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Why the modern world is bad for your brain

Why the modern world is bad for your brain
Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence. Our smartphones have become Swiss army knife–like appliances that include a dictionary, calculator, web browser, email, Game Boy, appointment calendar, voice recorder, guitar tuner, weather forecaster, GPS, texter, tweeter, Facebook updater, and flashlight. But there’s a fly in the ointment. Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. © Daniel J. Related:  # Understanding Learning Online Environment 2015

Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others Individual intelligence, as psychologists measure it, is defined by its generality: People with good vocabularies, for instance, also tend to have good math skills, even though we often think of those abilities as distinct. The results of our studies showed that this same kind of general intelligence also exists for teams. On average, the groups that did well on one task did well on the others, too. In other words, some teams were simply smarter than others. We next tried to define what characteristics distinguished the smarter teams from the rest, and we were a bit surprised by the answers we got. Instead, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics. First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group. Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. In a new study that we published with David Engel and Lisa X. And they did. This last finding was another surprise.

There is no language instinct – Vyvyan Evans Imagine you’re a traveller in a strange land. A local approaches you and starts jabbering away in an unfamiliar language. He seems earnest, and is pointing off somewhere. That’s pretty much the position of a young child when she first encounters language. Popular now Why is the speed of light the speed of light? What might we do with the genomics of the entire planet? What can paleogenetics tell us about our earliest ancestors? In the 1960s, the US linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky offered what looked like a solution. At a stroke, this device removes the pain of learning one’s mother tongue, and explains how a child can pick up a native language in such a short time. Daily Weekly But let’s back up a little. What is in dispute is the claim that knowledge of language itself – the language software – is something that each human child is born with. There are two basic arguments for the existence of this language instinct. Let’s start with a fairly basic point. Language is different.

Assessing and Developing Metacognitive Skills Faculty Focus January 21, 2011 By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD in Learning Styles Metacognition is easily defined: “[It] refers to the ability to reflect upon, understand and control one’s learning,” (Schraw and Dennison, p. 460) or, even more simply, “thinking about one’s thinking.” Despite straightforward definitions, metacognition is a complicated construct that has been the object of research for more than 30 years. Research supports theories that separate metacognition into two major components: knowledge of cognition and regulation of cognition. Knowledge of cognition “describes an individual’s awareness of cognition at three different levels: declarative (knowing about things), procedural (knowing about how to do things), and conditional (knowing why and when to do things).” Metacognition has been studied in students from grade school through college, and it has produced a number of interesting and important findings. References: Cooper, M. Schraw, G. (1998). Recent Trackbacks [...]

Brainstorming Doesn't Work; Try This Technique Instead Evan Rosenbaum was 2 years old when his father brought home the Power Macintosh 7100. This was 1994, and the 7100, a new personal computer from Apple, was a hefty gray console, hardly anything to look at. (It would be three years before Steve Jobs fatefully met the designer Jony Ive.) "I just remember how excited he was, setting it up, seeing what it could do," Rosenbaum says. But then, Howard passed away suddenly, stricken with a heart attack at 35. When Rosenbaum turned 3, then 4, he spent more and more time with the 7100. Rosenbaum didn’t realize the degree to which he associated his dad with the 7100 until the year he turned 6. One day in September, just as kindergarten was about to begin, the Sony Vaio came. Rosenbaum hesitated to turn on the Vaio. Its opening animation came up, and Rosenbaum felt a glimmer of excitement: "It was a moment of joy that helped end the moment of sadness," he says. It wasn’t easy letting go, Rosenbaum says. Rosenbaum became adept at the Vaio.

8 Strategies for Teaching Academic Language "Change your language and you change your thoughts." -- Karl Albrecht Understanding Academic Language Academic language is a meta-language that helps learners acquire the 50,000 words that they are expected to have internalized by the end of high school and includes everything from illustration and chart literacy to speaking, grammar and genres within fields. Think of academic language as the verbal clothing that we don in classrooms and other formal contexts to demonstrate cognition within cultures and to signal college readiness. There are two major kinds: instructional language ("What textual clues support your analysis?") and language of the discipline (examples include alliteration in language arts, axioms in math, class struggle in social studies and atoms in science). Where to Start It would be a mistake to think that academic language is a garbage pail category involving any word, depending on the context. Teaching Academic Language 8 Specific Strategies 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

How Missing Information Keeps Us Sane You, as a reasonably typical human, miss more things visually than you would likely care to admit. How long has that chip been on your windshield anyway? When did the ad on this site change? Was it while you were looking at this post? (Disclaimer: I have no idea.) Sensory input is strange in this way: the brain protects us from pure data streams, so missing the initial windshield chip or the changing ad are not flaws, but shrewd adaptations. What the researchers discovered is the existence of a sensory "continuity field" that merges similar objects viewed within a 15 second timeframe. What happens without that is an effective overloading of the brain's processing ability, a hypersensitivity to changing shadows and sudden movements. How the research team figured this out is interesting in itself. To test things further, the team repeated the experiment, but with the changes in angles appearing at either end of a computer screen.

No place for introverts in the academy? | Features | Times Higher Education In today’s brave new world of university learning, students aren’t allowed to be shy, says Bruce Macfarlane It is estimated that anything between a third and a half of people are introverts. This must logically include the students we teach at university When I was an undergraduate in the early 1980s I said very little in class. But this is hardly a unique personal revelation. However, university students are no longer allowed to be shy. There is simply no place any more for the introvert. Student talk is equated with evidence of learning. I recently sat in on a master’s degree class at one of China’s leading universities. Asking questions or speaking in class have become performative expectations. Such subtlety is not understood in the brave new performative world of university learning. As teachers we are quick to think of silence in class as a problem. The virtues of being shy are, in fact, well suited to many of the central values of higher education. Click to rate 0 out of 5 stars

Illusory ownership of an invisible body reduces autonomic and subjective social anxiety responses : Scientific Reports Participants One hundred twenty-five naïve, healthy volunteers participated in the study. None of the subjects took part in more than one experiment. Based on the results of previous studies using similar measurements16,20,21, we estimated that the sample size necessary to achieve statistical significance would be approximately 20 participants. We recruited 25 participants in each experiment because, based on previous experience, we estimated that about 20% of the scheduled subjects would not show up. In Experiment 4, we recruited six additional participants because of a technical issue with the heart rate data acquisition (see below). Experimental setup and illusion induction procedure The participants were asked to stand in an upright position with their head tilted and to look down at their body. To identify the portions of empty space representing the abdomen, arms, legs and feet of the invisible body, we used the mannequin as a template. Experiment 4: Effects on social anxiety

The best book clubs are on Twitter and Facebook Like many people, Zuckerberg has made a New Year’s resolution to read more – in his case, a book a fortnight. His Facebook group A Year of Books already has more than 140,000 members poised to post their thoughts (so it’s probably a good thing that his book club will take place on the internet, rather than in someone’s kitchen), which is a colossal figure for a club that didn’t exist until January 3, and indicative of how social media has changed the way that many people now choose what they read. As the social media editor for The Telegraph’s arts desk, I have seen first-hand how the internet has changed reading habits – and for the better. I no longer have to wait for my book group to be in the same city to meet: I have fellow book-lovers online who are available 24 hours a day. To get started, join a book group or explore a reading hashtag such as #fridayreads, a trove of recommendations from around the world, while #amreading shows which book people are currently nose-deep in.