Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Brain/ Cognitive Enhancement with drugs… and cereal?

Sev­er­al recent arti­cles and news:

Brain Gain: the under­ground world of “neu­roen­hanc­ing” drugs (The New York­er)

- “Alex remains enthu­si­as­tic about Adder­all, but he also has a slight­ly jaun­diced cri­tique of it. “It only works as a cog­ni­tive enhancer inso­far as you are ded­i­cat­ed to accom­plish­ing the task at hand,” he said. “The num­ber of times I’ve tak­en Adder­all late at night and decid­ed that, rather than start­ing my paper, hey, I’ll orga­nize my entire music library! I’ve seen peo­ple obses­sive­ly clean­ing their rooms on it.” Alex thought that gen­er­al­ly the drug helped him to bear down on his work, but it also tend­ed to pro­duce writ­ing with a char­ac­ter­is­tic flaw. “Often, I’ve looked back at papers I’ve writ­ten on Adder­all, and they’re ver­bose. They’re bela­bor­ing a point, try­ing to cre­ate this air­tight argu­ment, when if you just got to your point in a more direct man­ner it would be stronger. But with Adder­all I’d pro­duce two pages on some­thing that could be said in a cou­ple of sen­tences.” Nev­er­the­less, his Adder­all-assist­ed papers usu­al­ly earned him at least a B. They got the job done. As Alex put it, “Pro­duc­tiv­i­ty is a good thing.”

Eschew Enhance­ment: Mem­o­ry-boost­ing drugs should not be made avail­able to the gen­er­al pub­lic (Tech­nol­o­gy Review)

- “Who might use them? Stu­dents will be tempt­ed, as might play­ers of any game involv­ing count­ing or remem­ber­ing (chess, bridge, and even pok­er and black­jack). Cer­tain pro­fes­sion­als might desire a boost in atten­tion or mem­o­ry”

- “But these poten­tial­ly pow­er­ful med­i­cines should not be made avail­able to every­one, for two rea­sons. The first is safe­ty. The last sev­er­al years have pro­vid­ed many exam­ples of side effects, some life-threatening…The sec­ond rea­son is that we still know rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle about learn­ing and mem­o­ry and how they are inte­grat­ed to make judg­ments and deci­sions.”

Kel­logg Set­tles with FTC over Health Claims on Cere­al (Pro­mo Mag­a­zine)

- “The FTC said that Kel­logg pro­mot­ed the cere­al as “clin­i­cal­ly shown to improve kids’ atten­tive­ness by near­ly 20%,” when in fact the study referred to in the ads showed dif­fer­ent results.”

- “The study found that only about half the chil­dren who ate Frost­ed Mini-Wheats for break­fast showed any improve­ment in atten­tive­ness, and only about one in nine improved by 20% or more, the FTC said.”

Brain shock: The new Gulf War syn­drome (New Sci­en­tist)

- “The US army also screens for symp­toms of mTBI when sol­diers return from a tour of duty, and again three months lat­er. The army is also car­ry­ing out neu­rocog­ni­tive tests on recruits before they are sent into com­bat so that doc­tors can check for dete­ri­o­ra­tion in lat­er tests.”

- “When it comes to com­bat trau­ma, unpick­ing the phys­i­cal from the psy­cho­log­i­cal is bound to be high­ly com­plex. As Barth says, per­haps the great­est dan­ger could be in try­ing to sim­pli­fy the pic­ture too much. “I rec­om­mend that we get com­fort­able with the com­plex­i­ty,” he says, “and treat it as a chal­lenge.”

Brain-Based Carnival of Education, 186th Edition

Wel­come to the 186th edi­tion of the Car­ni­val of Edu­ca­tion, the week­ly vir­tu­al gath­er­ing of dozens of blog­gers to dis­cuss all things edu­ca­tion.

Q: Why do you say this edi­tion is “brain-based”?
A: Because the Q&A frame we are using is inspired by how Chris at Ouroboros recent­ly host­ed Encephalon Brain and Mind blog car­ni­val. (Is clas­sic Greek mak­ing a come­back?).

Q: As edu­ca­tors, what inspires us to do what we do?
A: Tra­cy sug­gests, “Hope for the future”.

