WBEZ | brain http://www.wbez.org/tags/brain Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en OK, Google, Where Did I Put My Thinking Cap? http://www.wbez.org/news/ok-google-where-did-i-put-my-thinking-cap-114745 <p><p>Take a look at this question: How do modern novels represent the characteristics of humanity?</p><p>If you were tasked with answering it, what would your first step be? Would you scribble down your thoughts &mdash; or would you Google it?</p><p>Terry Heick, a former English teacher in Kentucky, had a surprising revelation when his eighth- and ninth-grade students quickly turned to Google.</p><p>&quot;What they would do is they would start Googling the question, &#39;How does a novel represent humanity?&#39; &quot; Heick says. &quot;That was a real eye-opener to me.&quot;</p><p>For those of us who grew up with search engines, especially Google, at our fingertips &mdash; looking at all of you millennials and post-millennials &mdash; this might seem intuitive. We grew up having our questions instantly answered as long as we had access to the Internet.</p><p>Now, with the advent of personal assistants like Siri and Google Now that aim to serve up information&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2014/03/17/290125070/computers-that-know-what-you-need-before-you-ask">before you even know you need it</a>, you don&#39;t even need to type the questions. Just say the words and you&#39;ll have your answer.</p><p>But with so much information easily available, does it make us smarter? Compared to the generations before who had to adapt to the Internet, how are those who grew up using the Internet &mdash; the so-called &quot;Google generation&quot; &mdash; different?</p><p>Heick had intended for his students to take a moment to think, figure out what type of information they needed, how to evaluate the data and how to reconcile conflicting viewpoints. He did not intend for them to immediately Google the question, word by word &mdash; eliminating the process of critical thinking.</p><h3><strong>More Space To&nbsp;Think Or Less&nbsp;Time To Think?</strong></h3><p>There is a relative lack of research available examining the effect of search engines on our brains even as the technology is rapidly dominating our lives. Of the studies available, the answers are sometimes unclear.</p><p>Some argue that with easy access to information, we have more space in our brain to engage in creative activities, as humans have in the past.</p><p>Whenever new technology emerges &mdash; including newspapers and television &mdash; discussions about how it will threaten our brainpower always crops up, Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/opinion/11Pinker.html">wrote in a 2010 op-ed</a>&nbsp;in&nbsp;The New York Times.Instead of making us stupid, he wrote, the Internet and technology &quot;are the only things that will keep us smart.&quot;</p><div id="con465723825" previewtitle="Related Stories"><div id="res465722840"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div></div><p><a href="http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=c3559fa5-e2a8-4845-a422-fa7d9c02f21e%40sessionmgr113&amp;vid=0&amp;hid=124&amp;bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=57775611&amp;db=a9h">Daphne Bavelier</a>, a professor at the University of Geneva, wrote in 2011 that we may have lost the ability for oral memorization valued by the Greeks when writing was invented, but we gained additional skills of reading and text analysis.</p><p>Writer Nicholas Carr contends that the Internet will take away our ability for contemplation due to the plasticity of our brains. He wrote about the subject in a 2008 article for&nbsp;The Atlantic&nbsp;titled&nbsp;&quot;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/">Is Google Making Us Stupid</a>.&quot;</p><p>&quot;... what the [Internet] seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation,&quot; Carr wrote.</p><p>The few studies available, however, do not seem to bode well for the Google generation.</p><p>A 2008 study commissioned by the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140614113419/http:/www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/reppres/gg_final_keynote_11012008.pdf">British Library</a>&nbsp;found that young people go through information online very quickly without evaluating it for accuracy.</p><p>A&nbsp;<a href="http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/dwegner/files/sparrow_et_al._2011.pdf">2011 study</a>&nbsp;in the journal&nbsp;Science&nbsp;showed that when people know they have future access to information, they tend to have a better memory of how and where to find the information &mdash; instead of recalling the information itself.</p><p>That phenomenon is similar to not remembering your friend&#39;s birthday because you know you can find it on Facebook. When we know that we can access this information whenever we want, we are not motivated to remember it.</p><h3><strong>&#39;I&#39;m Always On My Computer&#39;</strong></h3><p>Michele Nelson, an art teacher at Estes Hills Elementary School in Chapel Hill, N.C., seems to share Carr&#39;s concerns. Nelson, who has been teaching for more than nine years, says it was obvious with her middle school students and even her 15-year-old daughter that they are unable to read long texts anymore.</p><p>&quot;They just had a really hard time comprehending if they went to a website that had a lot of information,&quot; Nelson says. &quot;They couldn&#39;t grasp it, they couldn&#39;t figure out what the important thing was.&quot;</p><p>Nelson says she struggles with the same problem.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m always on my computer. ... I don&#39;t read books as much as I used to,&quot; she says. &quot;It&#39;s a lot harder for my brain to get to a place where I can follow and enjoy the reading, and I get distracted very easily.&quot;</p><div id="res465723132"><aside aria-label="pullquote" role="complementary"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/quote-because-were-so-busy-we%20%282%29.png" style="float: right; height: 223px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="" /></div></aside></div><p>The bright side lies in a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/5230/136.pdf">2009 study</a>&nbsp;conducted by Gary Small, the director of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.semel.ucla.edu/longevity">University of California Los Angeles&#39; Longevity Center</a>, that explored brain activity when older adults used search engines. He found that among older people who have experience using the Internet, their brains are two times more active than those who don&#39;t when conducting Internet searches.</p><p>Internet searching, Small says, is like a brain exercise that can be good for our mental health.</p><p>&quot;If somebody has normal memory when they&#39;re older, I always encourage them to use the computer,&quot; he says. &quot;It enhances our lives.