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The Stories We Tell Ourselves
5 Lessons to Be Learned While Writing a Memoir
Are girls really better at reading than boys or are the tests painting a false picture?
Why each side of the partisan divide thinks the other is living in an alternate reality
Nobody is normal
Sleep deprivation handicaps the brain’s ability to form new memories, study in mice shows
Why Empathy Is Your Most Important Skill (and How to Practice It)

Last Week’s Links

We may be able to tap into our memories from infancy

Our inability to remember incidents from the first two or three years of life is known as infantile amnesia. It’s possible that such memories are lost, but some recent research suggests that we might be able to recall those memories with proper prompting. The research was done on rats, and much more research is necessary to discover whether the results apply to humans as well. If they do, it may be possible to devise ways to block out traumatic early memories.

Writing our life story — memoir or autobiography?

Put simply an autobiography tends to be a linear record of the events of our life and requires attention to the accuracy of the memories and the detail of each event while a memoir is more free form and is usually based around a theme or themes that have meaning for us in some way.

This article offers some advice on how to write about personal experiences in a way that connects them “with the bigger picture of human experience or history.”

Telling Their Life Stories, Older Adults Find Peace in Looking Back

Whether they are writing full-blown memoirs or more modest sketches or vignettes, many older people … are telling their life stories. Some are taking life-story writing classes at local colleges, libraries and adult learning centers, while others are hiring “personal historians” to record oral histories or to produce videos that combine interviews, home movies and family photos. Some opt to write a “legacy letter,” which imparts values to the next generations.

This article explains how autobiographical writing can help people gain perspective on their lives and come to acknowledge and understand how past experiences have shaped their lives.

Can a Rosy Outlook Ward Off Illness?

Some recent research suggests that optimistic women tend to live longer than less optimistic ones. This article is informative nut just for these research results, but for its look at how to interpret research reports. Learn why these study results are limited by the participant pool and why they may or may not be applicable to people generally.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

The Bullet Journal, Minus the Hype, Is Actually a Really Good Planner

I keep finding articles on use of the bullet journal. This one contains good advice for how to create and adapt a bullet journal for your own needs. There are lots of links here to give you many variations to explore.

Every time I read about the bullet journal, I think of how inconvenient it must be to try to keep all this information in a bound notebook. If I were to try this system out, I’d want to use a disc notebook rather than a bound one. A disc notebook allows for easy removal and rearrangement of pages.

I’ve used Levenger’s Circa notebooks for several years now, and I love them (Disclaimer: I have no affiliate or other relationship with Levenger; I’m just a satisfied customer.) If you do an internet search for a term like discbound notebooks, you’ll find oodles of entries. Here are a few links to check out if you think a discbound notebook would be a good start for a bullet journal:

Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America

I first became aware of the lack of critical thinking skills of high school graduates back in 1971, my first year of teaching college composition. I began my first semester with the goal of teaching students how to structure and write convincing essays, but I soon discovered that I needed to take a giant step back and start with teaching students how to evaluate and choose source material for use in their essays. In the 45 years since then I’ve seen this trend grow alarmingly. In this article business leader Ray Williams discusses this :disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture”:

There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries. Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his book, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science have been infused into America’s political and social fabric. Famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Memory: The Weirdest Ever Fact is Actually True, Study Reveals

Scientists have long known that recalling a particular memory strengthens it. But recent research suggests that “Recalling one memory actually leads to the forgetting of other competing memories.”

As Seattle grows up, views can go away — and take real value with them

Views give us a reference point and connect us to where we are, and to nature, and to each other. They inspire us to get up, get out, get involved. They make that tiny in-city studio, or whatever space we’re currently sharing with 10 similarly rent-challenged roommates, feel bigger, lighter, better.

Sandy Deneau Dunham looks at how the rise of nearby buildings that change our view can have unexpected impact on all aspects of life.

 

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Recent Articles on Sleep, Memory, Learning, Brain Function, and Mind Wandering

Examining Sleep’s Roles in Memory and Learning

Go ahead and take that nap. New research suggests that sleep can improve both memory and creativity.

Getting smarter

Brain-training games won’t boost your IQ, but a host of strategies can improve your cognitive abilities one piece at a time

brain02Psychologist Jeffrey M. Zacks of Washington University in St. Louis looks at various popular methods advertised to improve cognitive functioning, including brain-training games, drugs, subliminal training programs, electrical stimulation

His conclusion: “Sadly, most of the rapid cognitive enhancers currently being peddled are not very effective.” However, he adds, there are a few approaches that can make us better at performing specific functions, such as remembering people’s names: “we can all think better in specific domains if we engage in focused practice, and be smarter, happier and healthier if we take care of ourselves.”

Jerome S. Bruner, Who Shaped Understanding of the Young Mind, Dies at 100

Jerome S. Bruner, whose theories about perception, child development and learning informed education policy for generations and helped launch the modern study of creative problem solving, known as the cognitive revolution, died on Sunday [June 5, 2016] at his home in Manhattan. He was 100.

In his later work, Bruner applied ideas about thinking, culture, and storytelling to understanding legal and cultural issues.

Why Do Our Minds Wander?

sometimes, even without going to sleep, we turn away from the world. We turn inward. We are contemplative or detached. We decouple ourselves from the environment and we are set free, as it were, to let our minds play themselves.

Philosopher Alva Noë of the University of California, Berkeley, discusses the problems of studying when, why, and how our minds sometimes wander.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown