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Cinnamon Might Make Us Better Learners

Mice who ate cinnamon showed improved memory, learning

(Newser) - Scientists say they've discovered "one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners." And all you have to do is eat cinnamon. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center say that feeding cinnamon to mice with a poor learning ability turned them... More »

Why Parents Should Surprise Their Infants

Study: When the unexpected happens, it could promote learning

(Newser) - When something surprising happens, it provides a special learning experience for babies, a study suggests. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University set up a series of experiments in which babies were exposed to objects whose behavior did and did not "violate expectations," per the study, published in Science . In... More »

We Understand Probability as Toddlers

Experiment shows their quick learning skills

(Newser) - Don't understand probability? Try asking a 2-year-old. A study suggests they have an instinctive understanding of the ideas involved, and that a little observation goes a long way. Researchers at the University of Washington showed 32 toddlers a machine featuring a pair of blocks and a platform, Quartz reports.... More »

'Thinking Cap' Speeds Up Learning

Users less prone to errors in gaming task

(Newser) - A real-life "thinking cap" is finally here , and it's made by strapping sponges to your head. Scientists at Vanderbilt University have developed headgear that sends a subtle electric current through subjects' brains. It doesn't feel like much—just a little tingling at first—but the current appears... More »

Air Pollution Tied to Brain Damage

May cause learning and memory troubles, depression: Study

(Newser) - Air pollution isn’t just a threat to the heart and lungs: It can also affect learning, memory, and mood, researchers find. They exposed mice to extended periods of polluted or filtered air, and found that those exposed to pollution were slower to learn, quick to forget, and possibly more... More »

How Naps Can Help You Learn

New study shows a post-snooze memory boost

(Newser) - If you’re a fan of the afternoon nap, there’s no need to be ashamed—in fact, new research gives you the perfect excuse to stop reading this right now and go grab some midday shuteye. In the study, volunteers who napped for 100 minutes prior to completing a... More »

Brain Learns New Words in 15 Minutes

... if it hears them over and over and over

(Newser) - It takes the brain just 15 minutes to learn a new word, new research suggests. The trick is hearing it, oh, say 160 times in 15 minutes, the Telegraph reports. If that happens, the brain creates a neural network that is "virtually indistinguishable" from those surrounding familiar words, Cambridge... More »

Let's Scrap Final Exams

Harvard is right: They don't help students learn

(Newser) - Harvard made exactly the right move when it declared it would no longer require final exams, writes Jonathan Zimmerman. Critics immediately pounced, calling it yet another example of coddled students and weakened standards. (One example here .) Nope, writes NYU history professor Zimmerman in the Christian Science Monitor . That's an... More »

For True Knowledge, Close the Laptop and Grab a Book

For now, old-fashioned tomes beat the Internet for learning

(Newser) - David Brooks rounds up the latest studies on books vs. the Internet as a learning tool and comes down squarely on the side of paper and ink. The web may be better at imparting facts, but books are better at imparting knowledge to interpret those facts. The Internet produces "... More »

Newborns Learn in Their Sleep

Dozing babes better 'data sponges' than adults

(Newser) - Babies start absorbing information about the world around them as soon as they're out of the womb and they do so even in their sleep, according to new research. Scientists played a tune to 26 sleeping newborns and followed it up with a puff of air to the eyelids. Most... More »

'Puberty Pill' Could Make Kids Smarter

Drug would act on brain, blocking receptor that slows learning

(Newser) - Studying, schmudying: A pill that boosts teenagers’ ability to learn may be in the pipeline soon. A receptor in the hippocampus area of the brain appears to slow down learning when kids hit puberty, researchers at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn report. Give kids a steroid to suppress that receptor, and... More »

Cash-Strapped School Districts Go to 4-Day Week

Parents, workers miffed, but effect on student learning is unclear

(Newser) - As school districts across the nation find themselves battling massive budget shortfalls, some are turning to the relatively rare but controversial practice of shortening the school week. Four-day weeks usually don’t affect teacher pay or the amount of classroom time for students, as the days are simply lengthened. But... More »

Web Puts 2nd Language at Your Fingertips

Online options, from free to pricey, abound

(Newser) - The days of chanting vocabulary words in a classroom and dozing off in the language lab are fading from memory as language instruction becomes increasingly available on the Internet. Freestanding smartphone apps are one option, and more structured instruction comes at a price—and sometimes no price at all. The... More »

Sunny Days Help You Think

Cloudiness reduces cognitive agility in depressed people, researchers found

(Newser) - Does a cloudy day leave you groggy and unable to focus? If so, a study suggests you’re not alone: Cloudy days, regardless of season, can have an effect on cognitive function, MSNBC reports. Researchers cross-referencing the results of cognitive tests from 16,800 Americans with data on daily sunshine... More »

Keep Computers Out of Class, Prof Argues

(Newser) - An SMU dean has a message for his fellow college professors: Ditch the PowerPoint. Jose A. Bowen isn't anti-technology, explains the Chronicle of Higher Education, he just thinks too many instructors rely on it as a crutch. He's challenging others to "teach naked," without computers in the classroom,... More »

If Monkeys Could Talk ...

Tamarins possess skills fundamental to human language: researchers

(Newser) - Monkeys can recognize “incorrect” syllable pattern in words, revealing that species other than human possess the underlying skills necessary for anguage, the BBC reports. Researchers played recordings of made-up words that shared either a common prefix or suffix for two groups of cotton-top tamarin monkey. Tamarins familiarized with either... More »

Real 'Thinking Cap' May Not Be So Far Off

Magnetic pulse boosts learning, study shows; headgear next?

(Newser) - A magnetic pulse directed at a certain area of the brain may enhance learning and memory, the Telegraph reports. Canadian researchers subjected volunteers to a test that required they track a dot moving on a computer screen with a joystick, and volunteers who received stimulation fared much better. More »

Ditch 'i Before e Except After c' Rule: Brits

Ditty 'not worth teaching,' government says

(Newser) - Generations of frustrated schoolchildren have grumbled that “i before e except after c” isn’t worth learning because of numerous exceptions. Now the British government agrees, the BBC reports. In a document sent to 13,000 primary schools, officials say the ditty “is not worth teaching” because it’... More »

Clint Calls Us 'Generation Pussy'

Toughness and learning the 'secret to life'

(Newser) - "We live in more of a pussy generation now," Clint Eastwood tells Esquire upon the release of his new film Gran Torino. "Everybody's become used to saying, 'Well, how do we handle it psychologically?' " Eastwood, who grew up having to duke it out with bullies, looks... More »

Colleges Make iGadgets Part of Course Load

Schools give students iPhones, iPods as learning tools

(Newser) - Some US universities have started handing out free iPhones and Internet-enabled iPods to students, the New York Times reports. The institutions view the gadgets as tools for online research, student polling, and as-yet undeveloped educational applications, while Apple gets an in with a new generation with consumers. Professors with easily... More »

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