&quot;</p><p>For Small, the problem for younger people is the overuse of the technology that leads to distraction. Otherwise, he is excited for the new innovations in technology.</p><p>&quot;We tend to be economical in terms of how we use our brain, so if you know you don&#39;t have to memorize the directions to a certain place because you have a GPS in your car, you&#39;re not going to bother with that,&quot; Small says. &quot;You&#39;re going to use your mind to remember other kinds of information.&quot;</p><h3><strong>How To Teach Digital Natives?</strong></h3><p>Heick has since left teaching to start&nbsp;<a href="http://www.teachthought.com/about/">TeachThought</a>, a company that produces content to support teachers in &quot;innovation in teaching and learning for a 21st century audience.&quot;</p><p>To him, the Internet holds great potential for education &mdash; but curriculum must change accordingly. Since content is so readily available, teachers should not merely dole out information and instead focus on cultivating critical thinking, he says.</p><div id="res465722910"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&quot;Classroom walls and school building walls are transparent, with technology essentially bringing the outside world to the classroom and vice versa,&quot; he says.</p><p>Heick says his company recently started working with schools and organizations in a few states, including North Carolina, Texas and New York, to develop lesson plans.</p><p>&quot;Google really lubricates that access to information and while that is fantastic, it makes us have to change a bit the way we think about things,&quot; Heick says. &quot;Because we&#39;re so busy, we have this false security that we understand something because we Googled it. Now we&#39;re moving on to the next thing instead of really rolling around with this idea and trying to understand it.&quot;</p><p>One of his recommendations is to make questions &quot;Google-proof.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Design it so that Google is crucial to creating a response rather than finding one,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/10-ways-teacher-planning-adjust-google-generation/">he writes in his company&#39;s blog</a>. &quot;If students can Google answers &mdash; stumble on (what) you want them to remember in a few clicks &mdash; there&#39;s a problem with the instructional design.&quot;</p><p>Meanwhile, teenagers are also aware of how the Internet is taking ahold of their lives. Caitlyn Nelson, teacher Michele Nelson&#39;s daughter, finds it hard to focus when she is forced to do readings or even exams online. Like most teenagers, sometimes she finds herself surfing the Web when she&#39;s supposed to be reading PowerPoint slides in class.</p><p>Caitlyn talks about a video they watched in English class about the impact of technology.</p><p>&quot;We talked about how technology is changing ... how most people are basically becoming zombies and slaves to the Internet because that&#39;s all we can do,&quot; she says.</p><p>&quot;I feel really bad that I&#39;m connected to my phone all the time instead of talking to my mom. But she&#39;s also addicted to her phone.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/02/05/465699380/ok-google-where-did-i-put-my-thinking-cap">NPR&#39;s <em>All Tech Considered</em></a></p></p> Sat, 06 Feb 2016 11:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ok-google-where-did-i-put-my-thinking-cap-114745 Your Paper Brain and Your Kindle Brain Aren't the Same Thing http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2016-01-14/your-paper-brain-and-your-kindle-brain-arent-same-thing-114487 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RTR2KOTX.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>Would you like paper or plasma? That&#39;s the question book lovers face now that e-reading has gone mainstream. And, as it turns out, our brains process digital reading very differently.</p></div><div><div><p>Manoush Zomorodi, managing editor and host of WNYC&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/shows/newtechcity/" target="_blank">New Tech City</a>, recalls a conversation with the Washington Post&#39;s Mike Rosenwald, who&#39;s researched the effects of reading on a screen.&nbsp;&ldquo;He found, like I did, that when he sat down to read a book his brain was jumping around on the page. He was skimming and he couldn&rsquo;t just settle down. He was treating a book like he was treating his Twitter feed,&quot; she says.</p><p>Neuroscience, in fact, has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper or from a screen. So the more you read on screens, the more your mind shifts towards &quot;non-linear&quot; reading &mdash; a practice that involves things like skimming a screen or having your eyes dart around a web page.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;They call it a &lsquo;bi-literate&rsquo; brain,&rdquo; Zoromodi says. &ldquo;The problem is that many of us have adapted to reading online just too well. And if you don&rsquo;t use the deep reading part of your brain, you lose the deep reading part of your brain.&rdquo;</p><p>So what&#39;s deep reading? It&#39;s the concentrated kind we do when we want to &quot;immerse ourselves in a novel or read a mortgage document,&rdquo; Zoromodi says. And that uses the kind of long-established linear reading you don&#39;t typically do on a computer. &ldquo;Dense text that we really want to understand requires deep reading, and on the internet we don&rsquo;t do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Linear reading and digital distractions have caught the attention of academics like Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t worry that we&rsquo;ll become dumb because of the Internet,&rdquo; Wolf says, &quot;but I worry we will not use our most preciously acquired deep reading processes because we&rsquo;re just given too much stimulation. That&rsquo;s, I think, the nub of the problem.&rdquo;</p><p>To keep the deep reading part of the brain alive and kicking, Zomorodi says that researchers like Wolf recommend setting aside some time each day to deep read on paper.</p><p>And now that children are seemingly growing up with a digital screen in each hand, Wolf says it&rsquo;s also important that teachers and parents make sure kids are taking some time away from scattered reading. Adults need to ensure that children also practice the deeper, slow reading that we associate with books on paper.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the evidence someday will be able to show us that what we&rsquo;re after is a discerning &lsquo;bi-literate&rsquo; brain,&rdquo; Wolf says. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s going to take some wisdom on our part.