Friday, April 15, 2005

The Perils of Giftedness or Confronting the Emma Dilemma

In Jane Austen's Emma, an intelligent, but sharp-tongued heroine gets her come-uppance after she lets slip a witty but mean remark, that is noticed by her close friend and confidant, Mr. Knightly:" How could you be so insolent in your wit to a woman of her character, age, and situation?-- Emma, I had not thought it possible." Emma recollected, blushed, was sorry... tried to laugh it off... (but) as she reflected more, she seemed but to feel it more..."

Many gifted people are vulnerable to the Emma Dilemma, and the young perhaps more so because they are frequently underestimated and limited in the world of adults as well as in formal education. Even fairly young gifted children soon learn they have intellectual power, and interactions with the world teach them that others are slow and may even be foolish. Intellectual sharpness is a gift, but it can also be a weapon.

Leta Hollingworth in her study of profoundly gifted children in the book Children Above 180 IQ concluded: "Of all the special problems of general conduct which the most intelligent children face, I will mention five, which beset them in early years and may lead to habits subversive of fine leadership:

(1) to find enough hard and interesting work at school; (2) to suffer fools gladly; (3) to keep from becoming negativistic toward authority; (4) to keep from becoming hermits; (5) to avoid the formation of habits of extreme chicanery.

In truth, intellectual precocity can create all sorts of mischief and misbehaviors. We all would do well to remember that being 'smart' doesn't necessarily mean 'wise'. In fact, having advanced abilities puts some children and greater temptation for arrogance, Machiavellianism, and trickery. If parents don't consciously teach and encourage their children in the moral leadership, or the importance of forbearance, self-reflection and critique, generosity, and personal integrity, then they are teaching them that these qualities are unimportant.

It is not always easy teaching these traits with intellectually restless and independent-minded children, but it helps to start early. Books that we've found helpful along the way have included reading biographies of intelligent and good famous people, Teaching Your Children Sensitivity, 'Acts of Kindness' books, and of course modeling and discussing acts of kindness as they happen.

Note Taking, Da Vinci, and the Cornell Method

Note taking is a complicated process that requires listening, seeing, writing, and abstraction. When a lot of information is being presented, it's impossible to take everything down, so you must select and prioritize - and that is the essence of good note taking.

Some prefer words and some prefer pictures, but Da Vinci and inventors prefer both. The first link below compares Da Vinci's sketchbooks to the 'Cornell method' of taking notes in two columns - with key words on one side and explanations and drawings on the other.

Some people naturally know how to extract the most essential details in a lecture, but many need to be taught. If you know a student who is falling behind in a class, take a look at their notes. Do they know what to select? Are they identify the essential information?

Taking notes with words and pictures is not only for remembering what others have told you. Many people use Cornell approaches for think their way through problems, reviewing the data 'in hand' and then generating alternative perspectives.

Drawing to help you think through your own problems and drawing to communicate with others are two different skills. We should encourage children to think with their writing or drawing early on as it could help them their whole lives long. Check out the last paper below which investigated the ways new ideas were 'hidden' in
an architect's sketches. By doodling and turning around the pictures on paper, he became more aware of different visual characteristics, visual spatial relationships, and perceptual assumptions.

Da Vinci and Cornell Notes
The Cornell Note Taking System
Hidden Discoveries in Design Sketches

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Flashes from the Past: "Sickly as a child, he wasn't able to eat solid food until he was five years old..."

Sickly as a child, he wasn't able to eat solid food until he was five years old. Because of health problems, he was schooled at home, but that was also where he learned to play golf..." It was at the age of 6, he won his first tournament, at 9, he defeated a 16 year old to win the Atlanta Junior Title, and soon he was on his way to becoming the greatest champion golf had ever seen.

This was Bobby Jones who won the U.S. and British Open and amateur Championships all in the same year, and the first to win the Grand Slam in one year. Amazingly, he amassed this record while playing mo more than an average weekend golfer. He usually spent no more than three months of the year traveling to tournaments, and in the mean time obtained first class honors degrees in Law, English Literature, and Mechanical Engineering. He graduated from Georgia Tech and Harvard, and practiced as a lawyer after retiring.

Bobby Jones' story is a remarkable one, and it is also told pretty well in the recent movie Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius. The neurological problems get only brief mention in the movie (it turned out to be syringomyelia, a spinal cord problem), but Jones' victory over perfectionism, intensity, and an 'explosive' temper on the golf course is told masterfully. BJ is an inspirational '2E' story. If you want to see Jones' legendary golf swing, one of the links below has it on video.

Bobby Jones
Movies: Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius
Bobby Jones Golf Swing

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

More on the Complexity of Attention

The more we learn about the complex process of attention, the more we know that behavioral checklist-diagnoses of children for ADD and ADHD is not the answer. When children aren't paying attention in class, the possibilities are as complex as the brain itself - for some children it does seem to be a global impaired sustained attention, but for others it is auditory attention only or visual attention only, problems with visual or auditory perception (or both!), problems with shifting attention, or problems with feature-based attention. Feature-based attention is the topic of the link below. In this study, both frontal and parietal (spatial cortex, a place where sensory inputs integrate, images too)areas were important, but the parietal lobe especially for selecting the task-relevant feature and ignoring details not relevant to the task. The task here was a visual sorting task involving number estimation.

Figuring out the true nature of "what it takes to attend" is essential before we are really able to go about troubleshooting it. In children particularly, pathways and connections are actively forming. "Training the brain" is really just understanding what specific tasks the brain has trouble with, and matching the right targeted practice or education to build connections.

Feature-Based Attention

Secrets of Visual Thinking: Looking Closely

Here's a lovely spring photograph from the Flower Log (HT: G is for Good, H is for Happy).

Because our brains become easily swamped by visual information, the practice of looking slowly and closely is one of the most powerful tools of inventors, artists, scientists, and other creative people.

In some circles, visual learning is equated with immersive learning from pictures, movies, computers, and the like. But remember the problem of saturation. To look closely, we may have to slow way down, change our perspective, and develop a relationship. To see 'more', we may have to see 'less'. From Georgia O'Keefe: "Still-in a way-nobody sees a flower- really- it is so small- we haven't the time- and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."

Or Leonardo Da Vinci reminds us: "There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, and those who do not see."

Understanding Biology through Design

We liked this article Life's Top 10 Greatest Inventions because it looked at nature through the eyes of a Designer. Science teaching often covers topics like the Scientific Method in great detail, but neglects skills like pattern recognition, analogy, and design, the most common tools of scientific or other discovery.

