Friday, November 09, 2018

National Cancer Institute Designates BrainHQ as a Research-Tested Intervention Program



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National Cancer Institute Designates BrainHQ as a Research-Tested Intervention Program
// Posit Science | Brain Fitness & Brain Training

Monday, November 5, 2018

(SAN FRANCISCO) — The National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the US National Institutes of Health has designated BrainHQ online brain exercises, made by Posit Science, as a part of its "Research-Tested Intervention Programs" (RTIPs). BrainHQ is now included in the NCI database of evidence-based cancer interventions and program materials for program planners and public health practitioners.

The RTIPs program was set up by NCI to more rapidly move new science into "programs for people." It is a searchable database to help practitioners and program planners find evidence-based interventions that have sufficient relevance to be considered for use in real-world settings.

BrainHQ was selected for inclusion into the RTIPs program because it was tested in research studies, produced positive behavioral and psychosocial findings in cancer survivors, and study results were published in peer-reviewed medical journals. These findings were independently reviewed and scored by NCI and its partners as part of the process by which BrainHQ was included in the RTIPs program.

In selecting BrainHQ for RTIPs, NCI looked at published studies on the use of BrainHQ to address common complaints of cognitive impairment associated with cancer and its treatment. These cognitive impairments are often referred to as "cancer-induced cognitive impairment" or, more colloquially, as "chemobrain." Up to 90 percent of cancer survivors report cognitive issues from cancer or its treatment. There is no widely-accepted treatment for chemobrain.

NCI reviewed an 82-person randomized controlled trial conducted at the University of Indiana, which found that those who used a set of visual processing exercises now found in BrainHQ showed improvements, as compared to the control group, in objective measures of processing speed and verbal memory, as well as on standard measures of perceived cognitive functioning, symptom distress (anxiety, mood, fatigue), and quality of life. NCI also took note of a 242-person pragmatic study led by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia, which found improvements compared to the control group in self-reported cognitive symptoms, symptom distress, and quality of life.

"We are honored that BrainHQ has been selected by the National Cancer Institute for inclusion in the Research-Tested Intervention Programs," said Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. "It is our mission to get scientific breakthroughs like brain-plasticity-based training out of the research lab and into the hands of people it can help. That crucially depends on groups like NCI RTIPs to qualitatively evaluate the level of evidence in new scientific fields, so that program planners and public health practitioners can deliver services that improve people's lives. "

There are now more than 100 peer-reviewed medical and science journal articles on the benefits of Posit Science exercises and assessments, across varied populations. BrainHQ exercises have been shown to improve standard measures of cognition (speed, attention, memory), quality of life (mood, confidence, health-related quality of life) and real-world activities (gait, balance, driving) in healthy adults.

About Posit Science
Posit Science is the leading provider of clinically proven brain fitness training. Its exercises, available online at www.BrainHQ.com, have been shown to significantly improve brain speed, attention, memory and numerous standard measures of quality of life in multiple studies published in more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in leading science and medical journals. Three public television documentaries as well as numerous stories on news programs, in national magazines, and in major newspapers have featured Posit Science's work. The company's science team is led by renowned neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, PhD.

Press Contact
Posit Science PR Team
media@brainhq.com


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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Research Byte: Flynn Effect in Kuwait, 1985-1998

This study will be added to the Flynn Effect Archive Project the next time it is update.






Law Review Article: Evaluating Intellectual Disability: Clinical Assessments in Atkins Cases (Ellis et al., 2018)




This new law review article is, IMHO, the best overview article regarding the history of ID, the legal issues in Atkins cases, and good discussion of the major conceptual and measurement issues found in many Atkins cases. An excellent introduction to ID issues in Atkins cases.

