Simple Breakdown / How the Brain Processes Information

https://www.labs.hpe.com/next-next/brain

In 2008, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency issued a challenge to researchers: Create a sophisticated, shoebox-size system that incorporates billions of transistors, weighs about three pounds, and requires a fraction of the energy needed by current computers. Basically, a brain in a box.

Although neuroscience has made important strides in recent years, the inner workings of the brain are still largely a mystery. “So little is really understood about the hardware of the brain—the neurons and their interconnections, and the algorithms that run on top of them—that today, anyone who claims to have built ‘a brain-like computer’ is laughable,” says Stan Williams, a research fellow at Hewlett Packard Labs.

Programs mirror human logic, but they don’t mirror intuitive thought.”

Rich Friedrich, Hewlett Packard Labs

A caveat from HP Labs (super website) regarding the analogy that the human brain like a computer processor. 

________________________________

We have to start somewhere!

eLearning Design and Development

By Christopher Pappas,  November 11, 2016

The brain is often likened to a processor. A complex computing machine that takes raw data and turns it into thoughts, memories, and cognitions. However, it has its limits, and Instructional Designers must know the boundaries before they can create meaningful eLearning courses. In this article, I’ll explore how the brain works, from its basic biological and memory functions to its ability to process information. I’ll also share 3 tips to help you create an eLearning course design that facilitates knowledge absorption and assimilation.

Information Processing Basics: A Guide For Instructional Designers

The brain is a wondrous thing. It transforms letters, numbers, and images into meaningful data that governs every aspect of our lives. Neural pathways spark and new ideas meet with the old to form complex schematic structures. But one of the most miraculous tasks it tackles is learning. As eLearning professionals, we must understand how information processing takes place in order to create effective eLearning experiences.

Brain Biology / The brain consists of many different structures, and the cortex encases all of them. The cortex is the outermost shell of the brain that takes care of complex thinking abilities. For example, memory, language, spatial awareness, and even personality traits. The inner regions of the brain control the most primitive aspects of human nature, such as our base impulses, fears, emotions, and our subconscious. The brain also houses a “subcortex,” which connects directly to the cortex. As such, it’s able to transmit and process information. (A cliché description of “primitive, subconscious”)

The Human Memory

Now that we’ve briefly explored the physical makeup of the brain, let’s delve into one of its most vital functions: memory. After all, memory is crucial for eLearning. If online learners aren’t able to remember the information, then all is for naught. We usually don’t give memory much attention, as it’s an automatic process. Every event, no matter how small, passes through the gates of our memory without us even noticing. However, most of the occurrences are just passing through and never take up permanent residence. There are three types of memory that Instructional Designers should be aware of:

1. Sensory Memory 

When our senses are triggered by a stimulus, our brains briefly store the information. For example, we smell freshly baked bread and can only remember its scent for a few seconds before it vanishes. Even though the bread is no longer in front of us, our mind’s still hold onto its impression for a short period. The brain then has the option to process it through the memory banks or forget about it. In eLearning, sensory memory is triggered by a visually compelling image, background music, or any other element that utilizes the senses.

2. Short-Term Memory

A process that falls under the purview of working memory, which temporarily stores information when it is triggered by stimuli. Short-term memory can only hold a maximum of 7 items at one time. It also has a time limit, which is usually between 10 seconds to a minute.

3. Long-Term Memory

After passing through the short-term memory, relevant information is moved to long-term storage. At this stage, the brain is less likely to forget important details. However, even the long-term memory can diminish over time if we don’t refresh our knowledge.

Information Processing Stages

There are a number of Information Processing theories and models. However, many suggest that the learning process involves three key stages:

Stage 1: Input / The brain is exposed to a stimuli, at which point it analyzes and evaluates the information. For example, the online learner reads a passage and determines whether it’s worth remembering.

Stage 2: Storage / Our brains store the information for later use. It also adds it to our mental schema and encodes it. If the information is not reinforced, the brain may simply forget it over time.

Stage 3: Output / The brain decides what it’s going to do with the information and how it will react to the stimulus. For example, after reading the passage, the individual uses the information they learned to overcome a challenge.

Simple! The question is, How do specific human brains handle these processing tasks? Psychologists would have us believe that there is only ONE way this ought to be accomplished; their way. Bull Shit.

 

Advertisements

What is an Adult Human? / Biology Law Psychology Culture

Photo from Duke Health – group of 10-13 year olds. Biologically, they are adults. Legally they are not. Culturally? Psychologically? Big Questions.

Biological adulthood Wikipedia

Historically and cross-culturally, adulthood has been determined primarily by the start of puberty (the appearance of secondary sex characteristics such as menstruation in women, ejaculation in men, and pubic hair in both sexes). In the past, a person usually moved from the status of child directly to the status of adult, often with this shift being marked by some type of coming-of-age test or ceremony.[1]

After the social construct of adolescence was created, adulthood split into two forms: biological adulthood and social adulthood. Thus, there are now two primary forms of adults: biological adults (people who have attained reproductive ability, are fertile, or who evidence secondary sex characteristics) and social adults (people who are recognized by their culture or law as being adults). Depending on the context, adult can indicate either definition.

Although few or no established dictionaries provide a definition for the two word term biological adult, the first definition of adult in multiple dictionaries includes “the stage of the life cycle of an animal after reproductive capacity has been attained”.[2][3] Thus, the base definition of the word adult is the period beginning at physical sexual maturity, which occurs sometime after the onset of puberty. Although this is the primary definition of the base word “adult”, the term is also frequently used to refer to social adults. The two-word term biological adult stresses or clarifies that the original definition, based on physical maturity, is being used.

In humans, puberty on average begins around 10–11 years of age for girls and 11–12 years of age for boys, though this will vary from person to person. For girls, puberty begins around 10 or 11 years of age and ends around age 16. Boys enter puberty later than girls – usually around 12 years of age and it lasts until around age 16 or 17 (Or in rare cases 18 and a half).[4][5]

There seems to be disagreement on the attainment of adulthood: is it at the start or completion of puberty?

More from Duke Health: https://www.dukehealth.org/blog/when-puberty-too-early

When Is Puberty Too Early?

October 01, 2013

Early Puberty in Girls

For girls, puberty is generally considered to be too early if it begins at age seven or eight. African-American and Hispanic girls tend to start puberty slightly earlier than Caucasian girls. The average age of pubertal onset in girls is 10-and-a-half years old, but it ranges from seven to 13 years old. The average age of menarche is 12-and-a-half to 13 years of age. The whole process of puberty should take three to four years.

