Fortune sides with him who dares.
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Kind of romantic, really.

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Kind of romantic, really.

The Strange Workings of the Brain

1. Research shows that relying more on google to provide us with facts and information weakens our memory. To retain information we need to process and play with ideas.

2. We differ in how much we crave junk food. Brain studies show that some people’s brains light up when they are shown the names of different junk foods. However, that is not the case for all of us.

3. Listening to music that triggers happy childhood memories results in a positive change in mood.

4. Recent MRI studies indicate that we tend to be more persuaded by adverts, and yield to the temptation to buy expensive products, when we are shopping with attractive potential mates. (That is we’re influenced by the desire to impress.)

5. Sometimes it best to trust your gut reaction and go with the leadings of your unconscious mind.  

6. Studies on brain games indicate that they don’t significantly improve your memory. Instead, research from Stanford University reveals that if you want to learn and remember better, then you should listen to music.

7. Men have larger brains than women and are more likely to suffer from ADHD or have a language disability. However, women are more likely to suffer from mood disorders.   

8. Unfortunately, our memory starts to decline from age 27 onwards!

9. Drinking in moderation is good for your brain, and may help to protect against strokes.

10. Current research appears to indicate that using cell phones may harm the brain and can interrupts normal sleep patterns.

For more information on these studies see: http://www.rd.com/slideshows/13-things-your-brain-wont-tell-you/?trkid=channel  

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5 Important Brain Functions

1. Processing Speed

This is the speed at which the brain can process information. When we are tired, we process information much slower. It generally slows down with age. Slower processing speed affects ability to make correct decisions, because we are slower to put information together. 

People with slower processing speed generally require more time on exams or tests, and two ways to boost processing speed are to train yourself or to get more sleep.  

2. Working Memory 

This is the amount of information we can hold in our brain at a given time. As we age, it’s harder for us to deal with a lot of information because of a decreasing working capacity. This leads to all sorts of problems. For example, we’re more likely to forget what was said a few minutes ago than what was said few seconds ago. We also have more trouble keeping track of what people say than what we read ourselves.To maintain our working memory, we can train it or we can use reminders to help us remember. 

3. Inhibition 

This is the ability to focus and ignore distractions. As we age, we find it harder to ignore distractions. Not being able to ignore distractions also affects our working memory by straining it with irrelevant information. This is why older people are more likely to speak their mind, because they can’t really hold back what they should or should not say. 

4. Sensory Function/ Perception Speed

This is the earliest step in information processing in which new, incoming information is first registered. This involves our senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. As we age, our senses are not as strong especially sight and hearing. This prevents us from taking in relevant information leading to poorer thinking. 

5. Executive Functions 

Our executive functions which are modulated by the prefrontal cortex are our ability to plan, think flexibly and solve problems.

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my schizophrenic grandmother used to hear people calling her name all the time. They also used to sing Danny Boy and Happy Birthday when it was someone’s birthday. Apparently there were these sisters that used to dance and sing outside her window, and they wanted her to join them…

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my schizophrenic grandmother used to hear people calling her name all the time. They also used to sing Danny Boy and Happy Birthday when it was someone’s birthday. Apparently there were these sisters that used to dance and sing outside her window, and they wanted her to join them…

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He’s probably alive somewhere…

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He’s probably alive somewhere…

Ms. Magazine: The Myth of the ‘Girl Brain’

aimmyarrowshigh:

Written by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett, co-authors of The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children

Has your local public school opened up a new all-girls classroom? Are you tempted to enroll your daughter in it?  After all, the principal may have offered up impressive evidence that girls learn in very different ways from boys, and this segregated classroom seems to be a great boon to girls.

The idea that the brains of girls and boys are so different that they should be parented and educated in different ways and steered towards very different careers is one of the most successfully promoted media narratives of the decade.

A small group of advocates have pushed this notion so hard that it’s become the conventional wisdom. They write best-selling books, speak to large groups of teachers, parents and school administrators, and are quoted—endlessly and usually uncritically–by the news media. They claim that due to vast differences between boys and girls, the single sex classroom will improve children’s academic achievement. That’s the argument made by Leonard Sax, head of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education and best-selling author of Why Gender Matters, and Michael Gurian (The Wonder of Girls).

They’ve been very successful. The New York Times reports that,

There were only two single-sex public schools in the mid-1990s; today, there are more than 500 public schools in 40 states that offer some single-sex academic classes or, more rarely, are entirely single sex.

But don’t drink the Kool Aid. Much of what we are being told today about single-sex classrooms is junk science, a great deal of it of it actually harmful to girls. These “boy-girl” classrooms are being set up on the basis of science that is outdated, incomplete or just plain wrong.

For example, while “boy” classrooms are active and rowdy, “girl” classrooms are quiet and subdued, and children are encouraged to sit close to teachers and to speak in soft voices. In South Carolina, teachers in all-girls classes say they have learned to speak more softly, because their students can take yelling more personally than boys.

The quiet classroom is based on the “fact” that girls hear better than boys. In Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax claims that girls hear 10 times better than boys. “If a male teacher speaks in a tone of voice that seems normal to him, a girl in the front row may feel that he is yelling at her.”

But do girls in fact hear better?  No. Mark Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says that Sax misrepresented the studies he examined to make that claim. In reality, “There is no functionally significant difference between boys and girls in auditory sensitivity.”

In many single sex-classrooms, gender becomes the center of the curriculum. And the educators assign action novels for boys to read or allow girls to evaluate cosmetics for science projects. In classrooms in Mobile, teachers encourage kids to use highly gendered words in writing assignments. According to one school,

[A] writing prompt for a boy might be what place in the world he would most like to go hunting or to drive on a racetrack, while girls might write about their dream wedding dress or their perfect birthday party.

In 2009 the Today show profiled a single-sex school located in suburban St. Louis, and the reading materials for the two sexes were quite different. Boys read stories featuring monsters while girls read stories featuring movie stars.

Such classes are based on the notion that the very different brains of boys and girls motivate them in very different ways—with girls interested in relationships and fashion and boys interested in sports, combat and building things.

But there is no such data.  Recent research finds the differences between girls’ and boys’ brains are trivial.

Lise Eliot, Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School, did an exhaustive review of the scientific literature on human brains from birth to adolescence and concluded, in her book, Pink Brain, Blue Brain, there is “surprisingly little solid evidence of sex differences in children’s brains.”

Rebecca Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist and professor at Barnard College, also rejects the notion that there are pink and blue brains, and that the differing organization of female and male brains is the key to behavior. In her book Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, she says that his narrative misunderstands the complexities of biology and the dynamic nature of brain development.

Nonetheless, a major tenant of the segregated classroom is the idea that boys naturally relate to objects and understanding systems and math and science, while girls gravitate towards relationships and caring.  Girls are not natural leaders or risk takers, and don’t take naturally to math, it’s argued.

British psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen claims that the “male brain” is the “systematizing brain” while the “female brain” is the “empathizing brain.” (Though Baron-Cohen says that women can have “male brains” and men “female brains,” he makes clear that “on average, more males have systematizing brains while more females have empathizing brains.”) He has been published in the New York Times, quoted in a Newsweek cover story, and featured in a PBS documentary and in countless other major media outlets.

This idea was based on a study of day-old babies which found that the boys looked at mobiles longer and the girls looked at faces longer. “Male brains,” Baron Cohen says, are ideally suited for leadership and power. They are hard-wired for mastery of hunting and tracking, trading, achieving and maintaining power, gaining expertise, tolerating solitude, using aggression and taking on leadership roles.

And what of the “female brain?” It is specialized for making friends, mothering, gossip, and “reading” a partner. Girls and women are so focused on others that they have little interest in figuring out how the world works.

Is this true? No. Baron-Cohen’s study had major problems. It was an “outlier” study. No one else has replicated these findings, including Baron-Cohen himself. It is so flawed as to be almost meaningless. Why?