Q: And what may hap­pen in the future?
A: Eric pro­pos­es that the field can learn much about how ath­letes train their minds and bod­ies to max­i­mize per­for­mance.

Q: What should not hap­pen in the future?
A: Dave hopes we stop the Text­book Insan­i­ty, killing trees to cre­ate books not every­one uses.

Q: What comes first, sub­ject or learn­er?
A: Bogu­sia has “switched sides”. She now cen­ters her teach­ing around her stu­dents, to make sure they appre­ci­ate the beau­ty of the sub­ject.

Q: How do you know if some­thing is devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate?
Read the rest of this entry »

Should Social-Emotional Learning Be Part of Academic Curriculum?

The Secret to Suc­cess
New research says social-emo­tion­al learn­ing helps stu­dents in every way.
— by Daniel Gole­man

Schools are begin­ning to offer an increas­ing num­ber of cours­es in social and emo­tion­al intel­li­gence, teach­ing stu­dents how to bet­ter under­stand their own emo­tions and the emo­tions of oth­ers.

It sounds warm and fuzzy, but it’s a trend backed up by hard data. Today, new stud­ies reveal that teach­ing kids to be emo­tion­al­ly and social­ly com­pe­tent boosts their aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment. More pre­cise­ly, when schools offer stu­dents pro­grams in social and emo­tion­al learn­ing, their achieve­ment scores gain around 11 per­cent­age points.

That’s what I heard at a forum held last Decem­ber by the Col­lab­o­ra­tive for Aca­d­e­m­ic, Social, and Emo­tion­al Learn­ing (CASEL). (Dis­clo­sure: I’m a co-founder of CASEL.) Roger Weiss­berg, the organization’s direc­tor, gave a pre­view of a mas­sive study run by researchers at Loy­ola Uni­ver­si­ty and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois, which ana­lyzed eval­u­a­tions of more than 233,000 stu­dents across the coun­try.

Social-emo­tion­al learn­ing, they dis­cov­ered, helps stu­dents Read the rest of this entry »

Learning & the Brain: Resources for Educators

As promised in my pre­vi­ous post (10 Brain Train­ing Tips To Teach and Learn), here are some of the resources that inform my under­stand­ing of the brain: books, con­fer­ences, and web­sites.

BOOKS

There are a mul­ti­tude of books about the brain. For edu­ca­tors, the best of these are books that demys­ti­fy the lan­guage of neu­ro­science while pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion applic­a­ble to the teaching/learning process.

Among the more pro­lif­ic or well-known authors of this type include Jeb Schenck, Robert Syl­west­er, Bar­bara Givens, Robert Marzano, Mar­ilee Sprenger, and Eric Jensen.

I have found books Read the rest of this entry »

Schools: what should they do, and for whom?

We read today how Pan­el Urges Schools to Empha­size Core Math Skills (Wash­ing­ton Post). Now, there is a more fun­da­men­tal ques­tion to con­sid­er: what should the schools oflearning, apple the XXI cen­tu­ry look like and do?.

To cre­ate a much need­ed dia­logue, I asked one the most thought­ful edu­ca­tion blog­gers around to share her (I guess it’s “her”) impres­sions with us. Enjoy!
—————

What do we want our schools to do, and for whom? 

–By edu­won­kette

Schools,” Stan­ford his­to­ri­an David Laba­ree wrote, “occu­py an awk­ward posi­tion at the inter­sec­tion between what we hope soci­ety will become and what we think it real­ly is.” What do we want our schools to do, and for whom?

Schools, like most orga­ni­za­tions, have many goals. These goals often com­pete with and dis­place each oth­er. Rely­ing heav­i­ly on the work of David Laba­ree, I will dis­cuss three cen­tral goals of Amer­i­can schools – social effi­cien­cy, demo­c­ra­t­ic equal­i­ty, and social mobil­i­ty. Through­out the his­to­ry of Amer­i­can edu­ca­tion, these goals have been run­ning against each oth­er in a metaphor­i­cal horser­ace. While they are not mutu­al­ly exclu­sive, the three goals intro­duce very dif­fer­ent met­rics of edu­ca­tion­al suc­cess. More often than not, they sit uncom­fort­ably with each oth­er.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.