New Scientist Features - Life's Top 10 Greatest Inventions

Easing Up on NCLB Law

Signs of flexibility regarding Federal expectations for No Child Left Behind. The Education Secretary squeaked up the percentage (now 2%)of students with significant disabilities who don't have to keep the same pace for 'meeting standards', and stated the emphasis will be on making sure schools show progress.

Secretary Spellings Announces More Workable, "Common Sense" Approach To No Child Left Behind Law

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Vivid Autobiographical Memory

What experiences are the most memorable? Experiences that are novel, emotionally or personally moving, or evoke strong sensory or imagery responses. Too much results in saturation though, lowering the likelihood remembered. Music, words, images, and stories are powerful activators of memory, perhaps why long ballads became such a popular route for passing down information between families and generations. Read more about this in the Rubin articles below.

The second link also talks about traumatic and 'flashbulb' memories (vivid memories of important public events), and how different aspects can be vividly remembered or forgotten - for instance context and situation, or the central events themselves.

The figure below shows the unusual 'memory bump'. Apparently experiences at ages 10-20 seem to be remembered particularly well.

An interest in sensory perception and experience is behind Sony's recent patenting of a machine that at least theoretically would use transcranial magnetic stimulation to directly activate the brain's sensory areas. Could this be more real than reality?

Vivid Autobiographical Memory
Autobiographical Memory
Sony patents sensory perception beam - Engadget -
Music Helps Memory for Words, and Words Help Memory for Music

Mathematician Brothers Solve Unicorn Tapestry Puzzle

More evidence promoting the switching of domains and creativity.

Mathematicians and the Unicorn Tapestry

Monday, April 11, 2005

More Visual Learning or How To Avoid Failure in the First Grade

Most professionals working with school aged children know that some grades are more challenging than others. First grade is one of them, especially for boys - for various reasons, delays (compared to girls) in writing and often the need to be more physically active. Now there's a third reason - auditory working memory.

As we look at the higher rates of boys being referred for attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities, we have to come to grips with the reality that many traditional early elementary school classrooms may be 'out-of-sync' with the developmental and learning styles of boys. Are there really up to 9 times as many boys with a diagnosis of ADD, or are they victims of a classroom model that is not designed for them?

Check out the link below. It's a Finnish study of 'normal' school aged children from a high socioeconomic are. At ages 6-8, both boys and girls had an easier time keeping visual information in mind compared to auditory, but boys had much higher error rates than girls.

This study found that in normal unselected 6-8 year old boys visual working memory was much more reliable than auditory. With time (up to age 13)and no specific intervention, these differences tended to diminish, so the authors conclude that boys just tend to mature auditory memory pathways a little later than girls. In fact, visual teaching looked like it could be a more efficient strategy for instruction than auditory even by age 11-13. In fact, the authors noted that "children aged 11-13 yrs performed visual 1-back and 2-back tasks almost at the level reported previously for adults," although "the corresponding auditory tasks clearly below the adult level."

We have seen this general trend in our clinical population. It might also explain the reported paradoxical 'hyperfocus' of ADD children, which usually occurs in the setting of visual activities like computer games. The second link below is to a previous post which showed that children used their visual cortex to keep words in mind in contrast to adults who use their frontal regions.

Perhaps our ideas for education have been biased by perceptual differences in how many of us grownups prefer to learn.

Auditory Learning Takes Longer to Mature - pdf file
Visual Learning as Kaleidoscope

Google Maps- Spatial Thinking Practice

Always getting lost? If so, then practice your route and spatial knowledge with Google Maps. Although we may all have the capacity to navigate in our surroundings with landmarks, route, and survey or aerial view information, some of us are a lot better at this than others. Besides being a fun site to visit, the Google maps site is a powerful resource for kids or adults to work on spatial orientation practice.

Many people who 'always seem to be getting lost' may rely too much on landmarks or routes. The main problem with this is that if you take a wrong turn, well.... you know the rest. The superiority of the survey / aerial / satellite view is that it provides an integrated picture of the whole area (i.e. not just the route). The resolution at Google Maps is stunning. You can pick out your house by putting in your address.

Google Sightseeing
Google Maps -Disneyland
Landmark, Route, and Survey in Navigation

Friday, April 08, 2005

Do You See What I See? - Visual Perceptual Problems

Visual Perceptual difficulties vary widely, although the tools clinicians have to evaluate them are often too simple. Often it's hard to understand what another's visual experience is like, but figuring out pieces of the puzzle can help you troubleshoot when problems arise.

Many kids visual perceptual problems - including, but not limited to some with dyslexia, premature birth, or one of the autism spectrum disorders. Because the eyes are at the front of the head and the visual cortex is at the back of the head, visual information travels a long distance, so there are many spots to goof up the signals.

Here's a recent paper which seems to have figured out the site in the left frontal lobe that becomes activated when the brain decides it's really seeing something.

If you have a child with visual perceptual difficulties, remember that the brain matures a great deal from early childhood into adulthood, and visual perception can improve. The first thing one needs to do is become a visual detective - studying under what conditions visual confusion or overload occurs. Are there environments or handouts that are troublesome? Look for situations where there may be too much movement, visual crowding of details, or problems with lighting, glare, or color. In future posts, we'll talk about strategies to improve visual orientation and discrimination.

Visual Discrimination - "I See It"
Visual Perceptual Changes in Children Abstract
Visual Problems in Young Children
Visual Perception Autism Research
More Visual Perception and Autism
Visual Perception and Dyslexia Research

Blogger is having problems today, hope this goes through.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

No, That's What You Said! False Memory in Children

A false memory is a memory that is mistaken, but the patterns of false memories can often be traced to mistakes made when other information was filed. For instance in the example below, if a test subject saw the words 'dream', 'bed', and 'snore', they might later falsely remember that they had seen the word 'sleep'. False memories happen to some people more than others, and they can be increased in times of information overload and emotional distress.

In children, false memory may also present as 'mishearing.' Kindergartners are more likely to have false memories with similar sounding words, and older children (and adults), with words that are related or associated.