EVALUATING INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY: CLINICAL ASSESSMENTS IN ATKINS CASES

James W. Ellis, Caroline Everington, Ann M. Delpha

ABSTRACT

The intersection of intellectual disability and the death penalty is now clearly established. Both under the U.S. Supreme Court's constitutional decisions and under the terms of many state statutes, individual defendants who have that disability cannot be sentenced to death or executed. It now falls to trial, appellate, and post-conviction courts to determine which individual criminal defendants are entitled to the law's protection. This Article attempts to assist judges in performing that task. After a brief discussion of the Supreme Court's decisions in Atkins v. Virginia, Hall v. Florida, and Moore v. Texas, it analyzes the component parts and terminology of the clinical definition of intellectual disability. It then offers more detailed discussion of a number of the clinical issues that arise frequently in adjudicating these cases. For each of these issues, the Article's text and the accompanying notes attempt to provide judges with a thorough survey of the relevant clinical literature, and an explanation of the terminology used by clinical professionals. Our purpose is to help those judges to become more knowledgeable consumers of the clinical reports and expert testimony presented to them in individual cases, and to help them reach decisions that are consistent with what the clinical literature reveals about the nature of intellectual disability and best professional practices in the diagnostic process.

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Friday, November 02, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

CHC theory update: Significant changes to the narrow Gs abilities

See my chapter with Joel Schneider for discussion.











******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
******************************************************

Sunday, October 28, 2018

CHC taxonomy update: Large-scale Gv spatial navigation abilities proposed entry into taxonomy

Joel Schneider and I, in our new CHC chapter, recommend that large-spatial Gv navigation abilities be included in the CHC taxonomy. Evidence is strong. Measures are far and few between—a potential place for good dissertation research and instrument development, especially with computer-administered test technology.

Click images to enlarge.

The Selling of SEL in Schools: History, Research, & Practice

Interesting historical perspective on the SEL movement

The Selling of SEL in Schools: History, Research, & Practice
https://myemail.constantcontact.com/The-Selling-of-SEL-in-Schools--History--Research----Practice.html?aid=_7c1pw6tINc&soid=1102564327552

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Problems with bi-factor intelligence research - theoretically agnostic and psychologically naive

Kevin McGrew (@iqmobile)
Problems with #bifactor #intelligence #IQ test research studies. #gfactor may not represent a real thing or ability but may be an #emergent factor...like #SES or #DJI. #g and primary abilities uncorrelated....seriously????? Bifactor models are theoretically #agnostic pic.twitter.com/Go77F32UTI

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Levels of intelligence research, explanation and reductionism - see you at #FASP2018

Levels of #intelligence research and explanation.  Part of my #CHC theory update presentation at #FASP2018 this coming week.  #brain #brainnetworks #neuroscience #psychometrics #IQ 




******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
******************************************************

Friday, October 12, 2018

Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018 - The Brain Clock "Times"

https://paper.li/iqmobile/1316026988?edition_id=afeb56a0-cd6f-11e8-842a-0cc47a0d1609#/


*********************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director
Institute for Applied Psychometrics
www.themindhum.com
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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Timing Training in Female Soccer Players: Effects on Skilled Movement Performance and Brain Responses

Timing Training in Female Soccer Players: Effects on Skilled Movement Performance and Brain Responses. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Article link.

Marius Sommer, Charlotte K. Häger, Carl Johan Boraxbekk and Louise Rönnqvist

Abstract

Although trainers and athletes consider “good timing skills” critical for optimal sport
performance, little is known in regard to how sport-specific skills may benefit from timing training. Accordingly, this study investigated the effects of timing training on soccer skill performance and the associated changes in functional brain response in elite- and sub-elite female soccer players. Twenty-five players (mean age 19.5 years; active in the highest or second highest divisions in Sweden), were randomly assigned to either an experimental- or a control group. The experimental group (n = 12) was subjected to a 4-week program (12 sessions) of synchronized metronome training (SMT). We evaluated effects on accuracy and variability in a soccer cross-pass task. The associated brain response was captured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while watching videos with soccer-specific actions. SMT improved soccer cross-pass performance, with a significant increase in outcome accuracy, combined with a decrease in outcome variability. SMT further induced changes in the underlying brain response associated with observing a highly familiar soccer-specific action, denoted as decreased activation in the cerebellum post SMT. Finally, decreased cerebellar activation was associated with improved cross-pass performance and sensorimotor synchronization. These findings suggest a more efficient neural recruitment during action observation after SMT. To our knowledge, this is the first controlled study providing behavioral and neurophysiological evidence that timing training may positively influence soccer-skill, while strengthening the action-perception coupling via enhanced sensorimotor synchronization abilities, and thus influencing the underlying brain responses.

