Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Austism, in my language-powerful video

Thanks to Mind Hacks for the link to the very powerful video apparently created by a young woman with autism...a video where she "translates" from her world of environmental interaction to the more "typical" world of speech and perception imposed upon her by the rest of the world. Very powerful.

This is a dual post to IQs Corner and the IQ Brain Clock.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Brain fitness training success in elderly

Check out the Eide Neurolearning blog for an interesting post (with link to article) that demonstrates the effectiveness of training (the ACTIVE model) memory, reasoning, and cognitive speed on everyday cognitive functioning in adulthood

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On the road - bloggin' lite

I'm on the road for business starting today (1-23-07)) and will return late Thursday. Blog posts may be minimal. Check out the flurry of activity at IQs Corner and the IQ Brain Clock yesterday I shall return.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mental time-keeping, music and Mozart effect

Prior to starting the IQ Brain Clock blog, over at the mother blog (IQ's Corner), I made a number of posts re: the relations between musical abilities/training and various cognitive abilities (click here, here, here, and here). As my reading has expanded and evolved, I'm now beginning to see a closer link between these findings and the mental or interval time-keeping research. Thus, I now make this post at the IQ Brain Clock blog.

As noted by Dr. Lewis (2005), the brain's processing of time most likely contributes to our ability to "decode temporally complex auditory signals in the form of speech or music" (italics added by blogmaster). In addition, Dr. Lewis's research has led her to conclude that "Time measurement is fundamental to almost everything we do: music and speech, for instance, are just time-coded variations in sound...."(italics added by blogmaster). My prior post re: the 1997 Annual Review of Psychology is particularly relevant here as that literature review described a number of different theoretical conceptions of mental time-keeping that may underlie musical performance, conceptions that are very similar to the cognitive/neuroscience-based models that have been hypothesized to explain the positive treatment effect of synchronized metronome tapping (in a variety of domains).

It is within this context that I was excited to read the following article which reinforces the potential importance of music instruction on cognitive abilities and, more importantly, IMHO sets the record straight on the infamous and popular "Mozart effect."
  • Rauscher, F. Hinton, S. (2006). The Mozart Effect: Music Listening is Not Music Instruction. Educational Psychologist, 41 (4), 233-238. (click here to view)
  • “The Mozart effect” originally referred to the phenomenon of a brief enhancement of spatial- temporal abilities in college students after listening to a Mozart piano sonata (K. 448).Over time, this term was conflated with an independent series of studies on the effects of music instruction. This occurrence has caused confusion that has been perpetuated in scholarly articles, such as the one by Waterhouse (2006) and that persists in the minds of the general public. Here this article emphasizes the distinction that must be made between research on music listening and research on the more cognitively complex and educationally significant phenomena of music instruction. This article stresses that improvements in spatial-temporal skills associated with music instruction are not “free.” This article also discusses theories of transfer and mechanisms of learning as they relate to this topic.
The bottom line (from this excellent review article) is that the effects of music instruction on cognitive abilities (possibly due, I submit, to the hypothesis that musical training has a positive effect on the brain-based mental/interval brain clock) should not be confused with the popular, and largely not empirically supported, Mozart effect.

As noted in the Rauscher review. "Schellenberg (2003) suggests that “positive transfer effects to nonmusical domains, such as language, mathematics, or spatial reasoning could be similarly unique for individuals who take music lessons” (p. 444) and further states that:
  • …the ability to attend to rapidly changing temporal information, skills relevant to auditory stream segregation, the ability to detect temporal groups, sensitivity to signals of closure and other gestalt cues of form, emotional sensitivity and fine motor skills … should be particularly likely to transfer to a variety of nonmusical domains. (p. 444)"
What am I trying to say? When I start connecting the research and theoretical dots I start to conclude that there is likely a connection between the positive treatment effects of synchronized metronome tapping interventions, the musical training/cognitive ability increase research literature and, contemporary mental/interval time-keeping empirical and theoretical research. And, this should NOT be confused with the so-called Mozart effect.

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The nature of mental time-keeping research

I've previously highlighted the important mental timing research of Dr. Penny Lewis at the IQ Brain clock (she is listed as one of the blogs "mental timing scholars" - see link section).