False Memory in Children
fMRI and true and false memory
False Memory

Homeschooling to College Article Links

Great links (HT: WSAH List):
Homeschoolers to College Research Shows Us
Admission Officers' Perceptions
Unintended Admission Consequences

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

VIsual and Motor Imagery- Separate and Together

We've been seeing more interesting research studies looking into the the respective roles of visual and motor (or shall we say sensory-motor?) imagery. Although the full length paper is not freely accessible yet, the punchline for the study is that although visual and motor imagery are tightly coordinated in imagined activities like walking on a narrow plank, they were also distinguishable by difference types of interference (for instance engaging in motor tasks interfere with motor imagery). These results might have implications for the ways we should use imagery, learning environment, and understanding how different kinds of imagery work together.

Considering the importance of imagery to problem solving, it's surprising how little thought is given to its discussion in education. Sport coaches certainly use imagery a great deal, but imagery for sports achievement is different from imagery used for spatial problem solving, scientific or mathematical problem solving, and, get the idea.

Although the numbers are still low, we were intrigued to see so far that 31% of poll respondants solve problems by visual imagery, while 20% are words, 17% symbols, 11%, hands-on. Because for many problem solving is nonverbal process, it might tell us why it can be hard to teach to others.

Visual and Motor ImageryAbstract

The Beauty of Mathematical Proofs

We know there are some math-lovers who visit our blog. This is for you, recently published in the Economist.

Video Games Said to be Effective Learning and Teaching Tools by MIT

We came across this article and found the research paper online. Students who played this video game outperformed classmates who didn't play by 20% in a test of main concepts.

Computer animations may be an ideal format for conveying multistepped and complicated spatial processes. The opportunity for multiple replays and visualization from different perspectives may make the difference for understanding. "For these students, learning science through exploratory activities was uncommon..."

Good computer-based programs may strike a balance between the didactic and exploratory learning. With didactic only, the student does not experience what it is like to be a scientist - and discovery. With exploratory only, students may run the danger of never discovering or drawing the wrong conclusions (the real practice of lab bench science).

The article is an honest article, and it discusses the problems as well as the promise.

Xbox Solution - Video Games Said to be Effective Learning and Teaching Tools by MIT
Supercharged! Paper

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Autism: Emotional Responses to Faces vs. Cartoon Characters

In this autistic study from Yale University, researchers found that emotional activation by Digimon characters (at least as measured by the amygdala) was stronger than for familiar faces(controls were non-autistic liking Digimon and autistic with no interest in Digimon).

Problems emotionally responding to familiar and unfamiliar faces create significant social challenges. But like everything else involving the brain, functional differences may vary widely. Some people with fairly severe facial recognition problems can intuit emotions from other senses - including tone of voice or body gesture. Dissecting out the individual differences in recognition and emotional responsiveness will tell us more about amygdala functioning in autism spectrum disorders, and about what variations exist.

In the pictures below, the arrows point to the amygdala. The scans are from the autistic Digimon fan.

In this boy's case, it's even possible that his primary problem may be with visual perception of faces. There are some studies that have shown that some autistic subjects are better able to perceive facial expressions in caricature form than 'in real life' or in photographs. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but it might be that photographs or 'real life' faces are presenting too much visual information that can be taken in at once. Think about how much memory it takes a computer to download a photograph compared to clip art.

This information can be important to know because some can be taught to improve their emotional facial recognition by either a part-to-whole method (start with only a part of the face like the eye brows or mouth, looking at the face bit-by-bit) or by training first with caricatures (less information), moving on to exaggerated black and white photographs, then finally real life.

Differences in Emotional Activation in Autism - Human Faces and Digimon

Too Much TV Makes Kids Bullies

More reasons to turn off the TV and hang out with the kids. Based on a recent report from the University of Washington, 4 year olds who watch more TV a day are much more likely to be bullies. They were less likely to be bullies with good emotional support when young and regular play, reading, and outings with family members.

The TV-bully factor had been reported with older kids, but the surprising result was that it was also present in children this young.

In another link below, almost half of sixth graders surveyed reported being bullied at least once in the last five days. Bullied children were much more likely to report depression and other problems like frequent headaches and stomach aches.

TV Turns Kids into Bullies
Half of Kids Are Bullied, Study Suggests
Health News - Too Much Tube Time Can Turn Kids Into Bullies

Monday, April 04, 2005

Inflection Points: Personal Discoveries that Redirected Children's Lives

If we look back at the childhood histories of innovative people, we often find important events that sparked a lifelong interest. Einstein liked to tell a story about being shown a magnetic compass at the age of 4 or 5 years old. He became fascinated by the fact that an invisible force always directed the needle North, and thought about the need to "something behind things, deeply hidden."

Other inflection points in famous peoples' lives:

“I loved to read and I spent a lot of my time at the public library…one day I found a big book on the table. It was a book of engraved prints after the works of Michelangelo." - August Rodin, Sculptor

"When I was twelve, I contracted measles and was put to bed for two weeks…My father read to me when he came home from the office…The spaces between the shade and the top of the windows in my bedroom served as crude pinholes, and vague images of the outer world were projected on the ceiling. When anyone moved outside to the east, the highly diffuse image would move along to the west above me…My father explained it and I then grasped the theory of the camera lens and why the picture was upside down on the film. He opened his Kodak Bullseye camera, placed a piece of semitransparent paper where the film usually resides, set the shutter on open, pressed the button, and voila- a camera obscura!" - Ansel Adams, Photographer

“…the stomach pains returned, preventing him from attending first grade, and his mother decided to school him at home for the rest of the year…(his mother) read aloud from Ossian, Poe, Wordsworth, Longfellow, and Bryant, among other poets…” - Robert Frost, Poet Laureate

As a child, this boy's parents taught him to think unconventionally: he’d play games over the breakfast table with imaginary numbers (what’s the square root of minus 4?) and make pretend computers out of cardboard boxes and five-hole paper tape. He would later remember “One day I came home from high school, I found my father working on a speech... He was reading books on the brain, looking for clues about how to make a computer intuitive, able to complete connections like as the brain did. We discussed the point…but the idea stayed with me…” - Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web

“When I was about 6 years old, I was sick in bed for a few weeks with a serious illness. My father brought a tape recorder home from the university. At that time, tape recorders were gigantic. I could sit there and make noises and tell stories and I could listen to things and play them back. It became a form of entertainment. I started recording off television, my favorite television shows, and listening to the sounds back without seeing the picture. That led to a real interest in the use of music and sound effects, how they were used to tell a story, how they augmented the presentation…” – Ben Burtt, Sound Engineer Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET…

The physicist Edward Purcell once said, "The wonderful thing about science and about teaching is that all you need is one good example." If we look at some of the most motivating events for young people who later grew up to be great innovators, we find that their 'one good example' often had two shared characteristics: Beauty and Mystery.

