A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mom’s Love Good for Child’s Brain

Mom’s Love Good for Child’s Brain
The other day, E.B. from the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan was Tweeting while driving to his repair shop. He was in a hurry to get to a dinner to celebrate the debut of the Junkies new show, Table Manners, which is due to air on Comcast. When E.B. later Tweeted that he had arrived, my initial reaction was, that's exactly the kind of post that I never wanted to see. Who cares?

Then, having come to know a little about E.B. from listening to him on 106.7 The Fan for all these years, I considered that it made sense that E.B. might want to promote the debut of the Junkies new television show, Table Manners. I quickly forgot about the annoying posts and went about my day.

The idea that people would post the mundane events of their boring lives was exactly my perception of Twitter when it first came out, and why I was so slow to get on the Twitter bandwagon. E.B., a genius when it comes to marketing, played upon exactly that perception, leading listeners down the primrose path, only to later surprise listeners with some incredibly funny radio. My good friend Ricky, the handyman, who was disassembling engines when he was in 9th grade, often joked about Twitter this summer while he was fixing all of the holes Joe had made in the wall while playing video games, fixing the crack in the ceiling that I had promised my wife that I would fix, oh about 17 years ago, unclogging the drier vent, etc.

The next morning, after being "pummeled" by his fellow Junkies, E.B. explained that he had been Tweeting while driving on the beltway with defective brakes, because he had been too impatient to wait for AAA. Thanks to E.B., who has been promoting Twitter ever since it came out, I finally understand the power of Twitter.

Twitter takes advantage of what Dean Buenomano described as cognitive Priming in his book, Brain Bugs. Think of priming as cognitive foreplay, in which seeds for future associations are subtly planted in a way that cultivates cognitive schema. Any good marketer knows intuitively understands how people use priming to marshal all the associations surrounding a word or concept, so that new information will "stick," and be memorable. Priming, or linking to background knowledge, is the first thing that a teacher needs to do before beginning a lesson, or little or no learning will take place.

Here is a humorous example from Brain Bugs:

Answer the first two questions below out loud, then blurt out the first thing that pops into your mind in response to sentence 3:
  1. What continent is Kenya in?
  2. What are the two opposing colors in a game of chess
  3. Name any animal.  
 Roughly 20 percent of people answer "zebra" to sentence 3, and about 50 percent respond with an animal from Aprica. But, when asked to name any animal out of the blue, less than 1 percent of the people will answer "zebra." (Buenomano, p. 20, 2011)
The fact that we can nudge people into thinking of a zebra by evoking thoughts of Africa and black and white is not only because knowledge is stored as a network of associated concepts, but because memory retrieval is a contagious process. Entirely unconsciously, activation of the "Africa" node spread to others to which it is linked, increasing the likelihood of thinking of a zebra. (Buenomano, p. 33, 2011)

Twitter makes it easy for me to "follow" feeds of highly summarized "tweets", and categorizes people I might want to follow according to my interests. Since I am interested in neuroscience, sports, and enjoy getting a boost from motivational speakers such as Les Brown, and Dr. Wayne Dyer, my Twitter feed quickly summarizes and provides links to what I want to know and people  with whom I would enjoy having a conversation.

The article referenced in the link at the top of this posts about the effect of a mother's love on a child's brain is from my Twitter feed. It provides further evidence that a loving family structure increases the likelihood of long-term academic success. The "Mama factor" is analogous to the Matthew Effect in reading, described by Keith Stanowitz, discussed in earlier posts, which I learned about in Dr. Ball's class on Diagnostic and Corrective Reading. In a cognitive sense, children primed for success, are able to pay better attention when necessary, making it more likely that they will be able to meet state mandated instructional objectives. From an RTI (Response To Intervention) standpoint, successful interventions require considerable advance planning, and effective collaboration between everyone concerned about a child who is not meeting grade level standards, hopefully including parents, but sadly, sometimes despite them.

Buenomano, D. (2011). Brain bugs: How the brain's flaws shape our lives. New York: W. W. Norton & Company