December 6, 2008

Classic example of "Put a brain scan picture in the story to make it believable" syndrome

Editors know that one of the easiest ways to keep readers from using their brains when reading a poorly reasoned story is to put a picture of a brain in it. Thus, from the BBC:

The brains of children from low-income families process information differently to those of their wealthier counterparts, US research suggests.

Normal nine and 10-year-olds from rich and poor backgrounds had differing electrical activity in a part of the brain linked to problem solving.

The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience study was described as a "wake-up call" about the impact of deprivation.

A UK researcher said it could shed light on early brain development.

The 26 children in the study, conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, were measured using an electroencephalograph (EEG), which measured activity in the "prefrontal cortex" of the brain.

Half were from low income homes, and half from high income families.

During the test, an image the children had not been briefed to expect was flashed onto a screen, and their brain responses were measured.

Those from lower income families showed a lower prefrontal cortex response to it than those from wealthier households.

Dr Mark Kishiyama, one of the researchers, said: "The low socioeconomic kids were not detecting or processing the visual stimuli as well - they were not getting that extra boost from the prefrontal cortex."

Since the children were, in health terms, normal in every way, the researchers suspected that "stressful environments" created by low socioeconomic status might be to blame.

Previous studies have suggested that children in low-income families are spoken to far less - on average hearing 30 million fewer words by the age of four.

Talking boost

Professor Thomas Boyce, another of the researchers, said that talking more to children could boost prefrontal cortex development.

"We are certainly not blaming lower socioeconomic families for not talking to their kids - there are probably a zillion reasons why that happens."

His colleague, Professor Robert Knight, added: "This is a wake-up call - it's not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status."

He said that with "proper intervention and training", improvements could be made, even in older children.

Dr Emese Nagy, from the University of Dundee, said that it was a "pioneering" study which could aid understanding of how environment could affect brain development.

She said: "Children who grow up in a different environment may have very different early experiences, and may process information differently than children from a different environment.

"The study showed that low socioeconomic status children behaved exactly the same way as high socioeconomic status children, but their brain processed the information differently."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

"He said that with "proper intervention and training", improvements could be made, even in older children."

Heh. Can "proper intervention and training" turn German shepherds into poodles?

On the other hand, if Barry O ends up forcing all college students to spend 100 hours or year doing that sort of intervention and training in the ghetto, maybe some of those students will be unbrainwashed by reality earlier than they would have been otherwise? Probably a vain hope.

Anonymous said...

What's fascinating is that they don't even mention the hypothesis that the kind of child who is born to the kind of parent who ends up poor is likely to process information differently than the kind of child who is born to the kind of parent who ends up wealthy.

They basically assume that the only difference between poor kids and rich kids is the environment they grow up in.

Because any other approach will lead to forced sterilization and concentration camps.

agnostic said...

We are certainly not blaming lower socioeconomic families for not talking to their kids - there are probably a zillion reasons why that happens.

Look at these dumbasses -- they try to sweep genetic causes under the rug for the thought police's inspection, and they still will get tarred as insensitive oppressors.

"What do you mean, us poor parents don't talk to our kids enough? What are you trying to say?"

"No wait, I'm not saying it's your fault for being bad parents, it's just that -- "

"Oh! So we're all bad parents now, huh?"

At least the data are being published and talked about.

Anonymous said...

I am more inclined to believe that the children of wealthy parents are innately more intelligent due to having the genes of high achieving parents.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Normal nine and 10-year-olds from rich and poor backgrounds had differing electrical activity in a part of the brain linked to problem solving.

You know, I'll throw in here a comment that I used to make over at the old Spengler forums, which went something like this:

Once these nihilists finally dispense with the religion of Political Correctness, there will be absolutely nothing in the way of a moral code which would prevent them from simply annihilating the lesser races.

Frankly I think that that might be one reason why Political Correctness has such a stranglehold on the Academy - because [maybe to their (albeit subconscious) credit] these nitwits realize that PC is all which prevents them from unleashing their inner Pol Pots.

Of course, the nihilists' problem is that they haven't been making any babies for the last 40 years, and so, at this point, there might not be enough of them to summon the manpower necessary for a full-blown Final Solution.

Which, now that I think about it, could be an entirely different reason for their insistence on clinging to the religion [pace the Supreme Leader, peace be upon him] of Political Correctness at this late hour.

Truth said...

What if they're all white kids?

Hermann said...

Well, this is always my point. Nature and nurture tend to reinforce or amplify each other, in both personal and social development. Which renders attempts to measure them separately somewhat problematic.

SKT said...

LOL, that's not even a brain scan. As an MD whose done two rotations in radiology, I've never seen a CT or MRI that looked like that. And an EEG which they talk about in the article is lines on a paper (like an ECG).

