1 Aug

In this video from The Quantified Self,  Steven Jonas does a good job of explaining spaced repetition software. Spaced repetition software represents the single greatest advance in memory improvement technology.

Essential phrases in 40 languages

31 Jul

This BBC site offers sound files of essential phrases in 40 different languages. Here, for example, are 15 Japanese phrases.

You can download the sound files to mp3 player and print out a list of the phrases.

Also, check out this BBC guide to language learning.



Ecstasy and LSD as therapeutic drugs

30 Jul

Deric Bownd blogs about the possibility of using MDMA (Ecstasy) and LSD for psychotherapy.  about the possibility of using MDMA (Ecstasy) and LSD for psychotherapy. He cites research suggesting that MDMA can be effective in the treatment of PTSD and that:

“LSD and psilocybin, which bind to serotonin and other brain receptors, are being tested in studies to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, cluster headaches, and nicotine, alcohol, or cocaine addictions.”

It is good to see that after decades of hysteria, good scientific research is finally being conducted on these drugs. I agree with this editorial in Scientific American:

“If some of the obstacles to research can be overcome, it may be possible to finally detach research on psychoactive chemicals from the hyperbolic rhetoric that is a legacy of the war on drugs. Only then will it be possible to judge whether LSD, ecstasy, marijuana and other highly regulated compounds—subjected to the gauntlet of clinical testing for safety and efficacy—can actually yield effective new treatments for devastating psychiatric illnesses.”


Sleep deprivation increases false memories

29 Jul

Because of several notorious cases, false memories have attracted a great deal of research attention. Here is a study published in Psychological Science suggesting that sleep deprivation can play a role in the formation of false memories; additional evidence that sleep is vital to memory.

Here is the abstract:

“Many studies have investigated factors that affect susceptibility to false memories. However, few have investigated the role of sleep deprivation in the formation of false memories, despite overwhelming evidence that sleep deprivation impairs cognitive function. We examined the relationship between self-reported sleep duration and false memories and the effect of 24 hr of total sleep deprivation on susceptibility to false memories. We found that under certain conditions, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing false memories. Specifically, sleep deprivation increased false memories in a misinformation task when participants were sleep deprived during event encoding, but did not have a significant effect when the deprivation occurred after event encoding. These experiments are the first to investigate the effect of sleep deprivation on susceptibility to false memories, which can have dire consequences.”



Columbia Economist Says Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff Are Wrong About VAM

29 Jul


More on the Value Added controversy.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Moshe Adler, professor of economics at Columbia University, has emerged as one of the most incisive critics of the work of Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff on Value-added measurement (VAM).

In the recent Vergara decision about tenure for teachers in California, the study by Raj Chetty and John Friedman of Harvard and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia played a prominent role. But according to the economist Moshe Adler the study is wrong and misleading. According to Adler, the authors suppressed a result that contradicts their main claim, they picked and chose which data sets to use, they used a misleading method of analysis that inflated their results and they misrepresented research that contradicts their claims as supporting them. These are just a few of the problems with the scientific integrity with the study. Adler wrote his review for the National Education Policy Center and it can found at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2014/06/adler-response-to-chetty)

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Surprise Discovery About Learning Chinese Characters

29 Jul Featured Image -- 2617


An insight about learning Chinese characters

Originally posted on Language Boat:

securedownload (1)Awhile back I wrote about this trick I use to learn Chinese characters. I tend to cycle through different language learning methods, to mix it up and keep things from getting too boring. Recently I began using this trick again and I’ve noticed an increase in the number of characters I can now recognize. But this is not a “formal” learning method. It’s just one that I created out of my own instinctual seeking.

At first blush this may seem unrelated but, on another note, I have also been teaching a six year old Taiwanese girl reading and spelling in English and as a result, I have made an unexpected discovery about the way children learn to read English. While browsing the internet for downloadable English reading and spelling worksheets (that are meant for native speakers) something interesting emerged.

English words are often not phonetic, and are called “sight words.”…

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Lucy and the 10% myth

28 Jul

The film Lucy propagates one of the most irritating and persistent myths in psychology: the claim that we only use 10% of our brain.

Here is a video from Psycfile:


Here is a take down of a similar myth in education.



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