BoingBoing last week featured this video showing the major features of the brain (not for the squeamish).
Central blood pressure refers to the pressure in aorta. The normal pressure measurement you receive at your doctor’s office with a blood pressure cuff (brachial blood pressure), does not measure central blood pressure. Since the aorta delivers blood directly to the brain it may be a better indicator of cognitive well being.
A paper published in Psychological Science finds that high central blood pressure is associated with poorer memory and other kinds of cognitive decline. In the concluding paragraph the authors note the significance of their finding:
“In summary, the present results point to the importance of central BP in the pathophysiology of cognitive aging. Although consistent evidence across studies has suggested that brachial BP is associated with cognitive function, the present results should encourage researchers to think beyond brachial pressures and to consider the role of central BP in the development of cognitive decline and dementia. This is especially pertinent given that central pressures can be reduced with existing pharmacological interventions, possibly lessening the risk for cognitive decline.”
Posted at the Memrise website today. A promotion for a new memory product. So far it’s only available in Spanish and for I-phones, but you can put your email on a waiting list for other languages on your preferred platform (Apple or Android).
The Educational Testing Service has released a paper by Edward Haertel, the Jacks Family Professor of Education at Stanford University, raising serious questions about value added assessments of teaching. Here is the abstract:
“Policymakers and school administrators have embraced value-added models of teacher effectiveness as tools for educational improvement. Teacher value-added estimates may be viewed as complicated scores of a certain kind. This suggests using a test validation model to examine their reliability and validity. Validation begins with an interpretive argument for inferences or actions based on value-added scores. That argument addresses (a) the meaning of the scores themselves — whether they measure the intended construct; (b) their generalizability — whether the results are stable from year to year or using different student tests, for example; and (c) the relation of value-added scores to broader notions of teacher effectiveness — whether teachers’ effectiveness in raising test scores can serve as a proxy for other aspects of teaching quality. Next, the interpretive argument directs attention to rationales for the expected benefits of particular value-added score uses or interpretations, as well as plausible unintended consequences. This kind of systematic analysis raises serious questions about some popular policy prescriptions based on teacher value-added scores.”
This is bracing report and should be read by anyone who is connected with efforts to implement value added reforms. The emperor has no clothes and we should be unafraid to say so.
My critique of value added assessment can be found here.
Most extraordinary claims disappoint on closer inspection. The late Sylvia Brown did not really have psychic powers and, after over a century of trying, parapsychology has not produced a single convincing repeatable experiment.
Dajo was able pass swords through his trunk without apparent injury. Here is a Pathe newsreel of one of his demonstrations:
Here is a paper by W. Peter Mulacz with an explanation of how Mirin Dajo accomplished his feats.
Unfortunately, there is a limited amount of information on Dajo available in English. I would like to more a know bout Dajo. I think his story is interesting psychologically and physiologically.
But beyond that, I would like to know more about Dajo’s beliefs and motivations. He apparently thought his performances would contribute to world peace and he was an advocate of Esperanto.
What is the greatest first sentence in a book? Here is my candidate:
“I probably never would have become America’s leading fire-eater if Flamo the Great hadn’t happened to explode that night in front of Krinko’s Great Combined Carnival Side Shows.”
So opens Daniel P. Mannix’s Memoir of a Sword Swallower. Here is a book that takes you inside a lost world: the travelling sideshows and carnivals that once traveled America’s highway. It a beautiful written study of these performers with a surprising psychological depth.
Here is a promotional video from the publisher: