Friday, September 13, 2019

Startup Aural Analytics raises $4.3M to monitor neurological health by analyzing speech patterns



Startup Aural Analytics raises $4.3M to monitor neurological health by analyzing speech patterns
https://sharpbrains.com/blog/2019/09/10/startup-aural-analytics-raises-4-3m-to-monitor-neurological-health-by-analyzing-speech-patterns/

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
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Saturday, September 07, 2019

Status of Dr. Kevin McGrew - "I'm back!"








As many of my readers may (or may not) know, this past winter I was critically ill for 82 days.  As a result, I was unable to respond to many questions or requests.  But...I have been on the mend since the middle of February and am again at full steam.

Why am I sharing?  Well....apparently the word spread that I had either expired or had retired.  This is far from the truth.  I am back doing my project work, research, and engaging in consultations.  Thanks to all who provided support during my illness.



The brain’s default network: updated anatomy, physiology and evo



The brain's default network: updated anatomy, physiology and evo
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41583-019-0212-7

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Hot and cool dimensionality of executive function: Model invariance across age and maternal education in preschool children - ScienceDirect


Abstract

The structure of executive function (EF), as it pertains to distinct "hot" (affectively salient) and "cool" (affectively neutral) dimensions, in early childhood is not well understood. Given that the neural circuitry underlying EF may become increasingly differentiated with development and enriched experiences, EF may become more dissociable into hot and cool factors with age and advantaged socioeconomic circumstances. We used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to compare a multidimensional hot and cool EF model with a unidimensional model in early childhood, and to investigate model invariance across age and maternal education. Participants were 1900 children (2–5 years of age) from socioeconomically diverse families in an urban area in the southern United States. We aggregated data from four previously collected studies that included EF tasks, thus this study includes secondary data analysis. We tested model fit across (1) children older and younger than 4 years of age and (2) higher (college experience) versus lower (no college) maternal education. Results indicated that a two-factor hot and cool EF model provided the best fit to the data across all groups. Although the number of factors was invariant, only partial metric invariance was met for age, suggesting that how certain tests represent EF changes with age. For maternal education, partial scalar invariance was met, with higher maternal education associated with higher scores on certain EF tasks. Findings with this large sample suggest that EF includes two factors characterized as hot and cool. However, the study raises questions about model invariance, particularly across age.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0885200619300961



Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Monday, July 08, 2019

Structure of brain networks is not fixed - Neuroscience News



Structure of brain networks is not fixed - Neuroscience News
https://neurosciencenews.com/brain-network-structure-14435/amp/

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******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
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Friday, July 05, 2019

Cognitive ability is associated with changes in the functional organization of the cognitive control brain network - A. Breukelaar - 2018 - Human Brain Mapping - Wiley Online Library



Cognitive ability is associated with changes in the functional organization of the cognitive control brain network - A. Breukelaar - 2018 - Human Brain Mapping - Wiley Online Library
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hbm.24342

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

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) announces six new ONtrepreneurs working at the frontier of applied neurotech



The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) announces six new ONtrepreneurs working at the frontier of applied neurotech
https://sharpbrains.com/blog/2019/06/21/the-ontario-brain-institute-obi-announces-six-new-ontrepreneurs-working-at-the-frontier-of-applied-neurotech/

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

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Cognitive abilities of action video game and role-playing video game players: Data from a massive open online course. - PsycNET



