Tag Archives: Reas

Freaky Friday: Bully Brains

by Richard

This is actually kind of scary. We know that being bullied makes for some big-time backlash for the young dudes who get bullied. What we didn’t know until recently is that being bullied also makes some physical changes in the brains of those kids who get bullied.

Yeah, that’s right. Young dudes who get bullied actually suffer permanent changes to the structure of their brains because of the bullying.

If we thought there was a reason to crack down on bullying in schools before, brother, you’d better believe there’s more of a reason now.

They lurk in hallways, bathrooms, around the next blind corner. But for the children they have routinely teased or tormented, bullies effectively live in the victims’ brains as well — and not just as a terrifying memory.

Preliminary evidence shows that bullying can produce signs of stress, cognitive deficits and mental-health problems.

Now University of Ottawa psychologist Tracy Vaillancourt and her colleagues at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario plan to scan the brains of teens who have been regularly humiliated and ostracized by their peers to look for structural differences compared with other children.

“We know there is a functional difference. We know their brains are acting differently, but we don’t know if it is structural as well,”said Vaillancourt, an expert in the biology of bullying.

According to Vaillancourt, she finds changes to the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory.

Bullied young dudes have already been found to score lower on tests that measure verbal memory and executive function, a set of skills needed to focus on a task and get the job done. Mental-health problems, such as depression, are also more common.

Come on, dudes. This is ridiculous. We need to have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in schools that’s actually enforced all the time, every time.  Kids need to feel safe when they’re at school, trying to learn.

I mean, come on. How can you learn if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, fearing the next push or the next time someone starts name calling?

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Maturation Transmigration

by Richard

I’ve got a theory here, based on some recent observation. I’m beginning to think that there’s only a finite amount of maturity in each family, maybe even the world, which would go a long way toward explaining some recent-ish behavior here on the Jones Compound.

You know the old theory about how this sort of thing works. As a little dude grows up in to a young dude and thence into dudehood itself, he andor she gradually matures, taking on adult responsibilities and eventually quits doing stuff like, oh, just to pluck an example out of the air, deliberately annoying someone just because you know it’ll make him andor her mad. It’s called growing up and, no matter how much we might dislike the idea, it’s something we all do. Eventually. I hope.

Over the last year or two, I’ve been seeing a lot of that maturity out of one of my young dudes, who shall remain nicknameless. It’s actually quite amazing how much he’s matured this last little bit. I was looking forward to having two mature young dudes in the house and seeing them exert a beneficial effect on the youngest little dude. It was going to be great.

Here’s the deal, though.

As the one young dude has grown and matured, the other young dude (obviously not Hyper Lad) seems to have regressed. It’s almost as is one of the dudes has been siphoning off maturity from his brother.

Hyper Lad, who’s all of 11, and the regressing young dude keep getting into almost knock-down, drag-out fights over, literally, nothing. I don’t know about you dudes, but it’s a bit disheartening when I’ve got to appeal to an 11-year-old to be the mature one in a fight with a brother who can already drive.

I’m not sure what else we can do other than pointing out the inconsistency and hoping the older young dude’s still-growing frontal cortex will eventually kick in and start regulating his behavior. Or maybe he just needs some more space. Like, for instance, going away to college. I know living four states away from my sister did wonders for our relationship.

Of course, if my theory is right and there’s only a set amount of maturity for each family, that could also explain my obsession with Cartoon Network and be the reason my favorite sentence these days seems to be “So’s your face.” Or maybe that’s just me.

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Freaky Friday: Verbal Sight

by Richard

It turns out that my wife, known to me as She Who Must Give Instructions — Twice, was right again. Being told what to look for can actually make it more likely that you’ll find it.

In a research study published today, scientists reveal that spoken language can alter your perception of the visible world.

The study in PLoS Onereveals that people given a series of visual tests had dramatically different scores when they were prompted first with a verbal cue. Asked to find a specific letter in a crowded picture, people were much more likely to find that letter when they were given the auditory cue “letter B” beforehand. Interestingly, being shown an image of the letter B before looking at the picture did not help them pick out the letter B any better than a control group could.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we’ve all done word searches in elementary and middle school when the teachers were looking for a little time killer and didn’t want to have to do too much work. With every word search, there’s a word bank to show you the words for which you’re searching. I always found that I did better when I read the words out loud to myself, rather than just reading the words.

The interesting thing to me, though, is I always find words that aren’t in the word bank. A question of looking too hard or just not focusing on the task at hand? I always came down on the side of working too hard, but my teachers kept harping on focus. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

Interestingly, although auditory verbal cues increased detection sensitivity, visual cues did not. This finding makes some sense when one considers that linguistic cues involve a non-overlapping format of sensory information that is globally statistically independent of the visual format of information in the detection task itself. By contrast, visual cues involve the same format of information as the detection task, and therefore do not provide converging sensory evidence from independent sources when the to-be-detected stimulus is presented.

Which means that there needs to be a combination of verbal and visual stimuli for this to work, to let you target what you’re looking for.

This has some pretty significant implications for parenting, dudes.

I mean, I know I’ve left notes for the little dudes before and returned to find absolutely nothing accomplished because they couldn’t find what I’d written about. After reading about this, I realized that the little dudes did do better when I gave them the note and also went over it with them.

Something to think about the next time Zippy the Monkey Boy tells me he can’t find that missing shoe when it’s sitting on the floor in the middle of the room.

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