Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Do brain exercises work? | Popular Science

A nice balanced overview of brain training research


Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics

Monday, March 26, 2018

European Journal of Neuroscience: Vol 47, No 6

European Journal of Neuroscience: Vol 47, No 6

A new view of social‐cognitive neurodevelopment is emerging from imaging studies of joint attention. Theory and these studies suggest that the cortical…

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Read it on onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The importance of differential psychology for school learning: 90% of school achievement variance is due to student characteristics

This is why the study of individual differences/differential psychology is so important. If you don’t want to read the article you can watch a video of Dr. Detterman where he summarizes his thinking and this paper.

Education and Intelligence: Pity the Poor Teacher because Student Characteristics are more Significant than Teachers or Schools. Article link.

Douglas K. Detterman

Case Western Reserve University (USA)


Education has not changed from the beginning of recorded history. The problem is that focus has been on schools and teachers and not students. Here is a simple thought experiment with two conditions: 1) 50 teachers are assigned by their teaching quality to randomly composed classes of 20 students, 2) 50 classes of 20 each are composed by selecting the most able students to fill each class in order and teachers are assigned randomly to classes. In condition 1, teaching ability of each teacher and in condition 2, mean ability level of students in each class is correlated with average gain over the course of instruction. Educational gain will be best predicted by student abilities (up to r = 0.95) and much less by teachers' skill (up to r = 0.32). I argue that seemingly immutable education will not change until we fully understand students and particularly human intelligence. Over the last 50 years in developed countries, evidence has accumulated that only about 10% of school achievement can be attributed to schools and teachers while the remaining 90% is due to characteristics associated with students. Teachers account for from 1% to 7% of total variance at every level of education. For students, intelligence accounts for much of the 90% of variance associated with learning gains. This evidence is reviewed

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Each Cell Has A Clock

Each Cell Has A Clock

For many years there was a consensus that most organisms have a circadian clock. In humans it was considered to be directed centrally by the master clock in the brain region…

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Read it on jonlieffmd.com

Why the Brain-Body Connection Is More Important Than We Think

Why the Brain-Body Connection Is More Important Than We Think

From Brain, a Flipboard magazine by Kurt Martinson

Our brains aren't flying solo; our emotions also come into play when we're interacting with the world, new research finds. The idea that…

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Read it on news.nationalgeographic.com

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

NSF Funding Available for Research on Augmenting Human Cognition and Intelligent Cognitive Assistants

NSF Funding Available for Research on Augmenting Human Cognition and Intelligent Cognitive Assistants

From The Brain, a Flipboard topic

In 2016, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) released a set of 10 "Big Ideas" reflecting…

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Read it on psychologicalscience.org

Monday, March 12, 2018

CHC intelligence theory update: Live chat or later YouTube viewing from #pscyhedpodcast this Sunday evening

I am looking forward to talking about the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) model of intelligence on the #psychedpodcast this sunday evening.

I will present material largely based on the forthcoming CHC chapter coauthored with Dr. Joel Schneider.  Tune it....it shall be fun. Or, watch the discussion later on YouTube, and eventually as an audio podcast on iTunes

Mind-wandering may help enhance creativity, job performance and general well-being, studies show

Mind-wandering may help enhance creativity, job performance and general well-being, studies show
// SharpBrains


When writing a song or a piece of prose, I often choose to let my mind wander, hoping the muse will strike. If it does, it not only moves my work along but feels great, too!

That's why I was troubled by studies that found an association between mind-wandering and problems like unhappiness and depression—and even a shorter life expectancy. This research suggests that focusing one's thoughts on the present moment is linked to well-being, while spacing out—which I personally love to do—is not.

Now, new studies are bringing nuance to this science. Whether or not mind-wandering is a negative depends on a lot of factors—like whether it's purposeful or spontaneous, the content of your musings, and what kind of mood you are in. In some cases, a wandering mind can lead to creativity, better moods, greater productivity, and more concrete goals.

Here is what some recent research says about the upsides of a meandering mind.

Mind-wandering can make you more creative

It's probably not a big surprise that mind-wandering augments creativity—particularly "divergent thinking," or being able to come up with novel ideas.

In one study, researchers gave participants a creativity test called the Unusual Uses Task that asks you to dream up novel uses for an everyday item, like a paperclip or a newspaper. Between the first and second stages, participants either engaged in an undemanding task to encourage mind-wandering or a demanding task that took all of their concentration; or they were given a resting period or no rest. Those participants who engaged in mind-wandering during the undemanding task improved their performance much more than any of the other groups. Taking their focus off of the task and mind-wandering, instead, were critical to success.

"The findings reported here provide arguably the most direct evidence to date that conditions that favor mind-wandering also enhance creativity," write the authors. In fact, they add, mind-wandering may "serve as a foundation for creative inspiration."

As a more recent study found, mind-wandering improved people's creativity above and beyond the positive effects of their reading ability or fluid intelligence, the general ability to solve problems or puzzles.

Mind-wandering seems to involve the default network of the brain, which is known to be active when we are not engaged directly in tasks and is also related to creativity.

So perhaps I'm right to let my focus wander while writing: It helps my mind put together information in novel and potentially compelling ways without my realizing it. It's no wonder that my best inspirations seem to come when I'm in the shower or hiking for miles on end.

Mind-wandering can make you happier…depending on the content

The relationship between mind-wandering and mood may be more complicated than we thought.

In one study, researchers pinged participants on a regular basis to see what they were doing, whether or not their minds were wandering, and how they were feeling. As in an earlier experiment, people tended to be in a negative mood when they were mind-wandering. But when researchers examined the content of people's thoughts during mind-wandering, they found an interesting caveat: If participants' minds were engaged in interesting, off-task musings, their moods became more positive rather than more negative.

