Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On the road again

I'm on the road for business starting tomorrow (11-28-06) and will return late Friday (12-1-06). Blog posts may be minimal. I shall return.

Mental timing and reading ach study "in press"

The following manuscript has been accepted for publication in the journal Psychology in the Schools. Yes...I am a coauthor and readers should check out my prior conflict of interest disclosure notice regarding my involvement as an external consultant to Interactive Metronome.

I will post more information once the article is formally published.
  • Taub, G., McGrew, K. & Keith, T. (in press). Improvements in interval time tracking and effects on reading achievement. Psychology in the Schools.
  • This paper examines the effect of improvements in timing/rhythmicity on students’ reading achievement. A total of 86 participants, attending a public charter school receiving Title 1 funding, completed pre- and post-test measures of reading achievement from the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement (Woodcock, McGrew, Mather, 2001), Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1999a), Test of Word Reading Efficiency (Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1999b), and Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency (Mather, Hamil, Allen, & Roberts, 2004). Students in the experimental group participated in a 4 week intervention designed to improve their timing/rhythmicity by reducing the latency in their response to a synchronized metronome beat, referred to as a synchronized metronome tapping (SMT) intervention. The intervention required, on average, 15 daily 50 minute sessions. The results from this non-academic intervention indicate the experimental group’s post-test scores on select measures of reading were significantly higher than the non-treatment control group’s scores at the end of 4 weeks. This paper provides a brief overview of domain-general cognitive abilities believed effected by SMT interventions and provides a preliminary hypothesis to explain how a non-academic intervention designed to improve timing/rhythmicity can demonstrate a statistically significant effect on students’ reading achievement scores.
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Monday, November 27, 2006

Issue 12 of Synapse neuroscience carnival

Issue 12 of the Synapse, a neuroscience carnival, is now available via Dr. Deborah Serani's blog

Drug pillow presents: Just in time for XMAS

Thanks to Omni Brain for the FYI re: drug (e.g., zoloft, prozac) pillows. Just in time for XMAS shopping

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More on Dore firestorm

Thanks for Myomancy for the continuing coverage of the ongoing complaints and conflict of interest issues that have recently surfaced regarding the Dore cerebellum-based treatment program (click here for prior post and more information)

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cerebellum-based treatment program controversy

I've never done any reading or investigation of the Dore cerebellum-based treatment program for ADHD and dyslexia. Apparently the program, and the methods used to promote/sell it, are in the midst of some kind of controversy. I have little to add.

This is an FYI post to a story at the Myomancy blog, a blog that has posts with extensive links that one can follow to learn more about this brain-based treatment and surrounding issues and controversies.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Temporal "g" added to "key research articles"

I just added Rammsayer and Brandler's (in press; Intelligence) "Temporal g" article to the "Key Research Articles" section of this blog. That now makes three key mental or interval time-keeping articles listed as "key" to understanding this domain.

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Working memory and mental timing

I've previously attempted to summarize the gist of the conclusions of Dr. Penny Lewis (see "Mental timing scholars" section of the IQ Brain Clock) on the important association between mental/interval time-keeping and working memory. In addition, I recently posted a series of PowerPoint slides (see "On-line PPT slides" section of the IQ Brain Clock) where, if you take time to view the entire show, you will see that I've hypothesized that working memory (and other related neuropsychological constructs of executive function; controlled executive attention) most likely plays a prominent role in performance on SMT (synchronized metronome tapping) performance tasks, and, may be a causative factor in explaining the benefits of SMT-based training (e.g., Interactive Metronome).

