable insights into what lies behind cognitive decline — or ageing of the brain… [Read more…] about Sensible decisions over hard prescriptions for lifelong brain health
In 2005 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) began an initiative to promote an approach to care among its members in which “…the pediatric team works in partnership with a child and a child’s family to assure that all of the medical and non-medical needs of the patient are met.” A critically important focus of this approach is the role of the family and child — as developmentally appropriate — in the development of an overall plan of care.
This shared decision-making approach is especially important for conditions like ADHD where there is not a single treatment that is the most appropriate and preferred option for all patients. However, [Read more…] about Study: Families’ Perspectives on ADHD and its Treatment
Eric Jensen alerted me to a research study published in the February 4th Journal of Neuroscience — Transgenerational Rescue of a Genetic Defect in Long-Term Potentiation and Memory Formation by Juvenile Enrichment. We both had the same initial WOW! feeling that we had experienced when we first read about the discovery of mirror neurons a decade+ ago.
The study’s findings seemed to suggest that acquired characteristics can be genetically transmitted, a Lamarckinan belief that had long been discarded by biologists. This seemed improbable, so we decided to check out what the scientific community thought. It’s the kind of research that educators certainly need to understand because the potential educational implications are profound, no matter how this particular study sorts out.
I’ve thus appended the following information below: (1) the abstract and reference of the original sttudy, (2) a link to a non-technical report in the current issue of New Scientist, (3) a link to a non- technical explanation of the research in Medical News Today, and (4) a link to a recent extended non-technical New Scientist article on the issue of non-genetic inheritance. Eric will post his commentary on the research in the March edition of his Brighter Brain Bulletin newsletter.
To put it simply: The researchers studied long-term potentiation (LTP), in which longer and more robust synaptic activation occurs. LTP is the basic mechanism for learning and memory formation.
Juvenile mice placed into an enriched environment (EE) developed enhanced LTP capabilities that they later transmitted to their own offspring during embryogenesis (rather than through later maternal instruction), and these effects persisted even when the offspring weren’t in an EE. The study concluded that a stimulating juvenile environment can thus influence the composition of signaling networks that influence synaptic plasticity and memory formation in the enriched mouse, and also in its future offspring.
The problem with this research appears to be over whether the transmitted effects occurred via genetic changes or through something else in the mother’s uterine environment. A female’s eggs develop early in life to be distributed later, so it’s improbable that a female’s juvenile experiences would alter the DNA in her eggs. A more probable explanation may be that any changes in the mother’s brain that occur via an EE are represented as currently ill- understood signaling molecules that pass through the placental barrier into the embryonic brain.
For educators, this research simply adds to our own strong belief that long-term benefits accrue from a stimulating early environment that encourages curiosity and exploration. The research builds on [Read more…] about A Love affair Across Generations: A Lamarckian Reincarnation?
(Editor’s Note: this is one of the 20 interviews included in the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age)
Michael I. Posner is a prominent scientist in the field of cognitive neuroscience. He is currently an emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of Oregon (Department of Psychology, Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences). In August 2008, the International Union of Psychological Science made him the first recipient of the Dogan Prize “in recognition of a contribution that represents a major advance in psychology by a scholar or team of scholars of high international reputation.”
Dr. Posner, many thanks for your time today. I really enjoyed the James Arthur Lecture monograph on Evolution and Development of Self-Regulation that you delivered last year. Could you provide a summary of the research you presented?
I would emphasize that we human beings can regulate our thoughts, emotions, and actions to a greater degree than other primates. For example, we can choose to pass up an immediate reward for a larger, delayed reward.
We can plan ahead, resist distractions, be goal-oriented. These human characteristics appear to depend upon what we often call “self-regulation.” What is exciting these days is that progress in neuroimaging and in genetics make it possible to think about self-regulation in terms of specific brain-based networks.
Can you explain what self-regulation is?
All parents have seen this in their kids. Parents can see the remarkable transformation as their children develop the ability to regulate emotions and to persist with goals in the face of distractions. That ability is usually labeled ‚ self-regulation.
The other main area of your research is attention. Can you explain the brain-basis for what we usually call “attention”?
I have been interested in how the attention system develops in infancy and early childhood.
One of our major findings, thanks to neuroimaging, is that there is not one single “attention”, but three separate functions of attention with three separate underlying brain networks: alerting, orienting, and executive attention. [Read more…] about Training Attention and Emotional Self-Regulation — Interview with Michael Posner
Peace Among Primates (Part 3)
Anyone who says peace is not part of human nature knows too little about primates, including ourselves.
–By Robert M. Sapolsky
Natural born killers?
Interesting recent news:
For more on these news, and commentary: [Read more…] about Cognitive, Brain News RoundUp