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Issue #10

This week's blog took a bit of work: Everything Your Brain Should Know about Grammar. Check it out.

As always, below are some terrific resources not published on TODD'S BRAIN. If you like the newsletter ideas delivered to your inbox every Monday morning, please forward it to a friend. Okay, let's get to it. 

Brain Info

Do Crossword Puzzles Stave off Alzheimer’s? 
Nope.  According to Brain HQ, crossword puzzles only benefit word finding, or fluency. “Crosswords are fun and may improve your ability to find words, but they don't help your brain's overall cognition or memory.” Sorry!  However, Michael M. Merzenich, professor emeritus neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, says that you can get a slightly better brain boost by challenging yourself to work through far more challenging puzzles within time constraints.

Alcohol Does Not Kill Brain Cells, But it Does Damage Dendrites
Quantity of alcohol doesn’t kill brain cells, according to a 1993 study that has been replicated numerous times, but it does damage dendrites, which impairs the ability of brain cells to communicate with one another. It also inhibits the growth of new brain cells. “However, recent research has shown, at least with rats, that once the alcohol was no longer given to the rats, new brain cell production went into overdrive to try to compensate for the previously inhibited brain cell production." (Today I Found Out)

Brain Fact: Why Tears of Sadness Make You Feel Better
Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher captures tears of grief, joy, laughter and irritation in extreme detail, as described in The Smithsonian by Joseph Stromberg. See Figures 1 & 2. 

Fig. 1: Tears of Grief 

Fig. 2: Tears of Laughter

Tears of sadness and happiness contain different biological substances floating in saltwater. "Emotional tears, for instance, have been found to contain protein-based hormones including the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller that is released when the body is under stress." So it's alright to cry--cryin' gets the sad out of you.
Research You Can Use

What Does Research Tell Us About Note Taking?
An extensive summary of research on note taking from Stendhal University, shows that the "average writing speed of a student is around 0.3 to 0.4 words per second, whereas a lecturer speaks at a rate of around 2 to 3 words/second." See the problem?

The article lists key ways that teachers can cue students to take notes--called...

  • Writing on the board: a very powerful indicator.
  • Dictation--when the teacher acts as if he or she is dictating the information (slow delivery, low vocal register).
  • A title of a section or a list (often written on the board).
  • Definitions, catch phrases. (Even if students don’t understand them, they overwhelmingly take notes on them.)
  • Expressions such as “firstly”/“secondly” or “first question”/“second question."
Some cues teacher make disinhibit note taking
Inhibiting Indicators   
  • Parentheses or asides: sequences that do not contribute to the organization of what is said.
  • Interaction in class between the teacher and the students.
  • Faster delivery or higher vocal register that accompany asides or digressions. 
  • Hesitations.
  • Unintended "paraverbal" indicators--when the teacher puts aside his or her notes or walks around the classroom.
John Cheever's Quote of the Week

“My sense of 'using' a book is the excitement of finding myself at the receiving end of our most intimate and acute means of communication. These infatuations are sometimes passing." 

3 Really Stupid Puns!


  1. Where are average things made? In the satisfactory.
  2. I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. It's impossible to put down.
  3. Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.
Have a good week! Brain On!


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