Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Sometimes Scientific American is just so behind the times

By on May 5, 2008

Check out this article from yesterday’s Scientific American, “Study Shows Brain Power Can Be Bolstered-Maybe” from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.  It’s not that it wasn’t a very interesting and hopeful study on methods designed to help improve the memories of brains going into decline and those of youngsters with ADHD.  Clearly, anything that may prove helpful to achieve both those ends is worth celebrating.  It was just the method of the study and its seeming pride in its “landmark” methods that kinda set my teeth on edge. (Incidentally, however, I sent this article to my parents who have both considered getting a Nintendo DS.  No, not to play Puzzlequest.  They’re interested in Brain Age.)  

I guess my issue with this particular study (or maybe just the way the article was phrased) has to do with the incredibly insightful (note the dripping sarcasm) strategy used in administering the test, as if it were a new way of applying material.  

Yes, folks, get this:  they used two, count ’em, two whole modalities when teaching.  

OMG it’s stunning isn’t it?  Yes, it’s true, the test group was presented information with – hold your breath, it’s going to shock you – both auditory and visual stimulus.

Can you believe it?  Pictures and Sounds.  

We’ve just GOT to turn those literacy teachers on to this innovative method.  They’ve clearly been missing out on a key component up until now.

In addition, the study involved looking at a subject and then using memory to recall another one further ahead in the stack.  Um, isn’t this a card game called “Concentration?”  

“It’s a little oversold,” says Earl Hunt, a psychologist from the University of Washington in Seattle.

You think? 

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