The experiment lacked crucial controls against experimenter bias and was badly designed. Female and male infants were propped up in a parent’s lap and shown, side by side, an active person or an inanimate object. Since newborns can’t hold their heads up independently, their visual preferences could well have been determined by the way their parents held them.

There’s little evidence for the idea of a male brain hardwired to be good at understanding the world and a female brain hardwired to understand people. There is a long line of literature flat-out contradicting Baron-Cohen’s study, providing evidence that male and female infants tend to respond equally to people and objects, notes [PDF] Elizabeth Spelke of Harvard University’s Laboratory for Developmental Studies. But media stories continue to promote the idea of very different brains.

As for the idea of girls “naturally” turning to dolls and avoiding blocks, Jordan-Young points out that girls do not shun toys that involve building things. In one Swedish study [PDF], she reports, Lincoln Logs turned out the favorite toy of all the girls. Girls played with those by a 6 to 1 ratio over some other toys, and girls also spent three times longer playing with toy cars and a garage than they did with a baby doll.

Another problem with single sex education is that boy classrooms are set up for action, while girls are expected to sit quietly while learning.

The Today segment in St. Louis begins with a video showing boys engaging in calisthenics and girls sitting quietly at their desks reading and writing. Boys were permitted to learn anywhere in the classroom: under their desks, in tents, or standing on chairs. No similar alternative learning opportunities were provided for girls.

But in fact, research finds that physical activity helps both boys and girls learn. Professor Charles Hillman of the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has found that aerobic fitness is related to better performance on school-based achievement tests of mathematics and reading.

We asked Dr. Hillman if there were any gender differences in his findings. He said there were not:

We have never found sex differences in our work. We have included sex as a variable to investigate this question and never found support for it.

Yet assuming gender differences, as same-sex classrooms do, can actually create those differences. Too often, even girls with an early interest in math are discouraged by adults who have bought into the idea that girls don’t have a natural aptitude for math and science. In one study,

[P]arents perception of their children’s competence in mathematics have been found to be influenced by their children’s gender, independent of the children’s actual performance in mathematics.

The idea of an innate “girl brain” not suited for math has been the cause of a “leaky pipeline” in which girls are lost to math and science all through their school years. Between fourth and twelfth grades, the percentage of girls who say they like science decreases from 66 to 48 percent. In those same years, the percentage of girls who say they would prefer not to study math any more goes from 9 percent to a whopping 50 percent [PDF].

But the tide may be turning. The notion of classrooms tailored to boy or girl brains is taking some serious flak.  In September, the journal Science published an article by eight prominent scientists, titled “The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling.” They argue,

There is no well-designed research showing that single-sex (SS) education improves students’ academic performance, but there is evidence that sex segregation increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism.

The lead author on the piece was Professor Diane Halpern of Claremont McKenna College, past president of the American Psychological Association.

The authors of the Science article are calling on president Obama to rescind changes made under the Bush administration that watered down provisions of the Title IX rules against unequal resources in education to allow more public single-sex classrooms. Given the fact that there is little to no evidence that single-sex classrooms in public schools improve academic achievement, such a move makes sense. And, the authors add, “Funds spent on training teachers in nonexistent ‘gender-specific learning styles’ could be better spent on training them to teach science, mathematics, and reading, or to integrate boys and girls more completely in the learning environment.”

The girly classroom, filled with quiet children who don’t move much, who are encouraged to write about wedding dresses and never build anything, is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of actual research.

It’s time to consign it to the dustbin of history.

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Teacher: Can you see God?
Class: No.
Teacher: Can you touch God?
Class: No
Teacher: Then there isn't a God!
*Student raises their hand and says* "Sir, can you see your brain?"
Teacher: No.
Student: Can you touch your brain?
Teacher: No.
Student: Oh okay, so you don't have a brain?
lol!
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this sounds so eerie and cool

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this sounds so eerie and cool

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Even better reason to become a cat lady

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Even better reason to become a cat lady