We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know. —
Richard Feynman, born on May 11, 1918, on the role of scientific culture in modern society – timeless, remarkably timely read.
Pair with how ignorance drives science.(via explore-blog)
(Source: , via explore-blog)
One century after the invention of the telephone, we still know the difference between the face-to-face presence and the telephonical presence. But we don’t feel it as a problem or a conflict anymore. We know how to enmesh them peacefully. That’s the same with the difference between the digital and the physical: We are learning how to enmesh them peacefully and, very soon, we will no longer feel them as a conflict. — Digital Dualism and Lived Experience: Everyday Ontology Produces Everyday Ethics » Cyborgology (via thisistheverge)
Working memory is very limited but highly flexible. A good approaching using it is to identify a small number of key elements to “work” with. For example, we need to know the subject, object, and verb for a sentence (three things), or the cause and the effect for an explanation (two things). Success depends on defining small numbers of central elements in any experience, rather than extensive and complex explanations. Brevity and clarity are the virtues.
In school, this suggests that we should arrange students’ experiences in direct and simple ways. This may be the most difficult part for the educator, since that individual must put himself or herself in the place of the learner. With complex situations, the first step would be to identify a small number of very basic elements. That might even be enough for a whole class period (If we even had classes). Taking working memory as our gauge, we might have shorter classes, or they might be a variable length rather than a set time. Deciding when to end a class would not be a matter of watching the clock, but on watching the ideas. The point would be not to have a lot of ideas, but exactly the opposite. I might judge success not by how much information was “covered,” but by the significance and utility of the ideas, and by how much impact the ideas had on students.
We might have an “idea clock” rather than the time clock.
Zull, J.E. (2011). From brain to mind: using neuroscience to guide change in education.
The Jetsons Get Schooled: Robot Teachers in the 21st Century Classroom
So true. I’ve discovered I can listen to lectures at 2.5 times normal speed and follow it perfectly. In fact it forces attention and concentration and my mind wanders less often.
The only excursion of my life outside of New Orleans took me through the vortex to the whirlpool of despair: Baton Rouge… . New Orleans is, on the other hand, a comfortable metropolis which has a certain apathy and stagnation which I find inoffensive.”
—A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole — (via nola-diary)
The World as 100 People, Infographic by Jack Hagley
Inevitably the teacher’s response is an effort to move towards a connected social system. The response is about reaching synchrony of action and thought. This is similar to how the learning brain works, but the most significant difference is that teaching, unlike learning, cannot be carried out independently. Teaching requires human interaction and it requires a feedback loop between teacher and student that displays “success” in order for the process to continue. When this works well we have reached a level of synchrony in which teacher and learner have joined in “knowing” and the process begins again, renewing itself.
This cycle of recursive processing is a continuous loop where the student and his or her learning brain respond to the teacher’s actions and alter the sensory input that the teacher receives. This provides critical iterative feedback that the teaching brain processes to adjust responses; for example, it alters the act of teaching. This constant feedback loop is what I suggest is the source of the intangible synchrony that occurs in teaching, between teacher and student. … This give-and-take between teacher and student, this human interaction, creates a “by-product” Of human synchrony that is hard to define, but you know it when you see it or feel it. It is the flow that drives creativity and higher human thought. It is the X factor that makes in person teacher student relationships irreplaceable as this feedback loop is based on the full body of interaction — not simply voice, visual, or textual. The teacher-student interaction is the engine behind the synchronous educational experience that characterizes the best teaching and learning brains.
Rodriguez, V. (2013). The human nervous system: a framework for teaching and the teaching brain. Mind, brain and education, 7(1), 2-12. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mbe.12000/full
Hours after death, we can still bring people back
Resuscitation specialist Sam Parnia believes we can bring many more people back to life after they die – it’s just a matter of training and equipment
Are the people you resuscitate after cardiac arrest really dead? Isn’t the definition of death that it is irreversible?
A cardiac arrest is the same as death. It’s just semantics. After a gunshot wound, if the person haemorrhages sufficiently, then the heart stops beating and they die. The social perception of death is that you have reached a point from which you can never come back, but medically speaking, death is a biological process. For millennia we have considered someone dead when their heart stops beating.
People often confuse the terms cardiac arrest and heart attack. Clearly, they’re very different.
A heart attack happens when a clot blocks a blood vessel to the heart. The portion of the heart muscle that was supplied blood and oxygen by that vessel will then die. That’s why most people with a heart attack don’t die.
What is the biggest problem in bringing someone back to life?
Reversing death before the person has too much cell damage. People die under many different circumstances and under the watch of many different medical specialists. No single speciality is charged with taking and implementing all the latest advances and technology in resuscitation.
How long after they die can someone still be resuscitated?
People have been resuscitated four or five hours after death – after basically lying there as a corpse. Once we die the cells in the body undergo their own process of death. After eight hours it’s impossible to bring the brain cells back.
What is the best way to bring people back?
