|Neuroscientists call for deep collaboration to 'crack' the human brain
||The time is ripe, the communication technology is available, for teams from different labs and different countries to join efforts and apply new forms of grassroots collaborative research in brain science. This is the right way to gradually upscale the study of the brain so as to usher it into the era of Big Science, claim neuroscientists in Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. And they are already putting ideas into action.
|Vote for Your Own Character
||Voters arrive at their decision to vote for a candidate in different ways. After the election, we should respect the decisions of others as coming from different perspectives.
|Blood vessels control brain growth
||Blood vessels play a vital role in stem cell reproduction, enabling the brain to grow and develop in the womb, reveals new research in mice.
|The Morning After: How to Cope With a Loss (Or a Win)
||The morning after an important event whose outcome was uncertain, you’ll need ways to move on, both for yourself and for those to whom you’re close. These tips will help.
|Can Leopards Change Their Spots?
||At the end of a frustrating therapy session, Emma turned to her husband and said, “you’ll never change.” Feeling defeated, she then turned to me and said, “My mother always said, ‘a leopard doesn’t change its spots.’ Now I see what she means. Do you … ...
|Your World Is Full of Placebo Buttons
||Many buttons and controls you use every day do absolutely nothing but make you feel better. Why is that a good thing?
|Two Ways To Be Powerful
||There are two distinctly different forms of power—force and presence. One will get you want you want, but you’ll leave behind a mess. The other will get you what you … ...
|A Great Explanation of the Obscure Psychology Theory That Drives Westworld
||In episode three of Westworld, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) describes the theory of the mind that his co-founder, Arnold, used to try to create consciousness in the hosts. It’s called the bicameral mind, and for those of us who don’t want to read a nearly 500-page book from 1976 in order to learn more about a TV show that’s still in process, Jonathan Holmes has explored the connections between the two in a seven and a half minute video....
|Today I Love The Willow’s Green
||Today I love the willow’s green leaves that are just now starting to turn gold. I love that the willow is almost always the first to bring forth leaves in … ...
|Healing from Sexual Assault
||“Resilience, rather than pathology should become the standard expectation in the aftermath of trauma.” –Aaron Levin Are you a victim, parent, or in a counseling capacity, wondering how to help yourself or your loved one cope with the trauma and horror of sexual assault? Whether … ...
|Three Activities to Help Students Deepen Their Gratitude
||It’s one thing to teach kids to say “thank you” when they receive a gift or when someone does a favor for them. But how can we help children understand what gratitude really means, in ways that will make them more likely to feel it deeply, express it authentically, and reap its many benefits?
One way to increase kids’ gratitude is to guide them to not only acknowledge that someone else did something for them, but to also consider why the person did it, what the cost to the person was, and what benefits they have received from it. The idea is that gratitude happens when you realize that another person has intentionally done something that benefits you, especially at a cost to themselves.
This thinking process, which researchers refer to as “benefit appraisal,” highlights the interpersonal nature of gratitude and may help strengthen our relationships. In one study, elementary schoolers who were taught benefit appraisal reported more positive emotions and showed more grateful attitudes and behaviors than other students, both immediately and months later.
In partnership with the Greater Good Science Center and the John Templeton Foundation, Open Circle, an evidence-based social-emotional learning program for students in grades K-5, has added a new component based on the science of gratitude—including benefit appraisal. In addition to incorporating gratitude into their professional development workshops for educators, they developed gratitude lessons and practices for their classroom curriculum for grades 4-5.
The pilot group of teachers who have tried the gratitude curriculum have responded very positively, reporting benefits for themselves and their students such as strengthened classroom relationships and community, higher levels of positive emotions, and more generous and compassionate action.
We are grateful to Open Circle for allowing us to share three sample activities for helping students deepen their understanding and practice of gratitude—along with insights from some of the teachers who have used them.
1. Grateful thinking
Context: This activity is excerpted from the first classroom lesson, in which students discuss the definition of gratitude and learn about grateful thinking (i.e., benefit appraisal).
Materials: Poster displaying the three grateful thinking questions (click here for a downloadable version of Open Circle’s poster, left); grateful thinking worksheets for each student (click here for Open Circle’s worksheet)
Instructions: After talking about what gratitude means, introduce the students to the three grateful thinking questions that they can ask themselves when someone does something for them:How did the person’s kind or helpful action make things better for me?
What did they have to give up to take the action? What effort did they show for me?
Why might they have taken that action for me? What might they think or feel about me?
To practice grateful thinking, share a scenario such as the following with students and discuss some possible answers to the grateful thinking questions (e.g., “How might Lorenzo’s action make things better for Kyle?”). Record students’ responses on chart paper.
Kyle had a sore foot, so he couldn’t play games at recess. Lorenzo was playing basketball, his favorite sport, when he noticed Kyle, his good friend, sitting on the steps by himself. Lorenzo left the basketball game to sit and talk with Kyle until recess was over.
As a personal extension, ask students to think of a kind or helpful action someone has done for them for which they are grateful. Have them each complete a worksheet that gives them space to describe the action and to answer each of the grateful thinking questions about it.
The teachers who tested this lesson found it simple to implement and enjoyable for the students. One teacher shared, “Most students seemed to find it easy to share about gratitude. They were aware of things they were grateful for.” However, another noted the importance of appropriately facilitating discussions, saying, “We had to move away from being grateful for ‘stuff’ to being grateful for what others do for us.”
2. Gratitude surprise sticky notes
Context: This is one example of a simple gratitude practice that can be used throughout the school day to encourage students’ expression of gratitude.
Materials: Small sticky notes
Instructions: Give students one or more sticky notes to write something they are grateful for about another person in the school community. Ask students to place the sticky note where the person will be sure to see it—for example, on a desk, a phone, or a cleaning cart.
Teachers felt that gratitude practices such as this one were meaningful in going beyond discussion and getting students to take action for gratitude. This practice in particular was rated as very valuable.
3. Gratitude book
Context: As a resource for teachers using their curriculum, Open Circle compiled a list of high-quality children’s books that reinforce the values of gratitude and grateful thinking. Among the pilot teachers, Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco was one of the most popular.
Materials: Thank You, Mr. Falker; thank-you note materials for each student
Instructions: After reading and discussing the book, in which the author pays tribute to a teacher who believed in her and helped her address her learning challenges, invite the students to write thank-you notes to one of their own former teachers.
As one teacher explained, “Thank You, Mr. Falker served as a powerful tool to help children understand the struggles and challenges many face. It demonstrated the power of kindness and the deep emotional connections to feeling grateful.”
For more information about Open Circle, click here.
|Best of Our Blogs: November 8, 2016
||A wise person told me once, “You can make decisions based on fear or love.” Fear-based choices make us impulsive, self-serving and sometimes cruel. It comes from a place of not enough. It makes us wary. It divides people into us versus them. It keeps us … ...
|How human brains do language: 1 system, 2 channels
||Contrary to popular belief, language is not limited to speech. In a recent study published in the journal PNAS, Northeastern University Prof. Iris Berent reveals that people also apply the rules of their spoken language to sign language. Language is not simply about hearing sounds or moving our mouths. When our brain is “doing language,” [...]
|Why you shouldn’t blame lying on the brain
||The recent finding that telling lies induces changes in the brain has stimulated a number of misrepresentations that may wreak more harm on our understanding than the lies on which they report. CNN’s headline runs, “Lying May Be Your Brain’s Fault, Honestly,” and PBS reports, “Telling a Lie Makes Way for the Brain to Keep [...]
|Brains of those with anorexia and bulimia can override urge to eat
||Scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered the neurological reasons why those with anorexia and bulimia nervosa are able to override the urge to eat. In a study published last week in the journal Translational Psychiatry, the researchers showed that normal patterns of appetite stimulation in the brain are effectively reversed [...]
|Study reveals the secret to a happy sex life
||The secret to a happy sex life in long-term relationships is the belief that it takes hard work and effort, instead of expecting sexual satisfaction to simply happen if you are true soulmates, says a study led by a University of Toronto (U of T) social psychology researcher. These “sexpectations” — the need to work [...]
|Reproductive history and hormone use may affect women’s cognitive function
||In a study of healthy postmenopausal women, reproductive life events related to sex hormones, including earlier age at menarche, later age at last pregnancy, length of reproductive period, and use of oral contraceptives were positively related to aspects of cognition in later life. Investigators found that age at menarche greater than or equal to 13 [...]
|New mouse model of ALS more closely mimics human disease
||Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive, fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells controlling voluntary muscles. No effective treatments have been found. For decades, scientists have used animal models to understand what causes ALS and to test therapies to treat it. Most ALS researchers use a genetically [...]
|Using a patient’s own words, machine learning automatically identifies suicidal behavior
||Using a person’s spoken or written words, new computer tools can identify with great accuracy whether that person is suicidal, mentally ill but not suicidal, or neither. A new study shows that computer technology known as machine learning is up to 93 percent accurate in correctly classifying a suicidal person and 85 percent accurate in [...]
|Power outage in the brain may be source of Alzheimer’s
||On Nov. 25, 1901, a 51-year-old woman is admitted to a hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, displaying a bizarre constellation of symptoms. Her behavior is erratic. She shows signs of paranoia as well as auditory hallucinations, disorientation, and severe memory impairment. Asked to write her own name, she manages “Mrs.,” then lingers over the page, unable [...]