Below are a few snipets from Dr. Lewis important paper ("Remembering the time: A continuous clock - a viewable copy is under the "Key research articles" section of this blog) that links working memory and the brain's master internal clock.
  • Behavioural evidence that working memory and time measurement draw upon the same cognitive resources stems from dual-task studies showing interference between these two types of processing. Both visuospatialand phonological working memory tasks disrupt timing, and the extent of such disruption has been shown to correlate with the extent of working memory load (e.g. number of items to be remembered, number of syllables to be rehearsed or degrees of mental rotation).
  • Turning to pharmacology, manipulations targeting working memory can also disrupt cognitive timing.
  • Additional evidence linking time perception to working memory stems from the observation that both are modulated by dopamine, a neurotransmitter which regulates activity throughout much of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex. The influence of prefrontal dopaminergic projections upon working memory is well documented
  • Because the basal ganglia are heavily innervated by dopamine, and because their function is severely disrupted in Parkinson’s disease, the influence of dopamine on subjective time measurement has typically been interpreted as support for the central role of these structures in timing.
  • Overall, the data on dopamine suggest a selective influence of prefrontal dopamine on more cognitive timing tasks, thus implying that this form of timing might be mediated via the same dopamine-sensitive processors as working memory.
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Interactive metronome and CAPD treatment

A little internet mouse alerted me to the following dissertation, a dissertation that investigated the effect of synchronized metronome tapping (SMT - using the Interactive Metronome protocol) on central auditory processing disorders (CAPD). This investigation must only be considered a small pilot/clinical trial given that only 8 subjects were treated. Replication in larger samples is needed.
  • The Effect of Interactive Metronome Training on Children’s SCAN-C Scores. Etra, Joel L., 2006: Applied Dissertation, Nova Southeastern University, Fischler School of Education and Human Services. Auditory Perception/Auditory Training/ Auditory Tests/Audiology. (click here for a copy I was able to secure)
  • In this study, the effect of Interactive Metronome, a treatment for attention deficit that requires the subject to match a computer generated rhythm, on auditory processing in male and female children ages nine to fourteen was investigated. Eight children were administered the SCAN-C and then were given the 15-hour Interactive Metronome training and administered the SCAN-C again. SCAN-C raw scores showed a significant increase (p = .002). SCAN-C subtests of dichotic listening showed greater improvements than the other subtests. It is suggested that Interactive Metronome may affect auditory processing disorders by influencing neurological organization. It was concluded that Interactive Metronome could be an effective treatment for disorders of auditory processing. Potential difficulties in the provision of Interactive Metronome were discussed. Additional research was suggested with larger and more diverse samples as well as different trainers. More research into the design of the Interactive Metronome training schedule was also suggested.

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Motor imagery and neurotechnologies

Plastinated brains

Thanks to Mind Hacks for the tip re: the Plastinated Brain website, which includes some amazing images of brain structures that have been preserved via plastination.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tech tidbit - WOW--I want this toy

Thanks to Mixing Memory for the link to a YouTube video that demonstrates a COOL new design drawing tool. I also want it for XMAS. I think it would be fun to use such a tool to design new forms of intelligence and achievement test items that include motion and movement.

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Mental timing interventions for sports

I just added a new feature to the IQ Brain Clock. On the right side of this blog is a new section called "Timing Interventions." In this section I'm going to provide links to any intervention programs I locate that implicitly or explicitly seem to be dealing with the brain's master internal clock (interval or mental time-keeping).

To date I am only aware of two such programs. One, which I've mentioned before is Interactive Metronome (please click here for a conflict of interest disclosure). The second, which is advertised as a separate product, is actually the IM program adapted for sports. In particular, IM has produced a product called the Groove, which is marketed as a method for improving golf performance. You can check out the claims and watch some videos at the Groove web page.

Also....while poking around the Groove web site I found a video (the ESPN Game Day icon/link on their page) that shows that the IM program was used to improve college football player performance at Notre Dame. Be aware, these are largely testimonials. When and if I can locate any actual empirical studies to support these claims, I'll make the appropriate post.

If any reader can direct me to empirical reports that support the sports performance enhancement via SMT (synchronoized metronome tapping), please drop me a note via the "comment" feature.

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SpinalAssist robot technology

Thanks to engadget for the interesting post about research on the development of the SpineAssist robot that could be used to "tour" the spinal canal while taking pictures.

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ADHD brain self-regulation treatment

Thanks to Positive Technology Journal for the tip regarding a new study in the journal Pediatrics that investigated the efficacy of self-regulation treatment (of slow cortical potentials via feedback) for ADHD. Very interesting use of neurotechnology (neurofeedback) for ADHD. PTJ provides a nice summary, so no sense repeating it hear. My contribution is to make a pdf copy of the article available for viewing.

