These findings highlight some differences in the challenges that youth with an IEP faced in the decade after IDEA 2004, depending on their disability. Although the characteristics and experiences described capture only a subset of those discussed in this volume, prior research suggests that they could be important indicators of students’ later outcomes (see, for example, Mazzotti et al. ; Zablocki & Krezmien ). Youth in disability groups that are less likely to perform typical daily living tasks; engage with friends and in school activities; or prepare for college, careers, and independent living might be at higher risk for not making the kinds of postsecondary transitions that IDEA 2004 promotes.
What is surprising is the discovery a number of years ago that mentally dexterous people with greater working memory capacity seem to be particularly susceptible to “brain freeze” or choking under pressure.
For a new study in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, researchers at the University of Chicago and Michigan State University attempted to find out more about why this happens. Their results suggest that actually it’s only a subgroup of high working memory people who have this problem and it’s because of their high distractibility. These high ability chokers or brain freeze victims are “typically reliant on their higher working memory resources for advanced problem solving” but their poor attentional control renders them easily distracted by anxiety, causing their usual mental deftness to break down when the pressure is on.
Jason Sattizahn and his colleagues recruited 83 participants aged 18-35, including 35 men, from areas near universities. First they tested the participants’ attention control abilities using the well-established Flanker Task: participants had to identify as quickly as possible the direction of central arrows that were either surrounded by congruent flankers (<<<<<) or incongruent flankers (<<><<). It’s a test of attention control because it takes mental concentration to ignore the flankers, especially on incongruent trials.
Next, the researchers tested the participants’ on some tricky mental arithmetic questions, both without any pressure and then under high pressure conditions in which there was a monetary incentive, peer pressure (poor performance would adversely affect another participant) and risk of public shaming (they were told their performance would be shared with professors and others).
Finally, the participants completed two tests of their working memory capacity: they had to solve a sequence of basic mathematical operations or sentence comprehension questions, with each one interspersed with presentation of a single letter on screen. At the end of each run of between three and seven trials, the participants had to try to recall the letters in the correct order.
The results were clear: high stakes pressure adversely affected the math performance of participants with high working memory capacity, but did not affect the performance of participants with lower working memory capacity (replicating a phenomenon first identified in a paper published in 2005**). What’s new here is the additional measure of attentional control. This showed that only high working memory participants with poor attentional control showed evidence of this mental performance choking under pressure.
The American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.
1. Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health – not genetic markers of a disorder. The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species. This principle is self-evident. The exceedingly rare disorders of sex development (DSDs), including but not limited to testicular feminization and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, are all medically identifiable deviations from the sexual binary norm, and are rightly recognized as disorders of human design. Individuals with DSDs do not constitute a third sex. 1
2. No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one. No one is born with an awareness of themselves as male or female; this awareness develops over time and, like all developmental processes, may be derailed by a child’s subjective perceptions, relationships, and adverse experiences from infancy forward. People who identify as “feeling like the opposite sex” or “somewhere in between” do not comprise a third sex. They remain biological men or biological women. 2,3,4
When you hold in mind a sentence you have just read or a phone number you’re about to dial, you’re engaging a critical brain system known as working memory.
For the past several decades, neuroscientists have believed that as information is held in working memory, brain cells associated with that information fire continuously. However, a new study from MIT has upended that theory, instead finding that as information is held in working memory, neurons fire in sporadic, coordinated bursts. These cyclical bursts could help the brain to hold multiple items in working memory at the same time, according to the researchers.
“By having these different bursts coming at different moments in time, you can keep different items in memory separate from one another,” says Earl Miller, the Picower Professor in MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. According to the new model, information is stored in rapid changes in the synaptic strength of the neurons. The brief bursts serve to “imprint” information in the synapses of these neurons, and the bursts reoccur periodically to reinforce the information as long as it is needed.
Mikael Lundqvist, a Picower Institute postdoc, and Jonas Rose, now at University of Tubingen in Germany, are the paper’s lead authors. The bursts create waves of coordinated activity in the gamma frequency (45 to 100 hertz), like the ones that were observed in the data. These waves occur sporadically, with gaps between them, and each ensemble of neurons, encoding a specific item, produces a different burst of gamma waves. “It’s like a fingerprint,” Lundqvist says.
Our brains weren't built to multitask.
Our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time, and bombarding them with information only slows them down. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are "not wired to multitask well... when people think they're multitasking, they're actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there's a cognitive cost." This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains love that dopamine, and so we're encouraged to keep switching between small mini-tasks that give us instant gratification. This creates a dangerous feedback loop that makes us feel like we're accomplishing a ton, when we're really not doing much at all (or at least nothing requiring much critical thinking).
Multitasking lowers your work quality and efficiency.
Multitasking makes it more difficult to organize thoughts and filter out irrelevant information and it reduces the efficiency and quality of our work. A study at the University Of London showed that multitasking has also been found to increase production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Having our brain constantly shift gears pumps up stress and tires us out, leaving us feeling mentally exhausted (even when the work day has barely begun).
One of the biggest instigators of multitasking mayhem? Our inboxes. The constant thrill of a new bolded email in our inbox keeps us ever-distracted. A McKinsey Global Institute Study found that employees spend 28 percent of their workweek checking emails. Email is problematic, but texting is even worse, demanding even more immediacy than email, having us check it more adamantly as a result. Protect yourself from the multitasking mental massacre by establishing an e-mail checking schedule. Commit yourself to checking emails only three times a day, (maybe when you get into work in the morning, at lunch time, and before leaving work at the end of the day). Turn off texting notifications and choose specific times to check your phone as well.
