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Scientific American Mind Sept/Oct 2012

School starts tomorrow! But even so I am sending a special newsletter with notes on a new magazine I subscribe to, Scientific American Mind, which comes every two months. My primary research interests are human aging, and how the mind works - subjects I find very intertwined, and areas where there is tremendous progress and excitement these days. So here's a few notes on mind research that I believe will be good nutrition for your brain.

pg 49, The education of Character - Remaking schools as gyms for the brain to build mental brawn for attention, perserverance, and emotional control. The MindUP program in Canada grew rapidly from a few schools to thousands of schools. Children were taught to meditate 5 minutes 3 times daily. Compared to the control group who were studying normally, the MindUP students scored better in all areas, especially math, and had much lower stress hormone levels during school time.

pg 59, Building Better Brains - How to increase intelligence - 1. Scientists long believed that fluid intelligence [solving problems] was inherited and impervious to improvement. 2. Recent investigation show that brain training can raise our fluid intelligence. 3. This works at any age. Certain training programs leave the brain better primed for a variety of tasks. After 5 weeks training, students with attention deficit disorder had fewer symptoms. IQ in kids jumped 13 points after just 20 hours playing games using reasoning skills. One game requires remember two cards back as you turn over cards in a deck.

pg 64, Treating a toxin to learning - 1. Psychological stress affects even very young children shaping cognitive, social, and emotional development. 2. Low family income especially sets back specific learning abilities, but even wealthy children encounter stressful circumstances. A little stress heightens ability, but a lot floods the prefrontal cortex with stress hormones causing harm. Brain circuits are trained by experience to unleash either a very large or very small flood of hormones, or to maintain a more optimal level of arousal. Knowing stress is a malevolent force helps to thwart it.

pg. 68, Are all psychotherapies created equal? - School of therapy accounts for only 1% of effectiveness. Keys are empathy from clinician, close rapport with patient, and shared therapeutic goals. Behavior and cognitive-behavior are more effective. Therapy of reexperiencing the feelings after traumatic events is inert at best and may be damaging.

pg. 70, How to spot a scoundrel - Opportunists had 4 cues: facing touching, hand touching, crossing arms, and leaning away.

Books - a. The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone - Especially Ourselves. Creative people are esp. better at convincing themselves their own lies are truthful. b. The Chemistry between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction. Love is largely an addiction. A range of chemical activities - mainly produced during sex - promote this bonding that promote recognition, cuddling, and defending a loved one. c. Subliminial: How yyour unconscious mind rules your behavior.

I hope this is of interest. If enough people respond they enjoyed this summary, I will send future notes like this. If enough people respond they would not like this sent, I will save my time and not send it.

Thanks, Roc

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Professor, Biochemistry, Beloit College, fall schedule
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