Conclusion

In summary, this is the first controlled study demonstrating that improved motor timing and multisensory integration, as an effect of SMT, also is associated with changes in functional brain response. The present study provides both behavioral and neurophysiological evidence that timing training positively influences soccer-skill, strengthens the action-perception coupling by means of enhanced sensorimotor synchronization abilities, and affect underlying brain responses. These findings are in accordance with the idea that SMT may result in increased brain communication efficiency and synchrony between brain regions (McGrew, 2013), which in the present study was evident by reduced activation within brain areas important for temporal planning, movement coordination and action recognition and understanding (cerebellum). Also, our results complement findings indicating that the cerebellum plays an important role in the action-perception coupling (Christensenetal.,2014),and confirm recent theories supporting a cognitive-perceptual role of the cerebellum (e.g., Roth et al., 2013).Probing the influence of timing training on the underlying brain activation during soccer specific action observation is an important approach as it provides a window into the brain plasticity associated with non-task specific (timing) training, and to the underlying brain activation of skilled performance. The present study suggests that the underlying brain activation during action observation, which is claimed to be important for action recognition and understanding (e.g., Rizzolatti and Craighero, 2004), may be influenced in other ways than through task-specific training (e.g., Calvo-Merino et al., 2005) or observational learning (e.g., Cross et al., 2013). Such knowledge of how SMT may alter brain activity within regions facilitating the action perception coupling is likely important for enhancing training techniques within sports, as well as for developing new rehabilitative techniques for many clinical populations.



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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Is The Big Standardized Test A Big Standardized Flop





******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
******************************************************

Monday, August 27, 2018

Intelligence and Uncertainty: Implications of Hierarchical Predictive Processing for the Neuroscience of Cognitive Ability



Intelligence and Uncertainty: Implications of Hierarchical Predictive Processing for the Neuroscience of Cognitive Ability
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763418302045

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******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
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Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: Vol 1423, No 1



Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: Vol 1423, No 1
https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/17496632/2018/1423/1

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

A distributed brain network predicts general intelligence from resting-state human neuroimaging data.



A distributed brain network predicts general intelligence from resting-state human neuroimaging data.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30104429

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******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
******************************************************

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The new Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) periodic table of cognitive elements: Build your own

The latest and greatest CHC periodic table of cognitive elements is now available!

I've been meaning to make this post for a long time.  Below are the front and back images of my official CHC periodic table of cognitive elements.  This revision reflects Dr. Joel Schneider and my CHC theory update chapter to be published this fall (I believe next month) in the latest CIA (contemporary intellectual assessment) book.

Some of you may be familiar with the fact that, for the prior version, I had the table professionally printed (one sheet...both sides used) and laminated.  I distributed these during some of my presentations and at conferences.  The response was always positive.  My original plan was to have a new batch professionally printed and laminated and to make them available for a nominal fee via PayPal.  However, I was stalled by the details of having to deal with different state sales taxes, accepting payments, packaging, and mailing.  Instead, I am now providing interested people with the actual JPEG images (click here to download).  You can print your own copy and laminate if you want.  Build your own CHC periodic table of cognitive elements!

A PDF copy of the latest definitions, abstracted from our chapter, can be found here.

Enjoy.

Click on images to enlarge.




