Thursday, April 21, 2011

"BLAMING PARENTS: What I've learned and unlearned as a child psychiatrist" is the title of an article on a Scientific American blog. But the article starts with what the psychiatrist learned in the ER with her severely ill infant son, and her recognition of the way she sometimes dispensed "parent blame" in her own practice. She recounts old, supposed parent-related causes for schizophrenia and autism, reminds us of how much is not known about childhood disorders, and covers the complexity of the old nature/nurture split. Read about the doctor's conclusions for when to blame parents... and when not to.
APPLYING THE VIDEO GAME MODEL TO EDUCATION. Neurologist-turned-educator Judy Willis explains how video games can provide a model for "best teaching strategies." She covers the brain's dopamine-based reward system, the concept of individualized achievable challenge, and other concepts to build her case. Read her article at Edutopia
"AUTISM NOW" ON PBS. If you're interested in learning more about the current PBS NewsHour series "Autism Now," you may find it at the site of the Diane Rehm Show.
TEACHER RESOURCE. Microsoft sponsors a  U.S. Innovative Education Forum, and the application period is now open. Submit a project that demonstrates "the innovative use of technology in ways that reflect the themes for 2011: Engaging students, inspiring creativity, and preparing for the future." Projects must include Microsoft technology. Chosen educators attend the forum for free, as nearly as we can tell. Find out more.
BRAIN CLUTTER is a term associated with conditions such as AD/HD, Tourettes' OCD, and schizophrenia. A new study has identified a group of neurons that seem to be important in filtering non-essential information. Find out more.
PREDICTING LEARNING. Researchers have used neuro-imaging to use the "flexibility" of the brain's regions to predict how well someone will learn, at least in the short term. "Allegiances" between brain regions change over time, so in theory determining when the brain is flexible should tell whether learning will be better or worse on a particular day. Read more.
THE BENEFITS OF MUSIC LESSONS. Musical training as a child can lead to higher scores on tests of cognitive skills, even decades later, according to a new study. "The high-level musicians who had studied the longest performed the best on the cognitive tests, followed by the low-level musicians and non-musicians, revealing a trend relating to years of musical practice. The high-level musicians had statistically significant higher scores than the non-musicians on cognitive tests relating to visuospatial memory, naming objects and cognitive flexibility, or the brain's ability to adapt to new information." Read more.
AND FINALLY, THIS.  Find out how marketers are using online games as a path to young consumers. One example: "Create a Comic," created by General Mills to supposedly sell Honey Nut Cheerios to young players. According to The New York Times, "General Mills and other food companies are rewriting the rules for reaching children in the Internet age. These companies, often selling sugar cereals and junk food, are using multimedia games, online quizzes and cellphone apps to build deep ties with young consumers." Read more.


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