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Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Recent Brain Research for Teachers and Other Curious Souls By Wenda Sheard, J.D., Ph.D. Please request permission if you.

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Recent Brain Research for Teachers and Other Curious Souls By Wenda Sheard, J.D., Ph.D. Please request permission if you."— Presentation transcript:

1 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Recent Brain Research for Teachers and Other Curious Souls By Wenda Sheard, J.D., Ph.D. Please request permission if you wish to use this for educational purposes. I’ve freely granted all requests to date. I appreciate hearing suggestions and questions.

2 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Why Study Brain Research?  We can’t trust what “everybody says” about brain research.  New discoveries help us understand deep issues.  New discoveries raise huge ethical questions.

3 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard The Future of Brain Imaging  Under Construction Now!  At MIT.’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, by Dr. Alan Jasanoff  A nano-sized calcium contrast agent  Detectable by MRI machines, in images with MUCH greater resolution and MUCH more timely than current technology allows.

4 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “Using conventional fMRI to study the brain is like trying to understand how a computer works by feeling which parts of it are hot because of energy dissipation in different components of the machine.” --Dr. Jasanoff

5 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “But chemical sensors for fMRI could show what each individual element in each integrated circuit is doing and how it performs the computations and processes information.” -Dr. Jasanoff

6 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Currently fMRI shows, at best, not neurons but rather groups of about 1000 neurons, and shows changes in these groups of neurons that occur several seconds after the neurons fire.

7 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard The new method currently under development at MIT will be a direct measure of neuron activity almost instantly after the neurons fire, because calcium flows almost instantly into neurons when they fire. (other fMRI “better resolution” work at Vanderbilt University and in Japan

8 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard So, all the GREAT brain research available today might look like mere child’s play in five years! We MIGHT be able to SEE your THOUGHTS!

9 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Before I show you some great brain research of today…..

10 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Three important cautions.

11 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Caution #1 NEWS Articles Are NOT Brain Research Articles

12 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Caution #2 EDUCATION Articles Are NOT Brain Research Articles

13 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard The BIGGEST Caution: Correlation Is NOT Causation Just because two things are correlated (both things occur in the same people) doesn’t mean that one thing causes the other thing.

14 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Two “Correlation is Not Causation” Examples: 1. Wernicke’s Area: It’s large in college graduates. Jacobs B, Schall M, Scheibel A B 1993 "A Quantitative Dendritic Analysis of Wernicke's Area in Human. II. Gender, Hemispheric, and Environmental Changes." J. Comp. Neurol. 327: ESL Students: They learn best if they’re strong in their first language.

15 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Next: Six Hints About Evaluating Brain Research

16 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Evaluating Brain Research 1. The Subjects (Gender? Age? Education?) 2. The Sample Size (Large? Small?) (Study of only eight dyslexic children in China?)

17 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Evaluating Brain Research 4. The Controls Used 3. The Methods Used (MRI? fMRI? EEG? PET? IQ? SAT?)

18 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Evaluating Brain Research 5. Other Possible Explanations? 6. What Other Scientists Have Said About The Research (Robert Plomin’s study of genes & intelligence)

19 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Selected Brain Research Articles….

20 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Topics Include:  Intelligence & Cognition  Brain Growth  Multiple Intelligences: Myth or Reality?  Emotion  Free Will  Decision-Making  ADHD/ADD  Dyslexia & Dyscalculia  Religion

21 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Intelligence & Cognition  EEG study of 30 gifted adolescents (mean age 13.3, SAT averages 1100), 30 average ability adolescents, and 30 college-age subjects.

22 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “These finding suggest that gifted adolescents may have a developmentally enhanced state of brain activity, one that more closely resembles that of college-age adults to whom they also resemble in terms of cognitive ability.” Alexander, J. E., O’Boyle, M. W., & Benbow, C. P. (1996). Developmentally advanced EEG alpha power in gifted male and female adolescents. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 23(1-2):

23 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Intelligence & Cognition  Ninety-six children, Midwest United States community, ERP measures of speech perception obtained within 36 hours after birth from synthesized speech syllable /gi/.

