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Wednesday, July 6, 2011 -- Kids lose between one and three months of learning over the summer months. Common solutions include enrolling students in summer ed programs, field trips, and frequent trips to the library (full article at http://ow.ly/5yhgJ). Why not make it more interesting for students, some ideas include: sending them to a summer music camp; send them for weekly music lessons; if your kid/s are old enough, have them start a band. Music has been shown to be an excellent activity for students as it requires an effort to: listen carefully to themselves and others, develop coordination in order to play the notes in-tune and in-rhythm, and develops focus.
Thursday, June 23, 2011 -- Threat response always trumps a potential reward; it seems to be the case in the workplace. Neuroscientists have looked at different leadership styles such as: confident leaders, micro-manager leaders, and "staged" leaders (i.e., those that come across as rehearsed robots). What is interesting is the emphasis on getting the maximum out of people by nurturing employees to have status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. Good musicians know this and apply it in their ensemble playing. (full article http://ow.ly/5oYIJ).
Sunday, May 8, 2011 -- Q. What do viewing paintings from the likes of Constable, Ingres, and Reni have in common with the equivalent of gazing at a loved one? A. They produced the most powerful equivalent "pleasure" response in the brain. (full article http://ow.ly/4PS4m).
Monday, April 11, 2011 -- The ability for the wiring of the mind to remain dexterous and agile is of course something we all hope to keep as we age. Neuroscientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences unveil a recent study demonstrating a differentiation between the old and new with hopes with application of brain games for a bridging of the two (full article http://ow.ly/4y9yv).
Thursday, February 17, 2011 -- Alzheimer's is a horrible disease reducing the minds ability to reason and communicate clearly. Penn State researchers have found that bilingual people outperform those who speak only one language. (full article http://buswk.co/ekidRV).
Thursday, February 10, 2011 -- Researchers at the University of Sydney's Centre for the Mind have created a thinking cap that they claim boosts creativity by suppressing habits and opinions resident in the left brain. Inspired by brain trauma victims who noticed more creativity after damage to the left cerebral cortex (full article http://ht.ly/3U7jw).
Thursday, December 16, 2010 -- A women whose amygdala was completely destroyed has become fearless! This is the first human case that confirms fear can be completely removed from a person. There are practical applications such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that could be treated in the future. Who knows, maybe stage-fright will be addressed one day! (full article http://ht.ly/3qYYk)
Thursday, December 2, 2010 -- The White Bear Study of 1987 instructed participants to not think of a white bear. Initially, subjects were successful at suppressing that thought but over time a rebound affect occurred where those subjects actually had more thoughts about a white bear than another set of people in the study who weren't told anything about a white bear! Consequently, there have been numerous attempts to describe why people who suppress specific thoughts tend to focus on them even more over time.
Thanks to current neuroimaging technology, it has been observed that cognitive-control areas of the brain suppress the thoughts initially but the more emotional parts of the brain eventually take over. This explains why when you are at a party and you don't want to talk about work you talk about work - or many other situations where you don't want to discuss or think of a specific thought. With this knowledge, how do you avoid focusing on the worst thing possible and possibly ending up doing or saying something you don't want to? The key is to focus on what you DO want to think about or say. In this case, the positive is emphasized while not emphasizing the negative (full article http://ht.ly/3iPMK).
Thursday, November 11, 2010 -- Songbirds are unlike other animals in the way they learn. For instance, while dogs utterances are innate and unlearned, songbirds must learn the songs they sing. Researchers at Penn state looked at a songbird that only learns one song in its lifetime. The neuronic activity of the songbird was monitored with interesting results that might one day lead to better understanding of the human mind (full article http://ht.ly/37OAD).
Thursday, November 4, 2010 -- In a new experiment, researchers taught volunteers new words at night and tested their recall right after. The next morning another test was administered and it was found that the volunteers did better on this test suggesting that learning occurs during sleep. Maybe this concept can be used for learning rhythmic patterns also? (full article http://ht.ly/34qJM).
Thursday, October 28, 2010 -- Researchers at Caltech are experimenting with influencing and recording neural brain patterns. Their work could one day result in the possibility to record and playback a person's dreams (full article http://ht.ly/314wf).
