Friday, July 31, 2009

Roadmap for the Brain |

"Doctors designed a computer program specifically for Stacy using four different imaging technologies -- MRI, functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging and CT angiography. Surgeons mapped out a 3-D image of the tumor and brain. With this clear picture, the tumor went from inoperable to treatable because doctors could see vital vessels and maneuver around them.

'The size of the tumor was so large that I needed to know where the arteries and veins were located,' John Tew, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, told Ivanhoe.

'This allows you to do basically sort of a virtual surgery before actually going in and doing the surgery on the patient,' James Leach, M.D., Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, told Ivanhoe.

Doctors removed 90 percent of Stacy's tumor without harming healthy brain tissue. She was talking and walking the same night.

read more at Roadmap for the Brain |
Ivanhoe's Medical Breakthroughs:

Overconfidence Among Teenage Students Can Stunt Crucial Reading Skills

'While some self-confidence is helpful, overconfident 15-year-olds are often below-average readers in all 34 countries we studied,' says Ming Ming Chiu, the lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction in the University at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education. 'In contrast, under-confident 15-year-olds are more likely to be above-average readers in all 34 countries.'"

read more @ Overconfidence Among Teenage Students Can Stunt Crucial Reading Skills:

Game Utilizes Human Intuition To Help Computers Solve Complex Problems

The point is that play has always been at the heart of learning. Usually it's called a "hobby." Sometimes it's called a "passion." But mostly it's tinkering around with reality in the service of playing with it.

Game Utilizes Human Intuition To Help Computers Solve Complex Problems:
"ScienceDaily (July 30, 2009) — A new computer game prototype combines work and play to help solve a fundamental problem underlying many computer hardware design tasks.

The online logic puzzle is called FunSAT, and it could help integrated circuit designers select and arrange transistors and their connections on silicon microchips, among other applications.

Designing chip architecture for the best performance and smallest size is an exceedingly difficult task that's outsourced to computers these days. But computers simply flip through possible arrangements in their search. They lack the human capacities for intuition and visual pattern recognition that could yield a better or even optimal design. That's where FunSAT comes in.

Stories We Tell About National Trauma Reflect Our Psychological Well-being

The point is that the stories we tell ourselves can reflect and affect our health.
Stories We Tell About National Trauma Reflect Our Psychological Well-being:
"ScienceDaily (July 31, 2009) — A new study by psychologists at the University at Buffalo and the F. W. Olin College of Engineering finds that in the aftermath of national trauma, the ability to make sense out of what happened has implications for individual well-being and that the kinds of stories people tell about the incident predict very different psychological outcomes for them."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

History of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The point is that to understand how a word has evolved, it's important to know about its history.

History of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Hyperactivity has long been part of the human condition. Sir Alexander Crichton describes "mental restlessness" in his 1798 book.[1][2] The terminology used to describe the symptoms of ADHD has gone through many changes over history including: "minimal brain damage", "minimal brain dysfunction", "learning/behavioral disabilities" and "hyperactivity". In the DSM-II (1968) it was the "Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood". In the DSM-III "ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder) with or without hyperactivity" was introduced. In 1987 this was changed to ADHD in the DSM-III-R and subsequent editions.[3]

ADHD : One View

Happiness Formula | The science of happiness

Found by ConorMac.
BBC NEWS | Programmes |
Happiness Formula | The science of happiness:
"A new six-part BBC series, starting this week, looks at the newest research from around the world to find out what could it be that makes us happy.

We all want to be happy but the problem has always been that you can't measure happiness.

Happiness has always been seen as too vague a concept, as Lord Layard, Professor of Economics at the LSE and author of 'Happiness - lessons from a new science' points out.

'There is a problem with the word happiness.

'When you use the word happy, it often has the sort of context of balloons floating up into the sky or something frivolous.'

Now scientists say they can actually measure happiness."

Cortechs Labs - Tools for seeing what's going on in living brains

The point is
CorTechs has received SBIR funding from the US National Institute of Aging to use data collected from the NIH and pharmaceutical-industry co-sponsored Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) project, to establish an indication for use for NeuroQuant® as an adjunctive tool in the assessment of patients with AD.
Cortechs Labs - About CorTechs Labs : Company Overview: "CorTechs Labs Inc is a group of scientists, engineers, business professionals, and clinical specialists dedicated to bringing cutting edge brain image analysis technologies to the commercial market.

