Computers go to school

The U.S. Department of Education recently published a report that they prepared for Congress summarizing the gains achieved by children using computer-based training in reading and mathematics, comparing randomly assigned classes of children who did or did not use these tools (“Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort”; Report…

More, better, quicker. New middle/high school computer-based language training programs

I attended a scientific meeting a few years ago in which Bill Jenkins, the program development team leader at Scientific Learning, described a radically improved version of one of their middle- and high school-targeted language learning programs (which they call “Literacy Advanced”). They have completely re-worked the game-play aspects of these exercises. Changes resulted in…

Brain plasticity-based “cognitive training” elevates BDNF

Serum BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophin factor) has been repeatedly shown to be lower than normal in schizophrenic, bipolar and depressed patient populations. Moreover, the severity of manias or depression have been shown to be inversely correlated with serum BDNF. This key brain trophic factor plays a complicated panoply of roles in brain development, in maintaining the…

A recommended book about “neuro-plasticity”

The Brain That Changes Itself (2007) by Normal Doidge, M.D. This interesting book chronicles some of the stories of the men and women who have ushered in the new “brain plasticity” revolution in neuroscience. As we repeatedly emphasize in this blog, the brain is no longer viewed by neuroscientists as a machine that is hard-wired…

Insights from a Brain Training Study on Tinnitus

In the January 19th issue of JAMA-Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, a research team from Washington University (St. Louis) School of Medicine reported interesting outcomes from a brain training strategy that appeared to help a significant proportion of individuals living with severe tinnitus.1 The nature of these benefits—and other outcomes from this carefully conducted trial—are provocative…