Neuroscience – Science of the Brain – An Introduction for Young Students

Neuroscience – Science of the Brain is primarily aimed at sixth form students or first-year undergraduates. Richard Morris creates a wonderfully neat and concise ‘primer’ of neuroscience, touching on everything from development to drug addiction, with leading UK neuroscientists contributing chapters on their respective fields of expertise in a simple yet imaginative and visually appealing way. Any student uncertain what to specialize in can’t fail to be swayed by this refreshing booklet!

Inside our heads, weighing about 1.5 kg is an astonishing living organ consisting of billions of tiny cells. It enables us to sense the world around us, to think and to talk. The human brain is the most complex organ of the body, and arguably the most complex thing on earth. This booklet is an introduction for young students.

In this booklet, we describe what we know about how the brain works and how much there still is to learn. Its study involves scientists and medical doctors from many disciplines, ranging from molecular biology through to experimental psychology, as well as the disciplines of anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology.

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The Psychological Roots of Inequality and Social Class

Why does economic inequality continue to rise despite being disfavored and harmful to individuals and society? To better understand this inequality paradox, we advance an inequality maintenance model of social class. We detail a set of five propositions to encapsulate the psychological processes that perpetuate class division in society—disparities between the rich and the poor—and we review recent supporting data. With respect to the structural processes that define social class, we show that class-differentiated experiences of threat, scarcity, and access to valued networks enhance economic inequality by compounding (dis)advantage in education, work, and relationships. With respect to social perceptual processes, we outline how social class is signaled and perceived during social interactions, triggering class-based stereotypes and patterns of distancing that reinforce inequality. With respect to ideological processes, we discuss how ideologies of merit legitimize economic inequality and bolster class division. With respect to moral–relational processes, we examine how class-based patterns of compassion, helping, and power seeking exacerbate economic inequality by concentrating resources among the upper class and constraining advancement among the lower class. Finally, with respect to intergroup processes, we posit that social class group identities catalyze difficulties in cross-class affiliation, asymmetric resource sharing, and class conflict, strengthening class division in society. We conclude with a discussion of new research and future directions that can address class disparities and, ultimately, help foster a more equal society.

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Science for Kids curious Minds

We seek to connect curious minds to the experts and information that will motivate them to ask informed and critical questions about real science throughout their lives. By working directly with scientists, we ensure that our content is of the highest quality. By working directly with kids, we help foster curiosity both in and out of the classroom and engage the next generation of citizens and scientists.

Frontiers for Young Minds believes that the best way to make cutting-edge science discoveries available to younger audiences is to enable young people and scientists to work together to create articles that are both accurate and exciting.  That is why distinguished scientists are invited to write about their cutting-edge discoveries in a language that is accessible for young readers, and it is then up to the kids themselves – with the help of a science mentor – to provide feedback and explain to the authors how to best improve the articles before publication.

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Science at Home with Children

ExpeRimental is a series of short films that make it fun, easy and cheap to do science at home with children aged 4 to 10. Our films give you lots of ideas for kids’ activities that will help you explore the world around you, question and experiment together. We’ll show you how to do the activity and how to make sure adults and children get the most out of it. Tell us how you get on and share your photos and any funny things your kids say!

Each activity is designed to be easy to do using only common household objects. Simply playing, watching closely, and asking questions is enough to light a spark of science learning at home with young children. All the experiments are about encouraging natural curiosity and investigating the wonders of science while you play.

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History of Linguistics

Linguistics, as a study, endeavors to describe and explain the human faculty of language. Linguistic study was originally motivated by the correct description of the classical liturgical language, notably that of Sanskrit grammar, or by the development of logic and rhetoric in ancient Greece, leading to a grammatical tradition in Hellenism. Beginning around the 4th century BCE, China also developed its own grammatical traditions. Traditions of Arabic grammar and Hebrew grammar developed during the Middle Ages, also in a religious context.

Modern linguistics began to develop in the 18th century, reaching the “golden age of philology” in the 19th century, with work almost entirely centering around Indo-European studies and leading to a highly elaborate and consistent reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language. The first half of the 20th century was marked by the structuralist school, based on the work of Ferdinand de Saussure in Europe and Edward Sapir and Leonard Bloomfield in the United States. The 1960s saw the rise of many new fields in linguistics, such as Noam Chomsky’s generative grammar, William Labov’s sociolinguistics, Michael Halliday’s systemic functional linguistics and also modern psycholinguistics.