Abstract

Numerous studies have demonstrated that regularly playing action video games (AVGPs) is associated with increased cognitive performance. Individuals who play role-playing video games (RPGs) have usually been excluded from these studies. This is because RPGs traditionally contained no action components and were thus not expected to influence cognitive performance. However, modern RPGs increasingly include numerous action-like components. We therefore examined whether current RPG players (RPGPs) perform similar to action video game players (AVGPs) or nonvideo game players (NVGPs) on two cognitive tasks. Self-identified AVGPs (N = 76), NVGPs (N = 77), and RPGPs (N = 23) completed two online cognitive tasks: A useful field of view (UFOV) task and a multiple-object tracking task (MOT). The UFOV task measures the ability to deploy visuospatial attention over a large field of view while dividing one's attention between a central and a peripheral task. The MOT task measures the ability to use attentional control to dynamically refresh information in working memory. RPGPs performed similar to AVGPs and better than NVGPs on both tasks. However, patterns of covariation (e.g., gender and age) presented obstacles to interpretation in some cases. Our study is the first to demonstrate that RPGPs show similar cognitive performance to AVGPs. These findings suggest that regularly playing modern RPGs may enhance visuospatial abilities. However, because the current study was purely cross-sectional, intervention studies will be needed to assess causation. We discuss the implications of this finding, as well as considerations for how gamers are classified going forward. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)




Saturday, June 01, 2019

The Academic Outcomes of Working Memory and Metacognitive Strategy Training in Children: A Double‐Blind Randomised Controlled Trial - Jones - - Developmental Science - Wiley Online Library



Abstract

Working memory training has been shown to improve performance on untrained working memory tasks in typically developing children, at least when compared to non‐adaptive training; however, there is little evidence that it improves academic outcomes. The lack of transfer to academic outcomes may be because children are only learning skills and strategies in a very narrow context, which they are unable to apply to other tasks. Metacognitive strategy interventions, which promote metacognitive awareness and teach children general strategies that can be used on a variety of tasks, may be a crucial missing link in this regard. In this double‐blind randomised controlled trial, 95 typically developing children aged 9‐14 years were allocated to three cognitive training programmes that were conducted daily after‐school. One group received Cogmed working memory training, another group received concurrent Cogmed and metacognitive strategy training, and the control group received adaptive visual search training, which better controls for expectancy and motivation than non‐adaptive training. Children were assessed on four working memory tasks, reading comprehension, and mathematical reasoning before, immediately after, and three months after training. Working memory training improved working memory and mathematical reasoning relative to the control group. The improvements in working memory were maintained three months later and these were significantly greater for the group that received metacognitive strategy training, compared to working memory training alone. Working memory training is a potentially effective educational intervention when provided in addition to school; however, future research will need to investigate ways to maintain academic improvements long‐term and to optimise metacognitive strategy training to promote far‐transfer.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/desc.12870



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Frontiers | Musical Instrument Practice Predicts White Matter Microstructure and Cognitive Abilities in Childhood | Psychology


Musical training has been associated with advantages in cognitive measures of IQ and verbal ability, as well as neural measures including white matter microstructural properties in the corpus callosum (CC) and the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). We hypothesized that children who have musical training will have different microstructural properties in the SLF and CC. One hundred children aged 7.9–9.9 years (mean age 8.7) were surveyed for their musical activities, completed neuropsychological testing for general cognitive abilities, and underwent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) as part of a larger study. Children who play a musical instrument for more than 0.5 h per week (n = 34) had higher scores on verbal ability and intellectual ability (standardized scores from the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities), as well as higher axial diffusivity (AD) in the left SLF than those who did not play a musical instrument (n = 66). Furthermore, the intensity of musical practice, quantified as the number of hours of music practice per week, was correlated with axial diffusivity (AD) in the left SLF. Results are not explained by age, sex, socio-economic status, or physical fitness of the participants. The results suggest that the relationship between musical practice and intellectual ability is related to the maturation of white matter pathways in the auditory-motor system. The findings suggest that musical training may be a means of improving cognitive and brain health during development.


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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
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Brain network modularity predicts cognitive training-related gains in young adults - ScienceDirect


Abstract

The brain operates via networked activity in separable groups of regions called modules. The quantification of modularity compares the number of connections within and between modules, with high modularity indicating greater segregation, or dense connections within sub-networks and sparse connections between sub-networks. Previous work has demonstrated that baseline brain network modularity predicts executive function outcomes in older adults and patients with traumatic brain injury after cognitive and exercise interventions. In healthy young adults, however, the functional significance of brain modularity in predicting training-related cognitive improvements is not fully understood. Here, we quantified brain network modularity in young adults who underwent cognitive training with casual video games that engaged working memory and reasoning processes. Network modularity assessed at baseline was positively correlated with training-related improvements on untrained tasks. The relationship between baseline modularity and training gain was especially evident in initially lower performing individuals and was not present in a group of control participants that did not show training-related gains. These results suggest that a more modular brain network organization may allow for greater training responsiveness. On a broader scale, these findings suggest that, particularly in low-performing individuals, global network properties can capture aspects of brain function that are important in understanding individual differences in learning.

