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Neurosciences - Psychologie

Neurosciences - Psychologie

The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education In his widely quoted 1997 article “Education and Neuroscience: A Bridge Too Far?” John Bruer argued that, despite substantial progress in brain research, trying to use its discoveries to shape education policy is both uninformative and misleading. Two new books by prominent scientists, The Learning Brain and A Young Mind in a Growing Brain, take on the formidable challenge of beginning to build this bridge by linking advances in our understanding of the biology of brain maturation to phenomena in other domains, namely education and psychological development. The Learning Brain is written by neuroscientist Uta Frith, Ph.D., and Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Ph.D., a rising star in the field of developmental neuropsychology. Specific topics addressed in The Learning Brain include mathematics, reading, social development, adolescence, memory, and optimization of learning. The most investigated aspect of the importance of timing has been in language acquisition. Can education make better brains?

Hardwired for Math From What Counts: How Every Brain Is Hardwired for Math by Brain Butterworth. © 1999 by Brian Butterworth. Reprinted by permission of the Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. To many readers (not to mention a legion of long-suffering math phobics) nothing may appear less likely than a hardwired, innate capability for mathematics. These propositions are Prof. What Counts, published by The Free Press in August, draws upon a range of information from anthropology, psychology, neurophysiology, linguistics, psychometrics, and other fields to make the case for a “Number Module”—specialized circuits of the brain that categorize the world in terms of “numerosities,” the number of things in a collection. Following are selected excerpts from What Counts: How Every Brain Is Hard-wired for Math. I shall argue that the human genome—the full set of genes that make us what we are—contains instructions for building specialized circuits of the brain, which I call the Number Module [above].

Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain Editor’s note: An extraordinary number of species—from squid to lizards to humans—engage in play. But why? In this article, adapted from Dr. Sam Wang and Dr. Sandra Aamodt’s book Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College (Bloomsbury USA, 2011; OneWorld Publications, 2011), the authors explore how play enhances brain development in children. For Pigface, life at the zoo had recently improved. Play is widespread among animals, beyond the familiar cases of mammals and birds, to vertebrates and even invertebrates. These criteria for play are met by leaping needlefish, water-frolicking alligators, and prankish lizards. The lizard’s behavior is not just displaced foraging or hunting. The fact that play is so widespread suggests that it arose long ago in the history of animals.2 It appears in many animals with far less social complexity than people have. Types of Play This phenomenon is not limited to vertebrates. Play: What Is It Good For? Stress Systems

Re-opening Windows: Manipulating Critical Periods for Brain Development You are in a crowded restaurant, celebrating your grandson's high school graduation. With the recorded jazz music for accompaniment, you listen to the waiter rattle off a list of the day's specials. Less than a minute later, you are wondering: Was that salmon? Or swordfish? No, it’s not simply your memory that’s failing. We live in a fast-paced society, as we never tire of reminding ourselves, with more information, and more complex information, coming at us more rapidly. Americans are becoming older, on average, and with age our cognitive and sensory systems undergo normal, gradual, but inexorable slowing. What are the implications of cognitive slowing for those who are aging and for our society as a whole? What happens to cognitive function as we age? Although these difficulties with memory capture our attention, aging is also accompanied by a general slowing of our motor, perceptual, and cognitive speed. Happily, not all cognitive tasks slow equally with age.

Pre-K Depression Linked to Changes in Brain Activity By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on July 2, 2013 New research provides the earliest evidence yet of changes in brain function in very young children with depression. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis discovered a key brain structure that regulates emotions works differently in preschoolers with depression compared with their healthy peers. Investigators say the findings could lead to ways to identify and treat depressed children earlier in the course of the illness, potentially preventing problems later in life. “The findings really hammer home that these kids are suffering from a very real disorder that requires treatment,” said lead author Michael S. “We believe this study demonstrates that there are differences in the brains of these very young children and that they may mark the beginnings of a lifelong problem.” Amygdale in the brain photo by shutterstock

Your Memories Need Their Sleep Ann Whitman (212) 223-4040awhitman@dana.org The big test is tomorrow—should you stay up late and study, or cut short the cram session and get a good night’s sleep? Most if not all students face this dilemma at some point in their lives. Until very recently, their choice might have seemed obvious: stay up and study, to commit as much information to memory as possible. But research now indicates that missing sleep in order to study may well be self-defeating. A good night’s sleep helps greatly—and is essential in some cases—to making just-learned information consolidate or stick in memory. This issue doesn’t affect only students or business people whose performance depends heavily on memorization. The good news is that researchers may soon find ways to counteract this process, by helping people to sleep better and by developing techniques to strengthen specific memories during sleep. A recent awakeningThere have long been tantalizing hints of the relationship between sleep and memory.