Rapidly progressing puberty — start to finish in less than two years — can be a concern as well because it can be due to an endocrine disorder

Early Puberty in Boys

For boys, puberty is generally considered too early before the age of nine years. In boys, onset of puberty is from nine to 14 years, but on average starts at 11-and-a-half to 12 years old. The whole process of puberty should take three to four years. Rapidly progressing puberty can also be a concern in males

Preventing Early Puberty

While genetic factors play a role in the early onset of puberty, parents can help delay the environmental causes of early puberty. Preventive measures include:

  • Encourage your child to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid exposure to exogenous hormones like estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, androstenedione that may be found in creams/gels, hair treatments, medications, and nutritional supplements. (And who knows where else these powerful hormones are being used and entering environmental systems)

 Psychological Adulthood? 

Here is where we encounter the perils of “socially constructed” opinion about human development: What a mess!

Psychological development

Written By: The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica

Psychological development, the development of human beings’ cognitive, emotional, intellectual, and social capabilities and functioning over the course of the life span, from infancy through old age. It is the subject matter of the discipline known as developmental psychology. Child psychology was the traditional focus of research, but since the mid-20th century much has been learned about infancy and adulthood as well. A brief treatment of psychological development follows. For full treatment, see human behaviour.

Infancy is the period between birth and the acquisition of language one to two years later.

Childhood is the second major phase in human development, childhood, extends from one or two years of age until the onset of adolescence at age 12 or 13.

Adolescence Physically, adolescence begins with the onset of puberty at 12 or 13 and culminates at age 19 or 20 in adulthood.

Hmmm…. a discrepancy of 7-8 YEARS between biological and psychological demarcation for the beginning of adulthood, that is, IF adulthood is the onset of puberty. IF it’s the completion of puberty – the discrepancy is more like 4-5 years.

But! We now have a serious problem: the socially constructed stage called adolescence, interferes with, and contradicts, the biological transition from pre-reproductive childhood, to reproductive adult with no clear transition at all. The result is chaos in education, legal jurisdiction, sex-reproduction-parenting, health, nutrition and behavioral expectations!

Adulthood is a period of optimum mental functioning when the individual’s intellectual, emotional, and social capabilities are at their peak to meet the demands of career, marriage, and children. Some psychologists delineate various periods and transitions in early to middle adulthood that involve crises or reassessments of one’s life and result in decisions regarding new commitments or goals. During the middle 30s people develop a sense of time limitation, and previous behaviour patterns or beliefs may be given up in favour of new ones.

Wow! Just how does a person between the ages of 10-20 years old negotiate this bizarre disconnect between a developmental paradigm “invented” by psychologists, and the physical reality of the human body?

One might expect individual cultures to “help” with this vital transition… 

Cultural Adulthood? 

How the American legal system defines adult status is a crucial cultural factor.  

Adult: A person who by virtue of attaining a certain age, generally eighteen, is regarded in the eyes of the law as being able to manage his or her own affairs.

Wow! Highly optimistic and unrealistic in American culture, which overwhelmingly advocates for the indefinite postponement of adulthood… 

Note that American education does little to nothing to prepare children, adolescents, and now “emerging adults” (a new category of underdeveloped Homo sapiens that is MEASURED BY the subjective “feeling” of being adult) for these sudden legal and financial facts of life.  This dithering over adult status is the “privilege” of the wealth classes; poor and minority children too often become “instant adults” – in a jail cell.  

The age specified by law, called the legal age of majority, indicates that a person acquires full legal capacity to be bound by various documents, such as contracts and deeds, that he or she makes with others and to commit other legal acts such as voting in elections and entering marriage. The age at which a person becomes an adult varies from state to state and often varies within a state, depending upon the nature of the action taken by the person. Thus, a person wishing to obtain a license to operate a motor vehicle may be considered an adult at age sixteen, but may not reach adulthood until age eighteen for purposes of marriage, or age twenty-one for purposes of purchasing intoxicating liquors.

Anyone who has not reached the age of adulthood is legally considered an infant. (!! Really?) West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Morning Thoughts / “$$$$ research” that proves “the obvious”

Headache: Reading research on brain development in childhood; what is “normal” and what is “not”.

(Hint: “normal” is the state of tolerating brain damage because it adapts one to high stress human social environments and unhealthy “deprived” physical environments. Those individuals who become “sickened” by conditions that harm living things are defective, like smoke alarms that actually respond to smoke!)

__________________________________________________________________________________________

I’m not “picking on” these specific people: this article is merely one of thousands that disclose a severe problem – billions of $$$ being spent to “research the obvious” and so little is spent on real preventive help for children and families. It’s SO FRUSTRATING for an Asperger: the neurotypical limitation of “letting things get screwed up” and only then “coming up with” some kind of “technical fix” that too often merely compounds suffering with new unintended consequences – Dig that hole deeper and deeper, is the prime directive for neurotypicals.  

Effects of Early Life Stress on Cognitive and Affective Function: An Integrated Review of Human Literature

The brilliant conclusion? Childhood abuse, neglect and trauma f**k with living things. Brilliant?

No, repetition of the OBVIOUS pattern:   

The goal of all this research? To somehow “fix” screwed up brains using high-tech engineering to “repair” what’s broken. Not brilliant! The neurotypical pattern is to perpetuate the social structures and toxic environments that damage human beings; let the damage occur, and then send out “recall notices” to come in and have your brain repaired (or further messed up).

The actual “thinking” behind NT behavior is dumb. The illusion that “technical breakthroughs solve problems” is so short-sighted and disproven by social history. Another obvious failure of NT insight into the incredible gap between narcissistic self-assessment and the lack of competency in practical, preventative action. 

Do we want people to be healthy and happy?  Or do we  want people to be f**k’d up? It’s a simple question. 

 

 

Evolutionary Hypotheses for Human Childhood / BARRY BOGIN

YEARBOOK OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY [Vol. 40, 1997

Evolutionary Hypotheses for Human Childhood
BARRY BOGIN Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, Michigan 48128

This is an intriguing and very readable paper that delineates clear differences in thought regarding the evolution of Homo sapiens. Bogin rejects non-reproduction-based explanations (welcome surprise!) for the “appearance” of extended infancy, childhood and juvenile stages of development. He rejects neoteny or heterochrony as sole mechanisms to account for unique aspects of human development; however, some of his claims are simply wrong regarding human uniqueness – and, within his hypothesis, there is nothing to rule out heterochrony and neoteny as critical mechanisms behind the addition or extension of the human infant-child-juvenile sequence of development.

My emphasis in this blog is on sexual selection for tameness / domestication due to the shift to agriculture from hunting, foraging, scavenging and gathering (nomadism). The inevitable sedentary-urban lifestyle that the new dependence on less nutritious food, and the increase in labor required for food production, necessitated adaptations that we see in a neotenic modern social type that dominates today. Many steps involving differential evolution of brain function, reproduction, behavior, culture and physiology have likely taken place to produce Homo sapiens sapiens (neurotypical humans).

