potomon / flickr

Michigan State University has a new study out about "mindset messages," or how what we believe can change how well we can do.


What happens when you take high school students from a poor school and have them interact with high school students from a rich school? Well, if you're lucky, a little something called empathy develops. 

(Need a refresher on the difference between empathy and sympathy? Check out this animated video of a fox and a bear and an antelope. I guarantee it's way better than just looking up the definitions in a dictionary.)

How your brain makes you less sensitive to suffering

Dec 17, 2012
Indiana Public Media / flickr

This week our Michigan Radio colleague Kyle Norris will be starting a series on homelessness.  So, when I came across this post on the stellar Sociological Images blog I thought it was worth a mention.

It explores a study that finds our brains, not just our emotions, react to the homeless with "disgust." This happens in part because we see them as very different from ourselves. Then, with the help of our brains we build up our tolerance for seeing suffering among these people. We rarely feel empathy for them.

I'll be exploring issues of empathy and children in a few weeks with the help of one of our storytelling sources. This study  is an an interesting introduction.

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

There has been an explosion of research over the past decade that shows how important the first few years of a child’s life are in terms of brain development. To help us make sense of how those early experience can shape a child’s brain, we called up Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

A new study shows that heavy drinking during pregnancy has long-term affects on a child's brain growth and development. But the study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, also notes that an infant's environment likely plays a role in the abnormal brain development as well. Those findings could lead to the development of early treatments and interventions to correct or improve patterns of abnormality. You can read the full study here: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/44/15243.full

I've been kind of obsessed with neuroscience lately. The study of our brains has made some amazing leaps in the past decade or so, particularly when it comes to how we understand our children's minds. Behind many of those leaps have been advances in brain scans. Scientists have been able to use non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging to study adult brains for some time. But young kids were just too squirmy for the most detailed types of scans. Now, though, scientists are starting to figure out ways to see what's going on in developing brains, regardless of the squirms.