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Gamer ‘Improvement’ Studies Are Flawed

A new article from a number of psychology researchers attempts to throw cold water on studies that claim to show that playing games leads to important cognitive benefits.

A number of studies have shown that playing a wide variety of video games can lead to improvements in visual acuity, hand-eye coordination, cognition and memory.

But in a new piece written for Frontiers in Cognition magazine (and thoroughly summarized in this Gamasutra blog post), FSU assistant professor Walter Boot, psychology doctoral student Daniel Blakely and University of Illinois collaborator Daniel Simons point out methodological flaws in many of these studies that they say throw the results into question.

Though these studies routinely show gamers have higher cognitive abilities than non-gamers, the authors argue that this could simply mean that those with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to become gamers, rather than that the games themselves are imparting any specific benefit.

Fliers seeking study participants that are “expert” gamers are could heighten this self-selection bias, the authors argue, by signaling that participants should be able to “perform on challenging, often game-like computer tests of cognition.”

In addition, gamers may be more motivated to perform well in these tests because they “come into the lab knowing exactly how they are expected to perform,” as Blakely puts it, while the novices have no such motivation.

While the authors don’t entirely discount the possibility that games could have positive cognitive effects, they say no study yet has met the methodological “gold standard” required to help prove the relationship.

In future studies, the authors suggest researchers select participants covertly, using surveys in which video game experience is just one of a number of evaluated metrics, and account more for other possible confounding variables that could lead to observed differences.

In 2009, a French research study found that playing the popular Brain Age series of titles did not lead to the cognitive improvements suggested by publisher Nintendo and Japanese neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Addiction, Gaming

 

Quit Smoking For An Improved Personality

Young adults who quit smoking are less impulsive and neurotic than those who are still smoking.

The new study “Smoking Desistance and Personality Change in Emerging and Young Adulthood,” which will be published by the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, found a relationship between smoking cessation and improved personality.

According to Andrew Littlefield, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Missouri, “The data indicate that for some young adults smoking is impulsive. That means that 18-year-olds are acting without a lot of forethought and favor immediate rewards over long term negative consequences.

They might say, ‘I know smoking is bad for me, but I’m going to do it anyway.’ However, we find individuals who show the most decreases in impulsivity also are more likely quit smoking. If we can target anti-smoking efforts at that impulsivity, it may help the young people stop smoking.”

Compared people, aged 18-35, who smoked with those who had quit smoking, researchers found that individuals who smoked were higher in two distinct personality traits during young adulthood — impulsivity and neuroticism.

Littlefield added, “Smokers at age 18 had higher impulsivity rates than non-smokers at age 18, and those who quit tended to display the steepest declines in impulsivity between ages 18 and 25. However, as a person ages and continues to smoke, smoking becomes part of a regular behavior pattern and less impulsive. The motives for smoking later in life – habit, craving, loss of control and tolerance – are key elements of smoking dependence and appear to be more independent of personality traits.”

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Addiction

 

Become What You Want to Be

Let me tell you about a little girl who was born into a very poor family in a shack in the Backwoods of Tennessee. She was the 20th of 22 children, prematurely born and frail. Her survival was doubtful. When she was four years old she had double pneumonia and scarlet fever – a deadly combination that left her with a paralyzed and useless left leg. She had to wear an iron leg brace. Yet she was fortunate in having a mother who encouraged her.

Well, this mother told her little girl, who was very bright, that despite the brace and leg, she could do whatever she wanted to do with her life. She told her that all she needed to do was to have faith, persistence, courage and indomitable spirit.

So at nine years of age, the little girl removed the leg brace, and she took the step the doctors told her she would never take normally. In four years, she developed a rhythmic stride, which was a medical wonder. Then this girl got the notion, the incredible notion, that she would like to be the world’s greatest woman runner. Now, what could she mean – be a runner with a leg like that?

At age 13, she entered a race. She came in last – way, way last. She entered every race in high school, and in every race she came in last. Everyone begged her quit! However, one day, she came in next to last. And then there came a day when she won a race. From then on, Wilma Rudolph won every race that she entered.

Wilma went to Tennessee State University, where she met a coach named Ed Temple. Coach Temple saw the indomitable spirit of the girl, that she was a believer and that she had great natural talent. He trained her so well that she went to the Olympic Games.

There she was pitted against the greatest woman runner of the day, a German girl named Jutta Heine. Nobody had ever beaten Jutta. But in the 100-meter dash, Wilma Rudolph won. She beat Jutta again in the 200-meters. Now Wilma had two Olympic gold medals.