I’d like to comment point by point, but this is a long essay…  

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6389/0bc6c543fb013debe2f9f2177150f84bfeaa.pdf

Evolutionary Hypotheses for Human Childhood (1997)

BARRY BOGIN Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, Michigan

ABSTRACT

The origins of human childhood have fascinated scholars from many disciplines. Some researchers argue that childhood, and many other human characteristics, evolved by heterochrony, an evolutionary process that alters the timing of growth stages from ancestors to their descendants. Other scholars argue against heterochrony, but so far have not offered a well-developed alternative hypothesis. This essay presents such an alternative.

Childhood is defined as a unique developmental stage of humans. Childhood is the period following infancy, when the youngster is weaned from nursing but still depends on older people for feeding and protection. The biological constraints of childhood, which include an immature dentition, a small digestive system, and a calorie-demanding brain that is both relatively large and growing rapidly, necessitate the care and feeding that older individuals must provide.

Evidence is presented that childhood evolved as a new stage hominid life history, first appearing, perhaps, during the time of Homo habilis. The value of childhood is often ascribed to learning many aspects of human culture. It is certainly true that childhood provides ‘‘extra’’ time for brain development and learning. However, the initial selective value of childhood may be more closely related to parental strategies to increase reproductive success. Childhood allows a woman to give birth to new offspring and provide care for existing dependent young. Understanding the nature of childhood helps to explain why humans have lengthy development and low fertility, but greater reproductive success than any other species. Yrbk Phys Anthropol 40:63–89, 1997. r 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Childhood fascinates scholars and practitioners from many disciplines. Virtually all human cultures recognize a time of life that may be called ‘‘childhood.’’ Many historical sources from Egyptian times to the 19th century, including Wordsworth in the poem above, mention that ‘‘childhood’’occupies the first 6 to 7 years of life (Boyd, 1980). Some explanations for the origins and functions of childhood have been proposed, but none of these is accepted universally. Perhaps the lack of agreement is due to the nature of human evolutionary biology.

Much, much more…..

______________________________________________

Orangutans hanging out, from James Tan.

There are a lot of conflicting claims about “childhood” and other aspects of comparative primate development…… The orangutan has the longest childhood dependence on the mother of any animal in the world, because there is so much for a young orangutan to learn in order to survive. The babies nurse until they are about six years of age….Orangutan females only give birth about once every 8 years – the longest time between births of any mammal on earth. (This results in only 4 to 5 babies in her lifetime.) This is why orangutan populations are very slow to recover from disturbance.

from http://primatefacts.tumblr.com

Self-mythologizing / Homo sapiens NT strikes again

Every once in awhile, I like to check in with neurotypical “pop science” versions of WHO WE ARE – narcissism knows no limits. 

From SLATE.com

Science / The state of the universe. (Not too pompous!)
Jan. 29 2013

Why Are We the Last Apes Standing?

There’s a misconception among a lot of us Homo sapiens that we and our direct ancestors are the only humans ever to have walked the planet. It turns out that the emergence of our kind isn’t nearly that simple. The whole story of human evolution is messy, and the more we look into the matter, the messier it becomes.

)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Before we go into this “messy” NT mythology – the author: His website is www.chipwalter.com

Welcome!

At last you have made your way to the website of Chip Walter. (Try to control your excitement.) If you’re a curious person – and your discovery of this site attests that you are – then you’ve arrived at the right place. Go ahead, browse…

Chip is a journalist, author, filmmaker and former CNN Bureau Chief. He has written four books, all of them, one way or another, explorations of human creativity, human nature and human curiosity. (That should be a warning: shameless BS to follow)

(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

Paleoanthropologists have discovered as many as 27 different human species (the experts tend to debate where to draw the line between groups). These hominids diverged after our lineage split from a common ancestor we shared with chimpanzees 7 million years ago, give or take a few hundred millennia.

Many of these species crossed paths, competed, and mated. Populations ebbed and flowed in tight little tribes, at first on the expanding savannahs of Africa, later throughout Europe, Asia, and all the way to Indonesia. Just 100,000 years ago, there were several human species sharing the planet, possibly more: Neanderthals in Europe and West Asia, the mysterious Denisovan people of Siberia, the recently discovered Red Deer Cave people living in southern China, Homo floresiensis (the Hobbits of Indonesia), and other yet unknown descendants of Homo erectus who left indications that they were around (the DNA of specialized body lice, to be specific). And, of course, there was our kind, Homo sapiens sapiens (the wise, wise ones), still living in Africa, not yet having departed the mother continent. At most, each species consisted of a few tens of thousands of people hanging on by their battered fingernails. Somehow, out of all of these struggles, our particular brand of human emerged as the sole survivor and then went on, rather rapidly, to materially rearrange the world.

If there once were so many other human species wandering the planet, why are we alone still standing? After all, couldn’t another version or two have survived and coexisted with us on a world as large as ours? Lions and tigers coexist; so do jaguars and cheetahs. Gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and chimpanzees do as well (though barely). Two kinds of elephants and multiple versions of dolphins, sharks, bears, birds, and beetles—countless beetles—inhabit the planet. Yet only one kind of human? Why?

More than once, one variety may have done in another either by murdering its rivals outright or outcompeting them for limited resources. But the answer isn’t as simple or dramatic as a war of extermination with one species turning on the other in some prehistoric version of Planet of the Apes. The reason we are still here to ruminate on why we are still here is because, of all those other human species, only we evolved a long childhood.

Over the course of the past 1.5 million years, the forces of evolution inserted an extra six years between infancy and pre-adolescence—a childhood—into the life of our species. And that changed everything.

Why should adding a childhood help us escape extinction’s pitiless scythe? Looked at logically, it shouldn’t. All it would seem to do is lengthen the time between birth and mating, which would slow down the clamoring business of the species’ own continuance. But there was one game-changing side effect of a long childhood. Those six years of life between ages 1 and 7 are the time when we lay the groundwork for the people we grow up to become. Without childhood you and I would never have the opportunity to step away from the dictates of our genes and develop the talents, quirks, and foibles that make us all the devastatingly charming, adaptable, and distinctive individuals we are.

Childhood came into existence as the result of a peculiar evolutionary phenomenon known generally as neoteny. (More about this sweeping misinterpretation later) The term comes from two Greek words, neos meaning “new” (in the sense of “juvenile”) and teinein meaning to “extend,” and it means the retention of youthful traits. In the case of humans, it meant that our ancestors passed along to us a way to stretch youth farther into life.