The ideal system – and they do this a lot in South-East Asia, Japan and South Korea – is called ECPR. The E stands for extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). It’s a system in which you take blood from a person who has had a cardiac arrest, and circulate it through a membrane oxygenator, which supplies oxygen and removes carbon dioxide. Then you pump the blood back into circulation around the body. Using ECMO, they have brought people back five to seven hours after they died. ECMO is not routinely available in the US and UK, though.
So, when I go into cardiac arrest, ideally what steps do I want my doctors to take?
First, we start the patient on a machine that provides chest compressions and breathing. Then we attach the patient to a monitor that tells us the quality of oxygen that’s getting into the brain.
If we do the chest compressions and breathing and give the right drugs and we still can’t get the oxygen levels to normal, then we go to ECMO. This system can restore normal oxygen levels in the brain and deliver the right amount of oxygen to all the organs to minimise injury.
At the same time you also cool the patient. This slows the rate of metabolic activity in the brain cells to halt the process of cell death while you go and fix the underlying problem.
How do you cool the body?
It used to be ice packs. Today a whole industry has grown up around this, and there are two methods. One is to stick large gel pads onto the torso and the legs. These are attached to a machine that regulates temperature. When the body reaches the right temperature, it keeps it there for 24 hours. The other way is to put a catheter into the groin or neck, and cool the blood down as it passes by the catheter.
Cooling benefits the heart and all the tissues, but we focus on the brain. There are also new methods in which people are cooled through the nose. You put tubes in the nostrils and inject cold vapour to cool the brain down selectively before the rest of the body.
If I had a cardiac arrest today, what are the chances I would get all of that?
Why isn’t this type of care routine?
Cardiac arrest is the only medical condition that will affect every single one of us eventually, unfortunately. What’s frightening is that the way we are managed depends on where we are and who is involved. Even in the same hospital, shift to shift, you will get a different level of care. There is no external regulation, so it’s left to individuals.
There is disagreement over the interpretation of near death experiences (NDEs) – such as seeing a tunnel or a bright light. When a person dies, when do these experiences shut off?
One of the last things to fall into the realm of science has been the study of death. And now we have pushed back the boundary of death. In order to ensure that patients come back to life and don’t have brain damage, we have to study the processes that go on after they die. Whether we like it or not, we have gone into the “afterlife” or whatever you want to call it.
For people who have NDEs, they are very real. Most are convinced that what they saw is a glimpse of what it’s like when we die. Most come back and have no fear of death, and are transformed in a positive way – becoming more altruistic. As a scientific community we have tried to explain these away, but we haven’t been successful.
So how can a doctor, or any person of science, deal with such otherworldly experiences?
We have to accept that these experiences occur, that they are real to the people who have them, in the same way that if a patient has depression you would never say, “I know that you are feeling depressed but that is just an illusion. I’m the doctor. I’m going to tell you what your feelings really mean.” But with NDEs, we do this all the time: “I know you think you saw this, but you really didn’t.”
Aren’t NDEs just hallucinations?
We know from clinical tests that the brain doesn’t function after death, therefore you can’t even hallucinate. It’s ridiculous to say that NDE people are hallucinating because you have to have a functioning brain. If I take a person in cardiac arrest and inject them with LSD, I guarantee you they will not hallucinate.
For your study of out of body experiences (OBEs), you placed images in hospital rooms on high shelves only someone floating near the ceiling could see. So far, two patients have had OBEs, but neither in a room with a shelf…
That’s right. We had 25 hospitals that had an average of 500 beds working on the study. To put a shelf above every single bed, we would have to put up 12,500 shelves. That was completely unmanageable. We selected areas where cardiac arrest patients are frequently treated but even with that, at least half of those who had cardiac arrests and survived were in areas without shelves.
Are you continuing the experiment?
Yes. It’s part of an overall package to improve resuscitation to the brain. We are trying not to forget during resuscitation that there’s a human being in there.
In your book, you imply that death might be pleasant. Why do you think that?
The question is, what happens to human consciousness – the thing that makes me into who I am – when my heart stops beating and I die? From our external view, it looks like it simply disappears. But it sort of hibernates, in the same way as it does when you are given a general anaesthetic. And it comes back. I don’t believe that your consciousness is annihilated when you reach the point of death. How far does it continue? I don’t know. But I do know that at least in the period of time in which we can bring people back to life that entity of the human mind has not been annihilated.
What does this mean?
Those people who have pleasant experiences after death suggest that we should not be afraid of the process. It means there is no reason to fear death.
(Image: Martin Adolfsson)
Even death may be impermanent. Amazing.
In the present age the five great degenerations seem to totally dominate life on earth, to the extent that fighting and conflict have become part of the very fabric of human society. If we do not make preparations to defend ourselves from the overflow of violence, we will have very little chance of survival. — Prescient words of warning from the 13th Dalai Lama, 1932. (via explore-blog)
Steven Pinker would disagree with His Holiness. In his book, “The Better Angels of our Nature — Why Violence Has Decreased,” Pinker argues persuasively that humans may be living in the most peaceful and least violent period of our history.
1. Linguistic Intelligence: the capacity to use language to express what’s on your mind and to understand other people. Any kind of writer, orator, speaker, lawyer, or other person for whom language is an important stock in trade has great linguistic intelligence.
2. Logical/Mathematical Intelligence: the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system, the way a scientist or a logician does; or to manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations, the way a mathematician does.
3. Musical Rhythmic Intelligence: the capacity to think in music; to be able to hear patterns, recognize them, and perhaps manipulate them. People who have strong musical intelligence don’t just remember music easily, they can’t get it out of their minds, it’s so omnipresent.
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence: the capacity to use your whole body or parts of your body (your hands, your fingers, your arms) to solve a problem, make something, or put on some kind of production. The most evident examples are people in athletics or the performing arts, particularly dancing or acting.
5. Spatial Intelligence: the ability to represent the spatial world internally in your mind — the way a sailor or airplane pilot navigates the large spatial world, or the way a chess player or sculptor represents a more circumscribed spatial world. Spatial intelligence can be used in the arts or in the sciences.
6. Naturalist Intelligence: the ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) and sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence: having an understanding of yourself; knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward. We are drawn to people who have a good understanding of themselves. They tend to know what they can and can’t do, and to know where to go if they need help.
8. Interpersonal Intelligence: the ability to understand other people. It’s an ability we all need, but is especially important for teachers, clinicians, salespersons, or politicians — anybody who deals with other people.
9. Existential Intelligence: the ability and proclivity to pose (and ponder) questions about life, death, and ultimate realities. — Howard Gardner’s seminal Theory of Multiple Intelligences, originally published in 1983, which revolutionized psychology and education by offering a more dimensional conception of intelligence than the narrow measures traditional standardized tests had long applied. (via explore-blog)
And unfortunately has about as much of a scientific basis as your daily horoscope or the fortune cookie from you last Chinese meal. Gardner’s theory is very appealing on an intuitive level, and gained a great deal of popularity in education because many people readily identify with it. Many educators jumped on the bandwagon, and even Gardner himself expressed surprise at the ardency it fostered among adherents. The truth is that like many types of ‘personality’ profiles, such as Myers-Briggs or so-called learning styles, the subsequent research simply has not supported the theory. In reality, there is no such thing as “multiple intelligences.”
(Source: , via explore-blog)
Learning outcomes are corrosive -
Four compelling arguments against the use of learning outcomes in higher education.
Researchers map emotional intelligence in the brain
A new study of 152 Vietnam veterans with combat-related brain injuries offers the first detailed map of the brain regions that contribute to emotional intelligence – the ability to process emotional information and navigate the social world.
The study found significant overlap between general intelligence and emotional intelligence, both in terms of behavior and in the brain. Higher scores on general intelligence tests corresponded significantly with higher performance on measures of emotional intelligence, and many of the same brain regions were found to be important to both. (Watch a video about the research.)
The study appears in the journal Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience.
“This was a remarkable group of patients to study, mainly because it allowed us to determine the degree to which damage to specific brain areas was related to impairment in specific aspects of general and emotional intelligence,” said study leader Aron K. Barbey, a professor of neuroscience, of psychology and of speech and hearing science at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois.
A previous study led by Barbey mapped the neural basis of general intelligence by analyzing how specific brain injuries (in a larger sample of Vietnam veterans) impaired performance on tests of fundamental cognitive processes.
In both studies, researchers pooled data from CT scans of participants’ brains to produce a collective, three-dimensional map of the cerebral cortex. They divided this composite brain into 3-D units called voxels. They compared the cognitive abilities of patients with damage to a particular voxel or cluster of voxels with those of patients without injuries in those brain regions. This allowed the researchers to identify brain areas essential to specific cognitive abilities, and those that contribute significantly to general intelligence, emotional intelligence, or both.
They found that specific regions in the frontal cortex (behind the forehead) and parietal cortex (top of the brain near the back of the skull) were important to both general and emotional intelligence. The frontal cortex is known to be involved in regulating behavior. It also processes feelings of reward and plays a role in attention, planning and memory. The parietal cortex helps integrate sensory information, and contributes to bodily coordination and language processing.
“Historically, general intelligence has been thought to be distinct from social and emotional intelligence,” Barbey said. The most widely used measures of human intelligence focus on tasks such as verbal reasoning or the ability to remember and efficiently manipulate information, he said.
“Intelligence, to a large extent, does depend on basic cognitive abilities, like attention and perception and memory and language,” Barbey said. “But it also depends on interacting with other people. We’re fundamentally social beings and our understanding not only involves basic cognitive abilities but also involves productively applying those abilities to social situations so that we can navigate the social world and understand others.”
The new findings will help scientists and clinicians understand and respond to brain injuries in their patients, Barbey said, but the results also are of broader interest because they illustrate the interdependence of general and emotional intelligence in the healthy mind.
Interesting study with interesting implications. At first I was resistant to the idea of general intelligence and emotional intelligence being linked. Yet there is growing evidence of the role of the emotions as integral part of cognition, that at least some decision-making occurs on a purely emotional level. I think we are living in an era that is breaking down the neat little functional boxes of different parts of the brain and discovering the rich and complex interconnectivity among the various functional centers.