Encephalon 11 brain carnival

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cerebellum differential time-keeping role

This is a follow-up post up on my prior posts regarding the three major systems of timing, the brain functions/structures involved in mental/interval time-keeping, and research implicating the brains master time clock in certain clinical disorders (click here)

According to Buhusi and Meck (2006), research has suggested that impaired mental/interval time-keeping in the seconds-to-minutes range is found in patients with disorders that involve dopaminergic pathways (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease,and schizophrenia. Coupled with research that has studied the impact of lesions in the cerebellum, these authors conclude that "the striatum and cerebellum are involved in different aspects of timing and time perception. Although the cerebellum is not essential for interval timing, it is required for correct millisecond timing"

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Neuroscience of smell and taste

Thanks to Mind Hacks for the tip re: an article in Nature about our senses of smell and flavor. This is a nice follow-up to my recent post (The nose "knows") re: recent research on the importance of Go (olfactory) abilities in the CHC taxonomy of human cognitive abilities.

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Brain images and movies: SPL site

I just stumbled across a great site for images and brief movies of various human functions, and the brain in particular. Check out the Surgical Planning Laboratory (at Harvard) site. Click on the image gallery link....and then enjoy

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

SharpBrains feature added

I continue to tinker with the focus and direction of the IQ Brain Clock blog. As noted in the blog description, aside from a primary focus on mental time-keeping research, interesting neuroscience research, particularly that related to education, is another focus.

As I've started to monitor more neuroscience-related blogs, I've become increasingly interested in the neurotechnology/brain fitness movement.

Given the above, I've decided that I should not attempt to reinvent the wheel and should let "the" blog in this domain (SharpBrains) speak for itself, and I should simply provide an automatic RSS feed mechanism for readers. Thus, beneath the RSS topic feed from my "mother" blog (IQs Corner), I've now added an RSS feed feature for recent topics posted at SharpBrains. Readers can now readily keep track of whats "happening" over at SharpBrains and then click and go to the mother source.

I hope readers find this useful.

Biofeedback to help students do better on tests?

A tip-of-that hat to SharpBrains for the FYI post about an article in Technology and Learning Magazine about how a school system is using a PC-based biofeedback program with third graders to "calm" students down before taking tests. I'd like to see an actual controlled study, but the anecdotal reports of higher test scores are interesting.

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Holiday brain book guide

Looking to keep up with the most current books dealing with the brain? Looking for brain book gifts for the holidays?

Thanks to Neuroethics Law Blog for an extensive post (with many links) to many of the hot new brain books.

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Interactive Metronome keynote PPT slides posted: New blog feature

I've added a new feature to the IQ Brain Clock blog. You can see a new section on the right side, down a bit, called "On-line PPT slides." I plan to post any relevant PPT slides related to the purpose of this blog. Currently only one set has been posted..."Interactive Metronome: Whats happening under the hood?"
This was my keynote presentation as an external speaker at the October, 2006 IM conference in Austin, TX. See prior posts regarding my external consultant/evaluator potential "conflict of interest" with regard to IM.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Improve Human Intelligence - new blog

I just ran across a new blog called "Improve Human Intelligence." IHI was nice enough to feature and make some nice comments about this humble blog (Tick Tock Talk: The IQ Brain Clock). I will be adding IHI to my blogroll and will monitor it's activity and make FYI-relevant posts at this location.

Thanks IHI.

IQ Brain Clock blog remodeled

I just finished upgrading my Blogger service for this blog and, in the process, decided to remodel the appearance of the IQ Brain Clock blog. It now has a new look and feel. More important are a few new features:

  • "Labels" have been added to all posts. As you can see by inspecting the right margin of the blog, this provides for a blog index under the "labels" section.
  • A feed notifying you of recent posts from my sister blog (IQs Corner) is also now available.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Time "flies"...time is a "drag": Temporal awareness

[Double click on image to enlarge]

"Boy..time just flew"
......or......."time just seemed to drag on, and on, and on."

What are some possible explanations for these different subjective perceptions of time? According to Zakay (1992; I drew this information from a chapter by Wearden), the answer may lie in the construct of temporal awareness, which is derived from how important time is during a task (temporal relevance) and how much uncertainty an individual has about the duraton of certain events (temporal uncertainty)

As per Wearden's chapter (note - examine the model figure above to help understand the text--italics emphasis are the blogmasters):

  • "According to Zakay, some real-life situation is judged by the participant on the basis of past experience or expectation, in terms of two-dimensions: temporal relevance (how important time is in the task), and temporal uncertainty (how much uncertainty the participant has about the time of event occurrences, or their duration). The outcome variable in Zakay’s model is “temporal awareness”: if this is high, then the passage of time seems very slow (time seems to “drag”), whereas if it is low, then time can seem to “fly.” A situation judged to have very low temporal relevance will induce little temporal awareness, and the passage of time will be subjectively rapid (although a subsequent retrospective time judgment may be long). A high level of temporal relevance can be associated with high or low level levels of temporal uncertainty. Even if the time of some event is critical, then temporal awareness is reduced if uncertainty is reduced (by providing cues as to when the event will occur, for example, or in conditions where things “run like clockwork”). High levels of temporal relevance coupled with high levels of temporal uncertainty produce a high level of temporal awareness, where a person focuses continually on the passage of time, which consequently seems very slow. Consistent with these ideas, “waiting room” situations produce high temporal awareness, and consequently time seems to drag in them, because (a) time is highly relevant, when waiting for a train or plane, for example, and (b) the exact moment when the train, or plane, arrives can be uncertain, particularly in error-prone transport systems such as the UK-railways at the time of writing."
  • "An important variable might be the amount of attention allocated to temporal and nontemporal aspects of situations (see Brown, 1997, for a review of research). If a person can maintain attention on something other than the passage of time (watching an exciting film, for example), then temporal awareness may be reduced, and time may seem to fly during the time period.
So....the next time you are in a situation where time seems to "drag on, and on, and on....", or, conversely, time seems to "fly"...if you are wondering why you have such different subjective perceptions, remember the above model figure and do a self-assessment of your level of "temporal awareness"...it might, at least, help you cognitively cope/understand with your time perceptions.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mental time keeping scholar - Dr. John Wearden

In a prior post I announced the IQ Brain Clock blog "Mental Timing Scholars" link section. I've now expanded this scholar honor roll to three reseachers (Meck, Lewis, and now Wearden). This post is to highlight Dr. John Wearden's program of research.

Below is a statement (lifted from his faculty web page) re: his mental interval time-keeping program of research. He is a scholar whose research this blog will monitor and summarize at it becomes available. What I very much appreciate, and readers of this blog should "check out"...is his list of publications...which includes links to pdf copies of all articles (so you can read and view everything he has done). Kudos to Dr. Wearden.
  • For the last 15-20 years I have worked more or less exclusively on the perception of time. A specific area of interest has been the application of scalar timing theory (SET), originally developed as an explanation of timing in animals, to studies of time perception in humans. SET is an internal-clock-based model of timing, but in addition involves short- and long-term memory components, and decision processes. My research has investigated all these areas: studies of “speeding up” and “slowing down” the pacemaker of the clock (both with adults and children), studies of working memory and “reference” memory for duration, and manipulation of decision processes involved in timing. The most recent research involves attempts to control the operation of the putative internal clock, work on all sorts of memory for duration, and attempts to manipulate the “references” that people use when making time judgements. I have been involved in studies of timing in children, elderly people, patients with Parkinson's disease and, most recently, schizophrenia. An additional area of interest is animal timing. Although I do not carry out experiments on animals, I am engaged in computer and mathematical models of animal timing, as well as other theoretical issues. In general, a substantial proportion of my output is theoretical, mainly using computer modelling to test theories derived from SET, but also other areas such as modelling the process of chronometric counting. I have long-standing collaborations with researchers at the University of Liège in Belgium , and the University Blaise-Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand , France , and have recently begun a collaboration with researchers at the Hopital St. Anne in Paris .
  • I hope to begin an extensive research programme on timing in the elderly, in particular the question of why distortions of subjective time in everyday life are so frequently mentioned by old people, and what these reports mean. Conventional laboratory studies of timing in the elderly find fairly consistent, albeit small, changes in time perception with age, albeit changes which seem far too slight to account for the subjective reports of older people. In a recent article, I have argued that much previous research on timing in old people (including my own) is “barking up the wrong tree”, and that novel methodologies are needed if old people's time experiences are to be properly understood. Some work in this area can be done with student participants, and preliminary data on some potentially relevant variables has already been collected.

