Monday, March 26, 2007

Augmented cognition and the military

Thanks to Mind Hacks for the FYI post re: an article dealing in military research into augmented cognition.

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Encephalon Brain Carnival # 19

On the road again

I'm on the road attending the NASP convention in NY starting tomorrow (3-26-07) and will return late Sunday (4-1-07). Blog posts will be minimal to possibly zero.

I shall return.

IQ Brain Clock EWOK (Evolving Web of Knowledge)

Announcing the first edition of the IQ Brain Clock EWOK (Evolving Web of Knowledge). A similar knowledge repository "in the sky" dealing with the WJ III test battery can be found at IQ's Corner (WJ III EWOK).

You can check out this knowledge tool via the linear table-of-contents portal entry or, if you are visually oriented, you may prefer the clickable MindMap.

Be sure to read the first top/branch (READ FIRST - What is an EWOK?") will explain the concept and the goal of the project.


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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cognitive construct of attention - a review

The most recent Annual Review of Psychology had a nice overview article (by Posner and here to view) dealing with research on the cognitive construct of attention. I found Figure 2 and Table 1 (above) particularly informative. Below are some key quotes from the article. Given my prior reading and posts regarding the importance of executive attention, I was particularly interested in Posner and Rothbart's suggestion that executive attention may be a domain general learning mechanism that may be trainable. The italics and/or underlining below were added by this blogmaster.
  • In recent years, attention has been one of the fastest growing of all fields within cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
  • Certainly many, perhaps even most, imaging studies have been concerned with anatomical issues. As Figure 2 illustrates, several functions of attention have been shown to involve specific anatomical areas that carry out important functions.
  • Imaging data have supported the presence of three networks related to different aspects of attention (Fan et al. 2005). These networks carry out the functions of alerting, orienting, and executive attention (Posner & Fan 2007). A summary of the anatomy and chemical modulators involved in the three networks is shown in Table 1. Alerting is defined as achieving and maintaining a state of high sensitivity to incoming stimuli; orienting is the selection of information from sensory input; and executive attention involves mechanisms for monitoring and resolving conflict among thoughts, feelings, and responses.
  • ..we have argued that the executive attention network is involved in self-regulation of positive and negative affect as well as a wide variety of cognitive tasks underlying intelligence (Duncan et al. 2000). This idea suggests an important role for attention in moderating the activity of sensory, cognitive, and emotional systems.
  • There is considerable evidence that the executive attention network is of great importance in the acquisition of school subjects such as literacy (McCandliss et al. 2003) and in a wide variety of other subjects that draw upon general intelligence (Duncan et al.2000).
  • It has been widely believed by psychologists that training involves only specific domains, and that more general training of the mind, for example, by formal disciplines like mathematics or Latin, does not generalize beyond the specific domain trained (Thorndike 1903, Simon 1969). However, attention may be an exception to this idea. Attention involves specific brain mechanisms, as we have seen, but its function is to influence the operation of other brain networks (Posner & Rothbart 2007). Anatomically, the network involving resolution of conflict overlaps with brain areas related to general intelligence (Duncan et al. 2000). Training of attention either explicitly or implicitly is sometimes a part of the school curriculum (Posner&Rothbart 2007), but additional studies are needed to determine exactly how and when attention training can best be accomplished and its long-lasting importance.
  • Executive attention represents a neurodevelopmental process in children and adolescents, the alteration which could affect the propensity for the development of a number of disorders.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Brain clock temporal processing review article

I just finished reading Mauk and Buonomano's 2004 review (Annual Review of Neuroscience) of "The Neural Basis of Temporal Processing." This is a bit of a hard read, but it is a good general overview summary article on contemporary mental time-keeping or temporal processing research and theory. All major mental time-keeping models are discussed, although the authors have a clear preference for the state-dependent distributed "emergent" neural models (vs. the internal clock model). I've posted a link to the article (that includes some yellow highlighting I did while reading the article) in the "key research articles" section of this blog. This is a good article for getting a handle on some of the key terms and theoretical concepts/models. I hope to take the notes I extracted and make some specific posts in the near future. I'm doing this reading largely to try get a handle on this entire domain of learning curve is a bit slow right now.

A key comment in the review is that this field of research is very much in it's formative stage (stage of infancy).

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Motor timing training - starting early

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Prospective and retrospective time-keeping

As my mental/interval time-keeping knowledge development curve continues it's slow growth, it has become clear that one needs to become cognizant of the contemporary terminology in the psychology of time perception. One frequent distinction I run across when skimming research articles is the difference between retrospective and prospective time-keeping.

According to Wearden (2005):

  • A distinction central to modern time Psychology is that between prospective and retrospective timing, although the distinction was introduced only fairly recently in the long history of time perception by Hicks, Miller, and Kinsbourne (1976). Prospective timing involves time judgments made when experimental participants are alerted in advance that duration is an important feature of the procedure. Most common laboratory tasks are of this type (e.g. “hold down this button for one second,” “I’m going to present two tones and I want you to tell me which lasted longer”). In contrast, retrospective timing involves a time judgment made when the participant is unaware that a question about time is going to be asked (e.g. “how long is it since you started reading this paragraph?”). Contemporary time researchers are (virtually) unanimous that confusing these two is fatal to any proper progress (although they were routinely mixed up until recently, see the work reviewed in Fraisse (1964) for example), and that they are explained by different psychological mechanisms.
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Music training and sensitivity to speech sounds (Ga)

Clearly the extant research literature has linked mental/interval time keeping and musical abilities (click here for some prior posts).

Nature Neuroscience has a new article that links musical training and sensitivity to speech sounds (Ga), an ability important for early reading. Check out this new post at IQ's Corner.

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The cerebellum and Tinker Toys

Check out the ENL blog for an interesting study showing brain activation areas when observing or performing construction with Tinker Toys. Not surprisingly, the cerebellum was hot and active during this activity, an activity with significant motor learning.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Brain Gym brain fitness recognized by American Sociegty on Aging

Thanks to Sharp Brains for the tip regarding the newsletter article that reports that CogniFit's MindFit "Brain Gym" software receives the 2007 Business and Againg Award from American Society on Aging.

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DC Brain Injury Awareness day - March 13

Thanks to the Brain Injury blog, a blog that has been very vocal regarding concussions in the sports (esp. the NFL) and the status of returning war vets with brain injuries, for the reminder about Brain Injury Awareness Day in Washington, DC on March 13.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

My Stroke Insight book

Thanks to Neurofuture for the tip re: a book (My Stroke Insight) that captures the personal journey of a neuroanatomist with suffered an AVM stroke, and how she regained many capabilities via innovative and traditional rehab methods. The following description was lifted from the link above:

Jill Taylor was a 37-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist when a blood vessel exploded in her brain. Through the eyes of a curious scientist, she watched her mind deteriorate whereby she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Because of her understanding of the brain, her respect for the cells in her body, and an amazing mother, Jill completely recovered. In My Stroke of Insight, she shares her recommendations for recovery and the insight she gained into the unique functions of the two halves of her brain. When she lost the skills of her left brain, her consciousness shifted away from normal reality where she felt "at one with the universe." Taylor helps others not only rebuild their brains from trauma, but helps those of us with normal brains better understand how we can consciously influence the neural circuitry underlying what we think, how we feel and how we react to life’s circumstances.

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Brain Blogging carnival # 4

I've stumbled upon yet another Brain Blog carnival (Brain Blogging), this issue being # 4. I've added it to the brain blog carnival blogroll.