Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The brain clock in children: How early?

Again, more from my reading of Meck's edited text on the brain clock and interval timing. This time from Sylvie Droit-Volet's chapter on "Temporal experience and timing in children." Dr. Droit-Volet has published extensively on the developmental aspects of the brain clock in children. [I've got at least a half dozen of her articles in my "to read" folder....I just don't have enough time]

Below are some select quotes/conclusions. The bottom line (from my reading) is that the human temporal processing unit (aka. the brain block) is present in young children and research suggests it functions, in most respects, similar to the adult brain clock. One similarity is that auditory information appears to be processed more efficiently by the human brain clock. Also, attention is a critical ability in temporal processing. Below are some tidbits from the chapter (emphasis added by the Time Doc blogmaster).
  • These findings suggest that the clock-based system underlying time perception in animals and human adults is functional at an early age.
  • There is ample evidence that auditory stimuli are judged longer than equivalent visual stimuli, and visual stimuli shorter than auditory ones....Thus, for the same the same objective duration, more pulses are accumulated for auditory signals than for visual signals, and the subjective time seems longer.
  • However, it has been argued that differences in pacemaker speed are not the main source of variability in a timing system...In fact, according to scalar timing theory, the main source of variance is in the memory-encoding process.

  • The greater sensitivity to duration for auditory than for visual stimuli in younger children suggests a sort of primacy of audition over vision in the processing off temporal information. This is an old idea, already put forward by studies in infants perception of temporal characteristics of speech sound and rhythms.
  • The most critical process in children's abilities to time events is probably the encoding of duration.
  • Difficulties in the encoding of duration can also account for the high variability in the memory representation of the standard duration in young children. Indeed, the memory representation is the result of how it has been encoded. Among the cognitive processes involved in the encoding of duration, we have specifically investigated the of attention. 202
  • Psychologists agree that the amount of attentional resources increases with age durring early development.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top 50 brain teasers from Sharp Brains

The Sharp Brains blog, for which I provide automatic topic feeds (to this blog--check out right hand side of this blog page), has another specific post worth mentioning.

Check out their Top 50 Brain Teasers and Games for Adults (with a neuroscience angle).

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Time Doc Byte # 4 - Brain clock and attention

Bingo! As I've hypothesized in my ramblings and recent presentations, attention (more specifically, what I believe to be executive controlled attention) is viewed as crucial to an efficient internal brain clock.

Again, quoting from from Meck (2003); Introduction to edited book - Functional and Neural Mechanisms of Interval Timing). [Underline or italic emphasis added by blogmaster.]

  • A number of researchers have presented psychophysical data suggesting that duration judgments depend on the amount of attentional resources allocated to a temporal processor or internal clock.
  • These data provide strong and convincing evidence for the role of attentional time-sharing in interval timing.

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Time Doc Byte # 3 - Brain clock importance and clinical groups

Here is my third Time Doc Byte. Categories - "importance" of the human brain clock and mental time-keeping; relevance to clinical groups/populations

This time the quotes come from a chapter from Meck (2003); Introduction to edited book - Functional and Neural Mechanisms of Interval Timing - yep, I've got the book and am hoping I can get through the technical and deep material - the book is listed as a "recommended book" on the right side of this blog).

Underline or italic emphasis added by blogmaster.

  • The term interval timing is used to describe the temporal discrimination processes involved in the estimation and reproduction of relatively short during the seconds-to-minutes range that form the fabric of our everyday existence and unite our mental representations of actions and rhythmical structures.
  • Human learning and memory is highly sensitive to temporal factors, and oscillator-based models have been proposed for the coding of serial order in memory...In addition, deficits in learning, memory, set shifting, and interval timing have been observed in a variety of patient populations with damage to the basal ganglia, including Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease patients, as well as other cortical and subcortical brain structures affected by Alzheimer's disease, injury, and stroke.
  • ...understanding temporal integration by the brain will be among the premier topics to unite systems, cellular, computational, and cognitive neuroscience over the next decade.
  • It is interesting to note that some researchers have argued that a primary function of the internal clock is to allow for the efficient transfer of information from one stage of information processing to another at regularly spaced intervals.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Metronome training improves reading achievement

I previously blogged (a self-serving plug) about an "in press" research article that demonstrated that a mental-timing based intervention (Interactive Metronome; IM) improved reading achievement in elementary school children. The research summarized in this article suggests that a brain-based intervention may improve the resolution of a school child's internal brain clock and, in turn, produce positive reading achievement outcomes. [Check out my prior post for a necessary conflict of interest disclosure.] here for additional IM-related posts (@ the IQ Brain Clock) and mental time-keeping posts at my sister blog (IQ's Corner).