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Psycholinguistics

Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language. The discipline is mainly concerned with the mechanisms in which languages are processed and represented in the brain.[1] Initial forays into psycholinguistics were largely philosophical or educational schools of thought, due mainly to their location in departments other than applied sciences (e.g., cohesive data on how the human brain functioned). Modern research makes use of biology, neuroscience, cognitive science, linguistics, and information science to study how the brain processes language, and less so the known processes of social sciences, human development, communication theories and infant development, among others. There are a number of subdisciplines with non-invasive techniques for studying the neurological workings of the brain; for example, neurolinguistics has become a field in its own right.

Psycholinguistics has roots in education and philosophy and covers the “cognitive processes” that make it possible to generate a grammatical and meaningful sentence out of vocabulary and grammatical structures, as well as the processes that make it possible to understand utterances, words, text, etc. Developmental psycholinguistics studies children’s ability to learn a language.

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Read also: The Neuroscience of Speech and Language

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Good Posture Help Mental Health

For many years, due to being unusually tall and thin, yet very shy and awkward, I had chronically poor posture. My shoulders hunched up and my large head dipped down. I had a judgmental first grade gym teacher who assigned children into groups by physical ability; he designated the two gangliest tallest girls, me and another, as basically the worst in the class and gave me the equivalent of near failing grades in gym class, even though I got straight As otherwise. From that point onward, I never felt comfortable in my skin as a physical being. I dreaded gym class for decades and avoided all sports, even though I thankfully had a kind gym teacher in middle school who tried to encourage me and gave me hope that I wasn’t an eternal klutz.

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Aging and the Change in Fatigue and Sleep

Fatigue is prevalent in the population and usually linked to sleep problems, and both are related to age. However, previous studies have been cross-sectional. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the trajectories of sleep and fatigue across 8 years of aging in a large group (N > 8.000) of individuals. A second purpose was to investigate whether fatigue trajectories would differ between age groups, and whether different trajectories of fatigue would be reflected in a corresponding difference in trajectories for sleep variables. Results from mixed model analyses showed that fatigue decreased across 8 years in all age groups, while sleep problems increased, non-restorative sleep decreased, weekend sleep duration decreased, and weekday sleep duration showed different patterns depending on age. Furthermore, the larger the decrease in fatigue, the larger was the increase in sleep duration across years, the lower was the increase of sleep problems, and the larger was the decrease of non-restorative sleep. The results suggest that aging has positive effects on fatigue and sleep and that these changes are linked.

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How life history modulates the brain’s social pain network

A growing body of work demonstrates that the brain responds similarly to physical and social injury. Both experiences are associated with activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and anterior insula. This dual functionality of the dACC and anterior insula underscores the evolutionary importance of maintaining interpersonal bonds. Despite the weight that evolution has placed on social injury, the pain response to social rejection varies substantially across individuals. For example, work from our lab demonstrated that the brain’s social pain response is moderated by attachment style: anxious-attachment was associated with greater intensity and avoidant-attachment was associated with less intensity in dACC and insula activation. In an attempt to explain these divergent responses in the social pain network, we propose the optimal calibration hypothesis, which posits variation in social rejection in early life history stages shifts the threshold of an individual’s social pain network such that the resulting pain sensitivity will be increased by volatile social rejection and reduced by chronic social rejection. Furthermore, the social pain response may be exacerbated when individuals are rejected by others of particular importance to a given life history stage (e.g., potential mates during young adulthood, parents during infancy and childhood).

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The Social Dimensions of Scientific Knowledge

Study of the social dimensions of scientific knowledge encompasses the effects of scientific research on human life and social relations, the effects of social relations and values on scientific research, and the social aspects of inquiry itself. Several factors have combined to make these questions salient to contemporary philosophy of science. These factors include the emergence of social movements, like environmentalism and feminism, critical of mainstream science; concerns about the social effects of science-based technologies; epistemological questions made salient by big science; new trends in the history of science, especially the move away from internalist historiography; anti-normative approaches in the sociology of science; turns in philosophy to naturalism and pragmatism. This entry reviews the historical background to current research in this area and features of contemporary science that invite philosophical attention. The philosophical work can roughly be classified into two camps. One acknowledges that scientific inquiry is in fact carried out in social settings and asks whether and how standard epistemology must be supplemented to address this feature. The other treats sociality as a fundamental aspect of knowledge and asks how standard epistemology must be modified from this broadly social perspective. Concerns in the supplementing approach include such matters as trust and answerability raised by multiple authorship, the division of cognitive labor, the reliability of peer review, the challenges of privately funded science, as well as concerns arising from the role of scientific research in society. The reformist approach highlights the challenge to normative philosophy from social, cultural, and feminist studies of science while seeking to develop philosophical models of the social character of scientific knowledge, and treats the questions of the division of cognitive labor, expertise and authority, the interactions of science and society, etc., from the perspective of philosophical models of the irreducibly social character of scientific knowledge.

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