In the rush to have all our school children 'meet standards' and be taught "what every n'th grader needs to know", we shouldn't forget that some of the most memorable experiences are those which make children yearn to learn more.

Flexible Strategies for Sensory Integration

It's ironic that there are still physicians who don't believe sensory integration problems exist in children, but that's only because the research hasn't caught up to clinical practice. Only recently have new research technologies been able to quantitate events like brain reorganization or motor imagery. In this new work too, virtual reality was needed to test individual contributions of visual and sensory input.

The link below takes you to a PubMed abstract (sorry, full article not free online yet) from April 2005 Nature Neuroscience basic research article showing that the brain uses different strategies and not just sensory inputs to determine how to guide the hand to its correct target. It makes different predictions or adjustments depending on the nature of this task.

Clinically this is probably why children with sensory integration or processing problems (seen in a wide variety of conditions involving brain recovery) need sensory-motor repetitions in specific activities (for instance, writing by hand, throwing a ball, catching a ball, protective reflexes) before improvements in real life activities are seen.

Flexible Strategies for Sensory Integration

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Doctors Who Homeschool - Grasshoppers

Another part of our eclectic life is homeschooling. Here's a snapshot and links from a grasshopper study. We let the kids watch online video excerpts from the 'B' Movie Beginning of the End (Grasshoppers overrun the earth), took questions ("Why would they think grasshoppers would want to eat people?" "Do grasshoppers really chirp like that? How do they chirp?" etc), then studied a real grasshopper with an Intel microscope. The latter is a nifty little gadget (we got it for $30) that hooks up to the computer so you can view the magnified image on your computer screen. The kids were thrilled to snap a picture of the ommatidia (eyes) below.

We also had the kids brainstorm about design features and interesting aspects of the grasshopper - e.g. think about how the human leg has a different organization from the grasshopper leg (knees face opposite direction), and what advantages and disadvantages this difference might have. The book the Robot Zoo (also a website below) was also a cool way to compare design and form and function.

The Robot Zoo Grasshopper
Grasshopper facts
B Movie Site: Beginning of the End

Switching to Mon-Fri Posts

Because our Neurolearning book is due at the Editor's soon, we're going to take a break from blogging on the weekends. See you Monday.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Huh? The Complexity of Sentence Comprehension

As Microsoft's Grammar Check knows (see second link below), English is a hard language learn.

Here's the brain pattern for sentence comprehension:

Can you see the different brain areas and the different arrows? Sentence comprehension is a complicated task that affected by word choice, word order, word grouping, and conventions. Sample sentences from the paper:

The writer attacked the king and admitted the mistake at the meeting.

The writer that the king attacked admitted the mistake at the meeting.

The pundit that the regent attacked admitted the gaffe at the conclave.

These sentences vary in complexity, and speed of processing. Sentence comprehension is a hidden cause of underachievment in some middle and high school students. They may get along all right with reading and listening to information told 'in context' (in a lesson plan, lecture, or story), but then make huge blunders on brief non-contextual sentences that are presented in the form of questions on tests.

Targeting the source of comprehension problems is often the first order of business. One strange quirk of the brain is that different parts of speech are stored in different areas. Some students have particular problems remembering the meaning of connector words like 'although' or 'until' because they are a bit abstract and they are understood only in relationship to other parts of the sentence. The second step may be troubleshooting specific memory problems (for instance auditory word memory) and devising strategies to overcome them (e.g. imagery).

The Neural Bases of Sentence Comprehension
Microsoft's Terrible Grammar Checker
Owl Purdue English and Grammar Resource

Problems Getting Test Accommodations for Gifted Dyslexics in Medical School

Here are some recent links we came across for a medical student fighting to obtain accommodations for dyslexia. Graduate school tests often are do not provide accommodations for students with disabilities. Several lawsuits are making their way through the court system.

There have been many famous dyslexic physicians throughout history - in the medical field these have included Harvey Cushing (father of neurosurgery), Carl Jung, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many chairmen of medical departments. Unfortunately at the graduate school level, accommodations appear to be given somewhat erratically, and students and their families may have to be prepared to do battle.

University and Graduate Students with LDs
Resources for Dyslexics in Medical Field
Dyslexic Physicians
Dyslexia Colleges
Dyslexia College
Learning Disabilities OnLine: LD In-Depth: College Students and Disability Law
AAMC sued over medical school admission exam

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Put It Out of Your Mind

Putting thoughts out of your mind and completely clearing your mind appear to be distinct processes, and they both require active work. Being able to ignore is closely related to directing attention, so poor performance at putting information out of mind results in easy distractibility and inattention.

Studies looking at the ease or difficulty of 'ignore' seem to suggest that although general tendency may be inherited, it can be strengthened by practice. In behavior tests of school age children, training in being able to resist distraction also generalized to more delayed self-gratification behaviors. The abstract of the article which discusses this in more detail is linked below.

The authors also note that when teaching children skills to reduce distraction, the challenges should be introduced gradually:

"The level of difficulty of the tasks by which the child is challenged should be adjusted so that the child can develop an expectancy that success is possible. Once that momentum has been achieved, the difficulty of the situation can gradually be ratcheted up."

The take-home message: "Like a muscle, it appears to be fatigued in the short run and strengthened in the long run by exercise."

Suppressing vs Clearing Thoughts
Self-Control: Theory and Research.

Success of Online Learning - GLEF Report

Online Learning is exploding 25% of K-12 public schools offer some form of virtual instruction and 300,000 high schoolers attended online classes in 2002-3. There are a lot more now. The early statistics back from online AP classes is also promising - higher rates of students passing AP tests from online courses compared to school-based.

Online Learning

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Learning from Our Mistakes

When children are failing in school, we often need to take more time to find out the patterns of errors and mistakes the kids are making. Many times students have gotten themselves into a vicious cycle of repetitive errors, but don't know how to stop it.

From research, we can know see that detection is not a simple function that one either has or doesn't have. Learning from mistakes requires smooth coordination of several different brain regions, probably accounting for why it helps to practice.

In the figure excerpted below, see the various regions activated when subjects learn from their mistakes. The paradigm involved subjects making a guess at which visual features of Mr. Potato head were associated with 'vanilla' or 'chocolate'.