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Teach your brain to stretch time

In my late night web searching I ran across an excellent summary news article that does a decent job of summarizing the broad strokes of contemporary mental time-keeping research. The article "Teach your brain to stretch time" was published at New Scientist.com.

The article highlights the pacemaker-accumulator model of timing and also indicates that another alternative model (coincidence detection model) is gaining status among mental time-keeping researchers. I hope to provide a brief summary of the coincidence detection model sometime soon.

This news type summary article does a good job of summarizing the gist of the major mental time-keeping research. It is worth the read and is a good non-technical article to share with others.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mental interval timing interventions - feature on IM

To date, the only intervention I'm aware of, that appears to deal with fine-tunning the brain's master mental/interval timing clock, is Interactive Metronome, a synchronized metronome tapping intervention. [Click here to see potential conflicts of interest - primarily being paid to be an external project evaluation consultant on a study].

For those unfamiliar with the IM method, a brief introductory video can be found at the IM site (click here).

At this time, I'm making a request of readers of this blog. If you know of other brain-based brain-fitness programs that focus on fine-tuning the minds master internal clock, or, indirectly appear to have an impact on the minds internal clock, please drop me a note. I want to find as many interventions relevant to this area of study as possible. Either post a "comment" at this blog or email me at: iap@earthlink.net


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IQs Corner Headlines from the mind and brain blogsphere 11-7-06

FYI. Readers of the IQ Brain Clock Blog (this blog) may find my frequent posting of IQs Corner Headlines from the mind and brain blogsphere of interest. Briefly, the headlines I post allow readers to see more of the topics that I select from when monitoring different blogs related to the purpose of IQs Corner. More importantly, the links to the stories are included in the "headlines" and you can rummage around these other blog posts at your leisure. Some of these will interest folks of IQ Brain Clock. Check it out, and if you like it, keep regular tabs on IQs Corner.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mental timing scholar feature: Dr. Penny Lewis

In a prior post I announced the IQ Brain Clock blog "Mental Timing Scholars" link section. One of the two (I'm sure there are more...this "honor roll" will be updated) researchers is Dr. Penny Lewis, at the University of Manchester.

Below is a statement (lifted from her faculty web page) re: her mental interval time-keeping program of research. She is a scholar whose research this blog will monitor and summarize at it becomes available.
  • "Time measurement is fundamental to almost everything we do: music and speech, for instance, are just time-coded variations in sound, and movements are carefully timed contractions of muscles. We perceive our lives as a flow of events in time, and plan our futures in the same way. If our timing system gets damaged, as it does in patients with Parkinson’s Disease, Schizophrenia, and certain types of brain injury, all of these abilities can be impaired. A fundamental question about time measurement is whether we have just one mental clock or a number of different clocks for timing in this range. I am using fMRI and temporary brain lesions induced using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to address this question. To date, my findings support the existence of two quite distinct systems for automatic and cognitively controlled timing. Future work will clarify this picture and provide more information about how each system works."

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

New IQ Brain Clock blog features: Blogroll and "scholars"

This evening I've added two new features to the Tick Tock Talk: IQ Brain Clock blog. On the right-hand side of the blog you will find the "blogroll" and "mental timing scholars."

I simply lifted the neuroscience-related links I include at my mother-ship blog (IQs Corner) and placed them here. The "scholars" section simply reflects those researchers I've found via my reading in this area..and they appear to be top-notch researchers in mental time keeping.