Friday, August 17, 2018

Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy with James Flynn - Scott Barry Kaufman

Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy with James Flynn - Scott Barry Kaufman

Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy with James Flynn

"When you turn your back on reality you lose the ability to manipulate reality. One would think that is self-evident. I didn't go into this to not try to find the truth." — James Flynn*

Today it is an honor to have Dr. James Flynn on the podcast. Dr. Flynn is Professor Emeritus at the University of Otago and recipient of the University's Gold Medal for Distinguished Career Research. In 2007, the International Society for Intelligence Research named him its Distinguished Contributor. His TED talk on cognitive and moral progress has received over 3.5 million visits. His long list of books include Are We Getting Smarter?, What is Intelligence?, Where Have All the Liberals Gone?, Fate and PhilosophyHow to Improve Your Mind, and most recently, Does Your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy.

In this episode we cover a wide range of topics relating to intelligence and its determinants, including:

  • Flynn's attempts to clarify intelligence and its causes
  • The g factor, and what gives rise to it
  • The validity of multiple intelligences theory
  • Intergenerational trends (the "Flynn effect") vs. Within-generation trends
  • The "social multiplier" model of intergenerational trends in intelligence
  • Individual multipliers vs. social multipliers
  • The multiple causes of black-white differences in IQ
  • Charley Murray and the meritocracy thesis
  • Transcending the politics of intelligence research
  • The dangers of suppressing ideas and research
  • The 20% wiggle room of autonomy on IQ tests
  • The difference between internal and external environment
  • The impact of having a "family handicap" on SAT scores
  • What we can learn from astronomy about human intelligence
  • Toward a meta-theory of intelligence
  • Toward a more humane society

Links

Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents [TED Talk]

Reflection about intelligence over 40 years

Heritability Estimates Versus Large Environmental Effects": The IQ Paradox Resolved

IQ Bashing, Breadkdancing, the Flynn Effect, and Genes

Men, Women, and IQ: Setting the Record Straight 

The Flynn Effect and IQ Disparities Among Races, Ethnicities, and Nations: Are There Common Links?

The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized 

Twitter Q & A with James Flynn

  1. "Would a 100 IQ person today be a genius if transported to the year 1918? If not, why not." https://twitter.com/robkhenderson/status/1027707019317403650

Flynn: No, they would just be better adapted in their ability to meet educational demands.

  1. "Are you concerned with the growing misuse of genetic causal fallacies in heritability research, and what can be done to make sure that researchers do not assert implications that are not supported by the data? Is this a question of education?" https://twitter.com/NathanH90714587/status/1027690457504002048

Flynn: Whenever I catch them I am disturbed by both bad genetic hypotheses and bad environmental ones.

3. "What has caused the Flynn reversal in Nordic and some other rich countries? Markus Jokela suggested it could be health related." https://twitter.com/mark_ledwich/status/1027685177231695872

Flynn: See this article in Intelligence by myself and Shayer on IQ decline.

  1. "Prof. Flynn has written about the increase in non-verbal reasoning on IQ tests that is attributed to the exposure to analytical/sequential/logical reasoning through technology. What should we do, then, to increase the verbal side of our reasoning, or have we reached the peak?" https://twitter.com/jakub_ferenc/status/1027682377169076224

Flynn: Read good literature and stand out against the trend to read less and less (see Flynn, The Torchlight List  and The New Torchlight List.

5. "Could the Flynn effect be based at least partially on a trade off, meaning that with change in culture promoting development of skills associated with higher IQ scores, this rise is at a cost of eg working memory?" https://twitter.com/Kapusta2365/status/1027689783219380225

Flynn: I don't think there is a downward trend in working memory – see Does Your Family Make You Smarter?

6. "Do the intelligence gains the Flynn effect reveals show an in increase in the g factor?" https://twitter.com/DabneyPierce/status/1027684042022432768

Flynn: No – see "Reflection about intelligence over 40 years" just posted on the net.

7. "What do you make of American SAT/ACT trends, that is the Asian scores increases and the Native-American scores declines?" https://twitter.com/UnsilencedSci/status/1027682180737130497

Flynn: Sorry I have only looked at black and white.