As it turns out, learning about mistakes creates a bigger brain impression than learning about correct guesses.

Learning from Mistakes fMRI
Powerpoint Error Research
University Learning Center Study Skills Handouts
Regents Prep Math Study Strategies
Study Tips
Study Tips for Introductory Physics Students
Analyzing Test Errors

More Sensory Integration: The Color of Smells

Kids or adults with sensory processing difficulties overload easily with sight, sound, touch, and smells. In this very basic research paper, researchers show that smells are identified with visual cues. If you take visual cues away, it much more difficult to distinguish different odors.

It's because the senses are so closely linked to each other that it's easy to upset other sensory when one type of 'sensory' input goes awry. It means that a child with auditory processing problems might develop visual overload problems (e.g. highly distractible) or a child with proprioceptive sensory problems might be overly sensitive to smells, etc.

Blogger is having a lot of technical difficulties these days, so hopefully we'll get our daily posts out.

More Sensory Integration: The Color of Smells

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Daydreaming Brain

Researchers say that we are daydreaming 10-20% of the time. In any given classroom across the United States, maybe that number might rise. What goes on the brain with daydreaming and is it good for the brain?

There have been some interesting details about what the brain looks like while daydreaming, and there are interesting bits and pieces of information so far: daydreaming appears to change in frequency and in pattern of brain activation throughout the life cycle, and daydreaming when the mind is at rest activates areas that are different from conventional 'hard' calculating tasks or super verbal memory challenges. Interestingly, daydreaming shows a powerful activation of the medial temporal lobes, areas important for long-term and autobiographical memory. Other areas activated included strong visual and imagery areas where many sensory inputs mingle.

Look at all the areas that activate when the brain is free to daydream (Gabrieli's group, Stanford):

Maybe this is why many who are involved in creative disciplines need to forget about their problems (daydream, go out and play) in order to really solve them. When you daydream, you may be more likely to dredge up little tidbits of interest from your past that may be helpful for answering a question. If you can't find a solution quickly by conscious means, maybe it's important to let the subconscious have a try. Said Einstein: "I do my best thinking after playing the violin for a half hour."

Daydreaming and fMRI
Daydreaming Research
Brain's 'resting' network
Daydreaming in Youth, Old Age, and Alzheimers

Lemelson Center's Invention at Play: Does Play Matter?

Here are some interesting quotes about the importance of 'play' (HT: Play Journal).

Lemelson Centers Invention at Play: Does Play Matter?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Neurolearning Epiphany

Several years ago, we experienced an epiphany while meeting with an obviously intelligent blind woman with a thirty-year history of diabetes. "There's probably nothing you can do," she started off saying, "but I still need to ask you if there's anything I can do about my memory. It's gotten so bad now that I'll forget what my daughter's telling me even before she's finished talking." Uh-oh, we thought, sounds bad. We had seen her brain scan before, and it had clearly shown diffuse damage from poorly controlled diabetes. Maybe there was nothing we could do.

We asked her to try to remember a list of numbers, and found to our dismay that she struggled to remember even 2 in a row. When asked to reverse them, she couldn't even keep the second number in mind. It looked pretty hopeless. Words of reassurance seemed empty.

But then we thought of something. We had recently seen an fMRI study which had shown that 'visual imagination' (visually imagining reversing a checkerboard) had a very diffuse distribution in the brain - and thought maybe enough of it could be preserved in this woman so that visual imagery could be used bypass her memory impairments. To our surprise and to hers, when prompted to visually imagine the numbers we read to her, she could now remember 7 digits (the normal limit)! - a feat doubly impressive because she was completely blind and had no light perception in either eye. For this woman, she merely needed to be made aware that she should translate 'heard' information into visual images - to go from being totally incapacitated memory-wise to 'normal'.

How often could this happen? More often than you think. Education and neuropsychology are not oriented to problem-solving learning difficulties in a way that tells a person's how to make the most of their unique biology, memory and problem-solving style, and capacity for imagery. All of those things may have profound consequences for school or career success, and personal fulfillment. The brain has vast resources, but we should realize we're barely scratching the surface.

We'll talk more in the future about optimizing learning and memory, and the role of imagery and symbolization in idea manipulation and creative synthesis.

Visual Imagination and fMRI

Teaching Teachers How To Teach At-Risk Readers

We can link only to the abstract below, though hopefully the entire paper will be published online soon. There's a surprising scarcity of freely available information comparing the relative efficacies of specific teaching strategies.

This study was able to show that providing novice teachers with instruction about word structure teaching resulted in significant improvement in the efficacy of their teaching (reading achievement increased a great deal). Say the authors: "It is difficult to imagine how teachers can provide effective word decoding or spelling instruction, espeically to struggling readers, without knowledge of the phonemic structure of words, typical grapheme-phoneme mappings, common orthgraphic syllable patterns, and irregularities in words." We would add that the reading difficulties of some children can be difficult to figure out 'intuitively' because basic perceptual processing of sounds or text may be very different from the teacher's. What seems obvious to one is not obvious at all to the other.

Here are the essentials of what these researchers observed helped teaching:

1. Teaching Sound Segmentation - for instance hearing the 2 different sound segments of 'th' and 'igh' in 'thigh'
2. Teaching in Syllable Type (for instance, nonsense words): trube (magic e), sply (open), knoof (vowel team), fisp (closed), sare (vowel-r-magic e), blarn (vowel-r-closed)
3. Distinguishing Phonetically Regular (e.g. saw, box, food) from Irregular (pretty, eye, of) Words

With this added teacher instruction, tutored students were found to have: better knowledge of letter sounds, better decoding and spelling of phonetically regular words, and reading and spelling of irregular words.

Teaching Teachers to Help At-Risk Readers Abstract

Blogging Clicks With Colleges (

Blogging Clicks With Colleges (

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Bach: Language for the Whole Brain

On this beautiful holiday weekend, here's a little Bach for your brain. Listening to Bach's music activates areas previously thought to be language-only specific. In these non-musicians changes in brain activation occur with slight changes in the played. Not a surprise to anyone who loves Bach, even the untrained brain can tell when the music is altered.

Interestingly, Bach himself was a very multimodal composer. He composed much of his work with specific images and word phrases, and compositions were referred to as 'word paintings'.

The second link below gives you five free live music recordings a day in return for free registration. Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Whole Brain Bach
Free Bach Music(registration required)>

Flashes from the Past: "At times stubborn and irritable..."

