- “Prior research shows ADHD children have slower brain development and a reduced ability to cope with stress,” said Dr. Stixrud. “Virtually everyone finds it difficult to pay attention, organize themselves and get things done when they’re under stress,” he explained. “Stress interferes with [Read more…] about Transcendental Meditation and Working Memory Training To Enhance Executive Functions
Learning can be incidental. We all memorize facts without paying much attention to these facts or without willing to memorize them. However, when one really wants to memorize a fact, it is crucial to pay attention. Many studies have shown that compared to full attention conditions, dividing attention during study time leads to poor memory performance.
This exercise will help you practice focusing your attention.
It may seem easy but make sure you count twice!
Count the number of “Y” in this text:
Yesterday, Lucy went all the way to Boston. She wanted to buy new shoes. She had to go in many shops before she found the shoes she wanted. She was happy to stop at a restaurant to have some tea and cookies before she took the train back home.
Count the number of “F” in this text:
Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the experience of years.
Count the number of “E” in this text:
Last summer, Jean and Harriet spent their vacation in Michigan. They rented a cabin on the lake. The cabin had two bedrooms and a nice deck. They used to spend a lot of time on the deck, just looking at how the light would change on the water. Several times, they borrowed bikes from their neighbors and spent a few hours exploring the villages not far from their cabin.
There are 7 “Y” in the first text.
There are 6 “F” in the second text (got them?)
There are 38 “E” in the third text.
– Pascale Michelon, Ph. D., is SharpBrains’ Research Manager for Educational Projects. Dr. Michelon has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and has worked as a Research Scientist at Washington University in Saint Louis, in the Psychology Department. She conducted several research projects to understand how the brain makes use of visual information and memorizes facts. She is now an Adjunct Faculty at Washington University.
(Editor’s note: Daniel Goleman is now conducting a great series of audio interviews including one with Richard Davidson on Training the Brain: Cultivating Emotional Skills. We are honored to bring you this guest post by Daniel Goleman, thanks to our collaboration with Greater Good Magazine.)
Resources to help students build emotional intelligence
By Daniel Goleman
The scene: a first-grade classroom in a Manhattan school. Not just any classroom this one has lots of Special Ed students, who are very hyperactive. So the room is a whirlpool of frenzied activity. The teacher tells the kids that they’re going to listen to a CD. The kids quiet down a bit.
Then they get pretty still as the CD starts, and a man’s voice asks the kids to lie down on their backs, arms at their sides, and get a “breathing buddy,” like a stuffed animal, who will sit on their stomachs and help them be aware of their breathing. The voice takes the children through a series of breathing and body awareness exercises, and the kids manage to calm down and stay focused through the entire six minutes, which ends with them wiggling their toes.
“You’ve just learned how to make your body feel calm and relaxed,” says the voice. “And you can do this again any time you want.”
The voice on the CD is mine, though I’m reading the words of Linda Lantieri, who has pioneered public school programs in social and emotional learning that have been adopted worldwide.
Her newest program adds an important tool to the emotional intelligence kit: mindfulness, a moment-by-moment awareness of one’s internal state and external environment. In a new book, Building Emotional Intelligence, which comes with the CD, Lantieri uses mindfulness training to enhance concentration and attention among kids, and to help them learn to better calm themselves. Building Emotional Intelligence comes with instructions that explain how teachers and parents can adapt Latieri’s exercises to kids at different age levels (five to seven, eight to 11, or 12 and up) and provides detailed explanations of each exercise.
Lantieri’s project exemplifies the ways we can build on scientific insights to help children master the skills of emotional intelligence. As Richard Davidson, founder of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, explained to me in [Read more…] about Resources to help students build emotional intelligence
- “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:
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.
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 the 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 more…] about What You Can do to Improve Memory (and Why It Deteriorates in Old Age)
A few colleagues and I just had an interesting exchange on the recent article at The Atlantic, Is Google Making Us Stupid?, which basically blamed Google for literally rewiring our brains into more stupid brains (not being able to pay attention, read deep books…) based on a number of personal anecdotes and a little research.
My 2 cents: this is a complex topic and we’d first need to clarify the question, before looking for answers to support or refute it. I found the Atlantic article superficial for a meaningful conversation, with its title and main premise making little sense: Google can not makes us stupid, in the same way that guns don’t make us violent or pens don’t make us good writers.
Before we judge something as “good” or “bad” or “stupid” we need to establish: [Read more…] about Can Google Kill Neurons and Rewire Your Whole Brain?