Tag Archives: Brain Injury

Maybe The Handwriting Isn’t On The Wall After All

Our brain must understand that each possible iteration of, say, an “a” is the same, no matter how we see it written. Being able to decipher the messiness of each “a” may be more helpful in establishing that eventual representation than seeing the same result repeatedly.

The same research also notes that there could be a difference in the brains of young learners between those who only know how to print block letters (Hello! I’m mostly one of those. Long story.) and those who learn how to write in cursive.

In dysgraphia, a condition where the ability to write is impaired, sometimes after brain injury, the deficit can take on a curious form: In some people, cursive writing remains relatively unimpaired, while in others, printing does.

In alexia, or impaired reading ability, some individuals who are unable to process print can still read cursive, and vice versa — suggesting that the two writing modes activate separate brain networks and engage more cognitive resources than would be the case with a single approach.

That might not be all that much of a big deal, if it weren’t for the fact that cursive writing is disappearing as a subject being taught to the little dudes and dudettes in school. My youngest, Hyper Lad, really only had cursive for about a single year.

He had to learn the letters, try to put them together, and then was forced to write his spelling sentences in cursive each week for the rest of the year. And, really, that was it.

Now it’s years later and, because he didn’t get cursive reinforced in school and because his dad didn’t get a chance to really learn cursive his ownself, I now have to do the reading for him when it comes to cursive notes written by his oldest relatives. Annoying, but also, apparently, only the smallest of problems relating to not knowing cursive.

It turns out, the benefits of learning both handwriting and cursive will last through childhood and into adulthood. Most adults know how to type and consider it an efficient method for taking notes, certainly above using a messy handwriting. However, the very efficiency of typing could be working against adults trying to assimilate new information.

Two psychologists, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard. Contrary to earlier studies attributing the difference to the distracting effects of computers, the new research suggests that writing by hand allows the student to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.

All of which means . . . what?

I’m not going to say that you must emphasize handwriting in the young dudes and dudettes, but it’s looking like it might be a good idea.

Heck, even just having them handwrite the really important bits from their notes might offer a significant improvement in their ability to assimilate new information. Definitely something to think about as you sit down for your . . . erm. . . their homework come fall.

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Will You Take The Pledge?

by Richard

Oprah has one. Now AT&T has one. Will you sign up?

What’s this dude talking about, I hear you ask. Well, I hear some voices in my head and I’m going to go ahead and just say they’re your voices. Except for the one that tells me to take off all my clothes and run naked through the security screenings at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport. I know who that voice is and I hardly ever listen to him.


I’m talking about the no-text pledge.

There’s a great series of commercials running these days where people hold up signs with a few words printed on them. Those words are what they were reading in a text right before they had an accident, or right before a loved one had an accident. No text is worth it, is the message.

Oprah Winfrey has had a no-text pledge for a while in her no-phone zone. It’s a good idea. I even took the pledge myself in front of my three young dudes and, for the most part, I’ve stuck to it.

In a move mainly designed by PR flacks (the way I see it) AT&T has stepped up and also are asking people to sign their pledge that folks won’t send or read texts while driving. Remember those ads I was talking about up there a bit earlier? Turns out, they’re from AT&T.

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, was watching the Olympics with his daughter when she saw it — an ad featuring a man in a wheelchair suffering from a severe brain injury and holding a sign with the text: “Where r.”

“This is the text message that caused the car accident that changed my life forever,” the man said.

According to Stephenson, the ad did its job.

“She said, ‘Dad … that’s heavy’,” he said. “I said, it’s supposed to be heavy. It got your attention and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The ad, from AT&T, is part of the mobile company’s “It Can Wait” campaign. First launched in 2009, the campaign aims to curb texting and driving, especially among young drivers. It will be ramping up between now and September 19, or what the campaign is calling “No Text on Board — Pledge Day.”

AT&T is asking everyone to visit ItCanWait.com before Sept. 19 and sign the pledge. My question is this: Don’t these folks know about International Talk Like A Pirate Day? It’s also on Sept. 19. I hope we can fit in both things. It’s going to be tight, but doable
Moving on.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project,texting while driving increased 50% in one year (2010), when 20% of all drivers admitted to texting or sending an e-mail while driving.

Teens report doing so at more than twice that rate, with 43% admitting to doing so in an AT&T survey.

People texting are 23 times more likely to get into an accident than other drivers, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

So, yeah, I think this is something we can all agree on. No texting while driving. I mean, that’s what the shotgun seat is for.


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Texting While Driving Is The New Stupid

by Richard

There’s a great series of commercials running on TV these days that shows teenagers holding up small signs with a couple of words printed on it. Nothing spectacular written there, just a couple of words.

Then comes the devastating voiceover: These is the text (I/my friend/my sister/etc) was reading when (she died/I suffered traumatic brain injury/etc).

That, dudes, is a powerful series of commercials. It really gets the point across very simply and very directly that texting while driving is just about as stupid as you can get. Especially when you consider that the impact most texts can make on our daily lives are exceedingly minimal, surely something that can wait for when you’re done driving. And it’s not just teenagers that do this kind of idiocy. You dudes do it as well. Maybe not you specifically, but people of all ages.

I don’t get it. I mean, you’re behind the wheel of a fast-moving death machine and you don’t want to pay attention to where you’re headed? Sure familiarity breeds contempt, but I think we might need to reacquaint ourselves with the power of these machines pretty quickly.


Running the infographic on drinking and driving yesterday, made me start to think about this. So I found a similar one that details the dangers and costs of texting while driving. Print this out and make sure every driver in your house sees it.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving
Brought To You By: CarInsurance.org

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