At times stubborn and irritable, he called a colleague a "Kippelfagottist" or "nanny-goat bassoonist" and almost got killed in a duel. As a 20 year old, he was also so excited about hearing a new organist that he left his job for a month and walked 200 miles to hear the music. Apparently it was worth it because after he arrived, he wrote his employer to tell him he needed to stay an extra month just to listen.

Yes this was Johann Sebastian Bach. We have fewer details of his boyhood, but from the few stories passed down to us we can see traits of stubborness and determination. As a child, he broke into a cabinet to steal music that he was forbidden to play because it was 'too hard'. Apparently at night, he gradually copied the entire manuscript by hand and learned the music in secret.

Said Beethoven later of Bach: "His name ought not to be Bach ("Bach" means "brook" in German), but ocean, because of his infinite and inexhaustible wealth of combinations and harmonies."

Spiritual Lives of Great Composers
Johann Sebastian Bach

Friday, March 25, 2005

Attention! Attention! It's Not All the Frontal Lobes

One of the most popular misconceptions about attention is that it's all the frontal lobes. In its most crude application, it has parents, teachers, and even many clinicians thinking that inattentive = 'hypofrontal', and so in need of medication like stimulants that activate frontal-striatal pathways. Not so.

In fact, the other lobe of interest is the parietal lobe- that wonderful meeting place for shifting attention, spatial representation, and imagery, where primary sensory and motor areas converge to convey a sense of space and location based on cues of sight, sound, touch, position, and balance.

Hmmm. Now does this sound familiar? Getting in trouble for leaning on other kids, a poor sense of 'space', visual or auditory distractibility, inattentiveness, or hyperactivity? Some people will lump it with the attention deficit disorders, while for others, this is sensory integration or sensory processing dysfunction. But by profile, this is more the parietal pattern than frontal (sustained attention) - so sensory processing disorder is a better descriptive term.

Because of the complex intersection of diverse sensory areas, vestibular, and motor pathways in the parietal lobes, this area is ripe for multisensory training and rehabilitation. Because as we've mentioned before, the neurons that fire together wire together (Dr. Carla Shatz's slogan), the way to fine tune is to have integrative practice with sight, sound, touch, motor activity, and movement, rather than hoping for 'a pill' to hold the answer.

Also because the parietal lobes are so important for imagery and imagining, potential training benefits are also likely to extend beyond mundane but still important activities like hand-eye coordination and balance...into visualization and creative productivity.

Crossmodal Control of Attention
Parietal Lobe and Visual Attention
4 T-fMRI Study of Nonspatial Shifting of Selective Attention
ERPs, Distractibility Parietal Adolescents - Abstract
Sensory Integration: Current Concepts and Practical Implications Sensory Processing Disorders in a Learning Disorders Clinic

How Much Can Your Mind Keep Track Of?

Here is an interesting study. In a survey of academics (really graduate students and academic staff), it appeared that maximum number of different pieces of information (variables) people could keep in mind was: four. That's not much. It seems that when we have to juggle lots of data (for instance researching on different sites on the Internet, different opinions etc.) we are successfully 'chunking' information into smaller bits. They say: "It is a major function of expertise to recognize higher-order variables that relate chunked representations of lower-order variables".

Maybe part of the drive of many great thinkers toward simplicity? They may be reviewing much, but still shifting data into a few cohesive bits of information that fit into a unified whole.

How Much Can Your Mind Keep Track Of?- Press release
How Much Can Your Mind Keep Track Of? Article

Classic Number Puzzle (Ramanujan) Solved by Grad Student

New Scientist Classic maths puzzle cracked at last

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Remembrances of Things Past: Autobiographical Memory

Autobiographical memory is a personal memory of events and places personally experienced. The medial temporal lobe appears to be an important area for these memories, and these sorts of memories appear to be multimodal (sight, sound, smell, touch, emotions) and often lifelong.

In our experience, autobiographical memory is often poorly tapped as a resource or as a conscious part of learning. Maybe it's because the sort of memory that teachers, doctors, or neuropsychologists assess is often of a different sort (impersonal, semantic, etc.).

In some people though, autobiographical memory may appear so strong, that it is a dominating style of their learning. In order to remember, they may have to experience or wrestle with the information personally. Sometimes when we assess a child who has had significant neurological difficulty that impairs both auditory and visual memory, we have used autobiographical memory techniques to see whether it helps them retain the information better. Often it works like a charm - this may meaning weaving the information to be learned into a story that is dramatized (sensory-motor memory too) so that they experience it and then recognize it later. The pictures below show one strategy for studying autobiographical memory. Subjects travel in a taxicab in a virtual reality environment while in a scanner, and then time in taxicab is correlated with brain activity - the area that lights up is the medial temporal lobe. Autobiographical memory is also being tapped in the 'spatial technique' used by Superior Memory champions (originally devised by an ancient Greek) whereby list information is projected on a familiar (autobiographical) scene.

AutobiographicalMemory Taxi
Autobiographical Memory Review
Neurolearning Blog: Superior Memory (scroll down page)

Existential Depression and Suicide in Gifted Individuals

Our community recently suffered a tragic loss when a brilliant young man took his life. Existential Depression is very common among gifted individuals. In a survey of 5,000 high achieving teens listed in Who's Who Among High School Students, 31% had contemplated suicide and 4% had attempted suicide. The most common reasons given for wanting to end their lives were: 86% feelings of personal worthlessness, 81% feelings of isolation and loneliness, 81% pressure to achieve, and 61% fear of failure. The most common time for teens to commit suicide in is the 'after-school' period and many teens mask their feelings.

If there's a child you're worried about, please check out the resources below. Often children may feel more comfortable talking to a professional with special expertise in dealing with gifted social and emotional issues. SENG has an article library and many other links are provided below.

SENG: Articles & Resources - Existential depression in Gifted
Letter and Resources from Betty Meckstroth
More Resources
NASP Resources
Hoagies'Gifted: Depression and Suicide

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Who is Smart?

"Everybody's special, Dash"....
"Which is just another way of saying nobody is..." - The Incredibles

The question of Who is Smart' or 'Who is Special' is an insidious one, because whether we want to our not, we all have some sort of expectations of ourselves. Kevin McGrew, co-author of the Woodcock-Johnson III, is a new member of the blogosphere and he has added an interesting post IQ Scores, NCLB & Forrest Gump on his new blog at: Some highlights:

"Correlations of this magnitude tell us that IQ tests, on their best days, predict 40-50% of school achievement (Applied Psychometrics 101 – square the correlations and multiply by 100 to get the percent of variance explained). This is very good. Yet…50-60% of a person’s school achievement is still related to factors “beyond IQ!”

