ScienceDaily (Aug. 24, 2011) — Canadian researchers have found the first evidence that older brains get more benefit than younger brains from learning information the hard way — via trial-and-error learning.–The study was led by scientists at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and appears online Aug. 24, 2011 in the journal Psychology and Aging, ahead of the print edition.
The finding will surprise professional educators and cognitive rehabilitation clinicians as it challenges a large body of published science which has shown that making mistakes while learning information hurts memory performance for older adults, and that passive “errorless” learning (where the correct answer is provided) is better suited to older brains.—“The scientific literature has traditionally embraced errorless learning for older adults. However, our study has shown that if older adults are learning material that is very conceptual, where they can make a meaningful relationship between their errors and the correct information that they are supposed to remember, in those cases the errors can actually be quite beneficial for the learning process,” said Andreé-Ann Cyr, the study’s lead investigator.—Cyr conducted the research at Baycrest as a doctoral student in Psychology (University of Toronto), in collaboration with senior author and scientist Dr. Nicole Anderson of Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute. Dr. Anderson specializes in cognitive rehabilitation research with older adults.
In two separate studies, researchers compared the memory benefits of trial-and-error learning (TEL) with errorless learning (EL) in memory exercises with groups of healthy young and older adults. The young adults were in their 20s; the older adults’ average age was 70. TEL is considered a more effortful cognitive encoding process where the brain has to “scaffold” its way to making richer associations and linkages in order to reach the correct target information[U3]. Errorless learning (EL) is considered passive, or less taxing on the brain, because it provides the correct answer to be remembered during the learning process.—The researchers presented participants with a meaningful “cue” (e.g. type of tooth). The correct target word (e.g. molar) was shown to learners in the EL condition. In the TEL condition, the cue was presented alone, and participants made two guesses (such as canine, incisor) before the correct target “molar” was shown. After a short while, participants performed a memory test that required them to remember the context in which the words were learned (i.e. were they learned through trial-and-error or not).—-In both studies, participants remembered the learning context of the target words better if they had been learned through trial-and-error, relative to the errorless condition. This was especially true for the older adults whose performance benefited approximately 2.5 times more relative to their younger peers.
The findings from the Baycrest study may have important implications for how information is taught to older adults in the classroom, and for rehabilitation procedures aimed at delaying cognitive decline — procedures which rely on knowledge of how to train an aging brain, said Cyr.
The authors say future studies are needed to determine how different study materials and memory tasks impact the effect of errors on memory in aging. This will help to clarify the learning contexts in which errors should be avoided or harnessed. The study was funded by a doctoral award and research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.Story Source-The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care.–Journal Reference: Andrée-Ann Cyr, Nicole D. Anderson. Trial-and-error learning improves source memory among young and older adults.. Psychology and Aging, 2011
· [U1]Sounds like a good theory—it does work when combining them with herbs –with drugs—never seen a drug yet do what it is supposed to do without unwanted complications or side effects and with this enzyme activity it can be lethal since the enzyme will increase the lethality of the drug
[U2]With most people today are anerobic this could literally spread throughout the system so an increase uptake of some type of oxygen supplement would be strongly suggested—like Peroxide which will kill off anaerobic cancer
[U3]This is the format that the older people seem to have the most reception and response to in learning
Show of the Week September 19 2011
Exercise Boosts Health by Influencing Stem Cells to Become Bone, Not Fat
Iceland’s On Going Revolution
Scientists Discover Blood Factors That Appear to Cause Aging in Brains of Mice
USU research professor studies ‘pasture pharmacy’
Why Statins Do More Harm Than Good
Exercise Boosts Health by Influencing Stem Cells to Become Bone, Not Fat
ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 2011) — McMaster researchers have found one more reason to exercise: working out triggers influential stem cells to become bone instead of fat, improving overall health by boosting the body’s capacity to make blood.–The body’s mesenchymal stem cells are most likely to become fat or bone, depending on which path they follow. Using treadmill[U1]-conditioned mice, a team led by the Department of Kinesiology’s Gianni Parise has shown that aerobic exercise triggers those cells to become bone more often than fat.–The exercising mice ran less than an hour, three times a week, enough time to have a significant impact on their blood production, says Parise, an associate professor.–In sedentary mice, the same stem cells were more likely to become fat, impairing blood production in the marrow cavities of bones.[U2] The research appears in a new paper published by the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.–“The interesting thing was that a modest exercise program was able to significantly increase blood cells in the marrow and in circulation,” says Parise. “What we’re suggesting is that exercise is a potent stimulus — enough of a stimulus to actually trigger a switch in these mesenchymal stem cells.”[U3] The composition of cells in the bone marrow cavity has an important influence on the productivity of blood stem cells.–In ideal conditions, blood stem cells create healthy blood that boosts the immune system, permits the efficient uptake of oxygen, and improves the ability to clot wounds.
Bone cells improve the climate for blood stem cells to make blood.\
But when fat cells start to fill the bone marrow cavity — a common symptom of sedentary behavior — blood stem cells become less productive, and conditions such as anemia can result.–The findings add to the growing list of established benefits of exercise, Parise says, and suggest that novel non-medicinal treatments for blood-related disorders may be in the future. “Some of the impact of exercise is comparable to what we see with pharmaceutical intervention,” he says. “Exercise has the ability to impact stem cell biology. It has the ability to influence how they differentiate.” Story Source—The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by McMaster University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.–Journal Reference: J. M. Baker, M. De Lisio, G. Parise. Endurance exercise training promotes medullary hematopoiesis. The FASEB Journal, 2011; DOI: 10.1096/
A Story Missing from Our Media ~ Iceland’s On Going Revolution By Deena Stryker.
An Italian radio program’s story
about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. We may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt. The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then,
this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.
