By: Annabel Patch
Recess the favorite class of many children, may be one of the most important classes a child participates in. While it may seem as though recess is taking away from time kids could be learning, studies done by Wendy Suzuki and other neuroscientists and teachers prove otherwise. Wendy Suzuki a neuroscientist studying memory has discovered the impact of exercise on learning in people of all ages but specifically children. Suzuki started working out after going through a slump in her everyday life. She wasn’t feeling her best socially and emotionally and decided to start going to the gym as a way to feel stronger. After going to the gym regularly for about a year and a half she started to see the benefit of exercise in her own work. She discovered that since she started exercising the quality of her work had improved.
After seeing this improvement Suzuki decided to investigate the effects of exercise on the brain. She learned that exercise is mood boosting and helps with your cognitive functions, or your ability to process things. The brain is a muscle and like all muscles, it can be strengthened. Suzuki learned that exercise, in particular, is great for strengthening your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex is in charge of executive functions, such as the control of your behavior. The hippocampus is in charge of memory and some key parts of learning. Both of these structures in our brains are important to learning. By strengthening these we are able to learning is able to improve. By exercising you are enhancing your creative thinking, decision making, focus, and retrieving memories. Suzuki found that after exercising students are able to focus on a task for up to 2 hours.
Along with improving your learning, Suzuki found that exercise is able to improve your quality of life in general. Exercise encourages the growth of new neurons in a process called neurogenesis. This can help with learning. Also, exercise produces hormones like serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and endorphins. These hormones boost your mood and also reduce stress. This can greatly improve your quality of life.
Because of the benefits of exercise, recess is very important to the well being of children. It not only helps them learn and grow, but it can also improve their quality of life. Recess gives kids the chance to run around and hang out with friends. Suzuki found that this exercise, even for only a short amount of time can make a big difference in the lives of children. By studying the children's ability to focus before and after exercise she was able to conclude that exercise like recess is beneficial in kids lives. Although kids may not be using that time to learn new skills such as multiplication and grammar the time is crucial for children's memory recall and attention span. Being able to remember and recall information learned in class is much more beneficial to the children's’ education than learning information is forgetting it because the child is not focused.
How Movement and Exercise Help Kids Learn. (2019, May 22). Retrieved from
By Caeden Rogers
Have you ever felt stressed out of your mind? Too busy to handle the world? Maybe you should just do nothing. Psychologist have found that occasionally doing nothing can help you in the long run. Wondering why? Just keep reading!
Now, many may think that by saying you are busy, you are saying that you are more important. When in reality, being busy isn't a status indicator. You could be just as busy as Tom Cruise but be a high school student. In order to feel less stressed or busy, all you need to do is practice what the dutch call, niksen, otherwise known as nothing. Psychologist Doreen Dodgen-Magee studies boredom. She compares a human to a car saying that to practice nothing is like having the car's engine running but not going anywhere. Sandi Mann is a psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain. She believes that gazing out a window or sitting still is considered niksen. Anything that takes up some time and energy in beneficial whether it be niksen or not. Some may call this being lazy but they are just uninformed. Those uninformed probably participate in niksen throughout their day. Just going on a walk or daydreaming can help with your creativity and problem solving. Psychologist say that when practicing niksen, it may be awkward and uncomfortable the first couple of times you try it. Take into account where you are, what your surroundings might be. Is it quiet? Is it busy? Try to limit the outside factors impeding on your nothingness and just be.
As a high school student, I am put under a lot of stress everyday when given assignments and difficult tasks to complete. There is no time in my day to simply do nothing. After reading this article, I realize how important it is for my mental, physical, and emotional health to do nothing, even if it is just five minutes out of my day. I already take walks during classes when I can not focus or am bored. Sometimes just a short walk can boost my mood and help my concentration. If taking a walk could help me get better grades then I will gladly go on a walk. Not only do I go on walks sometimes, I think that daydreaming has also been beneficial to my learning and concentration.
There are only a few studies surrounding niksen or doing nothing. From the ones there are, you can take away that niksen is a healthy practice. It is beneficial in all aspects of your day to day life. In short, take a five or ten minute break out of your day to go on a walk or day dream or just do nothing. You will thank yourself for it later. I am not saying skip class to go be mindful; maybe spend your lunch break daydreaming, walking in the halls or in the courtyard. Spend some time to care for yourself by practicing niksen this year. Maybe even host a boredom party!
Links and Citations:
Mecking, O. (2019, April 30). The Case for Doing Nothing. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/29/smarter-living/the-case-for-doing-nothing.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Psychology and Psychologists&action=click&contentCollection=health®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection
When dog trainers came up with the clicker training method for training dogs, they knew they’d struck gold when it came to conditioning animals. What they may not have realized, however, is how beneficial this teaching method could be with humans, as well.