8. "Does you ever think there will come a time when rational, non-bigoted people can publicly discuss race and gender topics relating to your research?" https://twitter.com/AFIChai/status/1027732647349547009

Flynn: Well I hope so – but there is no trend in that direction.

* Quote taken from a lecture Flynn gave at the University of Cambridge on July 20, 2012.





On the biological basis of musicality - Honing - 2018 - Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences



On the biological basis of musicality - Honing - 2018 - Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nyas.13638

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******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
******************************************************

Brain Networks Responsible for Naming Objects Identified



Brain Networks Responsible for Naming Objects Identified
https://neurosciencenews.com/object-naming-networks-9704/

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Beyond IQ: Mining the “no-mans-land” between Intelligence and IQ: Journal of Intelligence special issue

I am pleased to see the Journal of Intelligence addressing the integration of non-cognitive variables (personality; self-beliefs; motivational constructs; often called the “no-mans land” between intelligence and personality— I believe this catchy phrase was first used by Stankov) with intellectual constructs to better understanding human performance. I have had a long-standing interest in such comprehensive models as reflected by my articulation of the Model of Academic Competence and Motivation (MACM) and repeated posting of “beyond IQ” information at my blogs.

Joel Schneider and I briefly touched in this topic in our soon to be published CHC intelligence theory update chapter. Below is the select text and some awesome figures crafted by Joel.

Our simplified conceptual structure of knowledge abilities is presented in Figure 3.10. At the center of overlapping knowledge domains is general knowledge—knowledge and skills considered important for any member of the population to know (e.g., literacy, numeracy, self-care, budgeting, civics, etiquette, and much more). The bulk of each knowledge domain is the province of specialists, but some portion is considered important for all members of society to know. Drawing inspiration from F. L. Schmidt (2011, 2014), we posit that interests and experience drive acquisition of domain-specific knowledge.

In Schmidt's model, individual differences in general knowledge are driven largely by individual differences in fluid intelligence and general interest in learning, also known as typical intellectual engagement (Goff & Ackerman, 1992). In contrast, individual differences in domain-specific knowledge are more driven by domain-specific in-terests, and also by the “tilt” of one's specific abilities (Coyle, Purcell, Snyder, & Richmond, 2014; Pässler, Beinicke, & Hell, 2015). In Figure 3.11, we present a simplified hypothetical synthesis of several ability models in which abilities, interests, and personality traits predict general and specific knowledge (Ackerman, 1996a, 1996b, 2000; Ackerman, Bowen, Beier, & Kanfer, 2001; Ackerman & Heggestad, 1997; Ackerman & Rolfhus, 1999; Fry & Hale, 1996; Goff & Ackerman, 1992; Kail, 2007; Kane et al., 2004; Rolfhus & Ackerman, 1999; Schmidt, 2011, 2014; Schneider et al., 2016; Schneider & Newman, 2015; Woodcock, 1993; Ziegler, Danay, Heene, Asendorpf, & Bühner, 2012).


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Friday, August 10, 2018

Study: Brain training games could be used to assess cognitive abilities, replace the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE)



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Study: Brain training games could be used to assess cognitive abilities, replace the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE)
// SharpBrains

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The Use of Mobile Games to Assess Cognitive Function of Elderly with and without Cognitive Impairment (Journal of Alzheimer's Disease):

Abstract: In the past few years numerous mobile games have been developed to train the brain. There is a lack of information about the relation between the scores obtained in these games and the cognitive abilities of the patients. The aim of this study was to determine whether or not mobile games can be used to assess cognitive abilities of elderly. Twenty healthy young adults, 29 old patients with cognitive impairments (Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) [20- 24]) and 27-aged controls participated in this study. Scores obtained in 7 mobile games were correlated with MMSE and the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Evaluation revised (ACE-R). Statistically significant differences were found for all games between patients with cognitive impairments and the aged controls. Correlations between the average scores of the games and the MMSE and ACE-R are significant (R = 0.72 [p < 0.001] and R = 0.81 [p < 0.001], respectively). Scores of cognitive mobile games could be used as an alternative to MMSE and ACE-R to evaluate cognitive function of aged people with and without cognitive impairment at least when MMSE is higher than 20/30.