Thursday, October 21, 2010 -- The futurist, well known for his work with keyboard synthesis, character recognition, and text readers is predicting that within two decades it will be possible to back up the human brain and all its' memories. The way this would work would be to inject into the bloodstream millions of nano-robots. Each robot would have one million times the computing power of today's computers (full article http://ht.ly/2WHsm).
Thursday, October 14, 2010 -- Karl Bruhn was famous for many things: music advocate, music brain research advocate, Music and Wellness Institute advocate... Karl passed away Oct 5, 2010 at 80 years old. See a nice tribute to him from the NAMM organization. There are two video links listed on the webpage you should check out also (full article http://ht.ly/2T16T).
Thursday, October 7, 2010 -- Researchers at Tokyo University have devised a "RatCar." The robotic car is driven by electrodes connected directly to a rat's brain (no external electrodes). It is hoped that this research might help lead to advancements to enable wheel-chair-bound people to better get around (full article http://ht.ly/2Q3Ib).
Thursday, September 30, 2010 -- Paul Allen is probably best known for co-founding Microsoft with Bill Gates; however, his Institute for Brain Sciences has been busy genome-mapping the brain. The Institute started by mapping a mouse brain and hopes to complete mapping of the human brain by the end of 2012. Allen's Institute kicked off a brain sciences summit Tuesday that includes scientists from Caltech, MIT, and Stanford (more info can be found at http://ht.ly/2Mnx9 and http://ht.ly/2Mnu2).
Thursday, September 23, 2010 -- Object recognition has been thought to be based upon seeing like-patterns repetitively - regardless of environmental conditions. An object, such as a dog, doesn't morph into a rhino when it gets closer, usually. Seeing the dog reinforces the idea that the object is a dog. Scientists at MIT have performed an experiment using monkeys where images of an approaching dog morph into a rhino. Results show that the monkeys eventually became confused between the two animals. Future experiments might help scientists better understand object recognition might affect behavior (ADD, etc.) (full article http://ht.ly/2IQMM).
Thursday, September 16, 2010 -- For the third time, 52-year-old Mary Reed found it necessary to leave the safety of her home to explore the outside world. A day later miss Reed would again be home but she had no memory of where she had been, where she had slept, or why she even left her home to begin with. Fortunately, a patron at the Pilot Travel Station noticed miss Reed from a missing person's ad. Subsequently, the police were called to investigate and resolve Mary's predicament. Alheimer's drugs currently utilized to improve memory loss are only useful for a short time. Hope is on the horizon via research performed at the European Neuroscience Institute in Germany to at least slow the memory loss. The potential advancement works by focusing on a specific compound at the molecular level (background and definitions will be available here http://ht.ly/2Fjrs and search for Rebuilt Minds).
Thursday, September 9, 2010 -- Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned. ~Mark Twain -- Study in one location, focus on one subject at a time, stick to a schedule, know your learning style, get a teacher with a dynamic learning style, total immersion gives best results, forgetting is bad, tests and quizzes aren't effective. What do all of these ideas have in common? They are all wrong, Experts recently analyzed learning studies and have found little evidence to support the aforementioned ideas. In many cases experiments were conducted that contradicted a particular learning idea. This article is an interesting look at what works and doesn't with regards to learning. It doesn't matter if you are a student, a math teacher, a retiree who wants to learn a new language - you will learn something from this article (full article http://ht.ly/2BKQl).
Thursday, September 2, 2010 -- In 1883, Leonard Corning introduced a book extolling the virtues of rest and Turkish baths for refreshing the brain. Flash forward 127 years and consult with Matthew Edlund (Director, Center for Circadian Medicine) and you will discover a number of specific ways you can Unplug and Recharge Your Brain including: walking, sleeping, enjoying nature, being creative, among others (full article http://ht.ly/2xoJA). Hope for couch potatoes. A new NIH research study of sedentary people found (through fMRIs) that brain region connectivity increases with only two 40 minute walks per week. This is especially important to combat the effects of aging. Common executive control tasks such as planning, scheduling, working memory, etc. are enhnanced with better brain region connectivity (full article http://ht.ly/2xoSZ).