$Zero said...

Cool brain picture!

I needn't even read the rest of the article because I know by the brain picture that it's beyond my intelligence to comprehend the content.

"You see, their young enter through the ear and wrap themselves _around_ the cerebral cortex. This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely suseptible to... suggestion."
-- Kahn

...

Mr. Anon said...

They seem to be on the cutting edge of 1980s research. I remember hearing similar claims (about lack of childhood sensory stimulation) twenty years ago.

Did they control for the IQ of the parents? Probably not, as they would not dare to entertain any possible genetic causes.

Tod said...

Controled for SES possibly, those doing or reporting on the research are not going to set up studies that are contolled for geneticaly mediated traits because thats not the way the game is played (if your playing to win) In their minds these things are mostly irrelevant anyway.

How many editors are from families that didn't talk to their children and read to them, scientists too..

Ron Guhname said...

I find it hard to believe these researchers are that naive. Isn't it likely that they spin the results to avoid controversy to keep the research dollars flowing, and are speaking in code to each other?

Anonymous said...

Nice trick, putting a picture of a brain in this blog post of yours... :-D :-)

(Sorry for this meta-pun, but you probably expected it.)

Concerned said...

Also from the Beeb:

"But the greater success of female students, in all ethnic groups, saw black African girls achieving better results than white British males. "

Explain that.

Link:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/3517171.stm

Blode032222 said...

"We are certainly not blaming lower socioeconomic families for not talking to their kids - there are probably a zillion reasons why that happens."

Thank goodness. I'm glad he said that. Had he, or anyone else, blamed a poor person for anything, the Earth's orbit would have been shifted to such an eccentricity that we would now be spending part of each year in the great Asteroid Belt, a hazardous (and cold) place for our defenseless planet.

The people who wrote those conclusions are scolars of emptiness. Neurotics. The idea that lower-socioeconomic households are more stressful, or the idea that poor parents (often unemployed) have less time to talk to their kids, is such typical leftist vomit.

Never is it considered that maybe stupidity makes people poor. It was accepted in the past, when technology was lower and changed more slowly. As intelligence has attained more and more importance, the leftists have used the intelligence they have to come up with new lies about how intelligence doesn't matter.

A story that worries me: some friends of mine have a kid in the 12th grade. She's very bright, got great SAT scores, and is the quietest and most level-headed high schooler I can think of. Every chance she gets, she repeats the line that "SATs measure nothing". With that attitude as common as it is, it's no surprise that people can stomach affirmative action, since it is a mis-sorting of people who were "sorted wrong in the first place" (i.e. sorted by grades "which don't matter" and standardized tests "which don't measure anything"). This is all a very predictable consequence of pomo and nihilism.

Ronduck said...

Here is the latest article on Obama's infrastructure blowout:

msnbc.msn.com/id/28084078

Anonymous said...

Off topic:

Steve, here's a new NYT article about Summers's appointment. Lots of interesting details. Apparently Summers did some kind of a daily economic briefing for Obama since before the election, explaining the crisis to him. It seems that he became Obama's economic adviser instead of Treasury Secretary because the higher job would have required confirmation hearings, and they were afraid of "unpleasantness". In actuality Summers seems to be in control. They're hoping that by 2010 everyone will forget the Harvard flap and that they'll be able to appoint him as Fed Chief.

The article is full of pity for poor Larry having to accept a "lucrative part-time role" at an investment firm and having to write a column for Financial Times after he was chucked from Harvard. How humble of him to take on such jobs! I'm not kidding, that's the article's tone.

They're not rehabilitating him because they suddenly concluded that what he said about women should now be allowed to be said, but because of who he is.

Anonymous said...

"Because any other approach will lead to forced sterilization and concentration camps."

It's more that any other approach will lead to them being fired.

SFG said...

yup, that's a 3D model of the brain

Though some hi-res medical scans and can give you pictures like that if reconstructed, from what I've seen an actual CT or MRI gives you an even more bizarre-looking slice of the brain with the skull, spinal fluid, gray and white matter being brighter or darker depending on what type of scan you're looking at.

Anonymous said...

It seems that he became Obama's economic adviser instead of Treasury Secretary because the higher job would have required confirmation hearings, and they were afraid of "unpleasantness".

Unpleasantness? We used to call that "Reality." Hysterical anyway...

Anonymous said...

"Heh. Can "proper intervention and training" turn German shepherds into poodles?"

Yep. Look at what happened to whites.

Anonymous said...

Off topic question in response to off-topic post:

Since Larry Summers is a member of a Protected Minority (guess which one) but the Feminists (another lefty Protected group) caused his ouster, how did such a thing happen? Who is responsible for this blunder?

