Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Academic blog wiki

Check out the Academic Blog Portal, a wiki for academic blogs. An interesting concept and attempt to be a one-stop-shop for academically oriented blogs across various disciplines

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Working memory model of Engle et al. gang

Thanks to the Chris Chatham at Developing Intelligence blog for the excellent overview of an article by Unsworth and Engle on their conceptualization of working memory in Psychological Review. I've been a big fan of the Engle et al.'s notion of controlled executive attention and working memory. Folks interested in keeping abreast with the recent thinking of this eminent working memory research group should check out Chris's post.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Comment feature changed to "moderated"

I hate to do it, but all of a sudden spammers are leaving spam comments to some of my blog posts. Thus, I've enabled the "moderate comments" feature so I can save my readers from wasting their time thinking that they might want to check out some comments. As per usual, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil and open system.

This means that legitimate comments will not appear instantly...they will need to be approved by me, whenever I'm on-line and have the time to deal with the stuff.

Sorry......a necessary evil.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Random tidbits from the mind blogsphere - 2-23-07

  • Thanks to Boing Boing for the "small world in your head" neuroscience related post
  • Brain Injury has an interesting post about a partnership between the Brain Injury Association and Bob Woodruff (notable reporter who sustained brain injury in Iraq)
  • Very interesting visual-graphic of the "whimsical image of the blogosphere from the edge to the core" over at the Data Mining blog.
  • The always rich Developing Intelligence blog continues its series of excellent posts re: the development of prospective memory (remembering to remember)
  • Thought provoking post (based on recent research article, as per usual) over at the Eide Neurolearning blog on the positive impact on cognitive due to heavily visual-based (Gv) video games...with the question asked--"what about auditory" (Ga)
  • More on the whole brain fitness revolution...this time Consumer Reports making suggestions. Thanks to Happy Neuron for the tip
  • Thanks to Mind Hacks for the tip re: some cutting edge Parkinson's disease research. This should be of interest to regular readers of the IQ Brain Clock blog, as Parkinson's has been linked to the brain structures closely linked to mental/interval time-keeping.
  • Positive Technology Journal has an interesting neurotechnology post re: a recent study (n=5 clinical cases) of the use of some virtual reality neurotechnology in stroke rehab.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Causes of specific language impairment - Guest post by Ruben Lopez

The following is a guest post by Ruben Lopez, school psychologist with the Moreno Valley Unified School District, CA and member of the IQs Corner Virtual Community of Scholars. Rueben reviewed the following article and has provided his comments below. Welcome aboard Ruben.

Bishop, D. V. M. (2006). What causes specific language impairment in children? Current Directions In Psychological Science, 15, 217-221. (click here to view)