Although her important 2006 publication (Remembering the Time - see "key research articles" link section) suggests that contemporary research has started to zero in on the possible locations of the internal brain clock, I found what she wrote in 2005 (which was less specific about possible brain functions and locations) to be a very nice easy-to-read summary of the nature of the search for the mental/interval time clock. I have reproduced her words for thought. Nicely written statement of the nature of mental timing research progress. I've also added this article to the "key research article" section for those who want to read the entire manuscript.

Lewis, P. & Walsh, V. (2005). Time Perception: Components of the Brain’s Clock. Current Biology, 15 (10), 389-391.
  • Our brains measure time continuously. We are aware of how long we have been doing a particular thing, how long it has been since we last slept, and how long it will be until lunch or dinner. We are ready, at any moment, to make complex movements requiring muscle coordination with microsecond accuracy, or to decode temporally complex auditory signals in the form of speech or music. Our timing abilities are impressive, diverse and worthy of investigation. But they are not very well understood.
  • Many models of time perception have been put forward...collectively postulating a wide variety of different mechanisms. Regardless of their diversity, the models all agree that temporal information is processed in many ways: it is remembered, compared to other temporal information, combined with sensory information, and used in the production of motor outputs.
  • The holy grail of timing research is to understand the ‘time-dependent process’: a mechanism equivalent to a piezoelectric crystal in a man-made clock or the movement of a shadow on a sundial. This has proven an elusive goal, to the extent that ideas about how this mechanism might work remain near the level of conjecture. Researchers have had great difficulty in pinning timing-related activity in the brain to any specific type of function. This is largely because most time measurement tasks draw upon more than one process, making it difficult to tease the various components apart.
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Two more brain fitness sites

I've stumbled across two additional brain fitness web sites. CogniFit and Vigorous Minds. I've added each to the blogroll. I've not yet had time to examine the sites/products in detail yet. If anyone has any experience with these companies or products, please help the blog readers by posting a "comment."

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Brain fitness tipping point and brain media series

Although I provide direct topic feeds from Sharp Brains on both of my blogs (IQ's Corner and the IQ Brain Clock), I thought two of their recent posts merited some direct comment.

The first is the post "Why are so many brain fitness programs appearing now?" As I've written before, I believe we have reached the tipping point in the neurotechnology brain fitness movement. Sharp Brains is one of the primary blogs I would encourage folks to monitor to stay abreast of the accelerating activities.

The second is an FYI post regarding a forthcoming five-part series on the "Complicated, mesmerizing world of the brain"...a joint effort of CBS News and TIME magazine. I already missed the first two CBS episodes but plan to catch the rest.

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How the brain processes quantitative information-new studies

New research summarized at Science Daily that is providing new insights into how the brain processes quantiative/numerical (Gq/Gf-RQ) information. Below is the first paragraph of the article.
  • Two studies in the January 18, 2007, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press, shed significant light on how the brain processes numerical information--both abstract quantities and their concrete representations as symbols. The researches said their findings will contribute to understanding how the brain processes quantitative information as well as lead to studies of how numerical representation in the brain develops in children. Such studies could aid in rehabilitating people who suffer from dyscalculia--an inability to understand, remember, and manipulate numbers. The researchers also said their findings offer insight into the mystery of how the brain learns to associate abstract symbols precisely with quantities.
Scientific American also provides coverage of these two studies

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"Brain cleaner" for brain injuries

Interesting article at the Science Blog about a new "brain cleaner" for use in treating brain injuries.

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Cognitive robotics

Thanks to Mind Hacks for the FYI interesting post re: the definition and meaning of cognitive robotics.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Free cognitive brain health test

Thanks to Brain Waves for the tip re: the ability to take a "free, confidential, 40-minute cognitive brain test" in partnership with the Alliance for Aging Research.

Apparently the first million people will get this assessment for free until May 14, 2007. The company involved is the Brain Resource Company. Like the author of Brain Waves, I've not taken the time to take the test nor check out the technical characteristics. If any readers do, please report back to this blog via the "comment" feature.

Hopefully I can find the 40-minutes to take this in the next few weeks. Not sure if I'll post my scores for the whole world to see :)

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Developing Intelligence posts

More on olfaction and age-related cognitive decline

Thanks to the Brain Blog for yet another empirical study that demonstrates the importance of olfactory abilities (Go) in relationship to age-related cognitive decline (see prior post).

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Center for Neurotechnology

Thanks to Brain Waves for the FYI regarding the Center for Neurotechnology studies at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Random tidbits from mind blogsphere 1-7-07

  • Brain Injury blog reports that in today's Wall Street Journal there is a "scathing attack on insurance company attitudes on brain injury rehabilitation"
  • Developing Intelligence has a review of the 2nd Edition of Mark Johnson's Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Eide Neurolearning blog has a post, with link to the journal article, re: a recent study that points out the obvious to those who work with kids with reading disabilities....namely, reading interventions need to be matched to the needs of those with reading disorders (they are not a homogeneous group)
  • Gene Expression reports that Dr. Camilla Benbow, a well-established individual differences/intelligence scholar, has been appointed to the National Science Board. Kudos.
  • Thanks to Mind Hacks for the FYI post regarding recent work in augmented cognition.
  • OMG!!!!!!!!! Having a strong preference for visual methods for presenting information (I'm often called Dr. Gv by some of my friends), I was blown over by the "Periodic Table of Visualization Methods." Check it out. Simply place your cursor over each "element" and see a nice visual picture/explanation of the data visualization method. This reminds me of the "Table of Human Cognitive Elements" that I once developed. I think I need to revisit that HCA project.
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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Advanced Brain Technologies

I just stumbled across another neurotechnology company - ABT (Advanced Brain Technology). Below is a description of the company (as lifted from their home page). This posting does not indicate an endorsement of any of their activities or products. I've not had the time to study any of the "studies" they have listed for review nor have I examined any independent empirical studies. This is an FYI post only. I've added them to my blogroll.
  • ABT- Advanced Brain Technologies develops innovative brain training products that maximize human potential.
  • We have organized an expanding global team of multidisciplinary specialists applying over 30 years of clinical experience who combine advances in neuroscience, psychoacoustic and music research with recent developments in the field of brain plasticity- the brain’s natural ability to change itself.
  • Our family of products includes an extensive line of interactive software and music programs including: The Listening Program®, BrainBuilder®, Sound Health®, Music for Babies™, Shelly's Interactive Computer Learning Series™, and Spatial Surround® HD.
  • In addition we offer professional training and continuing education opportunities for health, therapeutic, education and music specialists to become Providers of The Listening Program®. Our international network includes Providers implementing ABT tools in home, school, clinical and corporate settings on six continents.
  • ABT products are improving the lives of countless children and adults. By training brain function at its core, allowing us to address diverse issues such as memory, listening, sensory processing, brain longevity, peak performance and more.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More brain fitness revolution coverage

Consistent with my brain fitness "tipping point" post within the past hour, I just ran across another news article that is covering the buzz surrounding the entire brain fitness movement.

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Interactive Metronome @ McNatt Learning Center

As posted previously, my initial interest in mental/interval time-keeping surfaced when I was asked to serve as an external evaluation consultant to an educational application of a synchronized metronome tapping intervention (Interactive Metronome; IM) to improve school achievement.

I've now become aware of a learning corporation (McNatt Learning Center, Inc) which has been using the IM method with a variety of clinical disorders. The McNatt Learning Center has now posted a relatively lengthy (and informative) set of information regarding IM at the following link. Of particular interest to me is the reported n=1 clinical case study application of IM to Tourette's syndrome.

Readers interested in the mental/interval time-keeping based application of the IM procedure are strongly urged to check out these very nice IM set of material at McNatt Learning.

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Brain fitness revolution tipping point

It has become clear to me over the past few years that the "tipping point" for the brain fitness revolution has been reached. [Readers of this blog should pay attention to the direct blog post feed from Sharp Brains that is provided on the right-hand column of this blog.]

Sharp Brains, my favorite brain fitness blog, recently received some nice press coverage regarding their company and mission. It can be found by clicking here.

Kudos to the Sharp Brain folks.

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