Monday, August 15, 2016

2016 Davidson Fellows, IDEA and Online Education, and More

DAVIDSON FELLOWS ANNOUNCED. The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has announced the 2016 Davidson Fellow scholarship recipients. Recipients were selected based on their engagement in projects that have great potential to benefit society. According to the Institute, it has awarded more than $6.7 million over 16 years through the Davidson Fellows scholarships, recognizing 286 of the nation’s best and brightest young students. This year’s 20 Davidson Fellows recipients, ages 18 and under, will each be awarded a scholarship in the amount of $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000. Find out more.

IDEA APPLIES ONLINE, says the U.S. Department of Education. In reporting on the DOE's guidance for online educational offerings, Disability Scoop notes that online entities have "obligations to make certain that kids needing special education services are identified, evaluated, provided an individualized education program, and served in the least restrictive environment." Find the Disability Scoop article. Find the DOE "Dear Colleague" letter.

ALABAMA SCHOOLS AND DYSLEXIA. The state of Alabama is "requiring teachers and administrators to receive training that will help them recognize when a student exhibits dyslexia characteristics," according to DecaturDaily.com. Until a state law change in 2015, schools were not required to screen, intervene, or even "acknowledge" dyslexia. Read more. On the site of Dyslexic Advantage you can see the status of dyslexia legislation in U.S. states. While most states now have such legislation, states including Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont still lack substantive provisions for identifying and intervening with students who have dyslexia. See Dyslexic Advantage's map.

PETER PAN AND "THEORY OF MIND." Yup, they might be related, at least if a neuroscientist's latest book premise is to be believed. According to The Guardian, Peter Pan's author, JM Barrie, identifies key stages of child development. The basis for the book, by Rosalind Ridley, consists of Barrie's original stories, not the Disney or stage productions. The Guardian article provides examples illustrating Peter Pan's cognitive stages. Find the article.

fMRI STUDIES: A PROBLEM? We've often written about studies based on functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI. Now, it seems, there might be a problem with many of the thousands of fMRI-based studies published in the past decades, and it has to do with differentiating "signal" from "noise" in the fMRI readings. The problem, by the way, has been apparent to some since as early as 2009, when researchers put a dead fish into an fMRI scanner. In theory, the lack of blood flow should have precluded any signal; however, according to Quartz.com, "To [researchers'] surprise parts of the brain lit up, as if the dead fish were 'thinking.'" If this bothers you, read more.

DEPRESSION has been in the news as the result of recent studies.
  • More teens are having episodes of depression. Find an article on the study. 
  • Identifying and treating metabolic deficiencies in patients with treatment-resistant depression can improve symptoms and in some cases even lead to remission, according to new research. Find the study write-up
  • An episode of major depression can be crippling, impairing the ability to sleep, work, or eat. But the drugs available to treat depression can take weeks or even months to start working. Researchers have discovered one reason the drugs take so long to work, and their finding could help scientists develop faster-acting drugs in the future. Find the study write-up
  • A simple and inexpensive therapy called "behavioral activation" is equally as effective at treating depression as the "gold standard" of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a large-scale study has concluded. Find the study write-up
MINDFULNESS has also been in the news.
  • Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are studying how cognitive therapy that uses mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, quiet reflection and facilitator-led discussion, may serve as an adjunct to pharmacological treatments for anxiety. Find the study write-up
  • Meditation has long been promoted as a way to feel more at peace. But research shows it can significantly improve attention, working memory, creativity, immune function, emotional regulation, self-control, cognitive and school performance, and healthy habits while reducing stress. Find the study write-up

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