Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ed Links (Belated)

These have been piling up. This is part I

Working Memory Has Limited 'Slots'

A new study shows how our very short-term "working memory," which allows the brain to stitch together sensory information, operates. The system retains a limited number of high-resolution images for a few seconds, rather than a wider range of fuzzier impressions. Humans rarely move their eyes smoothly. As our eyes flit from object to object, the visual system briefly shuts off to cut down visual "noise," said one of the psychologists. So the brain gets a series of snapshots of about a quarter-second, separated by brief gaps.

Why We Don't Always Learn From Our Mistakes

If you are struggling to retrieve a word that you are certain is on the tip of your tongue, or trying to perfect a slapshot that will send your puck flying into a hockey net, or if you keep stumbling over the same sequence of notes on the piano, be warned: you might be unconsciously creating a pattern of failure, a new study reveals. Researchers find that practice doesn't always make perfect; sometimes the effort instills a pattern that dooms us to failure.

Overweight Kids Need Less Intensive Exercise For Effective Weight Loss, Study Suggests

Overweight kids are better off doing less intensive exercise if they are to shed the pounds effectively, suggests a study of pubescent boys. The researchers assessed the rate at which fat was burned (fat oxidation) during graded leg cycling exercises in thirty 12 year old boys, 17 of whom were obese. The others were lean and healthy.

Poor Kids Four Times As Likely To Be Seriously Injured On Roads As Rich Kids, UK Study Shows

Rates of serious injury among child pedestrians in poor areas of England are four times as high as those among children in affluent areas, finds new research. The findings are based on an analysis of hospital admission rates for children aged up to 15 between 1999 and 2004. Almost 664,000 children up to the age of 15 were admitted to hospital during this period, of which almost 8,000 were for serious injuries.

Why High School Boys Dodge Gym Class

As obesity and inactivity among North America's youth becomes a growing concern, new research is asking why some high school boys are reluctant to participate in physical education classes. And while much of the research being publicly debated links the inactivity to television and computer use, one professor is examining the relationship between perceived masculinity, body image, and health.

New Research Dispels Myth That Cigarettes Make Teenage Girls Thinner, But Smoking May Stunt Growth Of Teenage Boys

New research shows teenage girls who smoke cigarettes are no more likely to lose weight than girls who don't smoke, dispelling a commonly-held belief. In addition, boys who smoke cigarettes show a decrease in height as well as body mass index (BMI). These findings could have important public health implications, especially since many young girls cite weight control --- or the desire to be runway model thin --- as a reason for taking up smoking.

Boosting Self-esteem Can Backfire In Decision-making

Smart business leaders understand that confidence affects decision-making and ultimately a company's earnings. But giving employees positive feedback in the hopes of promoting better decisions sometimes can backfire, suggests new research. Positive feedback actually can escalate perceived threats to the ego and increase the need to prove that a questionable decision was the right one.

One Bad Experience Linked To Sniffing Out The Danger

Each human nose encounters hundreds of thousands of scents in its daily travels perched front and center on our face. Some of these smells are nearly identical, so how do we learn to tell the critical ones apart? Something bad has to happen. Then the nose becomes a very quick learner. New research shows a single negative experience linked to an odor rapidly teaches us to discriminate that odor from similar ones.

Neurons Hard Wired To Tell Left From Right

It's well-known that the left and right sides of the brain differ in many animal species and this is thought to influence cognitive performance and social behavior. For instance, in humans, the left half of the brain is concerned with language processing whereas the right side is better at comprehending musical melody. Now scientists have pinpointed for the first time, the left/right differences in how brains are wired at the level of individual cells.

Robotic Minds Think Alike?

Most schoolchildren struggle to learn geometry, but they are still able to catch a ball without first calculating its parabola. Why should robots be any different? Researchers have developed an artificial cognitive system that learns from experience and observation rather than relying on predefined rules and models.

Teenage Risk-taking: Teenage Brains Really Are Different From Child Or Adult Brains

Many parents are convinced that the brains of their teenage offspring are different than those of children and adults. New data confirms that this is the case. A new article describes how brain changes in the adolescent brain impact cognition, emotion and behavior.