Many a dog has been taught basic tricks by the clicker method. When a dog completes a desired action, it is marked with a consistently-toned “click” and a treat of sorts. This shows the dog exactly what actions are considered good, and they associate said click with a reward and a desired behavior. Dr. Martin Levy came face-to-face with this method of training when working with his dog, but quickly saw its potential beyond this field of work. He decided to try it out on humans. At the Bronx Montefiore Medical Center in New York, Dr. Levy put the clicker method to the test. He used this method to teach new orthopedic surgeons basic skills such as tying knots, drilling holes, and twisting screws. He broke these tasks down into small steps, and each task that was performed correctly received a “click”, clearing marking to the surgeon his or her success in the task. The only reward for a task done well was a click- no words of praise or criticism. If a task was done correctly, it earned a click. If done incorrectly, it did not. This removed the emotional component from learning and created a situation wherein the reward for doing something well was the knowledge that it had been done well. The study found that the group that had this approach, as opposed to a control group that was taught with the conventional methods of teaching such as demonstration, had more success in mastering tasks and were more precise. 12/12 of the students in the clicker group mastered each of the six steps in the knot-tying, while only 4/12 of the control group did the same.
This experiment is relevant to my life as it is a new approach to learning that may prove more successful than the more traditional ways. At this point in my life, as a junior in high school and in the midst of the college search, the most prominent concept in my life is that of education, and I’m always trying to find ways to learn more effectively. For me, I struggle with being too competitive and needing validation that I am doing something well. The clicker method would likely be very effective for me as it removes the emotion and need for praise from the education process and also makes it very clear when a task is done right as well as exactly what action was done correctly. It is entirely unambiguous, which is key for me as a learner. I like to know exactly what I’m doing right so I feel confident as a learner. I see a lot of potential in the “clicker” method as an approach to teaching that would work well for me.
This study shows the benefits of a new potential education method. The study shows a clear increase in success with the clicker method than with regular teaching, meaning it appears to be the superior method. This demonstrates the potential of emotionless reinforcement of good behavior as a way to help students master tasks. Removing the emotion and verbal praise or criticism from the teaching process can help improve accuracy and confidence, which is an interesting new development very worthy of looking into. It implies that tough love nor coddling is the best way to motivate students; in fact, the most visibly successful way of motivating is removing emotions altogether. Perhaps the best way to foster success in a student is to make their successes clear with a simple, resounding “click”.
Levy, I. M., Pryor, K. W., & McKeon, T. R. (2016, April). Is Teaching Simple Surgical Skills Using an Operant Learning Program More Effective Than Teaching by Demonstration? Retrieved May 23, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26369658
By: Pie Rasor
I’m sure you’ve heard of the idea that men and women are fundamentally different even though we’re the same species. We think differently, act differently, have different likes and dislikes, and it’s all because of simple biology. Different brains, different ways of acting. Men and women can be neatly set into categories created by our own bodies and the way we think.
Male and female brains is an idea that's been around for hundreds of years. It's usually used to justify sexism. After all, it’s a slippery slope from believing men and women are different to believing that women are lesser.
Over the years, the idea of male and female brains has made it into scientific research. Psychologists at Cambridge used the idea to claim that autism appears in men more than women because they don’t have the same kind of brains. The same thing appeared in a global study by Madhura Ingalhalikar, which claimed that men and women don’t have the same connections in their brains, causing them to have different behaviors.
However, there are a lot of problems with studying the brain with this kind of belief. Studies like these all began with the assumption that there are some fundamental differences between brains that create behaviors adding up to a “male brain” or a “female brain.” And there’s really no basis for that assumption at all, which research today is clearly showing.
A 2015 analysis of data sets of brain scans done by Daphna Joel showed that the sex differences between men and women’s brains aren’t consistent at all. Humans simply aren’t built with brains that are “female” or “male.” Most people are a mix of both. There are no consistent characteristics that show up only in a man’s brain or only in a women’s. We still think in the same way. Scientists continued brain analysis in 2018 by developing an algorithm that grouped together brains with similar characteristics. As before, there was no clear, defining difference. Both male and female brains could have the same type of characteristics.
Psychology studies have backed up the idea that biology doesn’t determine your personality as well. Daphna Joel and other scientists continued their study of male and female brain by analyzing data sets of psychological variable about what worries adolescents. While there were overall differences between genders in how they responded, no one in the survey responded only with “masculine” or “feminine” worries, but rather with a combination of both. No individual person fit completely into one category.