Did somebody forget to email the womyn's study dept. that Larry Must Not Be Subjected To Criticism, as any criticism is, of course, antisemitic?

Anonymous said...

Concerned - the article you linked to is I think based on this study.

The headline is 'Black girls overtake white boys'.

In fact its specifically black African girls over white British boys. The lead you can see appears to fractional, 1 or 2%. The study confusingly differentiates between white British and white Irish. If they were aggregated the white boys would pull ahead.

You can see that, taken together, white children of whatever origin outperform black, of whatever origin. The BBC doesnt care for that sort of nuance though.

So their headline is not a lie exactly, rather its fuel for a liberal wet dream.

Bill said...

Concerned said...
Also from the Beeb:

"But the greater success of female students, in all ethnic groups, saw black African girls achieving better results than white British males. "

Explain that.


Easy: it's discrimination. Compare test scores and see how things look. Teachers prefer girls because they're easier to handle.

If we really want boys to be well-behaved and productive in restricted scholastic environments we should castrate them. That's what farmer's do with working livestock, after all.

Stopped Clock said...

They are also looking only at African immigrants, who tend to be above the average intelligence of their home countries in both the US and the UK. The scores for Caribbean blacks in the UK are at the bottom of the scale.

David said...

Black girls vs. white boys:

Read John Taylor Gatto. Schools are social conditioning process centers. They have nothing to do with intellection or education.

Home school.

David Davenp;ort said...

Did somebody forget to email the womyn's study dept. that Larry Must Not Be Subjected To Criticism, as any criticism is, of course, antisemitic?

Did somebody forget to email the womyn's study dept. that Larry Must Not Be Subjected To Criticism, as any criticism is, of course, antisemitic?

Jews criticizing Jews - that's OK.

Idiocrazy said...

Steve, an idea. Use that brain photo as your site's logo. Doing so would not immediately guarantee your reputation as a deep thinker, but over time it would.

isteve? Uh. ibrain? Yuh!

TomV said...

Truth:

Except for one chapter, The Bell Curve got all of its data from white subjects.

Not everything is about race, you know?

Anonymous said...

Since Larry Summers is a member of a Protected Minority (guess which one)....

Families changing their surnames is so confusing.

Jun said...

Anonymous: Concerned - the article you linked to is I think based on this study.

The headline is 'Black girls overtake white boys'.

In fact its specifically black African girls over white British boys.


Concerned -- you'd probably also want to know both 1) the country/ethnic origins of the African girls in the UK (are they Luo from Kenya, for instance, or Yoruba from Nigeria? -- would likely make a difference) and 2) the economic class of these African girls' parents. Are they mostly well-to-do? If so, then we might be comparing apples and oranges -- a group of students with a well-to-do background versus a group of students from all economic backgrounds.

CJ said...

"Previous studies have suggested that children in low-income families are spoken to far less - on average hearing 30 million fewer words by the age of four."

As low as my expectations are for this type of media drivel, it's still jarring to see an obviously absurd piece of nonsense like that.

Dennis Dale said...

What if they're all white kids?

This is routinely done (see that great bogey of liberal convention, The Bell Curve). It's called controlling for race. It tends to strengthen--quelle surprise!--the case for heritability of IQ by contradicting such canards as institutional bias or cultural differences.

eh said...

What if they're all white kids?

Yeah, "what if"? We all know there are no differences among Whites: just like in Lake Woebegone, none of them have below average IQs, and they all end up wealthy and listen to NPR on Saturday evening.

As an MD whose done two rotations in radiology, I've never seen a CT or MRI that looked like that.

Apparently during all that study you never learned the difference between whose and who's. And it's not supposed to be a CT or MRI -- it's just an image of the brain, i.e. what it looks like, anatomically. It could even be a photograph of a preserved specimen. Please recuse yourself from interpreting any images taken of me.

And regarding those tests and the comparative results of 'black girls' and 'white boys' in the UK: it's more a matter of what the test is, and who takes it and who doesn't. We're talking about the GCSE:

In recent years, concern about standards has led some public schools to go as far as to remove GCSEs from their curriculum and to take their pupils straight to A-level or the International Baccalaureate.

In other words, it more resembles the California high school leaving exam than the SAT -- i.e. it tests basic proficiency, not what most people would call academic achievement. In fact, most 'public' = private schools in the UK don't bother with it. Anyone who thinks black girls are about to storm Oxford and Cambridge is loony.

Perry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
snort said...

Blogger Concerned said...
" Explain that. "

Well Concerned, how about those high-performance African girls putting all that brain power to use and fix up their continent of origin instead of turning Britain or the US into another African country. I mean we have 70+ African countries which are all more or less failed states, but only about 20 European nations which are (still) functioning sort-of. Why ruin them as well? Where will the food aid and development aid then come from? Certainly not from China or Russia!!

headache said...