&rdquo;</p><p>UPDATE: Many of you have asked about the original research in this article. Here are a few resources: Wolf explained her research in an&nbsp;<a href="http://niemanreports.org/articles/our-deep-reading-brain-its-digital-evolution-poses-questions/" target="_blank">essay for Nieman Reports</a>. Ziming Liu at San Jose State University&nbsp;<a href="http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/00220410510632040" target="_blank">found that when we read on screens we spend more time browsing</a>&nbsp;and scanning, performing &quot;non-linear reading.&quot; For an even deeper read, here&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=F1679C" target="_blank">Liu&#39;s 2008 book</a>&nbsp;on the subject. Anne Mangen at the University of Norway found that&nbsp;<a href="https://www.academia.edu/7868162/Mangen_A._et_al._2014_._Mystery_story_reading_in_pocket_print_book_and_on_Kindle_possible_impact_on_chronological_events_memory._Conference_paper_presentation_IGEL_The_International_Society_for_the_Empirical_Study_of_Literature_and_Media_Turin_Italy_July_21-25" target="_blank">readers retain plot elements better when they read in print instead of on a Kindle</a>.&nbsp;But a<a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0083676" target="_blank">&nbsp;study in PLOS</a>&nbsp;found that reading e-ink is a lot like reading on paper in terms of visual fatigue.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-18/your-paper-brain-and-your-kindle-brain-arent-same-thing" target="_blank"><em> via The Takeaway</em></a></p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 15:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2016-01-14/your-paper-brain-and-your-kindle-brain-arent-same-thing-114487 How a Simple Bump Can Cause an Insidious Brain Injury http://www.wbez.org/news/how-simple-bump-can-cause-insidious-brain-injury-114429 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/0106_tbi-at-home-624x413.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_99335"><img alt="Tom Feild looks at a brain scan with his doctor at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va. Feild had brain surgery after experiencing a low-grade headache that wouldn't go away and difficulty driving. (Matailong Du for NPR)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2016/01/0106_tbi-at-home2-624x426.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 620px;" title="Tom Feild looks at a brain scan with his doctor at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va. Feild had brain surgery after experiencing a low-grade headache that wouldn’t go away and difficulty driving. (Matailong Du for NPR)" /><p>It&rsquo;s not just football players or troops who fought in the wars who suffer from brain injuries. Researchers estimate that hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in the U.S. get potentially serious brain injuries every year, too. Yet they and even their doctors often don&rsquo;t know it.</p></div><p>One such doctor is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/profiles/results/directory/profile/10000041/Bryan-Arling">Bryan Arling</a>, an internist in Washington, D.C. His peers often vote to put him on those lists of &ldquo;top doctors,&rdquo; published by glossy magazines.</p><p>So it&rsquo;s ironic that the brain injury he failed to diagnose was his own. And he could have died from it.</p><p>Last spring, Arling went looking for some files in his walk-up attic. It was jammed with boxes of Christmas tree ornaments, old clothes and other odds and ends that define decades of family life. After an hour of searching, he found the files in a box, grabbed the folders and stood up. He then felt a shooting pain in the center of his back.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a pain I&rsquo;ve had before,&rdquo; says Arling, who has battled back problems for years. &ldquo;But it was more intense than I&rsquo;ve ever had it before.&rdquo;</p><p>He took painkillers and went back to work. Weeks went by, and his back was still hurting him.</p><p>&ldquo;Then I began noticing that I was shuffling. I was so weak I couldn&rsquo;t carry my plate out to the back deck. I would just drop things. And everybody commented on how I seemed different,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>And gradually, Arling says, his thinking seemed different, too.</p><p>&ldquo;I could make sense of things, I could get things done, I could make decisions,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But I was slower at what I did.&rdquo;</p><p>Arling thought he was having trouble focusing because his back pain was so intense. So a neurosurgeon, who had treated Arling&rsquo;s back problems before, ordered an MRI of Arling&rsquo;s spine &mdash; and also his brain. When the MRI technician saw Arling&rsquo;s pictures taking shape on his screen, he called the radiologist and said, &ldquo;You need to see this right away.&rdquo;</p><p>The images showed a big, white, lake-like shape where Arling&rsquo;s brain should have been, inside the top right side of his skull. It was a pool of blood that was pushing down on the brain, causing it to shift from right to left.</p><div id="attachment_99336"><img alt="An MRI scan shows Bryan Arling's brain from above. The white-looking fluid is a subdural hematoma, or a collection of blood, that pushed part of his brain away from the skull, causing headaches and slowing his decision-making. (Courtesy of Dr. Ingrid Ott, Washington Radiology Associates)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2016/01/0106_tbi-at-home-624x413.jpg" style="height: 410px; width: 620px;" title="An MRI scan shows Bryan Arling’s brain from above. The white-looking fluid is a subdural hematoma, or a collection of blood, that pushed part of his brain away from the skull, causing headaches and slowing his decision-making. (Courtesy of Dr. Ingrid Ott, Washington Radiology Associates)" /><p>They sent Arling straight from the MRI to the emergency room at Georgetown University Medical Center. He says as they started prepping him for open brain surgery, the medical staff kept asking about his fall.</p></div><p>&ldquo;And I said, &lsquo;I haven&rsquo;t fallen,&rsquo; &rdquo; Arling says.</p><p>Then, just as they were wheeling him into the operating room, Arling remembered: The day he stood up in the attic and threw out his back, he had forgotten he was under the eaves, and had knocked the top of his head against a wood beam. But he didn&rsquo;t even get a cut, so he forgot about it.</p><p>Everybody knows you can get hurt if you fall off a ladder, or slip and bash your head on the ice. But Arling got a kind of brain injury that&rsquo;s usually more insidious &mdash; a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000713.htm">subdural hematoma</a>.