e-book Language talent and brain activity

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First, many of our high-ability students are the next up-and-comers primed to advance the field of neuroscience. Their high abilities in STEM, coupled with critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, make many of them a natural fit. Second, the important research discoveries being made today provide valuable insight for parents and educators in determining how to best serve their high-ability children for optimal growth.

Simply stated, neural pathways in the brain can be strengthened and changed, with the combination of the right stimulation and the right environmental circumstances. At Center for Talent Development, we pride ourselves in providing challenging programming to strengthen both the neural and experiential pathways for gifted and talented children. Our programs and courses, offered through a multitude of online and in-person venues, are designed specifically for high-ability children of all ages with interests in math, science, arts and humanities, English and language arts, technology, engineering, and service.

With respect to the burgeoning field of neuroscience, there is so much more work to be done. Experts are needed not only in biology and psychology, but in data analysis, project management, communication, technology, teaching, and leadership. We're proud that CTD offers exciting courses to spark curiosity in all of those areas and beyond.


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Take a moment and think about the opportunities you're providing to strengthen the neural pathways for your high-ability child. Talk with your child about their interests and consider enrolling them in a CTD course this fall. There are many pathways for high-ability students to explore, and we're here for your child every step of the way. Malleable minds: Translating insights from psychology and neuroscience to gifted education. At six years old, Dr. Elizabeth Norton had her first neuroscience revelation when she observed that children were placed into different reading groups based on ability level in first grade.

She naturally assumed all children developed at the same pace, and wondered why some kids were fluent readers while others were still learning letters of the alphabet. This lightbulb moment ignited her curiosity and became a defining moment in shaping her life's work of studying cognition and the brain.

Today, Dr. Norton is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northwestern University.

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In addition to mentoring and teaching students, she is also director of the Language, Education and Reading Neuroscience LEARN Lab , a research group at Northwestern that uses brain science to understand language, reading, and learning development and disorders. She also works with schools, community groups, and policymakers to improve awareness of reading and language disorders and to advocate for policy changes to make educational and clinical practices consistent with current research.

Norton is known among her peers as a cognitive neuroscientist, one who studies the brain and nervous system as it relates to mental processing. Within the field of neuroscience, various subspecialties range from researching the brain at the cellular and molecular level to studying genetics, disorders, disabilities, and behaviors. A former high school science educator who taught bright students with language and reading disabilities, Norton's passion centers on how the brain, environment, and behavior work together to develop skills and abilities related to reading, learning, and language.

One of her goals is to use research as a way to inform interventions in early childhood so children won't struggle later in school. The work we do in our department is very broad: We study hearing, speech, language, and learning across the lifespan. This includes people from very young infants to older adults-and may range from those who are healthy, gifted communicators to those who are struggling. I like to say that cognitive neuroscience is about studying what makes humans 'human' One of the things that makes us unique from all other species is the way we communicate.

The lab's primary focus is to understand typical reading and language development, along with developmental and learning disabilities such as dyslexia, developmental language, and autism spectrum disorders. The lab uses different types of brain imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging MRI and electroencephalography EEG , in combination with behavioral measures, to address unanswered questions as to how the brain develops and processes information. Currently the lab is implementing six research projects focused on brain wave activity and cognition. In addition to being passionate about her research, Norton is also eager to dispel myths about brain function and development.

True or false? False, says Norton. We use all of the regions in our brains, not just a small fraction of them, according to the Society for Neuroscience.

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Barry Gordon, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, emphatically states in a Scientific American article, "…that we use virtually every part of the brain, and that [most of] the brain is active almost all the time. Also, false. Norton says both sides of the brain are in constant communication. And, while certain parts of the brain are particularly active during certain activities, essentially all cognitive activities activate both sides of the brain.

False, again.

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Studies have shown that your brain is constantly changing, otherwise known as plasticity. The brain is able to reform itself and build new connections whenever it learns something new, or attempts to repair or regain functions when injured. When asked about research comparing the brains of gifted and talented children and children of average intelligence, the findings are not so clear cut. While the brain basis of cognition is of significant interest to neuroscientists, Norton says there are scant neurological studies focused exclusively on the gifted brain.

This is because intelligence, giftedness, and cognition are multi-faceted and very complex. She says enough research hasn't been conducted to draw definitive conclusions on what happens in the brain that allows one person to have greater cognitive skills than another. However, she points to a handful of studies which may shed some light on how the brains of children with above average intelligence or math ability when compared with the brains of children in the average range.

A pattern that's starting to emerge, but is not yet consistent across studies, is that there may be greater efficiency of communication and integration among different brain areas in individuals who have higher non-verbal IQs. This suggests there may be better structural connections and greater functional integration that creates a fast-moving highway, so that two areas of the brain can work better together to solve a problem.


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The findings suggest it's really more of a continuum related to efficiency and connectivity. Physically speaking, Norton explains that someone with greater "efficiency" and "connectivity" means their axons may be mylenated , or covered with a thin sheath, which allows messages to travel faster back and forth across the brain. The speed of how two brain regions work together to accomplish a task depends on how mylenated and organized the neurons are connecting the regions. Children's brains may be physically laid out to use the same neural pathways, but some children's pathways are simply more efficient, which may point to their above average abilities.

According to Norton, there are no magic answers when parents and educators ask what they can do to influence optimal physical brain development in their children. Press and information Press releases Press Archives. Careers and apprenticeships Equal opportunities Vacancies Apprenticeships. Advanced Search Watchlist Search history Search help. Limit the search to the library catalogue. Direct access to the library catalogue. Language talent and brain activity English.

Language Talent and Brain Activity

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