How To Learn Fast In Challenging Times

As part of this year’s Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival, I will be hosting an online session on optimal ways for the brain to learn in difficult times.

Advancements in brain science are revealing new perspectives on how the brain learns. This talk will describe optimal ways for the brain to learn and will provide you with the tools and techniques to help you develop your own learning toolkit.

All are welcome to attend.

Registration is free via Eventbrite

What Songbirds Can Teach Us About Learning and the Brain

All known languages require the following features: 

1.  Sufficient brain space to house the dictionary and grammar.

2. Specific features of the vocal apparatus including the vocal cords, the muscles of the tongue and mouth enabling articulation.

3. An ability to control breathing which allows for long fluent articulate phrases and the ability to modulate intonation subtly over the length of a single breadth.

Our nearest primate relatives (i.e. monkeys and apes) do not have any such control which explains why attempts to train them to speak have been so unsuccessful.

Birds alone can imitate human speech. The birds brain, vocal apparatus, or syrinx (literally, ‘flute’) and their ability to control their breathing explains why.


Weekly Neuroscience Update

A new study shows that sleeping after processing new information is most effective. Titled “Memory for Semantically Related and Unrelated Declarative Information: The Benefit of Sleep, the Cost of Wake,” the study was published March 22 in PLOSOne.

Snorting, gasping, or short interruptions in breathing during sleep (sleep apnea) may be linked to depression symptoms, new research shows.

Like the mute button on the TV remote control, our brains filter out unwanted noise so we can focus on what we’re listening to. But when it comes to following our own speech, a new brain study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that instead of one homogenous mute button, we have a network of volume settings that can selectively silence and amplify the sounds we make and hear.

Just as the familiar sugar in food can be bad for the teeth and waistline, another sugar has been implicated as a health menace and blocking its action may have benefits that include improving long-term memory in older people and treating cancer. Progress toward finding such a blocker for the sugar — with the appropriately malicious-sounding name “oh-glick-nack” — was the topic of a report at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

A hidden and never before recognized layer of information in the genetic code has been uncovered by a team of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) thanks to a technique developed at UCSF called ribosome profiling, which enables the measurement of gene activity inside living cells — including the speed with which proteins are made.