Yaba Yaba

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Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

Science confirms: reading makes you a better person

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You might say this is yet another science-confirms-the-obvious, but to me, this is the most poetic piece of neuro-psychology I’ve seen in years.

This study demonstrates that turn-of-the century prose by Chekhov can make university undergraduates experience and report themselves as more different than those who read a documentary–style text with the same content, complexity and potential to garner reader interest. It shows that reading literary art can have an effect even on non-avid readers, and that you do not have to be a booklover for reading to transform you. We hypothesize that the effect involves a softening of what are usually the rather rigid boundaries of our self-schemas. By projecting ourselves into fictional stories and the minds of fictional characters, we open ourselves up to greater possibilities for who we may become. It is important for us to stress that participants did not show a collective change in the same direction: not all of them became more extraverted, or open, or conscientious, for example. In other words, they were not persuaded by a moral embedded in a story. Rather, each reader experienced a unique fluctuation in their entire personality profile. Reading Chekhov induced changes in their sense of self – perhaps temporary – such that they experienced themselves not as different in some way prescribed by the story, but as different in a direction toward discovering their own selves. Whether this effect can also be realized with other sorts of fiction has yet to be investigated.
Is it possible that, over months and years of reading, we could sum and consolidate such small, and perhaps temporary, changes of the kind we have found here to create movements in the development of selfhood? Our finding with Chekhov’s story prompts us toward believing the claims by avid readers that their favorite literary works have transformed their lives and changed their personalities. We might even start to think of literature in particular, and art in general, as functionally related to human personality development. Might we perhaps take this functionality as a clue to the longevity and persistence of art across millennia of human civilization?

I wonder, would you get similar results for video games, e.g. – let people play WoW or Mario and then ask them to describe themselves.

PDF Mar, R. A., Oatley, K., & Djikic, M. (in press). Effects of reading on knowledge, social abilities, and selfhood: Theory and empirical studies. In S. Zyngier, M. Bortolussi, A. Chesnokova, & J. Auracher (Eds.). Directions in Empirical Literary Studies: In honor of Willie van Peer


Written by yishaym

May 27, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Folks-onto-logy: you heard is here.

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Ontologies are beautiful, but no-one uses them.

Folksonomies are used by everyone, but impossible to make sense of.

Enter Folksontology;  a Folksonomy on the edges and onthology in the core. Driven by two way dynamics of tags flowing in and being restructrued and concepts flowing out and being repurposed. Kind of like a dynamical-system algoritmical model of Wittgenstein’s language games.

today I learnt..

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I found this little gizmo on a friend’s FaceBook post. I tried it, and it looks useful (well, for some things).

So I thought I’d share it with you.

Written by yishaym

October 15, 2007 at 10:54 am

Maths test tomorrow? wack some zombies

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Especially if you’re a girl. Recent research* shows that playing 10 hours of shoot-em-ups improves spatial cognition skills which are associated with success in mathematics and science:

Playing an action video game can differentially enhance male and female performance on spatial tasks; females showed larger improvements than males with prior gender differences virtually eliminated (Useful Field of View) or reduced (Mental rotation task).Non-action games may be less likely to have a beneficial effect because they do not sufficiently exercise spatial attentional capacities.

Spatial abilities—including MRT—have been associated with 1) success in mathematics and science courses (Delgado & Prieto, 2004); 2) performance on standardized tests (e.g. SAT: Casey, et al., 1995); and 3) the choice of mathematics and science in college (Casey, et al, 1995). [..] Superior spatial ability is related to employment in engineering and science (McGee, 1979) and females, who typically score lower on tests of spatial skills, are underrepresented in these fields with worldwide participation rates as low as one in five.

Non-video game players in our study realized large gains after only ten hours of training; we can only imagine the benefits that might be realized after weeks, months, or even years of action video gaming experience.

I find the erasure of gender difference fascinating. It strengthens the argument that such differences are predominantly cultivated by the kinds of things we do as kids. Its also interesting to see the parallel with the differences between art and science students.

On the down side, killing zombies is not like bike riding. you have to keep practising:

Underlying processes in the brain are qualitatively different from those in more typical cases of skill acquisition that involve practice—generally these show decay if there is no continued practice to maintain the level of skill.

*: 2007Playing an Action Video Game Reduces Gender Difference in Spatial Cognition. Psychological Science, (18)10:850-855. PDF


Written by yishaym

October 3, 2007 at 10:48 am

Science shows: Liberals are smarter.

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Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work.

Yeah, yeah. but its just a theory, you know. Like evolution. Anyway, here’s the original paper abstract:

Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism

David M Amodio1, John T Jost1, Sarah L Master2 & Cindy M Yee2

1 Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, New York 10003, USA.

2 Department of Psychology, 1285 Franz Hall, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.

Correspondence should be addressed to David M Amodio david.amodio@nyu.edu

Political scientists and psychologists have noted that, on average, conservatives show more structured and persistent cognitive styles, whereas liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty. We tested the hypothesis that these profiles relate to differences in general neurocognitive functioning using event-related potentials, and found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern.

(digg story)

Written by yishaym

September 11, 2007 at 5:21 pm

green? black? check your facts!

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This one’s been making the rounds:

From: someone you trust
Conversation: Google goes green….or is that black…?!
‘…If Google had a black screen, taking in account the huge number of page views, according to calculations, 750 mega watts/hour per year would be saved.’
In response Google created a black version of its search engine, called Blackle <http://www.blackle.com/> , with the exact same functions as the white version, but obviously with lower energy consumption:
Help spread the word… use http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/is-black-new-green.html

Wow! cool. and its coming from google, so why think twice right? well not quite.

Google’s official  blog says:

  1. Blackle is a nice initiative, but is in no way affiliated with google. (actually, blackle say so quite clearly themselves)
  2. On flat screens, black consumes more energy than white.
  3. A lab test of blackle vs. google gives a clear energy saving advantage to google.

So please, before you forward any noble cause emails, check your facts. Often it takes no more time than it takes you to select the victims from your address book. The ‘no harm done’ argument is always a bit pathetic, and in some cases its plain wrong.

Written by yishaym

August 17, 2007 at 11:56 am

M20 (em too oh): for the record

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you read it here. I mean, maybe it’s going nowhere. but it’s my new thing. M2.0 or m2o or em too oh. M for mobile, 2.0 for social networking, participatory media, read-write web, and all that. watch this space. or don’t. whatever.

Written by yishaym

July 23, 2007 at 10:44 am