CorTechs was incorporated in 2001 by leaders in neuroimaging research in order to create advanced medical image analysis solutions for quantitative analysis of the structure and function of the human brain. An extensive and growing body of scientific and clinical research indicates that such tools may help physicians to more effectively diagnose and treat serious neurological disorders that affect millions of patients worldwide. It is our mission to effectively translate the fruits of such research into routine clinical practice.

Many empirical studies have shown that neurodegenerative disorders produce changes in the brain that can be measured with MRI scanning. Accurately characterizing the extent and progression of cortical atrophy from MRIs can only be accomplished only by comparing numerical information with normative data. Existing semi-manual methods for deriving numerical information from MRI scans are too slow and expensive for use outside of small research studies, and lack the reliability necessary for routine clinical application. CorTechs' quantitative image analysis technologies offer a solution to this problem."

Mental, Emotional And Behavioral Disorders Can Be Prevented In Young People

The question to ask is how can you tell the difference between "mental disorder" and/or "acting like a dumb kid" and/or a natural maturing of cognitive functions?

No doubt acting like a dumb kid and/or having "mental, emotional and behavior disorders"can lead to very serious mental consequences and reduced chances of making good decisions in a complex world.

But is the best way to think about "either/or? " Or is the best way to think about it and/or X and/or Y and/or Z?

"ScienceDaily (July 30, 2009) — Around one in five young people in the U.S. have a current mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. About half of all adults with mental disorders recalled that their disorders began by their mid-teens and three-quarters by their mid-20s. Early onset of mental health problems have been associated with poor outcomes such as failure to complete high school, increased risk for psychiatric and substance problems, and teen pregnancy.
. . .

A new article by Mary E. Evans, RN, PhD, FAAN, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing assesses the recently released government report on preventing these disorders among young people. Dr. Evans' paper concludes that using certain interventional programs in schools, communities and health care settings, risk for mental illness can be better identified and treated.

The article highlights the fact that specific risk and protective factors have been identified for many disorders.
more at Mental, Emotional And Behavioral Disorders Can Be Prevented In Young People:

Biomarkers May Help Predict Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease In Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment

Biomarkers May Help Predict Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease In Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment:
"ScienceDaily (July 30, 2009) — Several cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers showed good accuracy in identifying patients with mild cognitive impairment who progressed to Alzheimer disease, according to a new study.
. . .
Because of the type of progression of the disease, there is a need for methods enabling early diagnosis. "Treatments would need to be initiated very early in the disease process, before the neurodegenerative process is too severe. Much focus has thus been directed on patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is a syndrome characterized by cognitive impairment beyond the age-adjusted norm, but not severe enough to fulfill the criteria for dementia," the authors write.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The English Teacher's Companion: English Goes to Work (Part 1)

The point is that this is a very clear, well written framework to see how the study of language fits into education. It's a four part series and is best read over there.

My Photo
The English Teacher's Companion: English Goes to Work (Part 1):

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Songbirds’ Elaborate Cries For Food Show First Signs Of Vocal Learning

The point is that it's sometimes easier to see the mechanisms of communication when we look at non human social animals. Learning to learn evolves from vocal learning.
Songbirds’ Elaborate Cries For Food Show First Signs Of Vocal Learning:
"ScienceDaily (July 27, 2009) — Only a handful of social animals — songbirds, some marine mammals, some bats and humans — learn to actively style their vocal communications. Babies, for instance, start by babbling, their first chance to experiment with sounds. Now, new research in songbirds shows that vocal experimentation may begin with their earliest vocalizations — food begging calls — and perhaps for a more devious reason than previously believed. The findings could change the way we think about the evolution of vocal learning."

It may have started as cheating,” says Fernando Nottebohm, head of the Laboratory of Animal Behavior at The Rockefeller University. “By generating a diversity of calls, young birds may trick their parents into losing track of whom they last fed, in effect creating the impression of several individuals.” In this scenario, the most agile vocal dissembler would get more than its fair share of food at the expense of its siblings.

Nottebohm and Wan-chun Liu, a research assistant professor who made the original observations, are quick to say that the interpretation remains speculative for now, but if true, it would complicate the conventional wisdom that vocal learning evolved as an adjunct to reproductive behavior. In temperate climates, most often only male songbirds sing. The message conveyed by song is simple: I am a male robin, mature, single and ready to breed; females are welcome, males stay away. Depending on the listener, song is a lure or a threat. By imitating the song of established seniors with whom they would have to compete, young breeders presumably gained an advantage in courtship and territorial defense.

The vocal imitation expressed by adults, however, is a complex behavior requiring sophisticated underlying brain circuits, Nottebohm says. How would birds with only innate, genetically foreordained vocal repertoires have evolved the ability?
. . .
Males producing food begging calls also showed an increased expression of c-fos, a neural activity marker in a section of the forebrain known as the robust nucleus, which later plays a role in the control of learned song.

Here's how that plays out with scientists who study human languages.

Scientist at Work: Tucker Childs
Linguist’s Preservation Kit Has New Digital Tools
New York Times July 28. 2009

If You're Happy, Then We Know It: New Research Measures Mood

The point is that analysis of words and citations can reveal the shape of knowledge creation. More at Tough Love for Xerox.

If You're Happy, Then We Know It: New Research Measures Mood:
". . . what if you had a remote-sensing mechanism that could record how millions of people around the world were feeling on any particular day — without their knowing?

Large-scale happiness
That's exactly what Peter Dodds and Chris Danforth, a mathematician and computer scientist working in the Advanced Computing Center at the University of Vermont, have created.

Their methods show that Election Day, November 4, 2008, was the happiest day in four years. The day of Michael Jackson's death, one of the unhappiest.

'The proliferation of personal online writing such as blogs gives us the opportunity to measure emotional levels in real time,' they write in their study, 'Measuring the Happiness of Large-Scale Written Expression: Songs, Blogs, and Presidents,3' now available in an early online edition of the journal.

Their answer to Edgeworth's daydream begins with a website, http://www.wefeelfine.org4 that mines through some 2.3 million blogs, looking for sentences beginning with "I feel" or "I am feeling."

"We gathered nearly 10 million sentences from their site," Dodds says. Then, drawing on a standardized "psychological valence" of words established by the Affective Norms for English Words (ANEW) study, each sentence receives a happiness score. In the ANEW study, a large pool of participants graded their reaction to 1,034 words, forming a kind of "happy-unhappy" scale from 1 to 9. For example, "triumphant" averaged 8.87, "paradise" 8.72, "pancakes" 6.08, "vanity" 4.30, "hostage" 2.20, and "suicide" 1.25.

Monday, July 27, 2009

NSF Funds Science of Learning Centers

NNSF Funds Science of Learning Center at Dartmouth -
US National Science Foundation (NSF)

"Center for Cognitive and Educational Neuroscience will study the mechanisms of human learning across contexts

February 1, 2005
This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

ARLINGTON, Va.--The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $21.8 million to Dartmouth College to establish the Center for Cognitive and Educational Neuroscience (CCEN). The CCEN comprises a multidisciplinary team that includes cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and education to explore how the human brain’s learning processes interact with educational experiences across the lifespan.

The CCEN team will address such complex questions as:

* What are the “windows” for learning as a child develops?
* How do social, emotional and cultural factors influence learning?
* Why are some things hard to learn?
* What factors contribute to the successful transfer of learning from one field of knowledge to another?"
. . .
“Questions like these call for the kind of integrated, interdisciplinary work fostered by a Science of Learning Center,” said Soo-Siang Lim, lead program officer for the NSF’s Science of Learning initiative. “With the Dartmouth center and the other three centers at University of Washington, Boston University, and Carnegie Mellon University, NSF is poised to see breakthrough research in fundamental questions about how people learn.”