</p><p>A subdural hematoma is different from the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129726135">typical blast injuries</a>&nbsp;that affected hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In those cases, shock waves rattled their brains and caused microscopic damage that&rsquo;s hard or impossible to detect. It&rsquo;s also different from the usual football concussions, in which blows to the head damage the brain&rsquo;s electrical wiring.</p><p>The main population at risk for a subdural hematoma is the elderly. To understand why, it helps to picture an aging brain. The brain is wrapped and protected by a membrane called the dura mater. Inside the dura, there&rsquo;s a network of veins that connect it to the surface of the brain.</p><p>Studies suggest that as you get older, your brain shrinks and pulls away from the dura, especially after you&rsquo;re 60 or 70 years old. But the veins keep holding on to both the dura and the brain. So as your brain pulls away, some of those veins become more exposed and more vulnerable.</p><p>Researchers say if you simply bump your head on the eaves of your attic, as Arling did, or if you simply start to fall and then catch yourself &mdash; so your head doesn&rsquo;t strike anything, but it jerks in the air &mdash; that can be enough force to jostle your shrinking brain.</p><p>&ldquo;And those veins stretch, and you&rsquo;ll get tearing in those veins,&rdquo; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pmr.vcu.edu/Department/Directory/faculty/dcifu/dcifu.aspx">Dr. David Cifu</a>, who runs a joint research project studying brain injuries for the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.</p><p>And because blood from veins tends to ooze, instead of pump as it does from arteries, Cifu says, &ldquo;when the veins tear, we get a very low-pressure ribbon of blood that&rsquo;s layering on top of the surface of the brain.&rdquo;</p><p>As that blood starts to pool over days or weeks, it irritates the brain cells. And if the pool&rsquo;s big enough, it presses on the brain and damages it, much like a tumor.</p><p>Researchers studied the problem a few years ago at a sample of 20 percent of the nation&rsquo;s hospitals. As they&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/documents/2016/jan/rates-of-traumatic-subdural-hematoma.pdf">reported in the Journal of Neurosurgery</a>, those hospitals alone diagnosed almost 44,000 subdural hematomas in one year. So the researchers estimate there could be more than 200,000 subdural hematoma injuries diagnosed annually at all the hospitals across the country.</p><p>They say an unknown additional number of subdural hematomas are misdiagnosed, or simply missed: Half the patients studied have trouble remembering they hit their heads at all.</p><p>Like Arling. And like Tom Feild, a retired computer systems analyst who used to work for the VA.</p><p>Feild says his own medical mystery began with headaches.</p><p>&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t a constant headache &mdash; it was a low-grade headache. But it wouldn&rsquo;t go away,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Then he was driving his wife on an errand, and he kept drifting across the yellow line.</p><p>&ldquo;I said, &lsquo;Tom, you&rsquo;re going on their side of the road.&rsquo; He said, &lsquo;I know &hellip; I can&rsquo;t seem to help it,&rsquo; &rdquo; Jody Feild says.</p><p>Tom Feild made an appointment with his local doctor. And the next thing he knew, a helicopter was rushing him to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond. Neurosurgeon Bill Broaddus drilled three holes into Feild&rsquo;s skull and vacuumed out roughly 8 ounces of blood that had pooled since he developed a subdural hematoma.</p><p>Broaddus says before the surgery, he asked Feild what type of accident had injured his head. It took awhile before Feild could remember. He had put a sprinkler away under his porch two months earlier and bumped his head against the floorboards when he stood up before backing out all the way.</p><p>&ldquo;We may see 50 to 100 [similar subdural hematomas] here at this institution every year,&rdquo; says Broaddus.</p><p>Brain specialists say it&rsquo;s important to view these injuries in perspective: Most people who get a subdural hematoma will never know it. The brain will reabsorb the blood, the victim&rsquo;s symptoms will disappear, and life will go on as normal. But for tens of thousands of others, it&rsquo;s serious. Doctors say they often see families who think loved ones are getting dementia, and it turns out they hit their heads and have a bleed. Some victims die.</p><p>Researchers like Cifu say you don&rsquo;t need to consult a doctor the second you get a headache. But they say it&rsquo;s sensible, and responsible, to follow some simple guidelines: Consult a physician as soon as possible if the headaches don&rsquo;t go away, or if you begin to have trouble with your balance or feel weakness in your legs or arms. Also, if the way you think starts to seem &ldquo;different,&rdquo; Cifu says.</p><p>Internist Arling says even if it turns out that you do have a bleed, he&rsquo;s living proof that these brain injuries can be cured if you catch them in time.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s so easy to come away from a story like mine, and to feel fragile, and so to worry unnecessarily,&rdquo; Arling says. &ldquo;The body is phenomenally well-designed, and it has a phenomenal ability to heal itself.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/people/4173096/daniel-zwerdling" target="_blank">Daniel Zwerdling</a>, correspondent in NPR&rsquo;s Investigations Unit.</em></p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2016/01/06/brain-injuries-at-home-can-be-difficult-to-detect" target="_blank"><em> via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 13:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-simple-bump-can-cause-insidious-brain-injury-114429 Brain Surgery Serenade: Man Plays Saxophone during Tumor Removal http://www.wbez.org/news/brain-surgery-serenade-man-plays-saxophone-during-tumor-removal-114236 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sax-surgery_wide-8cc1ac0e6640dbb38b83d2bb5d3efdbbcf61e8e4-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res460381214" previewtitle="Carlos Aguilera recently discussed how he played the saxophone during surgery to remove a brain tumor at Regional Hospital of Malaga, in Andalusia, Spain."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Carlos Aguilera recently discussed how he played the saxophone during surgery to remove a brain tumor at Regional Hospital of Malaga, in Andalusia, Spain." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/19/sax-surgery_wide-8cc1ac0e6640dbb38b83d2bb5d3efdbbcf61e8e4-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Carlos Aguilera recently discussed how he played the saxophone during surgery to remove a brain tumor at Regional Hospital of Malaga, in Andalusia, Spain. (Jorge Zapata/EPA /LANDOV)" /></div><div><div><p>The team of doctors who recently operated on Spanish musician Carlos Aguilera&#39;s brain wanted to be sure they didn&#39;t affect his ability to play the saxophone &ndash; so they had him play songs during a 12-hour surgery.