Preschool Kids Do Better When They Talk To Themselves, Research Shows

Parents should not worry when their pre-schoolers talk to themselves; in fact, they should encourage it, says a new study. The study shows that children do better on motor tasks when they talk to themselves out loud than when they are silent. Researchers also looked for the first time at the ways that autistic children talk to themselves and the effectiveness it has on the way they do things.

Compassion Meditation Changes The Brain

Can we train ourselves to be compassionate? A new study suggests the answer is yes. Cultivating compassion and kindness through meditation affects brain regions that can make a person more empathetic to other peoples' mental states, according to new research.

Brain's 'Sixth Sense' For Calories Discovered

The brain can sense the calories in food, independent of the taste mechanism, researchers have found in studies with mice. Their finding that the brain's reward system is switched on by this "sixth sense" machinery could have implications for understanding the causes of obesity. For example, the findings suggest why high-fructose corn syrup, widely used as a sweetener in foods, might contribute to obesity.

Playing Numerical Board Games Boosts Number Skills Of Low-income Preschoolers

A study conducted with low-income preschoolers attending Head Start found that certain numerical board games increased early math learning. Board games with consecutively numbered, linearly arranged spaces helped children learn about counting, identifying numerals and comparing the sizes of numbers. Children playing an identical game that varied in color rather than number did not improve in these areas. Playing such board games could help lessen discrepancies in early math learning, which predicts later math achievement.

Seeing May Be Believing -- But Is It The Same As Looking?

If you see something, it's because you're looking at it, right? A recent study has established that while people do tend to notice objects within their gaze, it is the assumptions they make about their environment that affects their perceptions. People are biased towards believing that they were looking directly at what they have seen.

Children Who Bully Also Have Problems With Other Relationships

Children who bully were found to have conflict in relationships with their parents and friends, and also to associate with others who bully. Researchers looked at 871 students for seven years, beginning at age 10, and found that most children engage in bullying at some point. The research underscores that bullying is a "relationship problem" that calls for interventions targeting the aggressive behavior, social skills, and problem-solving skills, and also on bullying children's strained relationships.

Youth's Social Problems Contribute To Anxiety And Depression

A longitudinal study found that individuals with social problems in childhood and adolescence were at increased risk for anxiety and depression in young adulthood. Researchers followed 205 8- to 12-year olds for 20 years and conducted detailed interviews to examine how anxiety and depression related to social competence over time. The relationship between decreased social competence and "internalizing problems" remained the same when explanations including intellectual functioning, quality of parenting, social class, were accounted for.

Antisocial Conduct And Decision Making About Aggressive Behavior Influence Each Other In Teens

Antisocial behavior was previously thought to be unchangeable in the teenage years. New findings suggest that social decision making and behavior reciprocally influence each other throughout adolescence. The study of 522 boys and girls in 7th through 12th grades utilized parent questionnaires and self-report measures to examine teenagers' judgments and behavior. The relation between decision-making and aggressive behavior supports the need for interventions that change thinking in antisocial adolescents to prevent aggressive responses in behavior.

'Digital Skills Divide' Emerging

While the "digital divide" may be narrowing in terms of access to the Internet, a significant "digital skills divide" is emerging. Researchers found the higher the socio-economic status, the greater the time spent on the Web and the more sophisticated the search and evaluation skills. Google was the favored search engine by parents in the high socio-economic group.

Adolescents With Chronic Insomnia Report 'Twofold To Fivefold' Increase In Personal Problems

Chronic insomnia is costing adolescents more than sleep. It's been linked to a wide range of physical, psychological and interpersonal problems, according to public health researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who completed the first prospective study of adolescents with persistent sleep problems. Documenting a "twofold to fivefold" increase in personal problems among adolescents with persistent sleeplessness, public health researchers say they have completed the first prospective study demonstrating the negative impact of chronic insomnia on 11 to 17 year olds. More than one fourth of the youths surveyed had one or more symptoms of insomnia and almost half of these youngsters had chronic conditions.

Language Feature Unique To Human Brain Identified

Researchers have identified a language feature unique to the human brain that is shedding light on how human language evolved. The study marks the first use of diffusion tensor imaging, a noninvasive imaging technique, to compare human brain structures to those of chimpanzees, our closest living relative.