New Science Of Learning Offers Preview Of Tomorrow's Classroom

New Science Of Learning Offers Preview Of Tomorrow's Classroom:
"To understand how children learn and improve our educational system, we need to understand what all of these fields can contribute,” explains Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Terrence J. Sejnowski, Ph.D., professor and head of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and co-director of the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC) at the University of California, San Diego, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. “Our brains have evolved to learn and adapt to new environments; if we can create the right environment for a child, magic happens.”"

Multitasking Ability Can Be Improved Through Training

The point is that the brain is plastic and can be improved through training. It's not about content as much as it is about practice.

Multitasking Ability Can Be Improved Through Training: "'We found that a key limitation to efficient multitasking is the speed with which our prefrontal cortex processes information, and that this speed can be drastically increased through training and practice,” Paul E. Dux, a former research fellow at Vanderbilt, and now a faculty member at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and co-author of the study, said. “Specifically, we found that with training, the 'thinking' regions of our brain become very fast at doing each task, thereby quickly freeing them up to take on other tasks.'"

What do you mean when you think "people like me?"

Disabled? Who? Me? �
from Education On The Plate
"People are always asking me silly questions. Well, they’re silly to me and I doubt the questions, or any answers I might give, have any real import to the inquisitor.
. . .

I’m talking about questions like,
“What is your favorite song?”
“What’s your favorite fruit?”
“What single malt whisky do you like best.”

I answer questions like that by saying it is a matter of context. When selecting a whisky to sip on during an evening of conversation with friends (defined as people who have never asked me anything like one of the questions above) I sometimes enjoy the peppery flavor of Talisker, but on a damp foggy night in late autumn when I am sitting in my chair reading and listening to the muffled sounds outside, the iodine-laced Laphroaig appeals to me. Or when looking for a light refreshment….

At some point I’ll really hit my stride and say something like, “you see, context determines everything, even what we call disabilities.”

A long time ago I was involved in the disability rights movement on Cape Cod. This was long before the American with Disabilities Act. I belonged to an organization whose main activities involved teaching what I then considered to be “normal” people (I know, but I was young and foolish and this story is about how I learned better) about disabilities.
As a commenter to the post, I said,
Kids and editors looking for copy are always prowling around for the top ten, top 100, top 1000. It’s very satisfying because it’s about “me” or “people like us.”

It always feels good to be part of a tribe. As long as you don’t mix up “me” or “people like us’ with everyone else.

Mourning the Death of Handwriting - TIME

The point is that "We've given up beauty for speed, artistry for efficiency. And yes, maybe we are a little bit lazy."

Mourning the Death of Handwriting - TIME:
Why? Technology is only part of the reason. A study published in the February issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology found that just 9% of American high school students use an in-class computer more than once a week. The cause of the decline in handwriting may lie not so much in computers as in standardized testing.

The Federal Government's landmark 1983 report A Nation at Risk, on the dismal state of public education, ushered in a new era of standardized assessment that has intensified since the passage in 2002 of the No Child Left Behind Act. "In schools today, they're teaching to the tests," says Tamara Thornton, a University of Buffalo professor and the author of a history of American handwriting. "If something isn't on a test, it's viewed as a luxury." Garcia agrees. "It's getting harder and harder to balance what's on the test with the rest of what children need to know," she says. "Reading is on there, but handwriting isn't, so it's not as important." In other words, schools don't care how a child holds her pencil as long as she can read.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

John Seely Brown: Tinkering as a Mode of Knowledge Production

The Anthropology of YouTube

Presented at the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum at Jazz at Lincoln Center. About 10 minutes of it is a minor update (rehash) of An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube, but the rest is new. The gathering may have been the highest concentration of amazingly creative and concerned global citizens I have ever been around. Hallway conversations were different than your typical conversations. Instead of lots of people saying, 'You know, somebody should ...' there were lots of people saying, 'So I did this, this, and this, and now Im working on doing this, this, and this and we should collaborate ...' In other words, it was a bunch of people blessed with what I once heard Yochai Benkler and Henry Jenkins call critical optimism. Nobody there was blindly optimistic, thinking technology was going to make everything better. They were all continually trying to figure out where we are, where we might be going, and the possible downsides and dangers of new technologies so we can use the new technologies to serve human purposes. In other words, it was my kind of crowd. Special thanks to Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej for organizing the conference.