</p></div></div></div><p>A partially sedated Aguilera obliged, playing &quot;Misty&quot; and other songs, in addition to reading sheet music. In a video of the procedure, the mellow tones of Aguilera&#39;s saxophone blend in with the normal sounds of an operating room.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fAS6LvWlAAk" width="560"></iframe></p><p>From Madrid, Lauren Frayer reports:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;The 27-year-old was sedated, on painkillers, but remained conscious during the entire multi-hour operation.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Doctors were removing a brain tumor, and wanted to ensure the surgery wouldn&#39;t damage Aguilera&#39;s musical ability. It was the first such surgery of its kind in Europe.</em></p><p><em>&quot;The operation took place in October, and Aguilera recently went public to say he&#39;s been cured &mdash; and continues playing his sax with an orchestra in the southern city of Malaga.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>At a news conference this week, Aguilera&#39;s father told journalists that when his son was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year, he feared the worst &ndash; including the possibility that he might never play music again.</p><p>&quot;Two months ago I was on the table, and now I have a life in front of me,&quot; Aguilera said, according to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.laopiniondemalaga.es/malaga/2015/12/16/cirujanos-carlos-haya-extirpan-tumor/815934.html">La Opinion of Malaga</a>. &quot;I&#39;ve been reborn.&quot;</p><p>Such procedures are meant to protect musicians&#39; primary audio cortex and other parts of the brain that can affect their ability to play. (A story on NPR&#39;s&nbsp;Shots blog today looks at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/12/19/460191654/the-neuroscience-of-musical-perception-bass-guitars-and-drake">The Neuroscience Of Musical Perception, Bass Guitars And Drake</a>.)</p><p>It&#39;s the first time such a case has been reported in Spain; similar measures were taken during recent brain surgeries in the U.S. and elsewhere &mdash; including last summer, when Slovenian opera singer&nbsp;<a href="http://www.classicalmpr.org/story/2015/08/12/opera-singer-performs-during-brain-surgery">Ambroz Bajec-Lapajne</a>&nbsp;sang portions of Franz Schubert&#39;s&nbsp;Gute Nacht&nbsp;during surgery for a brain tumor.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/obiARnsKUAo" width="560"></iframe></p><p>In August, Bajec-Lapajne posted a video of his performance in the operating theater.</p><p>&quot;All is fine until min. 2:40 when things start to get very interesting,&quot; Bajec-Lapajne said of the video. &quot;It&#39;s been more than a year since and I&#39;m doing fine, continuing my professional singing career.&quot;</p><p>Other recent cases include:</p><blockquote><ul><li>In June, guitarist&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/brazilian-man-sings-plays-guitar-brain-surgery-article-1.2246573">Kulkamp Anthony Dias</a>&nbsp;played the Beatles&#39; &quot;Yesterday&quot; and other songs during a surgery to remove a tumor in Brazil.</li><li>Last year, former Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra violinist<a href="http://www.tasmc.org.il/sites/en/Features/Pages/Violinist-undergoes-DBS.aspx">Naomi Elishuv</a>&nbsp;played during a procedure in Tel Aviv to correct tremors that ended her career.</li><li>Also in 2014, American concert violinist&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bustle.com/articles/35791-watch-inspiring-violinist-roger-frisch-play-during-brain-surgery-with-amazing-results-video">Roger Frisch</a>&nbsp;underwent a procedure similar to Elishuv&#39;s to free him from essential tremors.</li><li>In 2008,&nbsp;<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AheadoftheCurve/story?id=5941480&amp;page=1">bluegrass legend Eddie Adcock</a>&nbsp;played banjo during neurosurgery to correct similar involuntary tremors.</li></ul></blockquote><p>&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/19/460380252/brain-surgery-serenade-man-plays-saxophone-during-tumor-removal?ft=nprml&amp;f=460380252" target="_blank"> via NPR</a></em></p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 23:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/brain-surgery-serenade-man-plays-saxophone-during-tumor-removal-114236 Research shows the brain is unisex http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-17/research-shows-brain-unisex-114196 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/male female brain.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There are tests on the internet to help people determine if they have a male or female brain. These tests are based on the assumption that male and female brains are inherently different. But a <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/50/15468">study recently published</a> in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that brains can&#39;t be classified in the binary categories of male or female.</p><p>We speak with <a href="http://people.socsci.tau.ac.il/mu/daphnajoel/">Daphna Joel</a>, one of the study&rsquo;s researchers and head of the psychobiology program at Tel Aviv University, about how they reached their conclusion and why it&rsquo;s significant.</p></p> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 12:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-17/research-shows-brain-unisex-114196 A Peek At Brain Connections May Reveal Attention Deficits http://www.wbez.org/news/peek-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits-113921 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/adhd_custom-c48f2fc521995d9fce44626b3bf579b5a9fc67cc-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457142622" previewtitle="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/23/adhd_custom-c48f2fc521995d9fce44626b3bf579b5a9fc67cc-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div><p>A look at the brain&#39;s wiring can often reveal whether a person has trouble staying focused, and even whether he or she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD.</p></div></div></div><p>A team led by researchers at Yale University&nbsp;<a href="http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nn.4179">reports</a>&nbsp;that they were able to identify many children and adolescents with ADHD by studying data on the strength of certain connections in their brains.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s an intrinsic signature,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://psychology.yale.edu/people/monica-rosenberg">Monica Rosenberg</a>, a graduate student and lead author of the study in&nbsp;Nature Neuroscience.