Color Vision System Independent Of Motion Detection in Eye Sight

The vision system used to process color is separate from that used to detect motion, according to a new study. The findings run counter to previous scholarship that suggested motion detection and color contrast may work in tandem.

Childhood Personality Can Predict Important Outcomes In Emerging Adulthood

A new study in the Journal of Personality reveals the extent to which children's personality types can predict the timing of key transitional moments between childhood and adulthood. The 19-year longitudinal study illustrated that childhood personality types were meaningfully associated with the timing of the transitions.

We Help Friends Due To Empathy; Relatives Due To Expectation Of Reciprocity

Empathy is an emotional reaction to the plight of others. Empathy can lead to altruistic behavior, i.e. helping someone with the sole intention of enhancing that person's wellbeing. If we see people in difficulty, for example, we feel the same emotions, and this may prompt us to help them. Yet the relationship between empathy and altruism is still far from clear. One young psychologist has researched the topic and concluded that when we help friends in need, we are prompted by feelings of empathy, and that when we help relatives we do so because we have expectations of reciprocity.

Brains Are Hardwired To Act According To The Golden Rule

Wesley Autrey, a black construction worker, a Navy veteran and 55-year-old father of two, didn't know the young man standing beside him. But when he had a seizure on the subway platform and toppled onto the tracks, Autrey jumped down after him and shielded him with his body as a train bore down on them. Autrey could have died, so why did he put his life on the line -- literally -- to save this complete stranger?

Hyperactive Girls Face Problems As Adults, Study Shows

Young girls who are hyperactive are more likely to get hooked on smoking, under-perform in school or jobs and gravitate towards mentally abusive relationships as adults, according to a new study.

Comprehensive Sex Education Might Reduce Teen Pregnancies, Study Suggests

New research suggests that comprehensive sex education might lead to less teen pregnancy, and there are no indications that it boosts the levels of sexual intercourse or sexually transmitted diseases. "It is not harmful to teach teens about birth control in addition to abstinence," said the study's lead author. Parents and educators have long argued over whether students should get instruction in birth control or simply learn how to say no. At issue is which approach will best postpone sex.

Children With Healthier Diets Do Better In School, Study Suggests

A new study in the Journal of School Health reveals that children with healthy diets perform better in school than children with unhealthy diets. Students with an increased fruit and vegetable intake and less caloric intake from fat were significantly less likely to fail the literacy assessment.


Anonymous said...

Please don't post any more of these. Doing so does nothing to advance discussion of educational policy.

A. G. Rud said...

Dear Anonymous,

Your rude comment notwithstanding, the members of this blog LIKE these links that Aaron posts. We already discussed this a long time ago. Perhaps if you had asked, you would have been informed of our practice.

A. G. Rud (cofounder of EPB)

Anonymous said...

So sorry. I guess I was just overwhelmed by the news that preschool children talk to themselves. Who would have thought?

Aaron Schutz said...

Yes, some of it is accentuating the obvious. :) But sometimes, believe it or not, you actually need research to prove the obvious. Because sometimes the obvious turns out to be wrong. Anyway, this is meant to be a grab bag of ed related links.

Barbara Stengel said...

I just want to reiterate my appreciation of these collections, Aaron. It matters that we know the "science" of educational interaction in an informed, though perhaps rudimentary, way -- even though most of us are making direct use of philosophical and sociopolitical analysis of policy and practice. And, of course, science itself is also worthy of our philosophical and sociopolitical scrutiny!!

Science is itself a practice (as many others before me have noted) -- or better stated a set of practices. Theoretical physics, neuropsychology and ecology are as divergent in practice as they are jointly "science" -- with different inquiry patterns and assumptions about the way "the world" works. To the extent that we are operating in a policy milieu that privileges scientifically-based practice, we are bound to take a constructively critical (or sometimes just plain critical) view of the claims of the basic sciences that underlay educational understanding. But we can only do that if we know those claims and understand their generation.

So please, please continue . . .

Aaron Schutz said...

I will keep posting the Ed Links. Just FYI, I've backed off on cutting and pasting stuff besides what I cull from Science Daily, so it'll usually be a little less broad than it has been in the past.

Anonymous said...

It's still not clear to me how you think most of these tidbits are relevant to educational policy, let alone what "educational understanding" most of these items are relevant to.