Study in context:


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******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
******************************************************

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Children's academic attainment is linked to the global organization of the white matter connectome - Bathelt - - Developmental Science



Children's academic attainment is linked to the global organization of the white matter connectome - Bathelt - - Developmental Science
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/desc.12662

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******************************************************
Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics
IAP
******************************************************

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Flynn Effect Reference Project update 07-31-18


The Flynn Effect Reference Project document has just been updated.  It now includes 302 references.  Access can be found at this prior post (click here)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

When Mind Wandering is a Strategy, Not a Disadvantage




Searching for the fundamental mental processes that cut across diagnostic categories, driving confusion and distress



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Searching for the fundamental mental processes that cut across diagnostic categories, driving confusion and distress
// BPS Research Digest

GettyImages-667879250.jpg
A new paper in Journal of Clinical Psychology is the just the latest to take a trans-diagnostic approach to mental health

By Alex Fradera

The number of psychiatric diagnoses keep on growing, with perhaps ten times as many categories now as there were 50 years ago. This may in part reflect our growing knowledge, which is welcome. But the sheer density of diagnoses makes it difficult for researchers or clinicians to see the wood for the trees, and it encourages them to settle into silos. It would be advantageous for clinical research and practice if we could introduce some elegance to our understanding. A recent movement in psychology and psychiatry is seeking to do exactly this. It follows evidence that, in the words of US psychologists Robert Kruger and Nicholas Eaton in their 2015 review, "many mental disorders are manifestations of relatively few core underlying dimensions." In the latest foray from this movement, the Journal of Clinical Psychology has published a review outlining another potential core feature: the repetitive occurrence of negative thoughts.

The proliferation of psychiatric diagnoses was baked in from the beginning. Modern psychiatry sought to apply the burgeoning medical model to the mind, treating madness as illness. Physical illnesses are considered as discrete categories, even if they produce overlapping symptoms like a fever, because we can point to their distinct microbial origins. 

This has influenced how we approach mental health, meaning someone struggling could be diagnosed with a phobia and also with an eating disorder and maybe separately with depression (and anxiety, and another eating disorder, and another phobia, and OCD…ad infinitum). We bracket these issues out as if they each originate from their own unique strain of mind bacteria. But mental disorders are rooted in dysfunctional mental processes, of which there are only so many. If we put aside the disease model and look for these processes, maybe we can get to a more solid and elegant foundation. 

One example would be internalising-externalising. In internalising disorders such as depression, OCD, anxiety and bulimia, the individual tends to draw problems inwards to an inappropriate degree; issues are suppressed or privately managed using ineffective or unhealthy strategies. Meanwhile, externalising disorders like pyromania, kleptomania, and conditions like oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, all involve manifesting problematic thoughts or emotions by projecting them onto the world. 

According Kruger and Eaton's landmark review, these aren't just convenient labels: they may actually be more informative than the specific diagnoses. For instance, suicide risk may be better predicted by internalising in all its forms than a specific diagnosis like depression. Similarly, externalising behaviour of any kind is a strong predictor of other forms of externalising, suggesting that it might sometimes be useful to think of the problem as externalising, which can manifest in different ways depending on contextual factors. 

Still, this division is too simple to explain everything about mental health. But in interaction with some other features, perhaps we can start to arrive at a complete model that cuts across diagnostic categories while also capturing the richness of psychiatric conditions. What other relevant factors are there? We recently covered work that suggested another potential trans-diagnostic structure: meta-cognition, the ability to judge your cognitive ability. People who were more anxious or depressed showed more accuracy, but less confidence, in how they judged their performance on a mental task, whereas those who tended towards compulsive behaviour (such as those with schizophrenia or OCD) showed overconfidence and did less well. In our piece we described how this pattern can account for patterns of behaviour found in the real world, such as pessimism and jumping to conclusions, respectively.