The bottom line is that although there are differences between men and women, our brains aren’t one of them. The type of brain doesn’t determine who you are. A man can like traditionally feminine things, a women can like traditionally masculine things, and both genders can like a mix of both. The idea that there’s some biological difference between men and women that’s impossible to overcome has no real basis in science and psychology. There can be general differences seen between men and women in an entire population, but those are more due to gender roles than biology. And gender roles, hopefully, are something that our society can overcome so that there’s no one way that men and women are expected to behave. In the end, the changes that need to be made aren’t inside our brains, but rather in the society around us.
Joel, D., & Fine, C. (2018, December 3). Can We Finally Stop Talking About 'Male' and 'Female' Brains? [Web log post]. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/opinion/male-female-brains-mosaic.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FPsychology%20and%20Psychologists&action=click&contentCollection=health®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=collection
By Patrick Bergen
You don’t have to be sitting in a math class, conducting a science lab, or taking notes to be conditioning your brain. In fact, you are constantly reshaping the connections and synapses between neurons, as new skills are learned and memorized and old ones are forgotten. It’s like the iPhone you have in your pocket right now - constantly downloading new updates so it can work best for the person. Just as a mathematician can improve in logical and deductive thinking skills, can an athlete shape their brain to adapt to their profession as well? Will a baseball player’s brain learn to make faster decisions, as pitches consistently zoom by at triple digits? According to new studies, the answer is yes.
Conducted by the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, the researchers recruited students from the nearby University of Illinois to test their hypothesis. Of the 36 male and female students selected, all were between the ages of 18 to 22, and half were varsity athletes at the Division 1 school. At the lab, they stood on a treadmill. Giant screens circled the treadmill, giving the subject an immersive view of a urban city street. Virtual cars whizzed by at speeds ranging from 20 to 50 miles per hour. The researchers then instructed the students to attempt to cross this street. Each student tried nearly 100 times, and on average, the success rate was 85 percent (a solid reason not to jaywalk). Not impressive, however, they discovered the success of the varsity athletes was substantially higher in comparison to their peers. This was not a result of sprinting across the road, jumping over cars, or dodging an accident; rather, the researchers noticed athletes took a couple more glances either way to more accurately judge the velocity of oncoming cars, processing this information quickly and efficiently. René Marois of Vanderbilt University points out that “athletes, in their sport, must routinely make split-second decisions in often very complex environments... it would make sense to me that they would have superior skill sets in processing the fast-paced information to successfully cross the street.” A soccer player must quickly decide whether to pass a ball or shoot. This split-second decision making demonstrated in actions like these are clearly shown in comparison to their inactive counterparts. The difference provides direct evidence to indicate that the brain has indeed adapted to the needs of these athletes. This explains why many baseball players are still able to know which 100 mph pitch is hittable, and which draws ball four.
Another study in China examined Chinese badminton players, who showed higher activity in parts of the brain associated with memory and attention, as well as an uncanny ability to predict where a shuttlecock would land. These brain functions, developed by playing their sport, has allowed them to thrive at the elite level. Now, this all may be due to a common causal variable of genetics, where individuals naturally develop these processing skills, which explains why they become athletes as well as smart street-crossers. This still cannot disprove that, for whatever reason, those who played a sport were much more successful at the task, indicating that these time-sensitive skills can be changed in the brain by exercise.
Does this mean that playing basketball will help you ace that math test next week? Or soccer could boost your SAT score? Probably not, because the skills required to take a test aren’t the type your brain learns in these activities. However, the results of these studies are very promising. If the brain is capable of reshaping itself to fulfill the needs of specific sports, this can indicate that, yes, maybe your friend is naturally athletic and talented, but you can be too. With enough effort, constant reps, and enough dedication, you can learn to distinguish a curveball from a home-run fastball in milliseconds, giving you the skills you need to succeed. In fact, if the brain is designed to be changed, and can adapt to a sport through faster/specialized processing, is there a greater argument for nurture in the famous debate? Can the brain learn these neurological pathways to become a better liar, or maybe a better businessman? While we are young, our brain is still growing and figuring out its final form. Studies like these can open the doors to discover what a brain can really do, and what it has the potential to do.
Reynolds, G. (2011, March 23). How Sports May Focus the Brain. Retrieved from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/how-sports-may-focus-the-brain/
This blog was extremely interesting and definitely gave a lot to think about. I agree how hours on hours of honing one's brain could lead to enhanced neuron speed and faster reaction time. I wonder how much is genetics and how much is training. My suspicion is that everyone has a different limit to how fast their reaction time is but only athletes reach theirs because they train theirs the most. I definitely think that a balance of athletic training and mental training is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Thanks for sharing!