Keywords

Functional connectivity
Brain network modularity
Cognitive training
Working memory
Reasoning



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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Different Types Of Meditation Change Different Areas Of The Brain, Study Finds






Do Schools Promote Executive Functions? Differential Working Memory Growth Across School-Year and Summer Months - Jenna E. Finch, 2019

Children's working memory (WM) skills, which support both academic and social success, continue to improve significantly through the school years. This study leverages the first nationally representative data set with direct assessments of elementary school students' WM skills to examine whether WM grows more during the school year or summer months and whether WM growth rates differ by household income. Results demonstrate that WM skills grow more during the school-year months compared to the summer months, suggesting that school environments provide children with unique opportunities to improve and practice their WM skills. Further, lower-income children have significantly faster WM growth rates in the first 2 years of school and the intervening summer, compared to their peers from higher-income families, leading to an overall narrowing in WM disparities by household income during the early school years. However, there was no evidence that schools equalize or exacerbate differences in WM skills between children from lower-income and higher-income households.


Do Schools Promote Executive Functions? Differential Working Memory Growth Across School-Year and Summer Months - Jenna E. Finch, 2019
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2332858419848443

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

IQ and Society



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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The efficacy of different interventions to foster children’s executive function skills: A series of meta-analyses. - PsycNET

Citation

Takacs, Z. K., & Kassai, R. (2019). The efficacy of different interventions to foster children's executive function skills: A series of meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin. Advance online publication. 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/bul0000195

Abstract

In the present meta-analysis all available evidence regarding the efficacy of different behavioral interventions for children's executive function skills were synthesized. After a systematic search we included experimental studies aiming to enhance children's (up to 12 years of age) executive functioning with neurodevelopmental tests as outcome measures. The results of 100 independent effect sizes in 90 studies including data of 8,925 children confirmed that it is possible to foster these skills in childhood (Diamond & Lee, 2011). We did not find convincing evidence, however, for the benefits to remain on follow-up assessment. Different approaches were effective for typically and nontypically developing samples. For nontypically developing children (including children with neurodevelopmental disorders or behavior problems) acquiring new strategies of self-regulation including biofeedback-enhanced relaxation and strategy teaching programs were the most effective. For typically developing children we found evidence for the moderate beneficial effects of mindfulness practices. Although small to moderate effects of explicit training with tasks loading on executive function skills in the form of computerized and noncomputer training were found, these effects were consistently weaker for nontypically developing children who might actually be more in need of such training. Thus, atypically developing children seem to profit more from acquiring new strategies of self-regulation as compared with practice with executive function tasks. We propose that explicit training does not seem to be meaningful as the approaches that implicitly foster executive functions are similarly or more effective, and these activities are more enjoyable and can be more easily embedded in children's everyday activities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)




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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
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Thursday, April 25, 2019

The mysterious disappearance of blogmaster of IQs Corner

My regular readers have noticed that I have not posted anything to my three blogs since last thanksgiving.  Why?

Well..I came down with a serious illness and spent 82 days in the hospital, 72 of which were at the world renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN.  I have since returned home and am doing OT and PT rehab....that is now my full time job.  

I want to thank all who learned of my experience and sent kind words of support.  I shall return.

If you want more details you can check out the Caring Bridge log my lovely wife maintained.

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kevinmcgrewiq



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Kevin S. McGrew,  PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director
Institute for Applied Psychometrics (IAP)
www.themindhub.com
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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Dr. Nina Kraus on Why Musical Training Helps us Process the World Around Us



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