"In the context of NCLB (No Child Left Behind), there is a real fear that IQ test scores may seduce educators and other education-related professionals into the “soft bigotry of low expectations”

In fact, when high IQ or prodigy subjects are wheeled into the fMRI scanners, not suprisingly, there are very different patterns of brain activation depending on what task and what kind of prodigy. There are certain areas that appear to be more common than others (frontal, temporal) and these may reflect task-related requirements such as working memory or insight. The parietal lobes also appear to important for many high level events -probably because the importance of imagery in problem solving and idea manipulation. These people are different from others - and what's more we can learn from them.

Today, IQ testing is one of the most common tools in the school system for assessing cognitive ability, classroom placement, need for accommodations and cognitive expectations. But good gracious, 50-60% achievement is beyond IQ! Rather than using IQ to tell us about our limitations, we should look for strengths that tell us what to build on.

We have to remember too that a few years ago, nobody would have dreamed that we would have seen brain reorganization with software programs in dyslexia or increased brain gray matter from juggling lessons.

We are filling in parts of the puzzle - understanding what sorts of cognitive strengths are important for high level problem solving, and what sorts of environmental or educational interventions can change brain wiring and its efficiency. The next phase of research will have something for everyone - we will learn how to teach and learn better, and really build on whatever we've got.

Insights on Intelligence Theories & Tests
Fluid Intelligence
Fluid Analogies
Math Prodigy
Exact Vs. Approximate Problem Solving

Flashes from the Past: 'Helicopter Parents'?

Helicopter parents? Helicopter parents are the nickname that some school folks have coined for parents who 'hover' and swoop down to rescue their children so - the idea goes- they don't learn good traits of perseverance or how to grapple with problems themselves. How do these Parents from the Past measure up?

This protective dad flew into his daughter's classroom one day and scolded the teacher for giving his daughter a homework assignment. Because she was already in school for six hours a day, he reasoned, she shouldn't have to do any additional work at home. When this young lady told her mother that a teacher was 'emotionally ugly', her mother came to her rescue, and told her she didn't have to attend that class.

Later on this gal became interested in ice skating, so her parents bought her the best skates and skating outfit they could afford...and every day there was good weather, they said she could ice skate instead of go to school.

Who did this woman become? This was Barbara McClintock, very hard-working and internally-driven Nobel Prize winner in genetics (1983, for 'Jumping Genes') who worked at lab bench science until the age of 89 (James Watson once told one of us that she was always prowling around Cold Spring Harbor at night working in her lab). As it turned out, McClintock didn't really get jazzed about schoolwork until high school, when she discovered she really liked scientific problem solving.

Barbara McClintock
No escape from 'helicopter parents'

New Software Tool for Auditory Processing and Phonology

"Phonomena" is now commercially available in the US and Europe. This had a solid research background, appeared more challenging than Earobics, and a lot cheaper than Fast Forword. This software may help people with auditory processing disorders from CAPD or dyslexia. There is a free flash demo at the site.

Phonomena News article

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Science of Risk-Taking

What do we think of when we think of risks - being daring, entrepreneurial, innovative, or more like ADHD, self-destructive, and impulsive? This paper looks at cognitive processes involved while college students (remember - they're still supposed to be a little 'hypofrontal') decide to take risks.

The interesting points here are that decision-making is different depending on whether options are presented negatively or positively. If both options appear positive- then most choose quickly and pick low-risk. In fact, much more brain work is needed to choose a high risk choice when both things look good. Not much difference is seen when when low- and high-risk choices are given (maybe fatalistic?)
-kind of a "Who cares?" because they're both bad.

So maybe when looking at rosy options, we may be more likely to 'play it safe' and go for a simple good. When things look bad anyway, we may be more likely to 'go for broke.' This study also suggests that somewhat paradoxically, sometimes 'risky choices' can occur as the result of 'more thought' rather than less.

fMRI and Risky Decision Making

UCLA Study: Struggles for Family Balance

This report from UCLA hit home. For a time, our family struggled with family balance, and it's only in the last few years, we found the right answers for our situation. The changing sociology of dual career families does affect learning- and in profound ways.

The takehome points for this study is that children these days have much less time for face-to-face interactions and conversations with family members, and less opportunity for idleness and daydreaming. This is not good. All of these activities affect the development of character, social interaction, encouragement, and creative vision. In the histories of famous people, families often figure prominently as sources of inspiration and encouragement. We need to figure out how to allow more thoughtful and intelligent parents flexible working hours and working options, so they can spend more time with their families.

Seattle Times: American families' plight

Monday, March 21, 2005

Strategic Thinking: Into the Minds of Gamers

Bhatt and Camerer of Cal Tech cover big topics in this paper - sucessful strategic thinking, self-referential thinking, social thinking, and neuroeconomics by carefully examining patterns of brain activation while college students played games and reflected on their experiences. Different experiments looked at the differences in patterns when individuals made choices, expressed their beliefs, and expressed what they thought others would do.

It turns out successful strategic thinking negatively correlated with insular activation. Insular activation, they suggest, was an indicator of too much self-preoccupation and emotional feeling. The insular is preferentially activated in situations like when a person is made to feel socially excluded (virtual game of 'catch', then the other subjects don't share the ball with you anymore -we'll talk about that one later). It looks like this study is a chapter from an upcoming book entitled "Games and Economic Behavior."

Here's a look at how not to look when you're playing to win.

The Mind in Games

Taking Learning Styles to the Next Level

If you have a few seconds, please vote in our free poll we put in the sidebar. If you find it difficult to answer, reply to this post about why (add a comment). When it comes to "Learning Styles", the most common route to figure this out is supposed to be a 'poll'-type inventory - but there are many problems inherent in this.

We would think that people who read blogs might be more strongly oriented toward words - but even this is murky area. There may be differences in the ways you prefer to take information in, different ways you prefer to generate possibilities, and different ways you ultimately decide on answers. Some people get such strong imagery from reading (words), they can't stand to watch movies after reading books because it doesn't match with the images they have already seen. What is that? Words and Imagery. But think of the implications- these people may be overloaded by lots of graphics or visual material when they're learning. They may prefer anything visually bland or text, even though they are high-visual imagery learners. A little paradoxical.

