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What every teacher should know about … memory

The Guardian – Bradley Busch

“There is a wealth of psychology research that can help teachers to improve how they work with students – but academic studies of this kind aren’t always easy to access, or to translate into the realities of classroom practice. This series seeks to redress that, by taking a selection of studies and making sense of the important information for teachers.”(more)

Want to ‘train your brain’? Forget apps, learn a musical instrument

The Guardian – Mo Costandi

“The multimillion dollar brain training industry is under attack. In October 2014, a group of over 100 eminent neuroscientists and psychologists wrote an open letter warning that “claims promoting brain games are frequently exaggerated and at times misleading”. Earlier this year, industry giant Lumosity was fined $2m, and ordered to refund thousands of customers who were duped by false claims that the company’s products improve general mental abilities and slow the progression of age-related decline in mental abilities. And a recent review examining studies purporting to show the benefits of such products found “little evidence … that training improves improves everyday cognitive performance”. While brain training games and apps may not live up to their hype, it is well established that certain other activities and lifestyle choices can have neurological benefits that promote overall brain health and may help to keep the mind sharp as we get older. One of these is musical training. Research shows that learning to play a musical instrument is beneficial for children and adults alike, and may even be helpful to patients recovering from brain injuries.”(more)

Sleep Well, Learn Well

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin

While there may be some debate about the “wealthy” claim, recent research suggests Franklin was correct about the “healthy and wise” assertions.

Lack of sleep can lead to problems like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In addition, researchers now believe that the quantity and quality of sleep impacts memory and learning. It is well known that a sleep-deprived person cannot focus well and therefore cannot absorb and process information efficiently. The new finding is that information must be consolidated into a memory during sleep.

Scientists break learning and memory into three basic components: acquisition, consolidation, and recall. Acquisition is the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation is the process of making a memory stable and recall is the ability to access the information later. Acquisition and recall occur during waking hours and memory consolidation takes place during periods of sleep.

Although we do not know for sure how sleep makes consolidation possible, researchers believe that the brainwaves of different types that occur during sleep are what form lasting memories.

Since consolidation is imperative for memory, one of the most important things a parent can do for his/her child is make sure he/she gets adequate sleep.

Here are a few things that can be done to increase the odds your child is getting adequate sleep:

  •    Reduce screen time – Some research suggests that the light emitted from electronic devices increases     alertness  and keeps children from sleeping well. Establish a device free period before bed.
  •    Offer the right food – Whole foods that combine protein and complex carbohydrates are the best before bed snacks.
  •    Encourage exercise – At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week improves sleep.
  •    Control the environment – Consistent temperature and a clean environment support high quality sleep.
  •    Unplug electronic devices – Electrical fields given off by appliances (TVs, cellphones, etc.) can interfere with melatonin secretion. Even if devices are off they emit electrical fields, so it is best to unplug them.
  •    Eliminate light – Light can affect immune system function and sleep, so it is best to reduce light in the bedroom.
  •    Establish a routine – Establish a pre-bed routine so your child is in bed on time.

Perhaps a few extra hours of sleep each night is a better way to ensure amazing childhood memories than a camera.

 

Motherly love helps children’s brains grow bigger, scientists find

The Telegraph – Sarah Knapton

“Motherly love can help children’s brains grow at twice the rate as neglected youngsters, a study has shown. Although it is known that a nurturing, stable home life improves overall childhood development, it is the first research to prove that it has a significant impact on brain size. Children who received the most support from their mother’s before school were found to have more growth in the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memories and regulating emotions. Crucially, those youngsters who were more neglected when they were under six did not catch up, even when their mothers became more supportive in later years.”(more)

Why Stanford Is Training Teens To Preach The Importance Of Sleep

The Huffington Post – Nathania Johnson

“According to the CDC, as many as 70 percent of high school students do not get enough sleep. For decades, information about the importance of sleep has been targeted at parents and school boards. But now, Stanford University’s Center for Sleep Sciences is attempting to tackle the issue by taking their message directly to teens…At Menlo-Atherton High School, students from Stanford are educating teens about the value of sleep, hoping to turn them into “Sleep Ambassadors” who will in turn educate their peers about the profound value of shut-eye…Adolescents experience changes in their circadian rhythms, which shifts their sleep schedules two hours later. Early school start times interrupt the most valuable time of sleep…Meanwhile, Stanford’s efforts to educate teens on the importance of sleep seems to be working.”(more)

Bilinguals more likely to spot the difference? New research shows that speaking a second language may improve visual attention

Cambridge Extra – Katie

“A new study indicates that people who speak two languages (bilinguals) are more visually attentive than those who only speak English (monolinguals)…Adult bilingual and monolingual speakers were presented with two pictures (the original and a slightly modified version) of various scenes and required to press a key as soon as they could identify the difference. The study found that the bilingual participants were significantly faster (2.9 seconds) and 11% more accurate than monolinguals in identifying the change in the picture. Dr Filippi, director of the Multilanguage & Cognition Lab at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “Our research is examining whether learning a second or a third language provides cognitive advantages or disadvantages across someone’s life span. “Our work to date indicates that bilingual and multilingual speakers of different ages seem to have an advantage when performing non-verbal tasks requiring selective attention…It is important that the public, and in particular parents and educators, are aware of the potential importance of speaking more than one language on the development and maintenance of cognitive abilities.””(more)