&nbsp;But the approach isn&#39;t ready for use as a diagnostic tool yet, she says.</p><p>The finding adds to the evidence that people with ADHD have a true brain disorder, not just a behavioral problem, says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kennedykrieger.org/patient-care/faculty-staff/mark-mahone">Mark Mahone</a>, director of neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. &quot;There are measurable ways that their brains are different,&quot; he says.</p><p>The latest finding came from an effort to learn more about brain connections associated with attention.</p><p>Initially, the Yale team used&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC162295/">functional MRI</a>, a form of magnetic resonance imaging, to monitor the brains of 25 typical people while they did something really boring. Their task was to watch a screen that showed black-and-white images of cities or mountains and press a button only when they saw a city.</p><p>&quot;It gets really dull after a while,&quot; Rosenberg says, &quot;so it&#39;s really hard to pay attention to over a long period of time.&quot;</p><p>During the test, the team measured the strength of thousands of connections throughout the participants&#39; brains. And they were able to identify certain patterns that predicted a person&#39;s ability to stay focused.</p><p>What&#39;s more, these connection patterns were present even when the person wasn&#39;t trying to keep track of cities and mountains, or anything else, Rosenberg says. &quot;We could actually look at that signature while they were resting and we could still predict their attention,&quot; she says.</p><p>The team wanted to know whether this signature could be used to assess younger people, especially those with ADHD. So they reviewed data on 113 children and adolescents whose brains had been scanned by scientists in China as part of an unrelated study. The children had also been assessed for ADHD.</p><p>The team used the information about brain connections to predict how well each child would do on the attention task with cities and mountains.</p><p>&quot;And what we found was really surprising, and I think really cool,&quot; Rosenberg says. &quot;When we predicted that a child would do really well on the task, they had a low ADHD score. And when we predicted they would do really poorly on the task, they had a high ADHD score, indicating that they had a severe attention deficit.&quot;</p><p>For many of the children, the researchers were able to predict not only whether they had ADHD, but how severe the problem was.</p><p>The test isn&#39;t perfect but does provide useful information, Rosenberg says. Eventually, she says, it might help psychologists and psychiatrists assess children with attention problems.</p><p>One potential limitation of the approach is that attention deficits aren&#39;t found only in people with ADHD, says Mahone. Individuals with anxiety, depression, learning disabilities and autism also have trouble staying focused, he says.</p><p>Regardless of the diagnosis, though, Mahone says, &quot;knowing how the brain is different in a disorder, we can look at ways to help &#39;normalize&#39; the brain.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/23/457139705/a-peek-at-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits?ft=nprml&amp;f=457139705" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/peek-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits-113921 Weak brain connections may link premature birth and later disorders http://www.wbez.org/news/weak-brain-connections-may-link-premature-birth-and-later-disorders-113437 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/premature-baby_custom-8bb72437be80899e67c2f6430df041b7851334fd-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res450032614" previewtitle="Researchers have used MRI scanners to learn that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Researchers have used MRI scanners to learn that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/19/premature-baby_custom-8bb72437be80899e67c2f6430df041b7851334fd-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Researchers have used MRI scanners to learn that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div><p>Babies born prematurely are much more likely than other children to develop autism, ADHD and emotional disorders. Now researchers think they may have an idea about how that could happen.</p></div></div></div><p>There&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Premature-birth-appears-to-weaken-brain-connections.aspx">evidence</a>&nbsp;that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks, including those involved in focus, social interactions, and emotional processing, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.</p><p>A study comparing MRI scans of the brains of 58 full-term babies with those of 76 babies born at least 10 weeks early found that &quot;preterm infants indeed have abnormal structural brain connections,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://wuphysicians.wustl.edu/for-patients/find-a-physician/cynthia-e-rogers">Cynthia Rogers</a>, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.</p><p>&quot;We were really interested that the tracts that we know connect areas that are involved in attention and emotional networks were heavily affected,&quot; Rogers says. That would make it harder for these brain areas to work together to focus on a goal or read social cues or regulate emotions, she says.</p><p>The team used two different types of MRI to study the nerve fibers that carry signals from one part of the brain to another and measure how well different areas of the brain are communicating. Full-term infants were scanned shortly after they were born, while premature infants were scanned near their expected due date.</p><p>The researchers are continuing to monitor the brains of the children in their study to see which ones actually develop disorders.</p><p>Another team attending the neuroscience meeting presented evidence that at least some of the brain connection differences found in preemies at birth are also present during pregnancy.</p><p>The team used new MRI technology that allowed them to study the brains of 36 fetuses during the 30th week of pregnancy. Half the fetuses went on to be delivered prematurely and half went to full term.</p><p>When the researchers looked at connections between areas of the brain involved in movement and balance, the full-term fetuses had &quot;higher levels of connectivity than the preterm born,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://mpsi.wayne.edu/profile/moriah.thomason/">Moriah Thomason</a>, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. This could explain why premature babies often are late to sit up and stand, she says.