Screenshot 2018-07-19 09.46.01.png

Now in the most recent example, Deanna Kaplan and her team at the University of Arizona suggest another trans-diagnostic feature: "maladaptive repetitive thought". This is found across many mental health disorders, typically accompanied by a sense that the thoughts are uncontrollable, a negative flavour, and a fixation on seeking rather than solving problems. Consider the ruminative thoughts that characterise depression, the worries that surge up in anxiety, and the obsessive thoughts that drive OCD. Kaplan's team suggest that these different manifestations should be thought of as variations on a key theme, often differing simply in whether the thoughts are focused on the past, present or future. 

The researchers note that their model helped them to draw connections to other related phenomena such as the problematic grief phenomenon of yearning, which pulls you into the past towards a desire that cannot be satisfied. They also see parallels in somatic hypervigilance, the constant monitoring of bodily sensations for any cause for alarm. Again, the same features come up: negative valence, uncontrollability, and seeking of problems, in this case in the present moment.

It's not news that unwelcome thoughts are a frequent feature of poor mental health. But as with the internalising and externalising dimensions, it's possible that grouping mental health problems that share repetitive thought processes could offer fresh way of looking at the root causes of people's difficulties. It could be that the core problems driving all psychological disorders are countable on our fingers – if so, and if we can identity these core processes, then it will be easier to understand how they develop, and to apply advances from one area of treatment to another, as well as to see when doing so would be ill-advised.

For example, consider how the three features of internalising/externalising, meta-cognitive judgment and repetitive thought processes could be used to organise our understanding of the recently proposed diagnostic category of maladaptive daydreaming, whereby people are compulsively drawn to their daydreams at the cost of their psychological health. This certainly seems to involve internalising, and could involve overconfident misjudgment of whether the daydreaming is beneficial. And what is a daydream if not an extended, imagistic form of thought (much like a yearning)?

I believe we may be on the verge of a real advance in psychiatry, akin to the turn from individual symptoms to mental syndromes we made one hundred years ago. By looking past surface issues and gripping the fundamental mental processes that drive confusion and distress, we might be better placed to remedy them.

Maladaptive repetitive thought as a transdiagnostic phenomenon and treatment target: An integrative review

Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest


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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

White matter matters: Changes in white matter tracts due to reading intervention

More research supporting “white matter matters”.




Rapid and widespread white matter plasticity during an intensive reading intervention

Nature Communications

Elizabeth Huber, Patrick M. Donnelly, Ariel Rokem & Jason D. Yeatman

ABSTRACT

White matter tissue properties are known to correlate with performance across domains ranging from reading to math, to executive function. Here, we use a longitudinal intervention design to examine experience-dependent growth in reading skills and white matter in grade school-aged, struggling readers. Diffusion MRI data were collected at regular intervals during an 8-week, intensive reading intervention. These measurements reveal large-scale changes throughout a collection of white matter tracts, in concert with growth in reading skill. Additionally, we identify tracts whose properties predict reading skill but remain fixed throughout the intervention, suggesting that some anatomical properties stably predict the ease with which a child learns to read, while others dynamically reflect the effects of experience. These results underscore the importance of considering recent experience when interpreting cross-sectional anatomy–behavior correlations. Widespread changes throughout the white matter may be a hallmark of rapid plasticity associated with an intensive learning experience.

Very interesting. The arcuate fasciculus tracts have also been implicated in higher order thinking (Gf) such as in the P-FIT model of intelligence. Also see white paper that implicates the AF in temporal processing “brain clock” timing interventions




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Monday, July 16, 2018

What is an applied psychometrician?

I wear a number of hats within the broad filed of educational psychology.  One is that of an applied psychometrician.  Whenever anyone asks what I do, I receive strange looks when that title rolls out of my mouth.  I then always need to provide a general explanation.