  • Specific language impairment (SLI) is diagnosed when a child’s language development is deficient for no obvious reason. For many years, there was a tendency to assume that SLI was caused by factors such as poor parenting, subtle brain damage around the time of birth, or transient hearing loss. Subsequently it became clear that these factors were far less important than genes in determining risk for SLI. A quest to find “the gene for SLI” was undertaken, but it soon became apparent that no single cause could account for all cases. Furthermore, although fascinating cases of SLI caused by a single mutation have been discovered, in most children the disorder has a more complex basis, with several genetic and environmental risk factors interacting. The clearest evidence for genetic effects has come from studies that diagnosed SLI using theoretically motivated measures of underlying cognitive deficits rather than conventional clinical criteria.
  • Clearly and concisely, Bishop explains how genetics and cognitive assessment may help to identify and intervene early in specific language impairment (SLI)-“a heterogenous category, varying in both severity and profile of disorder, but in most cases it is possible to demonstrate problems with both understanding and producing spoken language….”
  • Regarding the genetics of SLI, although twin studies have yielded significant heritability estimates, ranging from .5 to .75, Bishop reports that in most families SLI is not “inherited in a simple fashion”, rather SLI “resembles complex genetic disorders, such as asthma and diabetes…” And in a rare family where 50% of the children had an affected parent and a specific chromosomal mutation has been found, the defective gene was not the hoped for gene for language, but rather appeared to regulate the activity of other genes, some affecting “many brain systems important for speech and language…” So a simplistic genetic model of SLI has shown to be inaccurate.
  • Similarly, Bishop has found a simplistic diagnostic definition of SLI to be inaccurate. Using twin (genotype) studies to define a SLI phenotype (observed characteristics), she found “simply categorizing children as affected or unaffected on the basis of conventional language tests was not an effective approach to phenotype definition.” She, therefore, decided to look for “endophenotypes, measures of underlying factors thought to play a causal role in the disorder.” She defines this approach as “doing genetic analysis using experimental measures that were derived from particular theoretical accounts of SLI.”
  • In her search for endophenotypes of SLI, Bishop found that “impaired nonword repetition” showed evidence of a “strong genetic influence.” Her theoretical explanation for selecting the nonword repetition task is that SLI is suspected of being caused by an “impairment in a system that is specialized for holding verbal material in memory for short periods of time-phonological short-term memory (STM).” She described the task as “asking children to repeat meaningless sequences of syllables, such as “perplisteronk” or “blonterstaping.”
  • Yet testing the notion that SLI “can be traced to a more general deficit affecting perception of auditory input”(perhaps in CHC terms attributing SLI to broad Ga rather than to narrow Ga processes) Bishop found that “a measure of nonverbal auditory perception (identification of tone sequences) did not prove to have a significant genetic influence. She added that she found that “the effect of shared environment on the tone-sequence task accounted for about 60% of the variance, but almost half of this effect could be accounted for by a measure of the amount of live music experienced at home.”
  • Also, she found a measure of children’s ability to add appropriate inflectional endings to verbs (grammar)-a measure which Bishop described as another measure of phonological STM, a description which does not fit John Carroll’s placement of a narrow Grammatical Sensitivity factor under Gc. Based on her endophenotype approach-combining genetics with psychometrics--Bishop described a dual deficit model of SLI, consisting of a deficit in both nonword repetition and grammatic sensitivity. Regarding the unique contribution of each measure to an endophenotype of SLI, Bishop wrote, “Both impairments were found in SLI, and both were heritable, yet they were only weakly correlated, and the genetic analysis suggested that different genes were implicated in the two deficits.”
  • Based on the two-deficit model of SLI, Bishop concluded that “…it seems as though a child has to be impaired in more than one domain in order for language to be seriously impaired”, leading to the optimistic hypothesis that “Language is unusually surprisingly robust in the face of adverse developmental circumstances. This suggests that there may be multiple routes to effective language acquisition, and if one route is blocked, another can usually be found.”
  • Regarding intervention, Bishop speculates that “multiple routes to effective language acquisition” mean that “…there is every reason to suppose that ways of modifying the course of the disorder may be discovered, especially if new genetic knowledge is used to identify children at risk early so that intervention can begin at a young age.”
  • One question I have regarding Bishop’s psychometric findings is whether they indicate that we should be careful in only considering or overemphasizing the Broad CHC factors in understanding and addressing categories of disability, such as specific language impairment?
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Second chance to live blog

I was contacted by an individual with a personal blog re: their journey to overcome significant traumatic brain injury incurred while a child. This person has now started a personal blog (Second Chance to Live) , and I'd like to make readers aware in case they want to read and participate in this person's ongoing journey. I've also added the blog to my blogroll.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Random tidbits from the mind blogsphere 2-13-07

  • Check out the BPS Research Digest for a summary of the story, which has been making the rounds in the papers and blogs, re: recent research that suggests that pulling "all-nighters" is NOT a wise test study strategy.
  • The Eide Neurolearning blog has an interesting post on "thinking about thinking" (metacognition)
  • Thanks to Lifehacker for the tip regarding an improved means by which to search Wikipedia....WikiSeek

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

On the road again

I'm on the road for business starting today (2-7-07)) and will return late Friday. Blog posts may be minimal. I've also been fighting the winter crud (major cough; cold; etc.) the past four days, which has been the reason for my latent status.

I shall return.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dr. Raven's 3-20/21-07 education policy seminar

In a prior post I made mention of a forthcoming two-day seminar by Dr. John Raven at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Steve Hughes has now provided a description about this seminar. A summary of the presentation is listed below, along with links to a more detailed ad flyer and registration information.

The Learning Society: How Educators Can Help Our Children Save the Planet (click here for more info)

John Raven, Ph.D.
College of Human Ecology
University of Edinburgh

March 20-21, 9:00-4:30
Room 156, Continuing Education and Conference Center,
1890 Buford Avenue, University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus
(click here for link to registration)

  • "Join world famous author, researcher, and Competency-Based Education expert John Raven for a special two-day workshop designed for educational policymakers and practitioners. Learn about cutting-edge techniques from organizational psychology that help create a vibrant and innovative educational system — a system where children develop the awareness, confidence, and leadership skills necessary to address meaningful, real-world problems: Problems that will define (or destroy) the future of human life on Earth."
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