When I saw the pic I did not even bother read. Plus it was from the Beep. Who believes the rubbish thy spout out anyway?

simon said...

I teach white British boys and black African girls at a UK University. In my experience the black girls do better because they're highly motivated and work harder. Obviously this is different from the typical US African-American vs Euro-American experience.

Pat Shuff said...

http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12719355

Anonymous said...

The comments by people wondering how Larry Summers - a Jew! - could be criticized are moronic. Yeah, like no Jewish individual is ever criticized by anybody. Pure stupidity (yes, Jew-hatred - like PC - renders otherwise intelligent individuals stupid). And David Davenport, one of the head harpies calling for a Summers' head was a WASP, if I recall correctly.

Anonymous said...

"So their headline is not a lie exactly, rather its fuel for a liberal wet dream."

"Black girls smarter than white boys."

Yeah, right. I'm sure they'll take us back to the moon and beyond any day now, but I think they should focus on inventing new infrastructure for their home continent.
Seriously, the liberal dream never dies. But there is a kernel of truth to the achievement of select blacks.
Around 1900 there was a black high school in D.C. ("black" high schools at that time were mostly mulatto) which had higher academic achievement indicators than the white ones. I think it may have been the best public school in D.C., but I am not sure about that. Some commentator in the 1990s took this to mean that blacks could do as well or better academically than whites if they tried (well, obviously some can but I doubt even Bedford Forest would have denied that.)

However, in those days few kids of any race went to high school and the blacks/mulattos who did were an even more rarefied class. Both genetic and sociological factors marked this group and, undoubtedly they were very motivated and proud. I met one woman from this class who became the first black Atty.in Ohio. She rose quite high in government at that time. When she and two other "blacks" started at a white school they were told that they were a "subject race" only there because of some liberal insistance. Now this was long before affirmative action. The three "blacks" (actually mulatto) were indeed very smart, "genteely raised," and determined to show that teacher they could do it, rather than smolder in resentment. So they became A students on merit. The teacher apologized on her own accord. At little off track, but this lady met more prejudice at a black college where she was considered "dark." She was tan.
So it happens. But that small percentage able to achieve on merit and motivation has just never been enough to make a dent in the overall picture. Here in P.G. county Maryland, the children of 200,000 p.a. government workers make their neighborhoods untenable for non-blacks. Even some Hispanics (with a black daughter-in-law) had to move as their street became more black. Nurture did not win. Regression to the mean won. Considering the crime situation in parts of London, England doesn't seem to be the recipient of any miraculously different results.
Anyway, ultimately, the patent office is the best place to look when it comes to intellectual place and progress.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Monday, December 8, 2008, 1:16PM: Rush Limbaugh is reading this story.

citadelcc-WABC-AM.wm.llnwd.net

Anonymous said...

I see quite a few comments refer to BBC studies and reports, it is very much like getting the truth about communism from Pravda. The official government dept. of statistics is a much better source if you can understand doublespeak, for example "Pakistanis" are Muslims and "Indians"
are Hindus. The fact that discipline no longer exists explains the reason that girls do better than boys, the more truculent they are, the worse their results. The definition of having finished secondary education is 5 good GCSE passes. 66% of Hindu girls get that, so do 22% of Muslim boys. I am neither a racist or an Islamophobe, merely a conveyor of official U.K. government statistics.

simon said...

anon:
"The definition of having finished secondary education is 5 good GCSE passes. 66% of Hindu girls get that, so do 22% of Muslim boys"

My Hindu girl students definitely do better than my Muslim male students on average. But many Muslim girls do well too, though few hijabis (wearers of heavy hijab) which often correlates with an unmotivated outlook.

Regression to the mean in England - this is certainly a factor, along with assimilation towards underclass norms.

Anonymous said...

There are several of these studies now floating around. None control for the obvious genetic similarities between parent and offspring. None measure the actual amount of stress in the environment. None ....well, I could go on but needless to say, this is just another way to "highlight the importance of environment."

Truth said...

"Regression to the mean won. Considering the crime situation in parts of London, England doesn't seem to be the recipient of any miraculously different results."

London is 6% black, and has triple the crime rate of NY City which is 30% black. It seems as though British whites have regressed to the mean...in 1750.

Anonymous said...

3 times the crime! My goodness--btw, are the Bobbies carrying guns yet?

You're like some kind of web-bot--not really worth responding to.
I used to be able to walk around in European cities at night, or at least I could 20 years ago. My parents told me that you could walk around Baltimore at night during the 40s. Since the 60s--no way. You can't do that in any predominantly black city now.
London in particular and England in general has nothing like the type and scale of crime here in the metropolitan area. And if it were 2% black instead of 6%, it'd have half the crime. Same everywhere.