Learning Sciences of Change

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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

What is a representative brain? Neuroscience meets population science

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The last decades of neuroscience research have produced immense progress in the methods available to understand brain structure and function. Social, cognitive, clinical, affective, economic, communication, and developmental neurosciences have begun to map the relationships between neuro-psychological processes and behavioral outcomes, yielding a new understanding of human behavior and promising interventions. However, a limitation of this fast moving research is that most findings are based on small samples of convenience. Furthermore, our understanding of individual differences may be distorted by unrepresentative samples, undermining findings regarding brain–behavior mechanisms. These limitations are issues that social demographers, epidemiologists, and other population scientists have tackled, with solutions that can be applied to neuroscience. By contrast, nearly all social science disciplines, including social demography, sociology, political science, economics, communication science, and psychology, make assumptions about processes that involve the brain, but have incorporated neural measures to differing, and often limited, degrees; many still treat the brain as a black box. In this article, we describe and promote a perspective — population neuroscience — that leverages interdisciplinary expertise to (i) emphasize the importance of sampling to more clearly define the relevant populations and sampling strategies needed when using neuroscience methods to address such questions; and (ii) deepen understanding of mechanisms within population science by providing insight regarding underlying neural mechanisms. Doing so will increase our confidence in the generalizability of the findings. We provide examples to illustrate the population neuroscience approach for specific types of research questions and discuss the potential for theoretical and applied advances from this approach across areas.

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Written by learningchange

07/11/2013 at 14:50

The Human Brain Project

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Understanding the human brain is one of the greatest challenges facing 21st century science. If we can rise to the challenge, we can gain profound insights into what makes us human, develop new treatments for brain disease and build revolutionary new computing technologies. Today, for the first time, modern ICT has brought these goals within sight.

The convergence between biology and ICT has reached a point at which it can turn the goal of understanding the human brain into a reality. It is this realisation that motivates the Human Brain Project – an EU Flagship initiative in which over 80 partners will work together to realise a new “ICT-accelerated” vision for brain research and its applications.

One of the major obstacles to understanding the human brain is the fragmentation of brain research and the data it produces. Our most urgent need is thus a concerted international effort that uses emerging ICT technologies to integrate this data in a unified picture of the brain as a single multi-level system.

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Written by learningchange

07/10/2013 at 09:00

Posted in Brains, Research

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R&D and Open Access – The Mendeley Report

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A low spend on research and development (R&D) by a country may be limiting researchers’ access to academic papers, and could be undermining their productivity and achievements, a report has found.

Limited access to scholarly content, which is a particular problem in developing nations, may have an indirect but negative impact on the number of papers published and Nobel prizes won, according to the ‘Global Research Report‘, published by research collaboration platform Mendeley.

Such links between R&D spending, journal access and achievement highlight the potential benefits of open source academic publishing, particularly in low-income countries, the report says.

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Read also: Mendeley Report

Written by learningchange

05/11/2012 at 10:11

Posted in Open access, R&D, Research

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ORCID – Connecting Research and Researchers

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ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-based effort to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers. ORCID is unique in its ability to reach across disciplines, research sectors, and national boundaries and in its cooperation with other identifier systems. ORCID works with the research community to identify opportunities for integrating ORCID identifiers in key workflows, such as research profile maintenance, manuscript submissions, grant applications, and patent applications.

ORCID provides two core functions: (1) a registry to obtain a unique identifier and manage a record of activities, and (2) APIs that support system-to-system communication and authentication. ORCID makes its code available under an open source license, and will post an annual public data file under a CCO waiver for free download.

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Written by learningchange

25/10/2012 at 11:57

Dislike of multidisciplinary work limits development

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Multi-stakeholder collaboration is vital if research is to promote development. ­The impact of multi-stakeholder projects vital for development are limited by the compartmentalisation of science and researchers’ dislike of crossing disciplinary boundaries. Projects require researchers to work with multiple civil society stakeholders — such as non-governmental organisations,  farm unions and the private sector — a complex role that many are unprepared for or unwilling to take on. The newfound capacity of civil society actors to implement development projects means it is now more important than ever that scientists work effectively with them.

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Read also: Scientific disciplines must link up to serve development

Written by learningchange

08/10/2012 at 12:11

Science must be liberated from the paywalls of publishers

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Research that is funded by the public should be freely available to all – a move to open access modes of publication is overdue. As a scientist and citizen I want to see the universal adoption of the open access model of academic open-access-publishing, because it will be better for science and better for society.

Open access, where costs are met upfront by the author and papers are free to readers, would improve science by making all published results and ideas easily accessible to researchers across the world and so fuel the engine of discovery. At present, far too much of our research is locked behind paywalls that restrict access and stall progress.

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Written by learningchange

19/04/2012 at 13:30

“Academic Spring” to open up science

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The majority of the world’s scientific research, estimated at around 1.5m new articles each year, is published in journals owned by a small number of large publishing companies including Elsevier, Springer and Wiley. Scientists submit manuscripts to the journals, which are sent out for peer review before publication. The work is then available to other researchers by subscription, usually through their libraries.

One of the world’s largest funders of science is to throw its weight behind a growing campaign to break the stranglehold of academic journals and allow all research papers to be shared online.

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Read also: How an angry maths blog sparked a scientific revolution

Written by learningchange

10/04/2012 at 15:30

Posted in Research, Science

Tagged with ,

Neuroscience and the Classroom – Making Connections

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Welcome to Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections. This
course provides insight into some of the current research from cognitive science and neuroscience about how the brain learns. The major themes include the deep connection among emotion, thinking, learning, and memory; the huge range of individual cognitive strengths and weaknesses that determine how we perceive and understand the world and solve the problems it presents us; and the dynamic process of building new skills and knowledge. The course invites you to examine the implications of these insights for schools and all aspects of the learning environments we create for our children teaching, assessment, homework, student course loads, and graduation requirements. It is not a course that offers easy answers or proposes teaching methods that can be universally applied. Rather, it provides new lenses through which to view the teaching and learning challenges you face and invites you to discover your own answers to your own questions.

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Read also: Course Guide

Written by learningchange

08/03/2012 at 14:00