Tag Archives: Cognitive Science

New research on birth order

3 Jan

When I teach developmental psychology, I find that students are fascinated by the subject of birth order. Research over the years has yielded mixed results. I admit having been impressed by Sulloway’s fascinating book Born to Rebel. But I know that it is difficult to tease out the effects of birth order on behavior from the many factors affecting development. Steven Pinker says that he once believed in birth order effects, but now rejects them.

A study in the most recent issue of the journal Intelligence uses a novel research approach. The author looks at adoption cases where the children are not related either to each other or adopted parents. Here is the abstract:

“This study uses data on fully adopted sibling groups to test whether the explanation for the consistently observed negative effects of birth order are physiological or social in origin. Swedish administrative register data is used to construct full sibling data for cohorts born 1960–1982. Using a within-family comparison approach, I compare adopted siblings of different adopted birth order to one another to see whether birth order amongst adopted children (N = 6968) is associated with educational attainment by age 30, and the likelihood of having entered tertiary education by age 30. These same within-family comparison analyses are also performed on siblings in fully biologically related sibling groups (N = 1,588,401). I find that there is a negative relationship between adopted birth order and both educational attainment and the likelihood of entering tertiary education in fully adopted sibling sets. These findings strongly suggest that differences in educational attainment by birth order are driven by intrafamily social dynamics. I also conduct additional analyses in fully adopted sibling groups where age order and adoption order are reversed to test whether there is evidence for tutoring by siblings. These results do not indicate clear support for any tutoring effect.”

 

My memory improvement book

4 Mar

Exciting news! Over the weekend I signed a contract with a publisher to write a book on memory improvement. The working title is Remembering Willie Nelson: The Science of Memory Training. The publisher is Moonshine Cove Publishing, an independent house.

The book will be grounded in psychology and brain science. I will describe important experiments and findings that bear on our understanding of memory. It will also explain why memory remains central to education and modern life.

My book will also include my plan for daily memory practice that will help readers with the range of important memory tasks; including remembering names, learning foreign language vocabulary, studying for exams, and recalling computer passwords.

I deliver my final manuscript to the publisher in late November. I will keep you updated on my progress.

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Handedness and creativity

24 Feb

A post on NOVAnext discusses the evidence for a link between handedness and creativity. The post links to a paper, published in Frontiers in Psychology, titled  “Degree of handedness, but not direction, is a systematic predictor of cognitive performance.” From that paper’s abstract:

“A growing body of evidence is reviewed showing that degree of handedness (consistent versus inconsistent) is a more powerful and appropriate way to classify handedness than the traditional one based on direction (right versus left). Experimental studies from the domains of episodic memory retrieval, belief updating/cognitive flexibility, risk perception, and more are described. These results suggest that inconsistent handedness is associated with increased interhemispheric interaction and increased access to processes localized to the right cerebral hemisphere.”

 

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