Web Exercise #1: Information Processing and Cognitive Changes
(This exercise applies to all LO.)
As discussed in Chapter 7, information processing and other cognitive skills evolve over the lifespan. Because development is changeable, people are capable of modifying their traits and capacities throughout life. Many researchers believe that engaging in cognitively stimulating activities can offset some of the age-related declines in cognition, even in late adulthood. Brain HQ (http://www.brainhq.com/) is an online resource developed by leading experts in neuroscience. The website features a number of activities that promote brain plasticity, including exercises that focus on attention, information processing (“brain speed”), and memory. Many of the activities are free. You do need to sign up to participate. You will be asked to provide your name and an e-mail address.
After you sign up, click on one of the following activities: Focus My Attention, Increase My Brain Speed, Improve My Memory, or Sharpen My Intelligence. Briefly summarize the activity and explain why the exercise is important. For example, under Increase My Brain Speed, the authors provide a rationale for the activity: “Why should I exercise my brain speed?” Next, complete an activity and answer the following questions:
- What did the activity require you to do?
- Was the activity cognitively stimulating? Explain your answer.
- In what way does the activity attempt to improve cognitive functioning?
- Do you think this activity would be beneficial for adults of all ages? Why or why not?
Web Exercise #2: Adolescence Brain Development and Cognitive Changes
LO 7.4 Describe developmental changes in adolescents’ capacities for attention, memory, and thought.
Chapter 7 discusses brain development in adolescence and its influence on information processing. Often, adolescents act impulsively and have difficulty inhibiting behaviors, leading to some poor decision-making. In this exercise, students will watch a TED talk by Jane Blakemore about the adolescent brain and its influence on these behaviors.
- Explain the neurological developments that take place in adolescence and their effect on behavior.
- What have fMRIs taught researchers about the adolescent brain?
- What tasks do participants do in Jane Blakemore’s research?
- What have been the results of Jane Blakemore’s research?
- Why is this video important? What did you learn?
- What are two questions you would ask Jane Blakemore if you could talk to her?
Web Exercise #3: Training the Adult Brain
LO 7.5 Compare patterns of change in working memory, long-term memory, problem-solving capacities, and wisdom in adulthood.
Directions: This activity must be done individually. Chapter 7 discusses changes in cognitive capacities during adulthood, including attention, memory, processing speed, and expertise. Each of these slows as adult’s age and can be a challenge for adults returning to higher education. The purpose of this exercise is to explore an app designed to train your brain. Download Lumosity to your smartphone. If you do not have a smartphone, you may play the game online. Spend time each day for one week exploring the activities. Then come to class ready to discuss your experience. What did you like about the app? What did you learn? Is brain training possible?