Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Neuroethics and Law round up

As usual, a plethora of interesting story links

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-
double click on it to make larger-if hard to see)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

iPost: The Edison Brainmeter

Thanks to MIND HACKS for interesting historical tidbit

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-
double click on it to make larger-if hard to see)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Video game playing improves cognitive speed with no accuracy decrement: Research synthesis reprot

There has been lots of press and interest in the impact of playing video games and using various brain fitness programs to improve cognitive functioning.  In this context, I found the following meta-analysis based article of particular interest.  Across different types of tasks, expert video game players not only increased their cognitive reaction time but also improved their accuracy of performance.  The finding of no negative "speed-accuracy" trade-off is an important finding, suggesting that video game playing may result in quicker processing speed without a increase in accuracy.

Dye, M. W. G., Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2009). Increasing Speed of Processing With Action Video Games.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(6), 321-326.


In many everyday situations, speed is of the essence. However, fast decisions typically mean more mistakes. To this day, it remains unknown whether reaction times can be reduced with appropriate training, within one individual, across a range of tasks, and without compromising accuracy. Here we review evidence that the very act of playing action video games significantly reduces reaction times without sacrificing accuracy. Critically, this increase in speed is observed across various tasks beyond game situations. Video gaming may therefore provide an efficient training regimen to induce a general speeding of perceptual reaction

Comments from article:
The increased speed of processing noted in VGPs is often viewed as a ‘‘trigger-happy’’ behavior, in which VGPs respond faster but make more anticipatory errors (responding incorrectly because they do not wait for enough information to become available). Available research suggests this is not the case. First, the meta-analysis above reveals that VGPs have equivalent accuracy to NVGPs in the face of an 11% decrease in RTs. Second, a more direct evaluation of impulsivity using the Test of Variables of Attention (T.O.V.A.s) indicates equivalent performance in VGPs and NVGPs.
Although earlier studies typically used speeded RT tasks, more recent studies of action-video-game players have focused on accuracy measures. This choice was motivated by the difficulty of making fair comparisons regarding cognitive processes across populations that have large differences in how quickly they make their responses. This problem is well acknowledged in the aging literature, and we refer the reader to Madden, Pierce, and Allen (1996) for a comprehensive discussion of the issue.
Actionvideo-game training may therefore prove to be a helpful training regimen for providing a marked increase in speed of information processing to individuals with slower-than-normal speed of processing, such as the elderly or victims of brain trauma
While the evidence reviewed here shows that these improvements generalize to a wide range of perceptual and attentional tasks, the extent of this generalization remains unknown. Because available work has focused on visual tasks, there is no information about generalization to other modalities, such as audition or touch. Similarly, because the focus has so far been on relatively fast tasks requiring decisions between just two alternatives (with RTs less than 2,000 milliseconds), it remains unknown whether more cognitively demanding tasks would benefit in any way.

A second important goal for future work is to gain a clearer understanding of the characteristics of the action-video-game play experience that favor performance enhancement. Much of what is currently known is descriptive (for instance, that fast-paced and visually complex games promote greater levels of learning than do slower games; see Cohen, Green, & Bavelier, 2007); there is a clear need to move toward more explanatory accounts.

Finally, most of the games found to enhance performance are unsuitable for children in terms of their content and difficult for elderly gamers in terms of the dexterity of response and visual acuity required. Identifying which aspects of the games are relevant will allow the development of games that have a wide range of suitability and accessibility that can be used in clinical as well as educational applications. As with any research endeavor, a combination of basic theoretical research combined with evidence-led practical applications is the most likely to produce tangible results.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, December 20, 2009

NIMH funded neurofeedback ADHD study -- does it impact the brain clock?

Interesting story in the Washington Post regarding a well-designed study being funded by NIMH re: the efficacy of neurofeedback.  I'm anxious to see the results, as I've hypothesized that the apparent efficacy of rhythm-based metronome therapies (e.g., Interactive Metronome) for ADHD operate in a similar manner as they provides constant and immediate performance feedback based on rhythm motor synchronization.  I've speculated that these forms of treatment may be improving the synchronization of information across different parts of the brain via the "fine tuning" of the brain clock (the temporal resolution hypothesis).  In particular, I've hypothesized about these methods improving the neurocognitive constructs of executive selective attention and working memory.  

I've outlined the foundation for my hypothesis in some on-line PPT slide shows that can be accessed on the blog sidebar.

A couple past posts of relevance can be found here, here, and here.

Conflict of interest disclosure:  I'm on the Scientific Advisory Board for Interactive Metronome.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

iPost: Neuroethics round up

Great neuroscience round up at NEUROETHICS LAW blog

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-
double click on it to make larger-if hard to see)

Friday, December 18, 2009

iPost: FYI Five laws of human natur


Kevin McGrew PhD
Educational/School Psych.

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-
double click on it to make larger-if hard to see)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Its about "timing"--not "speed"

Interesting post at Mind Hacks re: article in Discover Magazine that discusses scientific efforts to understand the speed of human nerve transmission.  Of particular interest is the comment that efficient human performance may not be so much about speed...but may be more related to timing. 

Timing may be the key---not speed.
Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brain clock and Huntingtons disorder

Although based on animal studies this study is yet another (of many) linking temporal processing, mental or interval timing, the brain clock and a number of clinical disorders.  This time Hinringtons--again

The primary mission of Behavioral
Neuroscience is to publish original research papers in the broad field of the biological bases of behavior.

Disrupted temporal control in the R6/2 mouse model of Huntington's disease.

Tue, Dec 15 2009 12:53 AM 
by Balci, Fuat; Day, Mark; Rooney, Aislinn; Brunner, Dani

Huntington's disease is characterized by corticostriatal dysfunction and degeneration of the striatum with progressive loss of the medium spiny neurons. These circuits are important for instrumental responding, interval timing, and temporal control over motor output. We investigated the acquisition of timed operant responding in two R6/2 Huntington's Disease models, differing in CAG repeat length and genetic background (115 and 250 CAG repeats, and a mixed CBAxC57 or pure C57 background) and their corresponding wild type controls using the peak procedure. Both mouse lines exhibited similar response control deficits. In unreinforced peak trials, mice either did not learn to terminate an ongoing response past reinforcement time or required more trials to acquisition compared to the wild type mice. While transgenic and wild type mice did not exhibit differences in temporal accuracy, response curves were flatter in transgenic mice, suggesting decreased temporal control over operant responding. The results are discussed in terms of the neurobiology of interval timing, instrumental responding, and the neuropathology of HD and R6/2 mice. 

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-double click on it to make larger-if hard to see) 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

iPost: Mental Earworms

Thanks to MIND HACKS

Kevin McGrew PhD
Educational/School Psych.

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-
double click on it to make larger-if hard to see)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The beautiful mind interviewed

Thanks to Mind Hacks for this post about John Nash.

Kevin McGrew PhD
Educational/School Psych.

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-
double click on it to make larger-if hard to see)

iPost: Encephalon brain blog carnival # 79

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-
double click on it to make larger-if hard to see)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

More research on cerebellum and mental timing

Tadashi Yamazaki1, 3 and Shigeru TanakaContact Information

(1) Laboratory for Motor Learning Control, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako Saitama, 351-0198, Japan
(2) Laboratory for Visual Neurocomputing, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako Saitama, 351-0198, Japan
(3) Present address: Strategic Planning Unit, RIKEN BSI-TOYOTA Collaboration Center, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako Saitama,351-0198, Japan

Received: 30 June 2008  Accepted:7 May 2009  Published online: 5 June 2009

Abstract  A long-standing question in neuroscience is how the brain controls movement that requires precisely timed muscle activations. Studies using Pavlovian delay eyeblink conditioning provide good insight into this question. In delay eyeblink conditioning, which is believed to involve the cerebellum, a subject learns an interstimulus interval (ISI) between the onsets of a conditioned stimulus (CS) such as a tone and an unconditioned stimulus such as an airpuff to the eye. After a conditioning phase, the subject's eyes automatically close or blink when the ISI time has passed after CS onset. This timing information is thought to be represented in some way in the cerebellum. Several computational models of the cerebellum have been proposed to explain the mechanisms of time representation, and they commonly point to the granular layer network. This article will review these computational models and discuss the possible computational power of the cerebellum.

Keywords  Cerebellum - Time - Delay eyeblink conditioning - Neural network models - Recurrent network - Granular layer

Contact InformationShigeru Tanaka

Sent from KMcGrew iPhone (IQMobile). (If message includes an image-double click on it to make larger-if hard to see) 

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Research byte: Ga (auditory sound processing) and cognitive development: Auditory scaffolding hypothosis

I ran across this very interest article in one of my favorite journals for short and concise up-to-date summaries of contemporary cognitive research.  Given the apparent role of temporal and serial processing in mental timing behavior (IQ Brain Clock), it reinforces the notion that auditory processing (Ga) is a primary and important cognitive mechanism for intellectual and cognitive growth.....according to these authors, vis-a-vis providing a bootstrap or scaffolding mechanism for the development of critical cognitive functions.

Conway,C.  Pisoni, D., & Kronenberger, W. (2009). The Importance of Sound for Cognitive Sequencing Abilities: The Auditory Scaffolding Hypothesis.  Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(5), 275-179 (click here to view

Sound is inherently a temporal and sequential signal. Experience with sound therefore may help bootstrap— that is, provide a kind of ‘‘scaffolding’’ for—the development of general cognitive abilities related to representing temporal or sequential patterns. Accordingly, the absence of sound early in development may result in disturbances to these sequencing skills. In support of this hypothesis, we present two types of findings. First, normalhearing adults do best on sequencing tasks when the sense of hearing, rather than sight, can be used. Second, recent findings suggest that deaf children have disturbances on exactly these same kinds of tasks that involve learning and manipulation of serial-order information. We suggest that sound provides an ‘‘auditory scaffolding’’ for time and serial-order behavior, possibly mediated through neural connections between the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain. Under conditions of auditory deprivation, auditory scaffolding is absent, resulting in neural reorganization and a disturbance to cognitive sequencing abilities.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,