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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Stanford study says MRI scans can predict outcome of math tutoring

By Jessica Shugart





JewishWorldReview.com |

W TAMFORD— (MCT) When it comes to math, MRIs may be better than IQs — and even past math scores — at showing whether a tutor can help a child master everything from trapezoids to trigonometry.

A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine says that the size and circuitry of certain parts of children's brains are excellent predictors of how well they'll respond to intensive math tutoring.

The researchers' most surprising finding was that children's IQ and math scores had no effect on tutoring outcomes, yet brain scan images "predicted how much a child would learn," said Vinod Menon, a Stanford professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences who was the study's senior author.


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The study was published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Menon's research team took MRI scans of 24 third-graders just before they underwent eight weeks of rigorous math tutoring. A control group of children also had their brains scanned, but they didn't get any tutoring.

The kids who were tutored showed across-the-board gains in their arithmetic skills, with the levels of their improvement varying wildly — from 8 percent improvement up to 198 percent. The children in the control group showed no signs of improvement.

The researchers found that the kids who responded the best to tutoring tended to have a larger and more active hippocampus. Named after the Greek word for "seahorse," the spirally hippocampus is known to play an important role in learning and memory. But its role in mastering specific skills — like math — hadn't been explored until now.

Even more than its size, the hippocampus's ability to get along with other parts of the brain was the biggest predictor of math success.

The type of MRI used by Menon's team is called an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), which measures changes in the flow of oxygenated blood from one part of the brain to another.

Like watching electricity flow between two points, the machine reveals how much one section of the brain is wired to other parts, "much like you might measure the synchronization of two different clocks," Menon said. "The more tightly linked they are, the more learning benefits we see in these children."

Menon believes the tighter the connections between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex — a part of the brain that influences decision-making and behavior — the more rapid the retrieval of stored knowledge.

The fact that a brain scan — rather than IQ or math scores — could predict how students would respond to tutoring also surprised Michael Posner, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Oregon who was not involved in the study.

But Posner is convinced that the "variety of very modern imaging methods" used by Menon were accurate. "That's one of the main reasons this study is important," he said.

Posner was also surprised by the involvement of the hippocampus, rather than other regions of the brain, in learning math. "The hippocampus isn't a system that one would've thought specific to mathematics," Posner said.

"For me, the intriguing speculation is that the reason these areas are better in these children is not because they were born better, but because they had acquired important learning skills at an earlier age — and not necessarily mathematical skills," Posner said. "It might say that our early education should be designed to make the child a successful learner, no matter what he or she learns."

Menon said he hopes that someday brain MRIs — which would cost parents upward of $500 — will help guide educators about the best approaches for teaching math.

But Kobad Bugwadia, owner and director of the Mathnasium tutoring center in Campbell, Calif., isn't so sure.

He said he thinks the results of the study are useful for understanding how the structure of the brain influences learning, but stops short of envisioning the scans as a way to predict math performance.

"Maybe how quickly children learn could be different," said Bugwadia, who left his job as a successful Silicon Valley electrical engineer to help children shed their fears about math. "But at some point, I strongly believe that they all have abilities to do well if given the right tools and opportunities."


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