</p><p>The results suggest that it&#39;s not necessarily premature birth itself causing brain connection problems, Thomason says. Both premature birth and weak brain connections, she says, may be triggered by factors like stress or illness or exposure to toxins.</p><p>The new research does a good job revealing a problem in premature brains, says&nbsp;<a href="https://psychiatry.ucsd.edu/About/faculty/Pages/jay-giedd.aspx">Jay Giedd</a>, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego who was not involved in either study. Now, he says, scientists and doctors will have to find a solution.</p><p>&quot;The trouble is we really don&#39;t know how to change the connections very well,&quot; he says. &quot;Can we do it with video games, exercise, meditation, yoga, diet?&quot;</p><p>Ultimately, Giedd says, it&#39;s likely that repair work on the faulty brain circuits associated with prematurity should begin well before a child is born. It may be possible to stimulate developing brain circuits&nbsp;in utero&nbsp;with sound or something more invasive.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/19/450012150/weak-brain-connections-may-link-premature-birth-and-later-disorders?ft=nprml&amp;f=450012150" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 20 Oct 2015 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/weak-brain-connections-may-link-premature-birth-and-later-disorders-113437 A last chance for a better life http://www.wbez.org/news/science/last-chance-better-life-110781 <p><p>On a warm summer morning, Julia is seated in her kitchen, watching a small flatscreen on a kitchen counter. Julia, 10, smiled as she watched pictures of her family. Meanwhile, her mother Lisa, rummaged through a black and white square bag loaded with pills and bottles. It&rsquo;s Julia&rsquo;s morning routine. A pill crusher is used to grind up the medication. According to Lisa, 11 pills are needed in the morning, more at night.</p><p>Lisa and Julia are using pseudonyms for privacy reasons.</p><p>According to Lisa, Julia is thin for her age because she never has an appetite, something Lisa claimed is a side effect from all the medication. But Lisa said the pills do very little to get her daughter through the day.</p><p>An hour after she took her medicine, Julia wanted to go to a friend&rsquo;s house to see a dog named Wrigley. But she didn&rsquo;t walk to the door to leave. Julia sat frozen on the couch and just stared straight ahead. All of a sudden, Julia screamed &ldquo;Wrigley! I want to see Wrigley!&rdquo;</p><p>She did this for about 10 minutes straight. As she screamed, she leaned forward as her arms and legs stiffened. It was as if she was restrained by some kind of invisible rope.</p><p>Lisa said her daughter&rsquo;s epilepsy isn&rsquo;t the kind which manifests in convulsions. Julia&rsquo;s epilepsy renders her almost motionless. She cried with no tears. This type of seizure can happen at least once a day, sometimes more often at school.</p><p>&ldquo;When we have bad days, they&rsquo;re very bad. I can be crying, the caregiver is crying,&rdquo; said Lisa with a sigh. &ldquo;Because we can&rsquo;t do anything to help her.&rdquo;</p><p>Julia has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. While there&rsquo;s no cure for either, epilepsy is one of 40 illnesses approved in Illinois to be treated with medical marijuana.</p><p>To get it for her daughter, Lisa will have to fill out a nine-page application, including a form signed by Lisa&rsquo;s doctor saying she&rsquo;d benefit from using the drug. Because Julia is a minor, Lisa will get fingerprinted. Many have said that requirement likens them to criminals. I asked Lisa if she&rsquo;s ever thought about doing what hundreds of families have done: moving to Colorado for a special strain of marijuana many say reduces seizures.</p><p>&ldquo;On bad days, yes, I have,&rdquo; said Lisa. &ldquo;But my help is here. My family is here.&rdquo;</p><p>If Julia can use medical marijuana, Lisa hopes she can get it at one of the state&rsquo;s 60 licensed dispensaries in or near her home in McHenry County. Lisa is prepared to get a second opinion if her daughter&rsquo;s doctor doesn&rsquo;t approve.</p><p>&ldquo;Because I would like to see all these medicines diminish and cut back. I mean they have horrible side effects.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Epilepsy2_140909_yp.jpg" style="height: 188px; width: 250px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="“Julia” holds a picture of herself the day she was born. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, epilepsy a year later. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" />Everything from rashes to liver damage and even blindness. For Lisa, and countless others, what some in the medical profession think about using pot to treat serious illnesses has little influence on their decision. The American Medical Association discourages the use of cannabis. But the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago has come out in support of using medical marijuana. There are approximately 130,000 people in the Chicago metro area who suffer from epilepsy. Around 30,000 of them are children.</p><p>&ldquo;There are members of our professional advisory board that kind of felt along the same way that some parents felt (that) trying CBD oil could, in no event, be any worse than what they&rsquo;re already going through,&rdquo; said Kurt Florian, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. &ldquo;Given the successes we&rsquo;ve been hearing about, it would make sense to give it a try.&rdquo;</p><p>The strain of marijuana known to reduce seizures is called Charlotte&rsquo;s Web. It&rsquo;s named after a Colorado girl whose family fought to use it. It has little to no THC levels, the hallucinogenic property in marijuana. But it&rsquo;s high in cannabidiol or CBDs, the component said to reduce the number of seizures.</p><p>&ldquo;We had very motivated parents who had kids having anywhere from 100 to 1,000 seizures a day,&rdquo; Florian said. &ldquo;And witnessing the devastating impact those seizures were having on their children, we&rsquo;d love to see marijuana, CBD oil available in Illinois.&rdquo;</p><p>If the American Medical Association is opposed to it and the Epilepsy Foundation supports for it, an organization representing more than 140 thousand doctors, is somewhere in the middle. The American College of Physicians doesn&rsquo;t advocate using outright. But it wants more research to see whether it helps. Dr. David Fleming is the organization&rsquo;s president.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re attempting to garner is a better handle on that data,&rdquo; said Fleming. &ldquo;A handle on the science. So that we can advise our patients more effectively.&rdquo;</p><p>To do that, the federal government has to declassify the drug, now listed as a Schedule 1. That&rsquo;s in the same category as heroin. That restructuring could be more than a decade away. But some people aren&rsquo;t waiting years to get medical marijuana. Some aren&rsquo;t even waiting until next spring when it would be available in Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;Mike&rdquo; from Rockford has traveled to Colorado a few times to get the prized CBD oil for his son, who suffers from autism and epilepsy. Mike doesn&rsquo;t want his real name used. He knows he broke a few laws that carry prison time if caught. When I bring up the consequences, he shrugged his shoulders, unfazed.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not breaking any laws so that we can enrich ourselves,&rdquo; said Mike. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not harmful to nobody if it&rsquo;s going to help him.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Reporter/anchor Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a>&nbsp;&amp; <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 07:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/last-chance-better-life-110781 Music and the brain http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/music-and-brain-106900 <p><p>Music surrounds us &mdash; but why does this art form take such a dominant role in our lives? What happens in our mind when we hear music and how does it effect our emotions? Even with passive listening to music, specific parts of the brain can show activation or increased &ldquo;neural&rdquo; activity. What is it about music that can so dramatically affect brain activity? &nbsp;Are there things that we can learn from music, and its effect on the brain that can help treat people with neurological and cognitive disorders? &nbsp;These are questions that our panel addressed on . Panelists include&nbsp;<strong>Neelum Aggarwal MD</strong>, Associate Professor of neurological sciences, Rush University Medical Center and KV 265 Board member; and <strong>Dr. Hans C. Breiter</strong>, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Scientific Director of the Warren Wright Adolescent Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/C2ST-webstory_11.jpg" title="" /></div><p>This event was recorded March 13, 2013 at &nbsp;Northwestern University&#39;s Hughes Auditorium.</p></p> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 11:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/music-and-brain-106900 Clever Apes #31: ¿Habla usted simio? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/clever-apes/2012-06/clever-apes-31-%C2%BFhabla-usted-simio-99831 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lang%20books.jpg" title="(flickr/Fiona Bradley)" /></p><p style="text-align: left; ">Exact statistics are hard to come by, but it is generally accepted that a majority of the world&rsquo;s population speaks more than one language. In the U.S., census data shows that about 20 percent of people speak a language other than English at home. That number has been steadily growing, but it doesn&#39;t account for all the people who learned a foreign language in school, or for some other purpose.</p><p>With that in mind, if we want to better understand how the brain works, how it processes sound and language, it might be a good idea to study the brains of bilingual people. In <a href="http://www.communication.northwestern.edu/departments/csd/research/bilingualism_psycholinguistics/">Northwestern&rsquo;s Bilingualism and Psycholinguistics Laboratory</a>, Dr. Viorica Marian is concerned with doing just that. The lab does research examining the differences of bilingual people in learning and memory from those with a single language.&nbsp;</p><p>In a paper recently published in <a href="http://www.pnas.org/">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, Dr. Marian&rsquo;s lab teamed up with the <a href="http://www.soc.northwestern.edu/brainvolts/">Auditory Neuroscience Lab</a> lead by Dr. Nina Kraus. Graduate student Jen Krizman lead research that uncovered an interesting difference in the way that a <a href="http://www.soc.northwestern.edu/brainvolts/slideshows/bilingualism/index.php">bilingual brain processes sound</a>.&nbsp;Researchers have known that bilinguals excel at tasks that test their attention and this recent <a href="http://www.soc.northwestern.edu/brainvolts/documents/Krizman_et_al_PNAS_2012.pdf">collaboration</a> has helped explain why. &nbsp;</p><p>If you are bilingual, you are always going to have both languages active when you are communicating. So you constantly have to inhibit one language as you engage the other one. Having this bilingual experience leads to advantages in ability to inhibit irrelevent information. Being able to pay better attention changes the way the brain responds to sound and how you are able to focus on the important features of a sound. Basically, the bilingual brain shapes itself into a more efficient sound processor...C&#39;est incroyable!</p><p>In this episode, we also talked with <a href="http://psychology.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/bkeysar.shtml">Dr. Boaz Keysar</a>. He studies language and decision making at the University of Chicago. In a <a href="http://psychology.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/ForeignLanguageEffect.pdf">recent paper</a>, he showed that when people think in their second language, they are less affected by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases">decision biases</a>. In a nutshell, he showed that people make different decisions based on the language they&#39;re using.</p><p>It is important to note that the subjects in his experiments were different from those in the Northwestern paper. In the Northwestern experiments, the subjects learned their second language early in life. Dr. Keysar&#39;s work dealt with people who learned a second language later.</p><p>This is important because Keysar&#39;s theory for why thinking in a second language lessens the effect of decision bias like &quot;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_effect_(psychology)">the framing effect</a>&quot; and &quot;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion">loss aversion</a>&quot; has to do with the emotional distance a second language provides. A native tongue has a stronger connection to the emotional part of the brain than the second language does. &nbsp;Keysar suggests that thinking in a second language is more analytical because it is not as emotionally anchored. &nbsp;So be careful what language you think in...it could literally change your mind.</p><p>No matter what language you&#39;re thinking in, don&rsquo;t forget to subscribe to our&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-clever-apes/id379051174">podcast</a>, follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, and find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p></p> Wed, 06 Jun 2012 06:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/clever-apes/2012-06/clever-apes-31-%C2%BFhabla-usted-simio-99831