More than a million years ago, our direct ancestors found themselves in a real evolutionary pickle. One the one hand, their brains were growing larger than those of their rain forest cousins, and on the other, they had taken to walking upright because they spent most of their time in Africa’s expanding savannas. Both features would seem to have substantially increased the likelihood of their survival, and they did, except for one problem: Standing upright favors the evolution of narrow hips and therefore narrows the birth canal. And that made bringing larger-headed infants to full term before birth increasingly difficult.

If we were born as physically mature as, say, an infant gorilla, our mothers would be forced to carry us for 20 months! But if they did carry us that long, our larger heads wouldn’t make it through the birth canal. We would be, literally, unbearable. The solution: Our forerunners, as their brains expanded, began to arrive in the world sooner, essentially as fetuses, far less developed than other newborn primates, and considerably more helpless.

Bolk enumerated 25 specific fetal or juvenile features that disappear entirely in apes as they grow to adulthood but persist in humans. Flatter faces and high foreheads, for example, and a lack of body hair. The shape of our ears, the absence of large brow ridges over our eyes, a skull that sits facing forward on our necks, a straight rather than thumblike big toe, and the large size of our heads compared with the rest of our bodies. You can find every one of these traits in fetal, infant, or toddling apes, and modern human adults.

In the nasty and brutish prehistoric world our ancestors inhabited, arriving prematurely could have been a very bad thing. But to see the advantages of being born helpless and fetal, all you have to do is watch a 2-year-old. Human children are the most voracious learners planet Earth has ever seen, and they are that way because their brains are still rapidly developing after birth. Neoteny, and the childhood it spawned, not only extended the time during which we grow up but ensured that we spent it developing not inside the safety of the womb but outside in the wide, convoluted, and unpredictable world.

The same neuronal networks that in other animals are largely set before or shortly after birth remain open and flexible in us. Other primates also exhibit “sensitive periods” for learning as their brains develop, but they pass quickly, and their brain circuitry is mostly established by their first birthday, leaving them far less touched by the experiences of their youth.

The major problem with all this NT self-congratulatory aggrandizement is this: the equally possible scenario that this “open, externalized brain development” leaves human fetuses-infants-children highly vulnerable to disastrous consequences: death in infancy by neglect, disease and predation; maternal death, brain and nervous system damage due to not-so-healthy human environments, insufficient care and nutrition during critical post-birth growth, plus the usual demands and perils of nature.  And in “modern” societies, the necessity of a tremendous amount of medical-technological intervention in problem pregnancies: extreme premature birth, caesarian section delivery, long periods of ICU support, and growing incidence of life-long impairment.    

“Inattentional Blindness” to any negative consequences of human evolution is a true failure in NT perception of the human condition.

Based on the current fossil evidence, this was true to a lesser extent of the 26 other savanna apes and humans. Homo habilis, H. ergaster, H. erectus, even H. heidelbergensis (which is likely the common ancestor of Neanderthals, Denisovans, and us), all had prolonged childhoods compared with chimpanzees and gorillas, but none as long as ours. In fact, Harvard paleoanthropologist Tanya Smith and her colleagues have found that Neanderthals reversed the trend. By the time they met their end around 30,000 years ago, they were reaching childbearing age at about the age of 11 or 12, which is three to five years earlier than their Homo sapiens cousins. Was this in response to evolutionary pressure to accelerate childbearing to replenish the dwindling species? Maybe. But in the bargain, they traded away the flexibility that childhood delivers, and that may have ultimately led to their demise.

Aye, yai, yai! This string of NT echolalia, copied and pieced together from pop-science interpretations of “science projects” is worthy of Biblical mythology… a montage, a disordered mosaic; a collage of key words, that condenses millions of years of evolutionary change into a “slightly longer” (call it 6 million years instead of 6 thousand – sounds more scientific) – history of Creation… this is for neurotypical consumption: It’s okay… Evolution is really just magic, after all! 

We are different. During those six critical years, our brains furiously wire and rewire themselves, capturing experience, encoding and applying it to the needs of our particular life. Our extended childhood essentially enables our brains to better match our experience and environment. (Whatever that is supposed to mean – like wearing Bermuda shorts to the beach?) It is the foundation of the thing we call our personalities, the attributes that make you you and me me. Without it, you would be far more similar to everyone else, far less quirky and creative and less, well … you. Our childhood also helps explain how chimpanzees, remarkable as they are, can have 99 percent of our DNA but nothing like the same level of diversity, complexity, or inventiveness.

You are creative and quirky (dull and conformist) – and even if that’s a shameless lie (it is), AT LEAST you’re smarter than a chimpanzee!  

Our long childhood has allowed us to collectively engage in ever broadening conversations as we keep finding new ways to communicate; we jabber and bristle with invention and pool together waves of fresh ideas, good and bad, into that elaborate, rambling edifice we call human civilization. Without all of this variety, all of these interlocked notions and accomplishments, the world, for better or worse, would not be as it is, brimming with this species of self-aware conflicted apes, ingenious enough to rocket rovers off to Mars and construct the Internet, wage wars on international scales, invent both WMDs and symphonies. If not for our long childhoods, we would not be here at all, the last apes standing. Can we remain standing? Possibly. I’m counting on the child in us, the part that loves to meander and play, go down blind alleys, wonder why and fancy the impossible.

How shockingly stupid (and awful) writing. 

 

Psychologists Terrorize Children / “Emotional Regulation” Abuse

American Schools Are Failing Nonconformist Kids. Here’s How

In defense of the wild child

https://newrepublic.com/article/114527/self-regulation-american-schools-are-failing-nonconformist-kids

By Elizabeth Weil, September 2, 2013

The writing is cringe-worthy, especially abominations such as “valorize” and “valorizing” but that’s neurotypicals for you – novelty is irresistible, like glitter and mini cupcakes with blue icing and sprinkles. Highlights are mine. Comments.

Of the possible child heroes for our times, young people with epic levels of the traits we valorize, the strongest contender has got to be the kid in the marshmallow study. Social scientists are so sick of the story that some threaten suicide if forced to read about him one more time. But to review: The child—or really, nearly one-third of the more than 600 children tested in the late ’60s at Bing Nursery School on the Stanford University campus—sits in a room with a marshmallow. Having been told that if he abstains for 15 minutes he’ll get two marshmallows later, he doesn’t eat it. This kid is a paragon of self-restraint, a savant of delayed gratification. He’ll go on, or so the psychologists say, to show the straight-and-narrow qualities required to secure life’s sweeter and more elusive prizes: high SAT scores, money, health.

