11, 2014: Thousands
of new neurons are made every day in your brain, mostly in the hippocampus.
But the vast majority of them die within a few weeks time. Stress,
opiates and alcohol all can reduce the rate of production. Exercise,
sexual activity and drugs such as prozac increase the rate of cell
production. If learning occurs while the cells are newly formed, many
will not die, but carry on to perform function. However the learning
must be something that requires effort, yet do-able. So effortful,
but possible learning increases motivation and keep new neurons alive.
Shors, T. (2014) "Mental and Physical Training Keeps New Neurons
Alive" presented August 7, 2014 at the American Psychological
Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
11, 2014: Learning a foreign language or taking music lessons
anytime during your childhood or teenage years helps protect you from
Cognitive Impairment later in life. New research out this week shows
that in a longitudinal study of nearly 1000 older persons, those who
had music instruction and /or learned a foreign language before the
age of 18, not only scored higher on initial tests of cognitive function,
but were much less likely to suffer Mild Cognitive Impairment in old
age. While a 2nd language and music lessons won't slow down your decline
as you age, it does appear to give you a cognitive boost and protects
against impairment. Wilson, R. et al (2014). " Early Life Instruction
in Foreign Language and Music and Incidence of Mild Cognitive Impairment.
Neuropsychology (Aug 11 preview).
6, 2014: Boredom is an important, yet often overlooked, academic
emotion. So says new research which measured the relationship between
boredom and academic achievement in courses. They found that boredom
had consistently negative effects on academic performance, and then
the poor performance had consistently negative effects on subsequent
boredom. Pekrun, R. et al. (2014). "Boredom and academic achievement:
Testing a model of reciprocal causation."Journal of Educational Psychology,
Vol 106(3), 696-710.
21, 2014: Despite rumors to the contrary, the new school meal
standards are NOT leading to more food waste among students. This
according to new research released this summer. Data was collected
on food selection, consumption and plate waste at several urban, low-income
school districts. Turns out that fruit selection increased by 23%.
Entree and vegetable consumption rates increased and plate waste decreased.
Cohen, J. et al. (2014). "Impact of the New US Department of
Agriculture School Meal Standards on Food Selection, Consumption and
Waast. Am Journal of Preventive Medicine. Vol 46, 4. 388-394.
20, 2014: Nutrition plays a major role in academic success. Students
who eat a balanced and nutritious diet not only maintain their weight,
they are more alert, have better cognition, memory and problem solving
skills and higher overall achievement. However, 7% of college students
claim to eat NO fruits or vegetables daily. University of Massachusetts,
Boston online at: http://umb.edu/healthservices/
27, 2014: Taking a walk, especially outside, boosts creativity.
Researchers have discovered that walking leads to more creative and
divergent thinking - both while walking and right after walking. They
had 4 groups of participants either sit indoors, walk an indoor treadmill,
walk outside or be wheeled around outside, then tested them all using
a test for creative thinking and problem solving. Those that walked
scored higher and those that walked outside had the biggest creative
boost. Oppezzo, M. & Schwartz, D. (2014). "Give your ideas
some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking."
Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Apr 21 preview,
21, 2014: A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
shows that there appears to be a relationship between low levels of
Vitamin D and cognitive decline as we age. The researchers measured
Vitamin D levels in 3000 participants between the age of 70 and 79.
They also measured cognitive function. Four years later they retested
the participants and found those with the lowest Vitamin D levels
had the greatest cognitive decline. Wilson, V. et al (2014). "
Relationship Between 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Cognitive Function in
Older Adults: The Health, Aging and Body Composition Study."
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Vol 62 (4): 636
17, 2014: Student football players are subject to repeated head
impacts throughout the season. New research shows that even without
a concussion, these head impacts cause changes in brain white matter
and that these changes can be seen even 6 months after the end of
the sports season. Bazarian, J et al. (2014) Persistent, Long-term
Cerebral White Matter Changes after Sports-Related Repetitive Head
Impacts. PLoS ONE 9(4): e94734.
6, 2014: Children with moderate to severe protein deficiencies
during the first year of life, can catch up in growth, if their malnutrition
is corrected during the first 12 years. However, the early life malnutrition
affects neurocognitive function throughout their life. Even in adulthood,
those who had early malnutrition score lower on measures of cognitive
flexibility and concept formation, as well as initiation, verbal fluency,
working memory, processing speed, and visuospatial integration. Waber,
D., et al. (2014). "Neuropsychological Outcomes at Midlife Following
Moderate to Severe Malnutrition in Infancy." Neuropsychology,
Mar 17 preview, nps
25, 2014: Text comprehension is especially important in secondary
education. The faster students can read a text, the higher their comprehension.
Researchers used eye tracking data and comprehension tests to see
how text layout and the use of connective words such as "therefore"
and "futhermore" affect reading speed. Texts with a continueous
layout (as opposed to starting sentences on new lines) allow students
to read faster. Connective word speed up student processing of the
material. So texts which use continuous layout and utilize connective
words seem to produce the best reading comprehension test scores.
VanSilfout, G et al (2014). "Connectives and Layout as Processing
Signals: How Textual Features Affect Studentsí Processing and Text
Representation." Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 17 preview,