Thursday, May 17, 2018

Interactive Metronome study: Clapping in time parallels literacy and calls upon overlapping neural mechanisms in early readers

Clapping in time parallels literacy and calls upon overlapping neural mechanisms in early readers

Annals of the New York Academy Of Science. Article link here.

Link to complete paper at IM site.

Silvia Bonacina Jennifer Krizman Travis White‐Schwoch Nina Krau


The auditory system is extremely precise in processing the temporal information of perceptual events and using these cues to coordinate action. Synchronizing movement to a steady beat relies on this bidirectional connection between sensory and motor systems, and activates many of the auditory and cognitive processes used when reading. Here, we use Interactive Metronome, a clinical intervention technology requiring an individual to clap her hands in time with a steady beat, to investigate whether the links between literacy and synchronization skills, previously established in older children, are also evident in children who are learning to read. We tested 64 typically developing children (ages 5–7 years) on their synchronization abilities, neurophysiological responses to speech in noise, and literacy skills. We found that children who have lower variability in synchronizing have higher phase consistency, higher stability, and more accurate envelope encoding—all neurophysiological response components linked to language skills. Moreover, performing the same task with visual feedback reveals links with literacy skills, notably processing speed, phonological processing, word reading, spelling, morphology, and syntax. These results suggest that rhythm skills and literacy call on overlapping neural mechanisms, supporting the idea that rhythm training may boost literacy in part by engaging sensory‐motor systems.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Higher intelligence related to more efficiently organized brains-bigger/larger not always better

Click on image to enlarge

Diffusion markers of dendritic density and arborization in gray matter predict differences in intelligence. Article link.

Erhan Genç, Christoph Fraenz, Caroline Schlüter, Patrick Friedrich, Rüdiger Hossiep, Manuel C. Voelkle, Josef M. Ling, Onur Güntürkün, & Rex E. Jung


Previous research has demonstrated that individuals with higher intelligence are more likely to have larger gray matter volume in brain areas predominantly located in parieto-frontal regions. These findings were usually interpreted to mean that individuals with more cortical brain volume possess more neurons and thus exhibit more computational capacity during reasoning. In addition, neuroimaging studies have shown that intelligent individuals, despite their larger brains, tend to exhibit lower rates of brain activity during reasoning. However, the microstructural architecture underlying both observations remains unclear. By combining advanced multi-shell diffusion tensor imaging with a culture-fair matrix-reasoning test, we found that higher intelligence in healthy individuals is related to lower values of dendritic density and arborization. These results suggest that the neuronal circuitry associated with higher intelligence is organized in a sparse and efficient manner, fostering more directed information processing and less cortical activity during reasoning.

From discussion

Taken together, the results of the present study contribute to our understanding of human intelligence differences in two ways. First, our findings confirm an important observation from previous research, namely, that bigger brains with a higher number of neurons are associated with higher intelligence. Second, we demonstrate that higher intelligence is associated with cortical mantles with sparsely and well-organized dendritic arbor, thereby increasing processing speed and network efficiency. Importantly, the findings obtained from our experimental sample were confirmed by the analysis of an independent validation sample from the Human Connectome Project25

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Gates, Zuckerberg team up on new education initiative

Gates, Zuckerberg team up on new education initiative

From Education, a Flipboard topic

Tech moguls Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday they will team up to help develop new technologies for kids with trouble learning — an…

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Sunday, May 06, 2018

The salience brain network and personality (self-directedness; cognitive control)


A prevailing topic in personality neuroscience is the question how personality traits are
reflected in the brain. Functional and structural networks have been examined by functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, however, the structural correlates of functionally defined networks have not been investigated in a personality context. By using the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), the present study assesses in a sample of 116 healthy participants how personality traits proposed in the framework of the biopsychosocial theory on personality relate to white matter pathways delineated by functional network imaging. We show that the character trait self-directedness relates to the overall microstructural integrity of white matter tracts constituting the salience network as indicated by DTI-derived measures. Self-directedness has been proposed as the executive control component of personality and describes the tendency to stay focused on the attainment of long-term goals. The present finding corroborates the view of the salience network as an executive control network that serves maintenance of rules and task-sets to guide ongoing behavior.

Click here for info regarding one of the better brain network overview articles by Bressler and Menon.

Click on image to enlarge

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