I began to think about the marshmallow kid and how much I wanted my own daughter to be like him one day last fall while I sat in a parent-teacher conference in her second-grade classroom and learned, as many parents do these days, that she needed to work on self-regulation. My daughter is nonconformist by nature, a miniature Sarah Silverman. She’s wildly, transgressively funny and insists on being original even when it causes her pain. The teacher at her private school, a man so hip and unthreatened that he used to keep a boa constrictor named Elvis in his classroom, had noticed she was not gently going along with the sit-still, raise-your-hand-to-speak-during-circle-time program. “So …” he said, in the most caring, best-practices way, “have you thought about occupational therapy?”

I did not react well. My husband reacted worse. I could appreciate the role of O.T., as occupational therapy is called, in helping children improve handwriting through better pencil grips. But I found other O.T. practices, and the values wrapped up in them, discomfiting: occupational therapists coaching preschoolers on core-muscle exercises so that they can sit longer; occupational therapists leading social-skills playgroups to boost “behavior management” skills. Fidget toys and wiggle cushions—O.T. staples aimed at helping children vent anxiety and energy—have become commonplace in grammar-school classrooms. Heavy balls and weighted blankets, even bags of rice, are also prescribed on the theory that hefty objects comfort children who feel emotionally out of control. Did our daughter need what sounded like a paperweight for her young body in order to succeed at her job as a second-grader?

Are mainstream classrooms being redesigned under the assumption that all children are autistic or behaviorally impaired? 

My husband grilled the teacher. How were her reading skills? What about math? Did she have friends?

All good, the teacher reassured us.

“So what’s the problem?” my husband asked. “Is she distracting you?”

The teacher stalled, then said yes.

“And have you disciplined her?”

He had not.

This is when I began to realize we’d crossed some weird Foucaultian threshold into a world in which authority figures pathologize children instead of punishing them.

No – psychology provides pathologies to JUSTIFY the same old “right and obligation” granted those in authority, to punish children and “lesser” humans.  

Self-regulation,” “self- discipline,” and “emotional regulation” are big buzz words in schools right now. All are aimed at producing “appropriate” behavior, at bringing children’s personal styles in line with an implicit emotional orthodoxy. That orthodoxy is embodied by a composed, conforming kid who doesn’t externalize problems or talk too much or challenge the rules too frequently or move around excessively or complain about the curriculum or have passionate outbursts. He’s a master at decoding expectations. He has a keen inner minder to bring rogue impulses into line with them.

Emotional regulation is psychology’s new pet field. Before 1981, a single citation for the term existed in the literature. For 2012 alone, Google Scholar turns up more than 8,000 hits. In popular culture, self-regulation is celebrated in best-selling education books, like Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed, manuals for success in a meritocracy extolling a pull-your-socks-up way of being. Some of Tough’s ideas are classically liberal, built off Nobel Prize–winning economist James Heckman’s theory of human capital and the importance of investing in the very young. But then the book turns toward the character-is-destiny model pioneered by University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth and the KIPP charter-school network. The key to success, in this formulation, is grit. (Though Duckworth acknowledges on her own website that nobody is sure how to teach it.) One KIPP school features a tiled mosaic that reads, “DON’T EAT THE MARSHMALLOWS YET!”

“Long may this book dwell on the best-seller lists!” Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, giving How Children Succeed a hearty endorsement. Yet though widely embraced by progressives, the grit cure-all is in many ways deeply conservative, (Puritanical / Liberal / Old Testament actually, in the American version of religious  pedagogy) arguably even a few inches to the right of Amy Chua and her Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The parent of the well-regulated child should not, like Chua, need to threaten to burn her daughter’s stuffie if that daughter is curious or self-indulgent, AWOL (or god-forbid, dawdling) somewhere between school, soccer practice, and the piano tutor. The child should be equipped with an internal minder. No threats necessary.

But at what cost? One mother I spoke to, a doctor in Seattle, has a son who has had trouble sitting cross-legged, as his classroom’s protocol demanded. The school sent home a note suggesting she might want to test him for “learning difference.” She did—“paid about two thousand dollars for testing,” she told me—and started the child in private tutoring. “After the third ride home across the city with him sobbing about how much he hated the sessions, we decided to screw it,” she said. She later learned every one of the boys in her son’s class had been referred out for testing. Another family, determined to resist such intervention, paid for an outside therapist to provide expert testimony to their son’s Oakland school stating that he did not have a mental health disorder. (So much for “innocent until proven guilty“ – human rights are being trampled, right and left) We wanted them to hear from the therapist directly: He’s fine,” the mother said. “Being a very strong-willed individual—that’s a powerful gift that’s going to be unbelievably awesome someday.”

In the meantime, he’s part of an education system (a victim, rather) that has scant tolerance for independence of mind. “We’re saying to the kid, ‘You’re broken. You’re defective,’ ” says Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America. “In some ways, these things become self-fulfilling prophesies.”

Education is the business of shaping people. (Social-engineering) It works, however subtly, toward an ideal. At various points, the ideal products of the American school system have been extroverts and right-handed children. (Lefties were believed to show signs of “neurological insult or physical malfunctioning” and had to be broken of their natural tendency.) Individuality has had its moments as well. In the 1930s, for instance, educators made huge efforts to find out what motivated unique students to keep them from dropping out because no jobs existed for them to drop into. Yet here in 2013, even as the United States faces pressure to “win the future,” the American education system has swung in the opposite direction, toward the commodified data-driven ideas promoted by Frederick Winslow Taylor, who at the turn of the century did time-motion studies of laborers carrying bricks to figure out how people worked most efficiently. Borrowing Taylor’s ideas, school was not designed then to foster free thinkers. Nor is it now, thanks to how teacher pay and job security have been tied to student performance on standardized tests. (A red herring – this has nothing to do with accountability)  “What we’re teaching today is obedience, conformity, following orders,” says the education historian Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System. “We’re certainly not teaching kids to think outside the box.” The motto of the so-called school-reform movement is: No Excuses. “The message is: It’s up to you. Grit means it’s your problem. Just bear down and do what you have to do.”

American education has always taught obedience, conformity, and following orders; the difference is that we used to throw in basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills so that “the peasants” could read The Bible and perform basic job tasks.   

As a consumer of education—both as a child and a parent—I’d never thought much about classroom management. The field sounds technical and dull, inside baseball for teachers. Scratch two inches below the surface, however, and it becomes fascinating, political philosophy writ small. Is individuality to be contained or nurtured? What relationship to authority do teachers seek to create?

