Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Neuroimaging study finds extensive brain rewiring–in just six months–among illiterate adults learning to read and write

Learning to read and write rewires adult brain in six months (New Scientist):

“Learning to read can have profound effects on the wiring of the adult brain – even in regions that aren’t usually associated with reading and writing.

That’s what Michael Skeide of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues found when they taught a group of illiterate adults in rural India to read and write Read the rest of this entry »

How to improve memory skills and remember what you read: Beyond phonics and “whole language”

Horizontal Stacked BooksDespite the increasing visual media we are increasingly exposed to, reading is still an important skill. Whether it is school textbooks, online newspapers or regular books, people still read, though not as much as they used to. One reason that many people don’t read much is that they don’t read well. For them, Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Dyslexia not related to intelligence. Implications for discrepancy model?

NIH-funded study finds dyslexia not tied to IQ (NIH press release):

At left, brain areas active in typically developing readers engaged in a rhyming task. Shown at right is the brain area activated in poor readers involved in the same task.

– “Regardless of high or low overall scores on an IQ test, children with dyslexia show similar patterns of brain activity, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health. The results call into question the discrepancy model — the practice of classifying a child as dyslexic on the basis of a lag between reading ability and overall IQ scores.”

– “In many school systems, the discrepancy model is the criterion for Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Development Through Bilingual Education and Activities Requiring Self-Control

How To Help Your Child’s Brain Grow Up Strong (NPR):

– “Kids who learn two languages young are better able to learn abstract rules and to reverse rules that they’ve already learned,” says Aamodt. “They’re less likely to have difficulty choosing between conflicting possibilities when there are two possible responses that both present themselves. They’re also better at figuring out what other people are thinking, which is probably because they have to figure out which language to use every time they talk to Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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