24 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “Auditory ERPs recorded within 36 hours after birth can be used to successfully discriminate, at well above chance levels, the reading performance of children 8 years later.” Molfese, D. L., & Molfese, V. J. (1997). Discrimination of language skills at five years of age using event-related potentials recorded at birth. Developmental Neuropsychology, 13(2):

25 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Intelligence & Cognition  MRI, 47 adults, IQ tests, only 6% gray matter related to IQ. Human intelligence determined by volume and location of gray matter tissue in brain. Single ‘intelligence center’ in brain unlikely, UCI study also finds, Irvine, Calif., July 19, 2004

26 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “There is a constant cascade of information being processed in the entire brain, but intelligence seems related to an efficient use of relatively few structures * * * these structures that are important for intelligence are also implicated in memory, attention and language.”

27 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Brain Growth  Teenage Brain: A work in progress (2001)  “New imaging studies are revealing—for the first time— patterns of brain development that extend into the teenage years.”

28 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard More NIMH on Brain Growth:  “Striking growth spurts can be seen from ages 6 to 13 in areas connecting brain regions specialized for language and understanding spatial relations.”  “Another series of MRI studies is shedding light on how teens may process emotions differently than adults.”

29 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Brain Growth Movie  ses/2004/05/ htm has time-lapsed MRI images of a brain maturing, ages ses/2004/05/ htm

30 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Intelligence & Brain Growth (2006) Youth with superior IQ are distinguished by how fast the thinking part of their brains thickens and thins as they grow up. The smartest 7-year-olds tended to start out with a relatively thinner cortex that thickened rapidly, peaking by age 11 or 12 before thinning. (U.S. government study, NIMH, 307 children, Bethesda, MD, affluent suburb, regular MRI’s since 1989) March 30, 2006 issue of Nature.

31 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Multiple Intelligences: Myth or Reality? Howard Gardner's MI theory implies/says that intelligence is "modular"--- in 7or 8 hunks. Brain scientists have found the opposite, that there is an overall "g" factor of intelligence

32 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Howard Gardner’s Year AERA speech:   “(I)n light of the findings of the last two decades, the biological basis of multiple intelligence theory needs urgently to be brought up to date.”  “Were I granted another lifetime or two, I would like to rethink the nature of intelligence with respect to our new biological knowledge.”

33 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard  “By the middle 1990s, I had noticed a number of misinterpretations of the theory—for example, the confusion of intelligences with learning styles.”  “And I have come to realize that once one releases an idea—a “meme”—into the world, one cannot completely control its behavior * * *.” Howard Gardner’s Year AERA speech (more):

34 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Lessons Learned:  Know the difference between theory and research.  Read actual research; don’t just rely on what others say.  Keep up-to-date.  Learn the scientific method.  Learn how to critique scientific research.

35 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Amygdala: Area of Emotion

36 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “An emerging theme is the question of how emotion interacts with and influences other domains of cognition, in particular attention, memory, and reasoning.” * * * Dolan, R. J. Emotion, cognition, and behavior. Science. 298(5596):

37 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Emotion  28 maltreated children and 14 control children, ages 7-11, children shown a series of faces while wearing EEG cap to measure Event Related Potentials. Angry faces produced larger response in maltreated children.  Mattmiller, Brian. Study: Child abuse can alter brain development. Posted 04/06/99 on

38 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “Emotional events are remembered better than neutral events possibly because the amygdala enhances the function of medial temporal lobe (MTL) memory system. * * *” Dolcos, F., K.S. LaBar, R. Cabeza. (2004). Interaction between the Amygdala and the Medial Temporal LobeMemory System Predicts Better Memory for Emotional Events. Neuron; June 2004, Vol. 42 Issue 5, p855, 9p Emotion

39 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Emotion & Problem-Solving Ethics problems involving emotion show different patterns of brain involvement than those not involving emotion. Emotions affect judgment and problem- solving. Greene, J.D., R.B. Sommerville, L.E. Nystrom, J.M. Darley, J.D. Cohen. (2001). An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science, 293 (5537):2105.

40 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Over a 12-day period, word association task and visual learning task, mood-induction process, participants in a negative mood learned faster (contrary to expectation). Moore, Simon C., Oaksford, Mike. Some long-term effects of emotion on cognition. British Journal of Psychology. August 2002, 93(3). Emotion & Negative Mood

41 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Free-Will & The Subconscious “A conscious free will is incompatible with the evidence of neuroscience.” Spence Sean A. Free will in the light of neuropsychiatry. Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology 1996, 3(2):

42 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Brains & Free Will  Libet, Benjamin, et al., editors The Volitional Brain: Toward a Neuroscience of Free Will  Pinker, Steven The Blank Slate.  Wegner, Daniel M The Illusion of Conscious Will

43 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Spooky Music Needed For Next Slides

44 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “Free will” experiment by University of California professor emeritus of physiology Benjamin Libet in 1999 with flicking of wrist…signal in the brain to flick happens 1/3 rd second before you’re aware you chose which wrist to flick....

45 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard....magnetic stimulation of parts of brain by Dr. Alvaro Pascual- Leone… if stimulated on right side of brain, people chose left hand 80% of time but felt they were exercising free will to choose that hand. Goldberg, Cary. A question of free will the issue of free will has perplexed theologians and philosophers for centuries – Now neuroscience enters the age-old debate. The Boston Globe. October 15, 2002, Pg C-1.

46 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Decision-Making  Brain Research used in Marketing  Brain Research used in Economics  Brain Research used in Game Theory (Citations available upon request.)

47 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard ADHD & ADD Just a few studies are mentioned here. There are many more studies.

48 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard “ [T]he best documented linkage for reading disability on chromosome 6 also shows linkage with hyperactivity which suggests that there may be an even more general type of disorder with co-morbid reading disability and hyperactivity.” Plomin, Robert, and Sheila O. Walker. Genetics and educational psychology. British Journal of Educational Psychology (2003), 73(3): C14.

49 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Plomin, continued: “11 of 15 published studies have found evidence of an association between hyperactivity and a dopamine receptor gene called DRD4. Two of three studies have found a stronger DRD4 association for children who respond well to methylphenidate.”

50 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Continuous performance test (brain electrical activity), 17 boys, 20 healthy controls, Ritalin makes ADHD kids’ brains act normal with respect to stimulus recognition. Seifert, J. et al. Electrophysiological investigation of the effectiveness of methylphenidate in children with and without ADHD. Springer-Verlag, May 5, 2003 (On-line abstract).

51 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Book Recommendation: Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults (2005) by James T. Webb, Ph.D. et al.

52 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard PET scans on English, Italian, and French dyslexics. All have same reduced activity in a region of the left hemisphere. Dyslexia, 2001

53 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Dyslexia, 2001, continued: Conclusion: Despite language differences leading to different rates of dyslexia, there is a universal neurocognitive basis for dyslexia. Paulesu, E., J.-F. Demonet, F. Fazio, E. McCrory, V. Chanoine, N. Brunswick, S.F. Cappa, G. Cossu, M. Habib, C.D. Frith, U. Frith. Dyslexia: cultural diversity and biological unity. Science 291(5511): (2001).

54 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Dyslexia, 2004  Dyslexia Not the Same in Every Culture, 9/2/2004 article by The Associated Press  Beijing, 8 dyslexic children, 8 controls, MRIs used

55 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Dyslexia, 2004, continued: Conclusion: Reading English-style alphabets and Chinese characters use very different parts of the brain. * Reported in the journal Nature

56 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Dyslexia, 2003 Twenty-two children with dyslexia and 18 controls ages 10-12, performed walking tests.