One way to think about classroom management (and discipline in general) is that some tactics are external and others are internal. External tactics work by inflicting an embarrassing or unpleasant experience on the kid. The classic example is a teacher shaming a child by making him write “I will not …” whatever on the blackboard 100 times. My own second-grade teacher threw a rubber chicken at a boy who refused to shut up during silent reading. But such means have become “well, problematic,” says Jonathan Zimmerman, director of the History of Education Program at New York University. In 1975, in Goss v. Lopez, the Supreme Court found schoolchildren to have due process rights. “As a result, students can say to teachers with some authority, ‘If you do that, my mom is going to sue you.’ And that changes the score.”

In Goss’s wake, many educators moved toward what progressive education commentator Alfie Kohn calls the New Disciplines. The philosophy promotes strategies like “shared decision-making,” allowing children to decide between, say, following the teacher’s rules and staying after school for detention. This sounds great to the contemporary ear. The child is less passive and prone to be a victim, more autonomous and in control of his life. But critics of the technique are harsh. It’s “fundamentally dishonest, not to mention manipulative,” Kohn has written. “To the injury of punishment is added the insult of a kind of mind game whereby reality is redefined and children are told, in effect, that they wanted something bad to happen to them.”

A different, utopian approach to classroom management works from the premise that children are natively good and reasonable. If one is misbehaving, he’s trying to tell you that something is wrong. Maybe the curriculum is too easy, too hard, too monotonous. Maybe the child feels disregarded, threatened, or set up to fail. It’s a pretty thought, order through authentic, handcrafted curricula. But it’s nearly impossible to execute in the schools created through the combination of No Child Left Behind and recessionary budget-slashing. And that makes internal discipline very convenient right now.

To train this vital new task, schools have added to reading,’riting, and ’rithmetic a fourth R, for self-regulation. The curricular branch that has emerged to teach it is called social and emotional learning, or SEL. Definitions of SEL are tautological. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines it as involving “the processes of developing social and emotional competencies” toward the goal of making a child a “good student, citizen, and worker” who is less inclined to exhibit bad behaviors, like using drugs, fighting, bullying, or dropping out of school.

The aim is to create a “virtuous cycle” of behavior. As Celene Domitrovich, director of research at CASEL, told me, SEL instructs children in “the skills that undergird” grit. “Paul Tough doesn’t talk about SEL, even though his whole book is about it,” says Domitrovich. “Tenacity, grit, motivation, stick-to-it-iveness—we’re all talking about the same thing.”

CASEL was founded by Daniel Goleman, the former New York Times reporter whose 1995 blockbuster book, Emotional Intelligence, was based on the work of two psychology professors, John Mayer and Peter Salovey. (Salovey clearly has all kinds of intelligence. He’s now president of Yale University.) Emotional intelligence sounds unassailably great. Who wouldn’t want high ratings for oneself or one’s children, especially given Goleman’s claim that emotional intelligence is a more powerful predictor of career success than IQ? Besides, SEL filled a need. On top of the discipline vacuum* created by the Goss ruling, in the 1990s, says Domitrovich, “you start having school shootings. There’s a surge of interest in the idea of prevention—bullying prevention, character development.” * Discipline vacuum? A consequence of Americans equating discipline with physical punishment. Take away paddling, smacking, hitting and humiliation-shaming, and – well, there is no other discipline, is there? Read your Bible!) 

Now that is a perverted line of thinking! School shootings can be “prevented” by mass behavioral indoctrination and social coercion from birth, a program, which in itself, is a human rights catastrophe! Psycho-social Eugenics…  

Since then, CASEL has been pushing hard. It’s an advocacy group. The NoVo Foundation, run by Warren Buffett’s son Peter and Peter’s wife, Jennifer—and endowed with roughly $140 million worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock—has taken up social and emotional learning as one of its four primary philanthropic interests. SEL is now mandated at all grade levels in Illinois. Some form of it is taught in half of school districts in the United States.

Certain SEL lessons are embedded into school practices like “morning meeting.” The peace table at my daughter’s school, inspired by psychologist Thomas Gordon’s suite of alternatives to “power-based” classroom management techniques, is sort of an SEL extracurricular. Anyone can call a peace table to address a grievance, which can range from I think you smacked that tetherball into my head on purpose to I’d like to hang out more with your best friend. At the table, the children complete a worksheet. When you ______, I feel _______. I need you to _______.

SEL curricula also offer direct instruction on discrete skills. For example, a teacher might do an active-listening exercise, laying out the components—you look the other person in the eye, you’re quiet when they talk—then asking the children to role-play. This, of course, is a useful life habit and a dream to a lecturing teacher. Yet Domitrovich takes it further. “You can see where it’s so obvious that this is essential to learning. What if a child is not good at stopping and calming down? What if a child is really impulsive? What if a child is not good at getting along with everybody? How’s that going to play out?” To her, the answer is clear. The other students in the class are going to ignore and exclude the poorly regulated child. As a result, that child is not going to be “learning optimally.” Academics will suffer due to deficient social and emotional skills.

Is this not an “underhanded” way to single out ASD / Asperger children for “retraining” as social clones? Impose a “behavior regime” that is so strict that such children will not be able to comply, and “self-diagnose” 

The only problem is: It’s not clear that’s true. In 2007, Greg Duncan, a professor of education at the University of California at Irvine, did an analysis of the effects of social and emotional problems on a sample of 25,000 elementary school students. He found, he says, “Emotional intelligence in kindergarten was completely unpredictive.” Children who started school socially and emotionally unruly did just as well academically as their more contained peers from first through eighth grades. David Grissmer, at the University of Virginia, reran Duncan’s analysis repeatedly, hoping to prove him wrong. Instead, he confirmed that Duncan was right. A paper from Florida International University also found minimal correlation between emotional intelligence and college students’ GPAs.

In 2011, CASEL volleyed back at the skeptics, publishing a gigantic meta-analysis (213 studies, 270,034 students) claiming that SEL programs raised academic performance by 11 percent. Such a large and divergent finding sent up a red flag for NurtureShock co-author Ashley Merryman, who’d read just about every published study relating to emotional intelligence and academic achievement while researching the book. So she examined CASEL’s source studies and discovered that only 33 of the 213 reported any academic results at all. She also uncovered a far more likely reason for CASEL’s fortuitous finding: Many of the students in the sample populations received academic tutoring. (Exploitive capitalists…let’s label these people for who they really are.) 

In 2007 a UNICEF paper on child wellbeing ranked England dead last in the 21 developed nations it surveyed. (Apparently all those books and movies about horrid British childhoods are accurate.) SEL, the British hoped, would make its children emotionally healthy. The Department of Education rolled out programs countrywide. Six years later, England’s experience with SEL (or SEAL, as they call it) offers some cautionary tales. For starters, the programs didn’t seem to work as hoped—or, as an official 2010 brief reported politely, “[O]ur data was not congruent with the broader literature” promising “significant improvements in a range of outcomes.”

