How Multitasking Can Improve Judgments
Research has revealed that multitasking impedes performance across a variety of tasks. Emergency room nurses that are interrupted multiple times while treating a patient can be more likely to make medication errors. Driving while speaking on a mobile phone significantly increases the probability of an automobile accident. At the same time, however, experienced golfers putt better when distracted than experienced golfers who are focusing on performance. Distractions resulting from the presence of other people can increase an individual’s performance, too.
Why..? Higher cognitive load can actually improve performance when the task can be best completed using a less demanding, similarity-based strategy that informs judgments by retrieving past instances from memory.
image via flickr:CC | CarbonNYC
“Your brain likes other brains.” @du4com #TEDxmke
Outsourcing our brains is the next big step into the networked future.
Lost Your Keys? Your Cat? The Brain Can Rapidly Mobilize a Search Party
A contact lens on the bathroom floor, an escaped hamster in the backyard, a car key in a bed of gravel: How are we able to focus so sharply to find that proverbial needle in a haystack? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that when we embark on a targeted search, various visual and non-visual regions of the brain mobilize to track down a person, animal or thing.
“Our results show that our brains are much more dynamic than previously thought, rapidly reallocating resources based on behavioral demands, and optimizing our performance by increasing the precision with which we can perform relevant tasks,” said Tolga Cukur, a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study published April 21 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Acute Stress Primes Brain for Better Cognitive and Mental Performance
“You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not,” said Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. “Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.
New research by Kaufer and UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby has uncovered exactly how acute stress — short-lived, not chronic — primes the brain for improved performance.
photo via flickr:CC | ian boyd
Bad Decisions Arise from Faulty Information, Not Faulty Brain Circuits
Making decisions involves a gradual accumulation of facts that support one choice or another. A person choosing a college might weigh factors such as course selection, institutional reputation and the quality of future job prospects.
But if the wrong choice is made, Princeton University researchers have found that it might be the information rather than the brain’s decision-making process that is to blame. The researchers report in the journal Science that erroneous decisions tend to arise from errors, or “noise,” in the information coming into the brain rather than errors in how the brain accumulates information.
photo via flickr:CC | A Health Blog
Open your mind to the teachings of neuroscience
So if teachers do not use the insights from brain research, they may nevertheless find that they are used on them. In fact, surveys show that teachers are often interested in science about the brain and its influence on learning, and most of them believe that this knowledge is valuable for teaching practice. But there is also a high degree of mutual incomprehension.
“I’m more concerned that they are not hearing enough about techniques that scientists have demonstrated work well and can actually benefit their students,” says John Dunlosky, a psychology professor at Kent State University in the US, who recently co-authored a study of the effectiveness of 10 common learning techniques. “Parents wouldn’t send their children to doctors who used medical practices that weren’t established by science to work, so it never fails to amaze me how the latest and newest learning technique is eaten up even though we don’t know how well it works.”
sketch via flickr:CC | labguest
Why Some People Don’t Learn Well: EEG Shows Insufficient Processing of Information to Be Learned
The reason why some people are worse at learning than others has been revealed by a research team from Berlin, Bochum, and Leipzig, operating within the framework of the Germany-wide network “Bernstein Focus State Dependencies of Learning.” They have discovered that the main problem is not that learning processes are inefficient per se, but that the brain insufficiently processes the information to be learned.
Really fascinating study that shows how the brain learns from sensory information (like touch) - useful data for therapists but also to help illustrate learning processes!
photo via flickr:CC | JanneM
Gene Silencing Spurs Fountain of Youth in Mouse Brain
Cognitive decline in old age is linked to decreasing production of new neurons. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center have discovered in mice that significantly more neurons are generated in the brains of older animals if a signaling molecule called Dickkopf-1 is turned off. In tests for spatial orientation and memory, mice in advanced adult age whose Dickkopf gene had been silenced reached an equal mental performance as young animals.
photo via flickr:CC | BigL16
Childhood Trauma Leaves Its Mark On the Brain
It is well known that violent adults often have a history of childhood psychological trauma. Some of these individuals exhibit very real, physical alterations in a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex. Yet a direct link between such early trauma and neurological changes has been difficult to find, until now.
“This research shows that people exposed to trauma in childhood don’t only suffer psychologically, but their brain also gets altered,” explains Sandi, Head of EPFL’s Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics, Director of the Brain Mind Institute, and a member of the National Centers for Competence in Research SYNAPSY. “This adds an additional dimension to the consequences of abuse, and obviously has scientific, therapeutic and social implications.”
Kids From Low Income Families Use Brains Differently
Kids who come from lower socioeconomic families have a harder time ignoring insignificant environmental information than children who come from higher income families, due to the fact that they learn how to pay attention to things differently, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
The researchers discovered that the groups of children displayed differences in theta brain waves in the frontal lobe, a major area involved in attention. This revealed that the participants used different neural workings for the task they were given, and kids with a lower socioeconomic status allocated extra resources to focus on unimportant information.
photo via flickr:CC | jungmoon