At this time I'm asking for help. I'd like folks to send me (either via the blog "comment" feature of this blog; or via my email [iap@earthlink.net]) other blogs to consider adding to the blogroll and nominations (with URL's to web pages if possible) of researchers/scholars who are doing important research in this area.

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Synchronized metronome tapping (SMT) and the automatic/controlled timing systems of the brain

In a prior post, I highlighted a distinction contemporary mental time-keeping researchers make regarding two general types of human timing systems. Briefly, the automatic timing system works in the millisecond range of time, is used in discrete-event (discontinuous) timing, and involves the cerebellum. This contrasts with the continuous-event, cognitively controlled timing system that requires attention and involves the basal ganglia and related cortical structures.

In their article, Lewis and Maill (2006) provide further clarification of how they perceive differences between these two mental timing systems. According to Lewis and Maill, "it is not any single characteristic, but rather a constellation of several characteristics which determines which timing system is recruited in any particular task." The three task characteristics isolated by these researchers are: (a) the duration measured, (b) whether or not the timed intervals were defined by movement and, (c) whether timing was continuous (e.g. an unbroken series of predictable intervals) or intermittent (e.g. broken into discrete measurements by the presence of unpredictable irregular intervals).

Lewis and Maill conclude that "our analysis showed that having any two out of the three characteristics associated with a task type (cognitive or automatic) dramatically increased the probability that the areas associated with that timing system would be recruited. Accordingly, we can think of any task having two or more cognitive attributes (e.g. measuring more than a second, discontinuously, and without relying upon movement) as a ‘cognitively controlled timing task’, and any task with two or more of the opposing characteristics as an ‘automatic timing task’."

How does this apply to understanding the brain structures and functions involved in SMT (synchronized metronome tapping; e.g., Interactive Metronome)? [click here for from info on SMT and IM and my necessary conflict of interest disclosures...just follow the link trails].

Given my understanding (and one personal experience with an SMT intervention), I would hypothesize that SMT interventions most likely tap both the automatic and controlled cognitive timing systems (and related neurological structures and functions). SMT-based interventions typically invovle a motor component (e.g., clapping hands together to the beat), a continuous tone interval, and require responding in terms of milliseconds. These characteristics definetely would be associated with the automatic timing system.

However, although an individual (during SMT training) is trying to synchronoize their tapping in terms of milliseconds, the duration between the continuous tones is more in the range of a second or so. Also, expecially during initial stages of SMT, an individual's working memory [see prior post on the pacemaker accumulator model of mental time-keeping] is partcularly taxed as one monitors the SMT visual and/or auditory feedback provided, makes a decision about whether they are responding "too fast" or "too slow", and then conciouslly implements a correction to their "beat" behavior. These later characteristics are more characteristic of the cognitively controlled timing system.

So...it is my hypothesis that both the automatic and cognitively controlled timing systems of mental or interval time-keeping are inolved with SMT-based interventions. It is possible that both are significantly active during early stages of SMT training and, with improvement and progress over time, the role of the cognitively controlled system decreases and the automatic system is more responsible. These are only hypothesis and need empirical study.

  • Lewis, P. & Miall, C (2006). Remembering the time: a continuous clock. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(9), 401-406.

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Blogging as a form of brain fitness training

This is a bit off task for The IQ Brain Clock blog, but, heck....I'm the blog dictator and can do what I want :)

Over on my other blog (IQs Corner) I just posted some interesting information about the potential cognitive/brain enhancements that might result from blogging.

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Cognitive Neuroscience and ADD/ADHD - from SharpBrains

Thanks to Sharp Brains for the post summarizing some of the recent developments regarding our understanding of brain structures and functions (role of frontal lobes; executive functioning; etc) and treatment (via brain fitness programs) of ADD/ADHD

SharpBrains continues to be great source for information regarding the use of neurotechology to enhance cognitive functioning.

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FYI - growth factor for motor neurons

An interesting story over at Science Daily re: a positive report of a growth factor that may stimulate the rapid extension of key motor neurons in the brain.

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