Among the most cutting assessments of the British SEL experiment is an ethnographic study called “Social and Emotional Pedagogies: Critiquing the New Orthodoxy of Emotion in Classroom Behaviour Management,” by Val Gillies, a professor of social and policy studies at London South Bank University. Gillies describes the new emotional orthodoxy as a “calm, emotionally flat ideal” that “not only overlies a considerably more turbulent reality, [but] also denies the significance of passion as a motivator.” In theory, SEL gives less well-regulated children a more stable foundation from which to learn. In reality, writes Gillies, “Pupils who dissent from sanctioned models of expression are marked out as personally lacking.” (Shaming, blaming, social exile – same old religious imperative) 

According to the human development theory of Dandelion and Orchid children, certain people are genetically predisposed to grow fairly well in almost any environment while others wilt or blossom spectacularly depending on circumstances and care. Some kids—the dandelions—seem naturally suited to cope with the current system. As Sanford Newmark, head of the Pediatric Integrative Neurodevelopmental Program at the University of California at San Francisco, puts it, “You can feed them three Pop-Tarts for breakfast, they can be in school twelve hours a day, and they can go to kindergarten when they’re four, and they would still do OK.” But many children crumble.

That is, these kids will take any abuse psychologists can think of, and thus become “good neurotypical idiots”.

“We’ve been around for a couple hundred thousand years, reading only for the last five thousand years, and compulsory education has only been in place for one hundred fifty years or so. Some kids are going to be thinking, ‘Why is my teacher asking me to do this? My brain doesn’t work this way,’ ” says Stephen Hinshaw, a psychology professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Heidi Tringali, an occupational therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina, offers a hypothesis built on shorter-term influences: Many of the nonconforming children she treats may need wiggle cushions and weighted balls because they’ve grown up strapped into the five-point harnesses of strollers and car seats, planted in front of screens, and put to sleep at night flat on their backs, all of which leaves them craving action, sensation, and attention when they’re finally let loose. “Every child in the school system right now has been impacted. Of course they’re all licking their friends and bouncing off the walls.”

One crude way to measure the population of kids who don’t meet today’s social and behavioral expectations is to look at the percentage of school-aged children diagnosed with attention- deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Over the past ten years, that figure has risen 41 points. (A lot of these kids were just born at the wrong time of year. The youngest kindergarteners, by month of birth, are more than twice as likely than the oldest to be labeled with ADHD. This makes sense given that the frontal cortex, which controls self-regulation, thickens during childhood. (More pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo) – The cortexes of children diagnosed with ADHD tend to reach their thickest point closer to age eleven than age eight.) The number climbs higher still if you include syndromes like sensory-processing disorder, which Newmark jokes just about “everybody” has these days.

When I asked Zimmerman, the New York University education historian, if schools had found a way to deal with discipline in the wake of the students-rights movement, he said: “Oh we have. It’s called Ritalin.” (And dozens of other psychoactive drugs) 

The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking judge originality, emotional expressiveness, humor, intellectual vitality, open-mindedness, and ability to synthesize and elaborate on ideas. Since 1984, the scores of America’s schoolchildren have dropped by more than one standard deviation; that is to say, 85 percent of kids scored lower in 2008 than their counterparts did in 1984. Not coincidentally, that decrease happened as schools were becoming obsessed with self-regulation. (More pseudoscientific psychology mumbo jumbo)  

As Stanford Professor James Gross, author of Handbook of Emotional Regulation, explains, suppression of feelings is a common regulatory tactic. It’s mentally draining. Deliberate acts of regulation also become automatic over time, meaning this habit is likely to interfere with inspiration, which happens when the mind is loose and emotions are running high. Even Tough acknowledges in a short passage in How Children Succeed that overly controlled people have a hard time making decisions: They’re often “compulsive, anxious, and repressed.” Last year, a study out of the University of Rochester took on the marshmallow kid himself and challenged his unconditional superiority. What if the second treat won’t always be available later? There can be an opportunity cost to not diving in right away. (Mumbo jumbo; it never ends) 

Valorizing self-regulation shifts the focus away from an impersonal, overtaxed, and underfunded school system and places the burden for overcoming those shortcomings on its students. “Even people who are politically liberal suddenly sound like right-wing talk-show hosts when the subject turns to children and education,” says Alfie Kohn. “ The problem is with the individual.’ That is right-wing orthodoxy. (It’s also Puritanical American faux-liberalism) 

Maybe the reason we let ourselves become fixated on children’s emotional regulation is that we, the adults, feel our lives are out of control. We’ve lost faith in our ability to manage our own impulses around food, money, politics, and the distractions of modern life—and we’re putting that on our kids. (Neoteny is a fatal condition: no adults to apply common sense or critical thinking to stabilize social systems) “It’s a displacement of parental unease about the future and anxiety about the world in general,” says psychologist Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. “I’m worried our kids are going to file the largest class-action suit in history, because we are stealing their childhoods. They’re like caged animals or Turkish children forced to sew rugs until they go blind. We’re suppressing their natural messy existence.” (OMG!) 

I do worry about my little Sarah Silverman. She’s frenetic and disinhibited. My life would be easier if she liked to comply. But we did not send her to O.T. Parents make judgment calls about interventions all the time. What’s worth treating: a prominent birthmark? A girl with early puberty? Social and behavioral issues can be especially tricky, as diagnosing comes close to essentializing: It’s not your fault that you’re acting this way, honey. It’s just who you are. As one mother told me: “The insidious part is, you can start losing faith in your child. You go down this road …” Your child’s teacher tells you your child is not showing appropriate emotional regulation. You’re directed toward psychological evaluations and therapists. They have a hammer. Your kid becomes the nail. “The saddest, most soul-crushing thing is the negative self-image. We think kids don’t understand what’s happening, but they do. There’s this quiet reinforcement that something is wrong with them. That’s the thing that’ll kill.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Okay, so parents exist who realize the terrible situation in American schools; the damage being done to their children, the injustice of an out-of-control social-psychology monster taking over our schools and families, and yet, there is a passive attitude behind their lackluster complaints; a lack of proper adult anger and action that is instinctual in parents, but instead there is willingness to sacrifice their child’s well-being to the social order – and in some measure, with concern for their own social status.  

The natural adult response is to protect one’s child above all other considerations; it’s instinctual. That’s the price of neoteny: failure to act. 

 

Thoughts on Ancient Males / Life in the flesh

In the ancient world a common greeting among travelers was, “Which gods do you worship?” Deities were compared, traded, and adopted in recognition that strangers had something of value to offer. Along with the accretion of ancestor gods into extensive pantheons, an exchange of earthly ideas and useful articles took place. Pantheons were insurance providers who covered women, children, tradesman, sailors and warriors – no matter how dangerous or risky their occupations; no matter how lowly. Multiple gods meant that everyone had a sympathetic listener, one that might increase a person’s chances for a favorable outcome to life’s ventures, large and small. 