The lesson? Multitasking is not a skill to add to the resume, but rather a bad habit to put a stop to.
Zackery doesn’t want others to end up like him. At 22, he walks with a looping gait, leaning heavily on a metal cane. He peers through thick glasses, specially designed to help his peripheral (side) vision. It takes him a moment to gather his thoughts before he speaks in a strained, thick voice. He struggles to remember his schedule day to day, and often relies on his mother to be his short-term memory schedule.
Zack’s daily challenges stem from a traumatic brain injury he received while playing football when he was 13. In 2006, Zack nearly died after he got two concussions in a single football game, something called second impact syndrome.
Although it’s not easy for him to get around, he’s spent the last 9 years speaking to lawmakers, coaches, athletic directors, trainers, health care workers, and parents about the dangers of concussions and what happens when they aren’t given time to heal.
That’s why it was especially painful for Zack to watch the news about Kenney; the 17-year-old high school football player from Seattle who died earlier this month, 3 days after he received a head injury during a game.
After his death, school officials revealed that Kenny, a wide receiver and defensive back, had suffered a concussion in September and had been cleared to play by health care professionals following the CDC’s guidelines.
Had Zack sat out the rest of the game on Oct. 12, 2006, he most likely would be doing normal 22-year-old activities, like “out driving picking up chicks,” as he likes to joke.
On that day, Zack suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the game when he made a tackle and hit the ground hard. He sat out for a while, but returned to the game in the second half. Zack took more hits but finished the game. As he walked off the field with his father, he collapsed and started to convulse. He was flown to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center and came within an hour of dying from a catastrophic brain injury, says Richard G. Ellenbogen, MD, the hospital’s chief of neurological surgery.
Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.
Traumatic brain injury is the skeleton that the NFL has tried to keep in its closet for far too long. Now that's coming to light on the brightest stage possible. Will Smith's new movie Concussion will expose people who don't care about football to the plights of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, the former NFL and NCAA doctor who first identified chronic brain injury common factor in the deaths of several former NFL players, including Junior Seau following his death in 2012. The trailer presents the NFL as a dangerous syndicate working to discredit, disavow and coerce a doctor into hiding his research, while Omalu strives to present the truth.
People have more difficulty recalling the string of letters BIC, IAJ, FKI, RSU and SAF than FBI, CIA, JFK, IRS and USA. New research by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) psychologists takes this learning principle one step further by uncovering how the strength -- or familiarity -- of those chunks plays a crucial role. CMU researchers show for the first time that it is easier to learn new facts that are composed of more familiar chunks.
These findings have implications for how students are taught almost any subject, including second language learning. They also indicate that the long-held belief that children have less working memory than adults may not be true because working memory resources are more rapidly consumed when the chunks are less familiar.
"We are suggesting that working memory capacity is not a fixed quantity but interacts with the familiarity of the elements that need to be processed. If everything is very familiar, it is easy to comprehend and build new knowledge. If all of the components are unfamiliar, the task becomes very difficult or impossible," said Lynne Reder, professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and a leading expert on memory, cognition and behavior. Reder also is a member of CMU's Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute.
"This work has implications for how to optimize instruction, specifically that concepts should be introduced to students in a way that they have a good grasp and familiarity with those concepts before trying to combine them into more complex informational structures. These findings may also help to explain certain paradoxes such as why children tend to learn computer applications more easily than adults and may help to explain why they learn second languages better than adults," Reder said.
"Little kids may actually have more working memory than adults. They often appear to have less only because they have fewer knowledge chunks and those chunks are weaker than adults. Adults have wisdom 'knowledge and skills -- and scientists have been confusing that with greater working memory," she said.
Lynne M. Reder, Xiaonan L. Liu, Alexander Keinath, Vencislav Popov. Building knowledge requires bricks, not sand: The critical role of familiar constituents in learning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2015
The brain’s foundation, frame, and walls are built in the womb. As an embryo grows into a fetus, some of its dividing cells turn into neurons, arranging themselves into layers and forming the first synapses, the organ’s electrical wiring. Four or five months into gestation, the brain’s outermost layer, the cerebral cortex, begins to develop its characteristic wrinkles, which deepen further after birth. It isn’t until a child’s infant and toddler years that the structures underlying higher-level cognition—will power, emotional self-control, decision-making—begin to flourish; some of them continue to be fine-tuned throughout adolescence and into the first decade of adulthood.
Dr. Pat Levitt, a developmental neuroscientist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, he has become interested in another sort of neurotoxin: poverty. As it turns out, the conditions associated with poverty — “overcrowding, noise, substandard housing, separation from parent(s), exposure to violence, family turmoil,” and other forms of extreme stress--can be toxic to the developing brain, just like drug or alcohol abuse. These conditions provoke the body to release hormones such as cortisol, which is produced in the adrenal cortex. Brief bursts of cortisol can help a person manage difficult situations, but high stress over the long term can be disastrous. In a pregnant woman, the hormone can “get through the placenta into the fetus,” Levitt told me, potentially influencing her baby’s brain and tampering with its circuitry. Later, as the same child grows up, cortisol from his own body may continue to sabotage the development of his brain.
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