APS Bring the Family Address on Diverse Brains

Morton Ann Gernsbacher from the Universe of Wisconsin-Madison gave this address on Diverse Brains. She began by reviewing a long list of imaging studies of the brain that found differences between male and female brains, autism, and a variety of other topics. The problem was that the consistent replication of these findings was not found. Rather they were inconsistent and pointed to different differences. Just now I have downloaded a book to my Kindle titled Brainwashed: the Seductive Appear of Mindless Neuroscience by Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld. Although brain imaging is a valuable research tool, it has generated a lot of junk. I’ll have more posts on this topic after I’ve read the book.

The remainder of her talk centered on accepting disability as diversity. There is an acceptance of disability scale. There is a positive relationship between this scale and a positive personal state. Although it might not be surprising that one’s acceptance of a disability predicts a positive personal state, this relationship persists regardless of the severity of the disability! The stress of the parent of a disabled child depends upon the subjective judgment of the parent. For example, the stronger the agreement of the parent’s response to the item “It is important for me to accept my child’s disability from doing things that I want to do”, the lower the stress of the parent. It is a matter of reframing the situation and taking the following attitude: Life might not be the party I hoped for, but maybe as long as we’re here we should dance.

Gernsbacher also commented on how accommodations that have been made for the disabled have benefited others. For example, the multiple benefits of captions. I, for one, welcome them in noisy taverns where no one can hear. One can also watch television without bothering others. The sloping of curves, which was done to accommodate those in wheelchairs, are also beneficial to bicyclists, and people pushing strollers or other wheeled devices. Unfortunately, they have made it more difficult for the blind navigating with canes as it makes it more difficult for them to find the curb. Clothing tags, which were especially problematic for people with sensitive skin have been removed by some clothing manufacturers. This policy has been welcomed by many others who find them annoying.

Her final remarks were on neither the brain or diversity, but were addressed to her fellow teachers. This had to do with speed versus power tests. Speed tests need to be completed in a specific time. For power tests, the time is unlimited (practically speaking). She sad that the most common complaint she received from her students is the limited time for tests. Consequently, she provides unlimited time, when it is possible, or shortens the test so that it can easily be completed within the time limitation. Apparently the Stanford Achievement Tests and the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) no longer impose time limits on their tests.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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