The latest tools of NEUROSCIENCE allow us to witness the electrical flares, CHEMICAL landslides, and SLUICING of water from zone to zone that alter the geography of the brain as it changes. Today we are going to learn about how the brain’s structure can change when humans learn a new ability.
Let’s warm up…. Spell WITNESS Spell LEARN Spell STRUCTURE
Neuroscience allows us to witness electrical what? FLARES
Neuroscience allows us to witness chemical what? LANDSLIDES
Both of which are witnessed in what part of our body? BRAIN
Water sluicing from zone to zone alters what? GEOGRAPHY OF BRAIN Today, we will learn how geography or structure changes. When what happens? HUMANS LEARN A NEW ABILITY
Evidence of the ways NEURAL tissue is partially destroyed after a stroke or the onset of DEMENTIA has been around for decades. But proof that missing or miswired human brain connections can grow again—what neuroscientists call PLASTICITY—has so far been lacking. In 2014, a study showed that novel experiences prompt almost immediate changes in white matter—the brain’s connective tissue, or highway system, in the brains of mice.
Evidence of ways brain tissue is destroyed is offered by what patients?
Proof of what has been lacking? PLASTICITY
What is plasticity? MISSING OR MISWIRED HUMAN BRAIN
CONNECTIONS GROW AGAIN
In mice, what matter changes with novel experiences? WHITE MATTER
What is white matter? BRAINS CONNECTIVE TISSUE OR HIGHWAY
In what year was the study with mice published? 2014
How many years ago was that? CURRENT YEAR – 2014 =
Can this structural transformation linked to learning a new skill be seen in humans too? The answer appears to be yes. A study just published in the journal NATURE COMMUNICATIONS found distinct shifts in brain architecture that mirrored the growing reading skills of children with DYSLEXIA. “The way the connections between different brain regions had changed was startling,” said JASON YEATMAN, an assistant professor at the University of Washington who led the study.
What journal published the new study? NATURE COMMUNICATIONS
Researchers found distinct shifts in what? BRAIN ARCHITECTURE
What skill did it mirror in this study? GROWING READING SKILLS
Children in this study had what learning disability? DYSLEXIA
What is the name of the researcher? JASON YEATMAN
Where is he a professor? UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
Dr. Yeatman’s team began by recruiting 24 dyslexic children, ages 7 and 12, who had been struggling to learn to read. Few of them could DECIPHER more than simple three-letter words. This largely excluded them from the classroom experience, said Dr. Yeatman.
How many children participated in the study? 24
What was the age range? 7 YEARS TO 12 YEARS OLD
What had they been struggling to do? LEARN TO READ
What experience did this exclude them from? CLASSROOM
The researchers thoroughly tested the children’s reading skills and assessed their brain ARCHITECTURE using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. This non-invasive type of brain imaging tracks how quickly water flows among regions of the brain. It provides a measure of brain density, which increases with the formation of new brain cells, connections, and MEMBRANES.
What does MRI stand for? MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING
MRI tracks how quickly… WATER FLOWS AMONG REGIONS OF THE BRAIN
MRI provides a measure of what? BRAIN DENSITY
Brain density increases with the formation of what? NEW BRAIN CELLS
CONNECTIONS AND MEMBRANES
The children’s initial MRI was followed by three subsequent imaging sessions, evenly spaced over the course of their participation in an intensive, eight-week summer reading program. The program provided one-on-one instruction for four hours a day, five days a week. Unlike much recent research on children’s learning, the instruction was in person, not screen-based.
How long was the summer reading course? EIGHT WEEKS
How many MRIs followed the initial visit? 3 MRI’S
How many days a week did the students receive instruction? 5
How many hours a day? FOUR
How many hours of instruction is that a week? 5×4 = 20 HOURS
Instruction was in person, not what? SCREEN-BASED
The results showed significant improvement in reading skills—and as the children’s reading FLUENCY increased, large tracts of the white matter in their brains were visibly REVAMPED (improved). “It was not known before that the physical structure and EFFICIENCY of the brain could change in just a few weeks,” said Dr. Yeatman.
Outwardly, children showed an improvement in what? READING SKILLS
As fluency increased, what revamped in the brain? WHITE MATTER
The physical structure and efficiency changed in how long? JUST A FEW WEEKS; QUICKLY; FAST
The instructional approach was, by design, highly individualized and interpersonal. LINDAMOOD-BELL targets the building blocks of reading and is intended to give children with dyslexia the tools they need to read. But it is just one of several evidence-based, effective approaches.
What was the name of the instructional approach? LINDAMOOD BELL
It was highly individualized, and what? INTERPERSONAL
Lindamood Bell targets what? BUILDING BLOCKS OF READING
Another surprising observation was that the RENOVATION (rebuilding; change) of the brain was so PERVASIVE (widespread). The researchers expected the observed improvement in the brain’s language areas. “But we also saw changes in the CORTICOSPINAL tract,” which allows SENSATION (feeling or perception) and MOVEMENT to be sensed by the brain, Dr. Yeatman added.
They characterize renovation of the brain as what? PERVASIVE
What did they expect to observe? IMPROVEMENT IN BRAINS LANGUAGE AREAS
What does renovation mean? REBUILDING; CHANGE
What tract also changed? CORTICOSPINAL
This tract allows what to be sensed. SENSATION AND MOVEMENT
Perhaps the bond between teacher and child or the frequency and intensity of the teaching program made the difference. It’s hard to pinpoint the cause—or to know how long the NEURAL and behavioral changes will last. But the changes were still impressive.
“We knew it was possible for the brain to change in mice, but we didn’t know the time frame, and we didn’t know how extensive the remodeling was in humans,” said Dr. Yeatman. Now we know that education can physically alter the brains of mice and men—or, more importantly, boys and girls.
What bond may make the difference? TEACHER AND CHILD
What about the teaching program may have made a difference? FREQUENCY AND INTENSITY
Scientists knew they could make changes in the brains of mice but were not sure about ________? HUMANS
The word neural is associated with the _______? BRAIN
As you add new skills – do you believe your brain actually physically grows? Tell me what you think!
This research suggests that as language was improved, senses may have been heightened. Do you experience heightened senses when you master a new task?