Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

Should I sign up for a real class or just take music lessons? Why music lessons are more than just a fun pastime.

November 23rd, 2014 4 comments

When I was in fourth grade we had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument in school. Between band and orchestra we were allowed to select any instrument of our choice and we received music lessons every Friday afternoon at the end of the school day. These instruments were like toys to us. Instead of hanging in the classroom and silently doing our math worksheets we were able to make loud noises with trumpets, violins, and drums. We would get so excited every Friday afternoon because we got to skip out on time normally spent sitting at our desks – we got what we thought was a break from learning.


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Categories: Memory Tags: ,

Working Memory: Can we Improve It?

November 22nd, 2014 2 comments

Don’t you wish you had perfect attention skills? That you could become so immersed in your studying that even hearing your name wouldn’t pull you away from the task at hand? The level of focus which you have for the task at hand is regulated by the central executive portion of the brain, where working memory is. Working memory has been studied extensively, and one example of research that demonstrates good working memory is called the cocktail party effect. This refers to the phenomenon of being in a busy room, yet still hearing your name from somewhere in the crowd, even when you are having your own conversation. When looking at the cocktail party effect, it was found that people with stronger working memory are less likely to hear their name said while in a busy room with lots of people. (Conway et al., 2001). This makes sense, because strong working memory would indicate that you are so absolutely immersed and focused on the conversation or task at hand that outside stimuli, such as your name, will not distract you. Working memory is different than short-term memory because it is much more active; it helps with reading comprehension, and has specialized parts for holding onto different types of information. Working memory is predictive of performance various activities, whereas short-term memory does not predict many cognitive processes. What is in your working memory is what you are thinking about right here and right now. Read more…

Categories: Attention, Memory Tags: ,

Could The Experts Be Wrong?!

May 18th, 2014 4 comments

In the field of cognitive psychology, it is widely believed that testing is the best way for a person to learn. Many studies have been conducted to establish the differences in retention between initial testing and the restudying of information. These studies found that final recall has greatly supported that when people are retested they retain more of the learned information. During testing, people make meaningful connections within their minds to understand what they are learning, this allows for more comprehensive recall later on. Students are forced to process the information deeper during testing than when they are simply rereading the information. This strategy has been something that many psychologists have been trying to get implemented into school systems and teaching styles. As a student, having to be tested all the time is not something I want. I also frequently find myself questioning if it really is as beneficial as the so-called experts say. There are some things that, no matter how many times I am tested on it and how many times I study it, I am simply unable to understand. A recent study by Bridger and Mecklinger questioned the benefits of this testing idea, and found that it may only work with certain kinds of information. Their research brought to light the idea of errorful learning, which is similar to testing yourself as a study method, and errorless learning, which is more like reviewing information as a study method. They attempted to draw attention to the fact that errorful learning may not be the most beneficial strategy to long-term retention.



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Categories: Education Tags: ,

Does the sound of music really help with memory?

April 28th, 2014 1 comment

Sound of Music

In the classic film The Sound of Music, Maria teaches the Von Trapp children primarily through song. If you don’t recall the words from the song that starts “Doe a deer a female deer…” you might be sorely missing an important part of your movie education. The song is pretty catchy after all. Once someone starts singing it, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It turns out music can be helpful beyond just having something to dance to. It can really help us remember things. In fact, some studies may suggest that learning through song can actually enhance one’s memory. The most basic example I can think of is learning the alphabet.  The alphabet song is pretty catchy and helps kids to better remember it. An interesting question then is: how far this musical benefit extend? Can music potentially help older adults or even adults with Alzheimer’s remember more? In Simmons-Stern et al.’s “Music-based memory enhancement in Alzheimer’s Disease: Promise and Limitation” one of the central questions is: To what extent can music enhance memory function in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD)?

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Categories: Aging, Memory Tags: , ,

Money helps ADHD students perform on task!

November 23rd, 2013 1 comment

More and more children are being diagnosed with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) across the United States every year. ADHD symptoms include problems paying attention, staying focused, controlling impulses, and uncontrollable hyperactivity (NIMH). There is much debate about whether this increase in diagnosis is because of an increase in occurrence of ADHD, or an increased need to pathologize childhood behavior in order to medicate. With this influx of ADHD diagnoses across the country, there are more ADHD students in schools across the country that are having significant problems learning and attending to different information. So, it is important that cognitive researchers look at the ways that ADHD affects the cognition and learning process of students so that school lessons can be more effectively taught!

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