Two of the things I learned as a college student living in a dormitory were: (1) to give up all hope of finding a quiet place to study, and (2) I could study better if there was actually a certain level of noise around me. Now a study by some researchers on working memory and learning suggests that yes, a certain amount of noise is actually beneficial. As reported on HealthCanal.com:
… Sverker Sikström also studies how noise affects our learning. A while ago, he was able to overturn the prevalent conception that all noise disturbs the learning process. For those people who have difficulty concentrating, the opposite was shown to be true; a moderately loud noise (‘white noise’ at the same volume as a vacuum cleaner) makes it easier for them to concentrate.
Now Sverker Sikström and Göran Söderlund are developing an app which first tells the user whether he or she belongs to the category of people who find it helpful to learn in a noisy environment. If they do, the app can provide the user with a suitably loud noise to improve his or her concentration. Their newly founded company is called Smartnoise and the app will be launched in the early spring.
Other apps and equipment for white noise generation are already available on the market. I was very excited to talk to Dr. Therese Wilkomm, who will be co-presenting with me in New Hampshire next week. She will be talking about a number of these apps and devices that are out in the market already.
I’ll be conducting an all-day workshop for educators on Monday, December 5, 2011 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire. The event is sponsored by the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability and is geared to regular and special education teachers, school psychologists and social workers, behavior specialists, occupational therapists, administrators, and parents.
Neurological disorders that emerge in childhood often have significant impact on students’ academic, behavioral, and social-emotional functioning. Participants will learn about the cardinal features of Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Executive Dysfunction, Mood Disorders such as Depression and Bipolar Disorder, and the memory deficits, sensory issues and “storms” that sometimes accompany them. Strategies and assistive technology to accommodate symptom interference in activities such as handwriting, homework, math calculation, and written expression and big projects will be described. Pitfalls in behavioral interventions, and simple social skills and problem-solving interventions will also be identified.
Hope to see you there!
Most parents who contact me about school-related issues can immediately tell me their child’s I.Q. score, but most look puzzled when I ask them how their child scored on working memory. A new study serves as an important reminder that we need to pay more attention to working memory. JR Minkel reports in LiveScience:
The key to intelligence may be the ability to juggle multiple thoughts or memories at one time.
Researchers have found that a simple test of working memory capacity strongly predicts a person’s performance on a battery of intelligence tests that measure everything from abstract problem-solving to social intelligence.
Working memory is a way of temporarily storing information used for some mental task.
If the results of the study hold for the population at large, “I could predict an individual’s overall intellectual ability essentially with 79-percent accuracy if you tell me what their working memory capacity is,” said study researcher Steven Luck of the University of California, Davis.
Prior research suggests that since working memory can be improved, so can a person’s intelligence.
Read more on LiveScience.
Katherine H. Karlsgodt, assistant research scientist in the department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA will present a talk titled, “A Multimodal Approach to Understanding Working Memory Function and Dysfunction,” on Monday, March 1, at 11 a.m. in the MRN Large Conference Room at Pete and Nancy Domenici Hall on UNM’s North Campus. The lecture is free and the public is welcome.
You can read more of the background on working memory and the upcoming talk in the University of New Mexico press release, here.