As the authors conclude, "Those of us who regularly find our minds in the clouds—musing about the topics that most engage us—can take solace in knowing that at least this form of mind-wandering is associated with elevated mood."

It may be that mood affects mind-wandering more than the other way around. In a similar study, researchers concluded that feeling sad or being in a bad mood tended to lead to unhappy mind-wandering, but that mind-wandering itself didn't lead to later bad moods. Earlier experiments may have conflated mind-wandering with rumination—an unhealthy preoccupation with past failures that is tied to depression.

"This study suggests that mind-wandering is not something that is inherently bad for our happiness," write the authors. Instead, "Sadness is likely to lead the mind to wander and that mind-wandering is likely to be [emotionally] negative."

A review of the research on mind-wandering came to a similar conclusion: Mind-wandering is distinct from rumination and therefore has a different relationship to mood.

Can we actually direct our mind-wandering toward more positive thoughts and away from rumination? It turns out that we can! One study found that people who engaged in compassion-focused meditation practices had more positive mind-wandering. As an added bonus, people with more positive mind-wandering were also more caring toward themselves and others, which itself is tied to happiness.

Mind-wandering may improve job performance

Taking a break from work can be a good thing—perhaps because our minds are freer to wander.

Mind-wandering is particularly useful when work is mind-numbing. In one study, participants reported on their mind-wandering during a repetitive task. Participants who engaged in more mind-wandering performed better and faster, decreasing their response times significantly. The researchers speculated that mind-wandering allowed people to go off-task briefly, reset, and see data with fresh eyes—so that they didn't miss sudden changes.

In another study, researchers aimed to figure out what parts of the brain were implicated in mind-wandering and discovered something unexpected. When their frontal lobes were stimulated with a small electrical current to boost mind-wandering, people's performance on an attention task slightly improved.

Of course, not every job calls for mind-wandering. A surgeon or a driver should stay focused on the task at hand, since mind-wandering could be detrimental to both. On the other hand, even for them it might be rejuvenating to take a mind-wandering break after their workday is over, leading to more focused attention the next time around.

Mind-wandering may help us with goal-setting

It seems like mind-wandering would be detrimental when it comes to planning for the future. In fact, some research suggests mind-wandering can improve goal-setting.

In a recent neuroscience experiment, participants did an undemanding task and reported on the content of their thoughts as researchers scanned their brains with fMRI. Afterwards, they wrote for 15 minutes about personal goals or TV programs (the control group). Then, they repeated these two tasks—the undemanding one and writing about goals or TV.

Analyzers unaware of the study's purpose were asked to assess the concreteness of participants' goal-setting and TV program descriptions. The result? People with wandering minds—who probably started musing about what they really wanted in life after the first writing session—ultimately came up with more concrete and higher-quality goal descriptions in the second session. Over the course of the experiment, their brains also showed an increase in connectivity between the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex—areas implicated in goal-setting.

Research has also found that, the more people engage in mind-wandering during a task, the more they are willing to wait for a reward afterwards. According to the researchers, this suggests that mind-wandering helps delay gratification and "engages processes associated with the successful management of long-term goals."

On the other hand, some research suggests mind-wandering makes us less "gritty"—or less able to stay focused on our goals to completion—especially if it is spontaneous rather than deliberate. So, it may be important to consider where you are in the process of goal creation before deciding mind-wandering would be a good idea.

None of this suggests that mind-wandering is better for us than being focused. More likely, both aspects of cognition serve a purpose. Under the right circumstances, a wandering mind may actually benefit us and possibly those around us. The trick is to know when to set your mind free.

jill_suttie.thumbnail— Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good's  book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine. Based at UC-Berkeley, Greater Good highlights ground breaking scientific research into the roots of compassion and altruism. Copyright Greater Good.

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Friday, March 02, 2018

BB (blatant brag): McGrew CHC 2009 article in Intelligence #1 (2008-2015) and top #10 all time

This was a pleasant surprise. I knew my 2009 Intelligence article was cited frequently but I never knew it was number one from 2008-2015 and it made the top 10 all time list for the journal Intelligence. I believe this is a reflection of the impact the CHC taxonomy has had. This should make my mom proud. Here is a link to the original article.

Bibliometric analysis across eight years 2008–2015 of Intelligence articles: An updating of Wicherts (2009). Article link.

Bryan J. Pesta


I update and expand upon Wicherts' (2009) editorial in Intelligence. He reported citation counts of papers pub-lished in this journal from 1977 to 2007. All these papers are now at least a decade old, and many more new articles have been published since Wichert's analysis. An updated study is needed to help (1) quantify the journal's more recent impact on the scientific study of intelligence, and (2) alert researchers and educators to highly-cited articles; especially newer ones. Thus, I conducted a bibliometric analysis of all articles published here from 2008 to 2015. Data sources included both the Web of Science (WOS), and Google Scholar (GS). The eight-year set comprised 619 articles, published by 1897 authors. The average article had 17.0 (WOS), and 32.9 (GS) citations overall (2.75, and 5.33 citations per year, respectively). These metrics compare favorably with those from other psychology journals. In addition, a list of the most prolific authors is provided. Also reported is a list showing many articles in this set with counts greater than one hundred, and an updated top 25 list for the history of this journal.

“Also noteworthy is that nine of the articles in the old list (not shown here) dropped off the new list. Of their replacements, only three of the nine were published within the last decade: Deary, Strand, Smith, and Fernandes (2007); McGrew (2009), and Strenze (2007). The McGrew (2009) paper is again notable. It is the only article in my newer set (2008–2015) to make the all-time list. The paper ranks ninth on the all-time list with 281 citations, just eight years after being published.”

More recent Google Scholar citation info indicates that the article is still going strong from 2016-2017.

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