Finally came the 400-meter relay. It would be Wilma against Jutta once again. The first two runners on Wilma’s team made perfect hand-offs with the baton. But when the third runner handed the baton to Wilma, she was so excited she dropped it, and Wilma saw Jutta taking off down the track. It was impossible that anybody could catch this fleet and nimble girl. But Wilma did just that! Wilma Rudolph had earned three
Olympic gold medals.

By Richards

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Success

 

The Man In The Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one starring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest.
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed the most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years.
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be the heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in Honesty

 

Are You Gossip?

My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted, the more I am believed.
I flourish as every level of society.
My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.
I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and wreck marriages.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
My name is Gossip.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Gossip

 

Celebration Of Life

On my way home from coaching basketball yesterday, I was listening to WGN; my favorite talk radio station out of Chicago. I could tell right away that there was something wrong by the somber mood of the speaker. There had been a plane crash. Two small planes collided into each other over a northern suburb of Chicago. What made the story hit close to home was that Bob Collins, the morning show man for WGN, was the pilot of one of the planes and had been killed. (I’m sure that many readers have tuned in “Uncle Bobby” on their car radios in the Midwest.) Later that night, as I made my 40 minute drive to my third shift job, I listened as the station reminisced and paid tribute to a man who was loved by many. They told story after story, describing him as the ultimate friend, and a man who had lived life to the fullest. Genuine love and affection poured in from all over the country. The more I listened about how this man had influenced those around him, the more discouraged I became.

Why you ask?

I was discouraged because I wanted to know why we as a culture, wait until somebody has passed away before we tell them how much we love them? Why do we wait until someone’s ears can’t hear before we let them how much they mean to us? Why do we wait until it is too late before we recall the good qualities of a person? Why do we build someone up after they have gone into eternity? What good does it do then! We share memory after memory, as we laugh, cry, and think back about what was positive in a person’s life. Yes, it does help us cope with the grief of losing someone that was special to us. And yes it does bring those who are coping, closer together. But as we lovingly remember this person, our words fall short of the ears that most needed to hear them.

Just once I would like to see a celebration of life, instead of a gathering of death. A celebration where stories are told, eyes mist over, laughter rings out; and as the speaker concludes his or her loving tribute, the person they are honoring rises from their chair and gives them the biggest bear hug! Wouldn’t that be something! The special person gets to hear the stories and come to the realization that they have made a difference on this earth. And all this is done well before they leave their earthly bodies and go into eternity. And when the inevitable funeral finally comes, we can say good bye with the knowledge that they knew exactly how people felt about them while they were here on earth.

I now have a stronger resolve to tell those around me how much they mean to me. I am going to let my wife know just how loved and appreciated she is, not only by my words, but also by my actions. I am going to play Batman with my four year old more often, and in the middle of our romping, I am going to grab him, hug him tightly, and tell him how thankful I am that he is my son. I am going to sneak into my sleeping toddler’s bedroom, place my lips on his chubby cheek, and thank God for the bundle of joy he has brought into my life. Each day I will make a point to tell both of my boys how much I love them, whether they are four or eighteen! From there, I am going to let family and friends know the tremendous impact they have had on my life. And last but not least, I am going to let the high school players I coach know that I look forward to each and every minute that I get to spend with them in the gym.

Do you love someone? Then tell them! Has someone been an influence in your life? Then give them a call! Has someone made a difference in your life? Then write them a letter or send them an email! Don’t let another day go by without letting that person know. There is something special about a written letter that expresses feelings of love towards another. I don’t know about you, but I have letters and cards from people that I have saved for years, and from time to time, I get them out and reread them. They can turn a depressing day into one where you realize just how blessed and loved you are.

Life is too short to leave kind words unsaid. The words you say, or the letter you write, might just make all the difference in the world.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Death

 

Leaders vs Followers

When leaders make a mistake, they say, “I was wrong.”
When followers make mistakes, they say, “It wasn’t my fault.”

A leader works harder than a follower and has more time;
a follower is always “too busy” to do what is necessary.

A leader goes through a problem;
a follower goes around it and never gets past it.

A leader makes and keeps commitments;
a follower makes and forgets promises.

A leader says, “I’m good, but not as good as I ought to be;”
a follower says, “I’m not as bad as a lot of other people.”

Leaders listen;
followers just wait until it’s their turn to talk.

Leaders respect those who are superior to them and tries to learn something from them;
followers resent those who are superior to them and try to find chinks in their armor.

Leaders feel responsibile for more than their job;
followers say, “I only work here.”

A leader says, “There ought to be a better way to do this;”
followers say, “That’s the way it’s always been done here.”

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Leadership

 
 
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