"FOR DECADES, THE PREVAILING DOGMA IN neuroscience was that the adult human brain is essentially immutable, hardwired, fixed in form and function, so that by the time we reach adulthood we are pretty much stuck with what we have. Yes, it can create (and lose) synapses, the connections between neurons that encode memories and learning. And it can suffer injury and degeneration. But this view held that if genes and development dictate that one cluster of neurons will process signals from the eye and another cluster will move the fingers of the right hand, then they'll do that and nothing else until the day you die. There was good reason for lavishly illustrated brain books to show the function, size and location of the brain's structures in permanent ink.ut research in the past few years has overthrown the dogma. In its place has come the realization that the adult brain retains impressive powers of "neuroplasticity"--the ability to change its structure and function in response to experience."
Research on the brain and how we think and act is influencing the way some teachers teach. Special correspondent John Tulenko of Learning Matters goes into a classroom where the instructor uses different methods to engage different parts of the students’ brains, then checks with a neuroscientist about whether that strategy actually works.
The approach is to think of a brain region that goes awry as “more like a muscle that is atrophied,” says Greg J. Siegle, director of the Program in Cognitive Affective Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The solution to an atrophied muscle is to rehab it.”
Learn about advances in brain research and cognitive science that can help your patients today. NICABM's Brain Science 2013 Series helps practitioners easily utilize neuroscience, and promote brain development.
Maggie Rouman's insight:
"Get the expert, brain-building strategies that can help clients strengthen resilience, speed healing, and increase happiness."
The researchers reason that experiencing tension in a story makes people feel stressed, which makes their bodies release the hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin. Since oxytocin has been shown to increase empathy in some experiments, when things get tense while listening to a story, reading a book, or watching a TV show or movie, you may begin to empathize with the characters and get “transported” into the story.
"Many business people have already discovered the power of storytelling in a practical sense – they have observed how compelling a well-constructed narrative can be. But recent scientific work is putting a much finer point on just how stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors."
It’s obvious that knowing more than one language can make certain things easier — like traveling or watching movies without subtitles. But are there other advantages to having a bilingual (or multilingual) brain? Mia Nacamulli details the three types of bilingual brains and shows how knowing more than one language keeps your brain healthy, complex and actively engaged.
"Perhaps the most striking is that Einstein had an extra ridge on his mid-frontal lobe, the part used for making plans and working memory. Most people have three ridges but Einstein had four. She also found Einstein's parietal lobes were dramatically asymmetric, and he had a knob on his right motor strip. This latter feature is called the "sign of omega" and it is thought to be correlated to musicians who use their left hands. Einstein played the violin."
Maggie Rouman's insight:
Fascinating story about what happened to Einstein's brain...
New research puts a finer point on the confidence issue by tracking changes in listeners’ brain activity when hearing someone make a statement. The results suggest that the brain detects and assesses confidence in another’s voice in as little as 0.2 seconds.
There is increasing evidence that bilingualism can affect how the brain works. Older, lifelong bilinguals have demonstrated better cognitive skills in tasks that require increased cognitive control.
Maggie Rouman's insight:
Interesting... Thoughts? Our findings further support the idea that bilingualism “reshapes” the brain, but also suggest that bilingual immersion is a crucial factor in the process. In other words, it is possible that the better preservation of brain structure that has been reported in older bilinguals is simply an effect of continuously using the two languages, rather than an effect of early language acquisition or lifelong bilingualism.
Building on their earlier work that suggested people who meditate have less age-related atrophy in the brain's white matter, a new study found that meditation appeared to help preserve the brain's gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons.
As it turns out, this type of "Facebook addiction" may show up in the brain: A new study found that the brains of people who report compulsive urges to use the social networking site show some brain patterns similar to those found in drug addicts. One possibility is that, in cases of Facebook addiction, people are sensitized to respond strongly to positive triggers associated with the site, said study co-author Ofir Turel, a psychologist at California State University, Fullerton. Several studies have suggested that Facebook and other social networking sites have a profound impact on people. In recent years, researchers have coined the term "Facebook addiction" to describe people with an unhealthy desire to spend hours checking the social networking site.
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