- Alejandro Coury
The basic principle goes something like this; men and women's natures can be separated into two categories. Women are better at remembering things. Men Aren't. Men are more physically impulsive and aggressive. Women aren't.
This notion has been seen in several popular books such as Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, The Male Brain, The Female Brain, and, Results at the Top: Using Gender Intelligence to Create Breakthrough Growth (which was only released last year).
The concept has also been popular in scientific studies. The "Extreme Male Brain" theory of autism is where there are two basic categories for "male" and "female" brains; men are better at systemizing, women are better at empathizing, and autism just happens to be an extreme of the "male" brain. A globally published study by Madhura Ingalhalikar concluded that "male" brains are structured for perception and coordinated action, whereas "female" brains are structured to communicate analytical and intuitive processing. It also found that "male" and "female" brains start out the same, but as the individual ages, the developmental trajectories separate, resulting in wide differences during adolescence and adulthood.
The only problem with these notions is that they fail to account for one thing; they assume that traditionally "male" and "female" behaviors consistently add up to create "male" and "female" brains. (There is also the whole thing with nature and nurture, but it wasn't part of the article, so I don't think I should be getting into that)
In 2015, an analysis of four large data sets of brain scans showed that humans don't have a consistent set of "male behaviors" and "female behaviors." It's more a "mosaic" if you will, of features. Some are more common in men, some are more common in women. A data set of 4,860 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health also showed that the only things men and women differed the most on were things like weight, depression, delinquency, impulsivity, gambling, involvement in housework, engagement in sports, and a femininity score. No one had solely "feminine" or "masculine" scores.
So what caused this misconception? The rise of 17th-18th century egalitarianism. It created a need for scientific reasoning to explain why women were naturally "inferior," and it worked. As Londa Schiebinger put it, “Women were not to be viewed merely as inferior to men but as fundamentally different from, and thus incomparable to, men.”
The same thing was done to people of color (just google scientific racism).
Bottom line; although there are differences in brain and behavior, when you stop focusing on the group and start focusing on an individual, differences are going to "mix up," rather than "add up." No one falls onto an exact line with men being more "things-oriented" and women being more "people-oriented." As a matter of fact, recent studies have shown that people's self-reported tendency to empathize says nothing about how they systemize. They can gravitate to one, both, or neither, and claiming that science says that merging gender roles is unlikely due to "natural" differences is incredibly flawed reasoning.
There are no "male" brains and there are no "female" brains.
There are just brains.
By Kiarah Barnes
I'm sure you have heard of treating mental illness. What about solving and curing it? Well it is not that easy. There are many different kinds of mental illness such as Depression, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Autism and many more. All of these have different causes and because of this scientists do not know what will "cure" mental illness. Although you can not cure all mental illnesses the same way, maybe knowing what certain disorders and diseases are caused by will help lead towards finding a cure or even better treatment. Some diseases and disorders, like schizophrenia, come mostly from genetics and we know this after many years of funding experiment and supplies that lead to dead ends when trying to find a cure but scientists are still studying it.
Scientists started off thinking that mental illness was caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, or some sort of faulty wiring in the brain. Even if this may be true there was no actual science that backed this up. After a long time we started to find out little things about each disease that would help a lot in the long run. After many trials and errors some important facts were found like finding out schizophrenia is in fact mostly caused by genetics and how autism is also very gene caused as well.
Gail Hornstein is a professor who is doing a study on people who go to a meeting like AA but instead of addiction they talk about their mental health. This study focuses on the participants struggles, how they handle them, and how this group will help them overall. There is a few questions that she would like to answer. She said, “We have underestimated the power of social interactions. We see people who’ve been in the system for years, on every med there is. How is it possible that such people have recovered, through the process of talking with others? How has that occurred? That is the question we need to answer.” Gail also mentions that in order to move forward scientists have to dig deeper into certain individuals and also dig deeper into the theory of how genes effect mental illness. The problem with this is often people who are struggling with mental illness often feel hurt, misunderstood, and mistreated to the point where they will not give all the information needed.
Personally I do not have any diagnosed mental illness. Although I have never been diagnosed I do find that most people that I know, including myself, have had certain depressing times and feeling in their life. Especially during high school. Things happen to everyone and it is how we decide to deal with it that affects how our brains deal with things in the future. Even though genetics have an effect on our mental health past experiences also have an effect. School work, classes, friends, family, and many other things cause stress, anxiety, sadness, etc, even if it isn’t to the point of having to be diagnosed.
Ms. Carrigan's Psych Class
We have been reading articles about psychological studies to inform the way we live our lives. Please explore, and we hope you learn a bit about the psychology in your life!