I've decided to take a little time and generate a brief explanation.  I hope this helps.

The online American Psychological Association (APA) Dictionary of Psychology defines psychometrics as: n. the branch of psychology concerned with the quantification and measurement of mental attributes, behavior, performance, and the like, as well as with the design, analysis, and improvement of the tests, questionnaires, and other instruments used in such measurement. Also called psychometric psychology; psychometry.

The definition can be understood from the two components of the word. Psycho refers to “psyche” or the human mind. Metrics refers to “measurement.” Thus, in simple terms, psychometrics means psychological measurement--it is the math and science behind psychological testing.  Applied psychometrics is concerned with the application of psychological theory, techniques, statistical methods, and psychological measurement to applied psychological test development, evaluation, and test interpretation. This compares to more pure or theoretical psychometrics which focuses on developing new measurement theories, methods, statistical procedures, etc. An applied psychometrician uses the various theories, tools and techniques developed by more theoretical psychometricians in the actual development, evaluation, and interpretation of psychological tests. By way of analogy, applied psychometrics is to theoretical psychometrics, as applied research is to pure research.

The principles of psychometric testing are very broad in their potential application., and have been applied to such areas as intelligence, personality, interest, attitudes, neuropsychological functioning, and diagnostic measures (Irwing & Hughes, 2018). As noted recently by Irwing and Hughes (2018), psychometrics is broad as “It applies to many more fields than psychology, indeed biomedical science, education, economics, communications theory, marketing, sociology, politics, business, and epidemiology amongst other disciplines, not only employ psychometric testing, but have also made important contributions to the subject” (p. 3).

Although there are many publications of relevance to the topic of test development and psychometrics, the most useful and important single source is “the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing” (aka., the Joint Test Standards; American Educational Research Association [AERA], American Psychological Association [APA], National Council on Measurement in Education [NCME], 2014). The Joint Test Standards outline standards and guidelines for test developers, publishers, and users (psychologists) of tests. Given that the principles and theories of psychometrics are generic (they cut across all subdisciplines of psychology that use psychological tests), and there is a standard professionally accepted set of standards (the Joint Test Standards), an expert in applied psychometrics has the skills and expertise to evaluate the fundamental, universal or core measurement integrity (i.e., quality of norms, reliability, validity, etc.) of various psychological tests and measures (e.g., surveys, IQ tests, neuropsychological tests, personality tests), although sub-disciplinary expertise and training would be required to engage in expert interpretation by sub-disciplines. For example, expertise in brain development, functioning and brain-behavior relations would be necessary to use neuropsychological tests to make clinical judgements regarding brain dysfunction, type of brain disorders, etc. However, the basic psychometric characteristics of most all psychological and educational tests (e.g., neuropsychological, IQ, achievement, personality, interest, etc.) assessment can be evaluated by professionals with expertise in applied psychometrics.

American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education (2014). Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Washington, DC: Author.

 Irwing, P. & Hughes, D. J. (2018). Test development. In P. Irwing, T. Booth, & D. J. Hughes (Eds.), The Wiley Handbook of Psychometric Testing: A Multidisciplinary Reference on Survey, Scale and Test Development (pp. 3-49. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Excellent conceptual suggestion for organizing mind wandering research



Trends in Cognitive Sciences, June 2018, Vol. 22, No. 6

ABSTRACT

As empirical research on mind-wandering accelerates, we draw attention to an emerging trend in how mind-wandering is conceptualized. Previously articulated definitions of mind-wandering differ from each other in important ways, yet they also maintain overlapping characteristics. This conceptual structure suggests that mind-wandering is best considered from a family-resemblances perspective, which entails treating it as a graded, heterogeneous construct and clearly measuring and describing the specific aspect(s) of mind-wandering that researchers are investigating. We believe that adopting this family-resemblances approach will increase conceptual and methodological connections among related phenomena in the mind-wandering family and encourage a more nuanced and precise understanding of the many varieties of mind-wandering.

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