The learning styles arena were benefit from an infusion of ideas from people of very different backgrounds who share an interest in thinking \ about how they really think. There are insights from brain studies as well.

Sometimes we see people who seem to fit the 'visual thinker' profile very strongly (by checklist), but then find they have terrible visual memory. If we look more closely, we find they may be powerful visualizers (imagery) or outstanding with visual problem solving, but not remember exact details of what they see.

There are also some situations where all modes seem mixed. One of us (Fernette) played classical piano since she was 3, and as a result, she can't listen to music without having some proprioceptive and visual imagery associated with it. The visual imagery - is also a bit subconscious, so that only really reflecting on it afterwards can she think about specific images called to mind.

The educational process needs to take into account learning differences to take learning onto the next level. But we also need a firm foundation. To get handle on the wide range of different styles of learning, we need to ask more questions, rather than handing out pre-determined surveys. Maybe the blogosphere is ideal for this.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

No Pain: Feeling Less Pain with Virtual Reality

Here UW researchers use Virtual Reality to reduce the perception of pain in burn patients. Entering the immersive 'Snow World' of virtual reality, the burn victims felt less pain and lower activation levels of pain pathways were seen by fMRI. It will interesting seeing just how many different ways virtual reality and immersive video games can affect other brain mechanisms of perception, attention, and emotion. As the information becomes more detailed, perhaps it will provide software engineers and game designers with more ideas re: affecting brain biology and experience.

fMRI and Virtual Reality Analgesia

The Creative Process: Learning from Audio Commentaries

In the last few years, great resources have become available for students to understand the various steps to creative production in the real world: audio commentaries on DVD.

This past week, our kids got the DVDs for "The Incredibles" - what a thrill to see the brainstorming process (sketches, personal vignettes), the different levels of interaction within a group, contribution of unique personalities and technologies, and some of the tough intellectual and emotional decisions that going into making a final product. There's a lot of other information to be gained through these film clips and documentaries too - story and character design, the logic of color, gesture, and imagery, sequence and cohesion.

Wouldn't it be nice if more disciplines did this? In science, some videos capture the creative process (Race for the Double Helix, documentary about the solution of Fermat's Theorem), but these behind-the-scenes views are much more unscripted and therefore seem more realistic. Some DVDs (like Wallace and Gromitt) also include some of artists' work as children - and this can be energizing for some of the kids.

There is also something a little like blogging in these audio commentaries - people doing what they're interested in, sharing with the world real time what the experience is like, and how they they are thinking.

Wired : Welcome to Planet Pixar

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Bilingual Brain

Students who speak English as a second language are the largest growing student population in the U.S., and Hispanics comprise 11% of the U.S. population. So what are the consequences of bilingualism for language learning and learning differences? They are significant, though the number of practical recommendations from educational groups to parents or teachers are surprisingly few.

From the brain research perspective, it looks like different languages are stored in roughly overlapping areas, although more territory is needed to mobilize the second learned language, and an area of the frontal lobe (executive function) is needed to supervise switching between languages. As a result, signals can be jammed in bilingual learners (in the phonological loop) and attention and brain resources can be divided. The result can be reduced accuracy and fluency in both languages. The red arrow below points to the extra region of brain that has to be used for language selection.

Maybe this is why gifted bilingual children are less likely to be recognized by teachers and standard assessment tools as gifted. We've listed some links for resources about bilingual learning and giftedness, but in some references when bilingual students are mentioned as being generally better as visual or hands-on learners, we wonder whether this is inherently true, or just the result of their having to otherwise take in lessons through their second acquired language.

There are other kettles of fish with bilingualism as well - including the difficulty identifying dyslexia in ESL students and the occurence of monolingual dyslexia (dyslexia in only 1 of 2 known languages).

Language Switching
Strategies for Teaching Hispanic Students
Identifying Hispanic Gifted Children
Second Language Interferes with Word Production in Fluent Bilinguals
Gifted and Talented Minority Language Students
IngentaConnect Phonology in the Bilingual Stroop effect
Second Language Interferes with Word Production in Fluent Bilinguals

Why Stevie Can't Spell (

Here's a wonderful article (with reader comments) about spelling from a dyslexic Washington Post Staff writer.

Why Stevie Can't Spell (
Post Magazine: Why Stevie Can't Spell

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Biology of 'Choking' Under Stress

What makes us 'choke' under stress? Well, that depends. For athletes it seems choking involves being too 'self-aware' of performance. It's not really that worries are taking too much away from thinking. When you're in athletic flow, at least the idea goes, you shouldn't be thinking. Choking is conquered in athletics by learning to forget that you're being watched. Golfers that choke don't do so because of being overloaded in working memory. They manage perfectly well if given additional concentration tasks to perform while they put.

Performing complicated calculations is another story though. In this sad figure, see how the mightiest subjects with working memory were also the most likely to choke. Choking during activities like this is is caused by competition for attention and working memory. Maybe the highest working memory folks are already working to near capacity. Unlike golfers, you can make these guys choke on their math problems by having them do another concentration task at the same time.

Choking Under Pressure
Stress Affects Memory
Golf Brain and Choking Under Pressure
More Choking Under Pressure

Flashes from the Past: "He was in constant motion, jumping up and down..."

"When not lost in thought, he was in constant motion, jumping up and down, leaping from chair to chair, rushing about, and falling and hurting himself. He seemed to have no sense of personal safety. His love of martial poetry was obsessive. He had a speech defect and one miserable cold after another..." From his mother we hear that he was a "troublesome boy" and "a most difficult boy to manage." From his principal: "Constantly late for school, losing his books, and papers and various other things into which I need not enter- he is so regular in his irregularity that I don't know what to do."

Who was this fellow with "ADHD"? This was Winston Churchill, the master statesman who according to Time Magazine: "stood alone against fascism and renewed the world's faith in the superiority of democracy." To read more about Churchill, who was also thought to have dyslexia, check out the link in "Geniuses At a Loss for Words".

Churchill himself would say later: "Where my reason, imagination, or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn...My teachers saw me at once backward and precocious, reading books beyond my years and yet at the bottom of the Form. They were offended. They had large resources of compulsion at thei disposal, but I was stubborn."

Geniuses at a Loss for Words

We just ran across this wonderful paper from the past about famous spatial thinkers who were at a loss for words.

Geniuses at a Loss for Words