404px-Athena_owl_Met_09_221_43 27784514 Brygos_Painter_lekythos_Athena_holding_spear_MET

A curious female type: The goddess Athena is incomprehensible to modern humans. Here she models the Trojan horse for the Greeks.

A curious female: The goddess Athena is incomprehensible to modern humans; and yet for the ancient Greeks, she was the cornerstone of civilization. Here she models the Trojan horse for the “clever” takedown of Troy.

 

 

 

 In The Iliad

…the gods are manifestations of physical states; the rush of adrenalin, sexual arousal, and rage. For the Homeric male, these are the gods that must be obeyed. There is no power by which a man can override the impulse-to-action of these god forces. The gifts of the notorious killer Achilles originate in the divine sphere, but he is human like his comrades; consumed by self pity and emotionally erratic.

In Ancient Greek culture, consequences accompanied individual gifts. Achilles must choose an average life (adulthood) and obscurity, or death at Troy and an immortal name. Achilles sulks like a boy, but we know that he will submit to his fate, because fate is the body, and no matter how extraordinary that body is, the body must die. Immortality for Homeric Greeks did not mean supernatural avoidance of death. To live forever meant that one’s name and deeds were preserved by the attention and skill of the poet. In Ancient Greek culture it was the artist who had the power to confer immortality.

There was no apology for violence in Homeric time. The work of men was grim adventure. Raids on neighbors and distant places for slave women, for horses and gold, for anything of value, was a man’s occupation. The Iliad is packed with unrelenting gore, and yet we continue to this day to be mesmerized by men who hack each other to death. Mundane questions arise: were these Bronze Age individuals afflicted with post traumatic stress disorder? How could women and children, as well as warriors not be traumatized by a life of episodic brutality? If they were severely damaged mentally and emotionally, how did they create a legacy of poetry, art, science and philosophy? Did these human beings inhabit a mind space that deflected trauma as if it were a rain shower? Was their literal perception of reality a type of protection?

imagesD8PA00S5riace bronze

Women will forever be drawn to the essential physicality of Homeric man. He is the original sexual male; the man whose qualities can be witnessed in the flesh. His body was a true product of nature and habit. Disfiguring scars proved his value in battle. Robust genes may have been his only participation in fatherhood.

Time and culture have produced another type of man, a supernatural creature with no marked talent, one who can offer general, but not specific, loyalty. Domestic man, propertied man, unbearably dull man, emotionally-retarded man. In his company a woman shrivels to her aptitude for patience and endurance, for heating dinner in the microwave and folding laundry. Her fate is a life of starvation.

tumblr_m5pxjtzoMB1r0ttw3o1_1280grey

Noble Penelope reduced to a neurotypical nag.

Notes on Autism: Amygdala, Hippocampus / Neuroscience

This is a very extensive and well-documented study. Oodles of tech. procedure, but also “readable” if you stick to Introduction, Discussion and Results.

The Amygdala Is Enlarged in Children But Not Adolescents with Autism; the Hippocampus Is Enlarged at All Ages

+ Authors and Institutions at article site.  The Journal of Neuroscience, 14 July 2004, 24(28): 6392-6401; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1297-04.2004 

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/24/28/6392.full/

If the amygdala does develop abnormally in autism, what behavioral symptoms might be expected? The amygdala has been implicated in the mediation of social behavior (Brothers et al., 1990) and many other cognitive processes in humans. These include face processing (Grelotti et al., 2002; Haxby et al., 2002), recognition of emotions (Adolphs, 2002; Adolphs et al., 2003), enhancement of memory for emotionally significant events (Cahill et al., 1995; Canli et al., 2000), and predicting reward values (Gottfried et al., 2003). This has lead some to suggest that the amygdala might be the primary structure responsible for the social impairments in autism (Baron-Cohen et al., 2000). However, studies of human and nonhuman primates with amygdala lesions argue against this conclusion (Amaral et al., 2003). Human patients with Urbach-Wiethe, a disease that results in destruction of the amygdala, do not display core autistic symptomotology. In addition, nonhuman primates that sustained amygdala damage early in development are able to produce species-typical social behaviors (Prather et al., 2001).

The view from our animal studies, which is consistent with human lesion studies, is that dysfunction of the amygdala is not responsible for the core social deficits of autism.

My “takeaway” is that Asperger children likely undergo differential development: faster / slower in specific areas, rather than “not at all”. The real issue is social “receptivity” – perhaps like acquisition of language, acquisition of “social indoctrination” is possible during a window of time-development. Asperger children may pass through that stage, but be genetically and physiologically “unprepared” for such acquisition, or have a brain type that is pre-social (pre-agricultural-urban.)

 

Fate / Human maladaptation to a future world

Each of us is born into a world that is not of his or her own making. The trouble is, that it’s no longer a world that nature has prepared us for. DNA is like a suitcase full of physiological plans, functions and designs; of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics and electro- magnetic energy arranged by billions of years of testing for operational brilliance in an environment that no longer exists.

Human babies are like time travelers, adapted to a strenuous existence in forest and desert; along rivers, lakes and seashores; ready to learn, survive and excel, and to be a wild animal, among wild animals.

We arrive in a place many futures ahead of where we belong. In a hospital. Among machines, without which more and more babies would die on arrival. Not a living thing in sight. To parents whose bodies have adapted rather badly to an artificial world, not of their own making. Trapped in a world not of their own making. The dysfunction of being born into a toxic future, for which our DNA suitcase does not prepares us, accelerates, not by a few years, but thousands of years in mere generations.

The DNA suitcase is becoming useless. We don’t function; we cannot adapt; we can only maladapt.

So what do we do? A frantic response: Attack our DNA. Cut it apart, rearrange it, combine it, mix it like a salad. Hope that we can keep ahead of the future, a future in which dysfunction is normal. Are we there yet?  

____________________________________________________

 

How Prey Animals Protect Against Predators / Asperger Behavior Explained

(As an Asperger) I think this video of a neurotypical probing a sea anemone “for fun” says it all, but let’s look at the ways that animal and plant species have evolved protection from predation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-predator_adaptation

An easy to read and grasp outline of the many adaptations and tactics utilized in nature: neurotypicals may recognize some of their defenses in this list! Each and every human is both prey and predator in the vicious social environment…

What is different about homo sapiens, is that at this point in our existence, we are a species in which PREDATION BY OTHER HUMANS is the highest level of danger to individuals and groups. And we are exterminating other species….