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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Face Recognition, White Matter, and Connectivity

I played an online face recognition game with Isabelle yesterday. Isabelle’s focus improved along with her score. After a few tries she was able to recall all 10 components of the simulated face. Give it a try for yourself here. She loved playing. We also played an online version of Simon both with audio and without. We agreed that it was easier to play Simon without the audio. Check it out for yourself.

When the kids went to bed, I stayed up and read an article on reading performance and white matter. The study of 32 kids age 9 to 12 found that the stronger the connectivity of white matter, the better the reading ability. White matter is described as essential for information transformation. If the gray matter is the computer, the white matter is the wiring.

Interestingly, white matter is not distributed evenly in the brain. The right hemisphere has more white matter then the left. Significantly, synthesis occurs in the right hemisphere. Dan Pink describes it this way: “the right hemisphere is the picture; the left hemisphere is the thousand words. Clearly the hemispheres must be integrated for optimal performance.

Think About This

Two students are taking an exam—Andrew and Ashley. We are monitoring their brain activity. Andrew’s brain is popping with activity; Ashley’s brain is relatively calm. Which student did better on the exam? The answer is…Ashley. When it comes to performance, it is all about brain efficiency. It is similar to research that has been done comparing professional musicians to novices. While playing a concerto, the brain of the professional musician is more efficient than the novice. Practice until it’s automatic.

Cool, huh?

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