57 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Conclusion: More sway with dyslexics. Perhaps we ought to use as motor skills screening for dyslexia? 85% classified correctly via walking test on uneven surface. Moe-Nilssen, Rolf, et al. Balance and gait in children with dyslexia. Springer-Verlag (On-line abstract.) Dyslexia, 2003, continued:

58 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Dyscalculia  31 children ages 8-9 with dyscalculia and/or reading difficulties, 31 controls, cognitive tests given, dyscalculia-only impaired only in those.  Conclusion: “Dyscalculia is the result of specific disabilities in basic numerical processing, rather than the consequence of deficits in other cognitive abilities.”  Landerl, Karen, Anna Bevan, Brian Butterworth. (2004) Developmental dyscalculia and basic numerical capacities: a study of 8*9-year-old students. Cognition Sep2004, Vol. 93 Issue 2, p99, 27p

59 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Autism & Asperger’s Alarms: % annual growth in numbers of autistic individuals; 172% increase during 1990s. No known single cause for autism. Many on-line resources are available.

60 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Religion & Spirituality Newburg, Andrew. Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief. (2002). Research described in the book: the orientation association area of the brain darkens during religious meditation. That’s the part of the brain that does the “you/not you” dichotomy. Perhaps during religious meditation the distinction between self and the outside world doesn’t exist…meditators feel they are a part of everything?

61 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Brain Research & Meditation “Brain research is beginning to produce concrete evidence for something that Buddhist practitioners of meditation have maintained for centuries: Mental discipline and meditative practice can change the workings of the brain and allow people to achieve different levels of awareness.” (Dalai Lama, U. of Wisc.)  Meditation Gives Brain a Charge, Study Finds By Marc Kaufman Washington Post Staff Writer, January 3, 2005; Page A05

62 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard A short program in “mindfulness meditation” produced lasting positive changes in both the brain and the function of the immune system, 25 subjects, 16 controls, training in meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn, electrical activity in brain recorded, antibodies to flu vaccine measured, from University of Wisconsin’s Health Emotions Research Institute. Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkrantz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F. et al. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, (in press). Brain Research & Immunity

63 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Sexual Orientation & Cognition  60 subjects (240 total) from each gender/orientation group, ages 18-40, from London area, great literature review.  Control tests, cognitive tests.  Results: Sexual orientation and sex are both strong predictors of performance on certain cognitive tasks.  Rahmana, Qazi, Glenn D. Wilson, and Sharon Abrahams. Biosocial factors, sexual orientation and neurocognitive functioning. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2004) 29, 867–881 (Note: this article has an impressive literature review.)

64 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Fibromyalgia  News report of research by Dr. Daniel Clauw, rheumatologist at University of Michigan, who used fMRI scans “to provide objective proof that fibromyalgia pain is real.” Sixteen sufferers, 16 controls, small pressure to left thumbs, in sufferers blood rushed to area of brain involved in pain perception.  Underwood, Anne. Fibromyalgia: Not all in your head. Newsweek. May 19, p.53.

65 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Language & Cognition “Members of the Pirahã tribe use a "one-two-many" system of counting. * * * Results of numerical tasks with varying cognitive demands show that numerical cognition is clearly affected by the lack of a counting system in the language. Performance with quantities greater than three was remarkably poor.” Gordon, Peter. Numerical cognition without words: Evidence from Amazonia, Published online August ; /science (Science Express Reports ).

66 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard Fascinating Implications!

67 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard The Future: Good & Scary  fMRI in schools?  Urine tests for brain development protein?  fMRI tests for employment?  Choosing babies based on DNA?  Harnessing the strengths of autistics?  Using the spatial strengths of dyslexics?  Reading minds? Detecting lies?  Taking the mystery out of religion?

68 Copyright 2006 by Wenda Sheard THE END Suggestions and comments most welcome.


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