Inside the Letterbox: How Literacy Transforms the Human Brain Editor’s note: Few issues are as important to the future of humanity as acquiring literacy. Brain-scanning technology and cognitive tests on a variety of subjects by one of the world’s foremost cognitive neuroscientists has led to a better understanding of how a region of the brain responds to visual stimuli. The results could profoundly affect learning and help individuals with reading disabilities Although I find the diversity of the world’s writing systems bewildering, there is a striking regularity that remains hidden. Whenever we read—whether our language is Japanese, Hebrew, English, or Italian—each of us relies on very similar brain networks.1 In particular, a small region of the visual cortex becomes active with remarkable reproducibility in the brains of all readers (see figure 1). Figure 1. The brain of any educated adult contains a circuit specialized for reading. Reading as Neuronal Recycling Scanning the Illiterate Brain We recruited adults around the age of 50.

Interactive Features The Spectrum of Neglect: Four Types of Unresponsive Care Using science as a guide, this interactive chart delineates four types of diminished responsiveness and their consquences in order to provide a useful framework for developing more effective strategies to protect vulnerable children from this complex challenge. The four short video clips below, each under a minute in length, are excerpts from the 6-minute video InBrief: The Science of Neglect. View interactive chart >> Driving Science-Based Innovation in Policy & Practice: A Logic Model This narrated interactive feature presents a logic model showing how policies and programs that strengthen specific kinds of caregiver and community capacities can build the foundations of healthy development. Download "flip chart" (PDF) of this feature >> How Early Experiences Get Into the Body: A Biodevelopmental Framework Download "flip chart" (PDF) of this feature >> How Early Experiences Alter Gene Expression and Shape Development

Webcast Archive Page: 1 of 1 March 11, 2014 Wake up, I'm Speaking: The Neuroscience of Sleep and Dreaming It seems that everybody, from comedians, to poets, to world leaders, have something to say about sleep. October 24, 2013 The Arts and the Brain: What Does Your Brain See? When you listen to music or look at a painting, your brain is busy. September 19, 2013 Neuroenhancement: Building an Improved Human Body and Mind Human enhancement embraces the idea that science and technology can be used to restore or expand cognitive and physical human capacities. June 06, 2013 What Are They Thinking? Advances in brain research have enabled scientists to learn more about how the adolescent brain functions, from the everyday behavior of teenagers to how they cope with the challenges of disease, learning problems and social cues. April 25, 2013 Neuroscience and the Law June 13, 2012 The Aging Brain: What's New in Brain Research, Treatment, and Policy

The Drunken Brain: MRS Imaging Yields Clues to Alcohol’s Neural Effects An Interview with Graeme F. Mason, Ph.D. Q: You are studying genetic vulnerability to alcohol dependence and have recently completed a small study using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) to evaluate alcohol-induced changes in the concentration of certain neurotransmitters. What have you found so far? Graeme F. Q: What do these measurements tell us about how alcohol affects the brain? GFM: Everything the brain does is mediated by chemistry. Certain drugs, such as valium, act on the sites that are targeted by GABA: they make GABA more potent so it inhibits nerve activity more effectively. Q: Did you find effects on neurotransmitters other than GABA? GFM: We also measured glutamate. Some interplay with glutamate was expected. Q: How does this fit with other research about alcohol dependence? GFM: The genetic story of GABRA2 is a big theory in vulnerability to dependence right now, with data to back it. Q: What does this research tell us about gene-brain-behavior interactions?

A New Study Unlocks Connections within the Brain to Early Language Development: Research Holds Potential to Improve Early Intervention - Thrive By Five WA January 23rd, 2013 by Paul Nyhan Scientists discovered that two parts of the brain not usually associated with language development can predict a child’s linguistic skills by her or his first birthday. The study released by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) found that children with greater concentration of white and gray matter in the hippocampus and cerebellum by the time they were a year old showed higher language ability. Why is this important for early learning educators and parents? “The brain uses many general skills to learn language,” Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS said in a research summary. It is also another study that advances scientists’ understanding of how development in early childhood depends on both their biology and their experiences. “Infancy may be the most important phase of postnatal brain development in humans,” said Dilara Deniz Can, the study’s lead author and a UW postdoctoral researcher.

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