Below is the reference citation (with link to pdf copy of the article) and abstract.

This is exciting stuff. If the reader wants additional information regarding possible reasons for the success of this intervention, check out the Time Doc's recent IM Keynote PowerPoint presentation.

In addition, I've added this article to the "key research articles" section of this blog.

  • Taub, G., McGrew, K. & Keith, T. (2007). Improvements in interval time tracking and effects on reading achievement, Psychology in the Schools, 44 (8), 849-863. (click here to view)
  • This study examined the effect of improvements in timing/rhythmicity on students’ reading achievement. 86 participants completed pre- and post-test measures of reading achievement (i.e., Woodcock-Johnson III, Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing, Test of Word Reading Efficiency, and Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency). Students in the experimental group completed 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 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 this non-academic intervention can demonstrate a statistically significant effect on students’ reading achievement scores.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Geekipedia @ Wired Magazine

[Double click on image to enlarge]

I'm just returning from a trip to Calgary, Canada. Prior to jumping on the plane I picked up a copy of Wired Magazine. I found a very cool extractable insert called Geekipedia. I must be a "geek" as I enjoyed reading the alphabetically listed definitions and explanations of important people, places, ideas and trends, primarily related to the internet and technology. I'm going to add this to my RSS feeds to keep up on new additions.

I particularly liked the visual-graphic for "neurologism"

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Brain augmentation technology

Thanks to the Frontal Cortex for the FYI post regarding comments (at the MIT Tech Review site) by neuroscientist Ed Boyden addressing issues surrounding the use of technology to augment human abilities.

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Brain Blogging carnival #18 available

The 18th edition of the Brain Blogging brain carnival is now available.

Time Doc Byte #2: Importance of the brain clock

Here is my second Time Doc Byte. Category - "importance" of the human brain clock and mental time-keeping. This time quotes from Lewis and Walsh (2005; see "Components of the brain's clock" in the Key Research Articles section.) Emphasis added by the Time Doc blogmaster.

Clearly Dr. Lewis et al believe that some kind of internal brain clock exists, but our understanding how it works, the brain mechanisms involved, etc., is still in a stage of formative development.
  • We know the human brain contains some kind of clock, but determining its neural underpinnings and teasing apart its components have proven difficult.
  • The holy grail of timing research is to understand the ‘time-dependent process’: a mechanism equivalent to a piezoelectric crystal in a man-made clock or the movement of a shadow on a sundial. This has proven an elusive goal, to the extent that ideas about how this mechanism might work remain near the level of conjecture. Researchers have had great difficulty in pinning timing-related activity in the brain to any specific type of function. This is largely because most time measurement tasks draw upon more than one process, making it difficult to tease the various components apart.

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Time Doc Byte # 1: Historical mental timing note

In preparation for my keynote presentation at this last weekends Interactive Metronome conference, I found myself rereading many of the key mental timing articles that I've recommended for reading (see "Key Research Articles" section of this blog for some of these articles). In the process, I realized a personal need to revisit some of the basic information, facts, concepts, etc. in these articles, some of which have been mentioned in posts at this humble blog. As I do this I plan to share some of these key bits of information and/or my musings in some brief posts. This is the first "Time Doc Byte" --- it is a brief historical note.

The recognition that temporal processing is an important dimension of behavior is not new. In his chapter “The Problem of Serial Order in Behavior,” Karl Lashley (1951) was among the first neurophysiologists to broach the issue of temporal processing. Lashley stated (emphasis added by the Time Doc blogmaster:
  • Temporal integration is not found exclusively in language; the coordination of leg movements in insects, the song of birds, the control of trotting and pacing in a gaited horse, the rat running the maze, the architect designing a house, and the carpenter sawing a board present a problem of sequences of action which cannot be explained in terms of succession of external stimuli.

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