As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why: Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatised, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many UK and Dutch small investors. But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt. In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent. The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalised, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro. At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy. Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution. But only after much pain. Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose Drastic measures. The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens. Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros. This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private
parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back. What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the
relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’
debts, and accepted calls for a referendum. Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country. As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF. The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As
Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North. But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.) In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt. The IMF immediately froze its loan. But the revolution (though
not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis.
Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country. But Icelanders didn’t stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money. (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.) To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections. Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name. Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution. And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat. They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign. That’s why it is not in the news anymore
Scientists Discover Blood Factors That Appear to Cause Aging in Brains of Mice
Tony Wyss-Coray and his colleagues found substances in the blood of old mice that appear to inhibit the brain’s ability to produce new nerve cells critical to memory. ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 2011) — Memo to mature, health-minded vampires: You might want to consider limiting your treats to victims under age 30.–In a study to be published Sept. 1 in Nature, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have found substances in the blood of old mice that makes young brains act older. These substances, whose levels rise with increasing age, appear to inhibit the brain’s ability to produce new nerve cells critical to memory and learning.—The findings raise the question of whether it might be possible to shield the brain from aging by eliminating or mitigating the effects of these apparently detrimental blood-borne substances, or perhaps by identifying other blood-borne substances that exert rejuvenating effects on the brain but whose levels decline with age, said associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, the study’s senior author. Wyss-Coray is also associate director of the Center for Tissue Regeneration, Repair and Restoration at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.–It was long thought that the adult human brain produces no new nerve cells. But it is now known that in at least two places in mammalian brains, including those of mice and humans, such new cells continue to be formed throughout adulthood. One of these places is the dentate gyrus — part of a key brain region, the hippocampus, where new experiences are locked into memory. As in other tissues, new cells in these brain areas can arise there only because of the presence of stem cells, which can both replicate themselves and spin off daughter cells that differentiate to become dedicated nerve cells. The number of stem cells in adult brains diminishes with increasing age, as do certain cognitive capacities, such as spatial memory: An example in humans is remembering where you parked the car — or, if you are a mouse, recalling the whereabouts of an underwater platform you can perch on so you won’t have to keep swimming in order to keep your nose above water.— An early step in the Stanford team’s study involved connecting the circulatory systems of pairs of old and young mice via a surgical procedure, so that blood from the two mice comingled. “This way, we could examine the effects of old mice’s blood on young mice’s brains, and vice versa,” said Saul Villeda, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in Wyss-Coray’s laboratory, who led the study en route to his doctoral thesis. (The procedure was pioneered by study co-author and neurology and neurological sciences professor Thomas Rando, MD, PhD, who has used it to demonstrate that young blood can rejuvenate old muscle.)—The mixing of old and young blood produced changes in both the young and the old mice’s brains. For one thing, the older mouse in these pairs produced more new nerve cells in their dentate gyrus than solo older mice did.—“We saw a threefold increase in the number of new nerve cells being generated in old mice exposed to this ‘younger’ environment,” said Wyss-Coray. In contrast, the young members of old/young mouse pairs exhibited fewer new nerve cells in the dentate gyrus than did young mice untethered to elders.–The investigators then turned to the question of precisely what, in blood, was producing the effect. To rule out the possibility that an exchange of cells between the young and old mice was responsible, they created circulation-sharing young/old mouse pairs, one of whose members had been genetically engineered so that every one of its cells would glow green when exposed to light. In each case, green cells from the modified mouse turned up in the blood of the other mouse in the pair, as might be expected, but virtually never in the brain of the non-modified mouse. Clearly, some other substances besides cells from each mouse’s blood were affecting its partner’s brain.–Moreover, when plasma — the cell-free fraction of blood — from old mice was injected into young mice, it wrought the same deleterious changes in their dentate gyrus as if they’d been sharing blood with older mice. And on spatial-navigation tasks, such as finding a high spot to rest on in a water-filled chamber, young mice who had received injections of older mice’s plasma performed more poorly than a group that got injections of plasma from younger mice. The “old-blood” mice seemed to learn the desirable location as easily as the “youngbloods” did — but they forgot it more quickly, a sign of impaired hippocampal function.—To identify specific circulating factors associated with aging and tissue degeneration or tissue regeneration, the researchers assayed 66 different immune-signaling proteins found in mice’s blood. Six of these factors were elevated in both unpaired old mice and young mice that had been paired with older ones.–At the top of the list was eotaxin, a small protein that attracts a certain type of immune cells to areas where it has been secreted by other types of cells. Highlighting this discovery’s possible relevance to humans, tests that Wyss-Coray’s team conducted on blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples drawn from healthy people between the ages of 20 and 90 showed a parallel age-related increase in eotaxin. In humans, eotaxin is associated with allergic responses and asthma.
Normal young-adult mice given eotaxin injections exhibited deficient generation of new nerve cells in their dentate gyrus. So did both young mice administered plasma from old mice and young mice whose circulatory systems were joined with those of old mice — an effect that could be countered by injections of another substance that blocks eotaxin’s action. Eotaxin injections also impaired performance on spatial-memory tests.—Other blood-borne factors are probably significant players in aging-related declines in cognitive function. One of the six substances identified in the protein screen by Wyss-Coray’s group was MCP-1, a chemical that, in mice and humans, attracts immune cells called macrophages. Associate professor of neurosurgery Theo Palmer, PhD, has previously linked inflammation-triggered elevations of MCP-1 levels to reduced stem-cell numbers in the dentate gyrus.—The Wyss-Coray group is now testing eotaxin’s potential role in memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and is developing expanded blood-protein assays in a hunt for “rejuvenating” factors in blood that may prove useful in treating dementia and, perhaps, slowing the aging process in older brains.