A Naturalistic Assessment of the Organization of Children’s Memories Predicts Cognitive Functioning and Reading Ability

Natália Bezerra Mota, Janaína Weissheimer, Beatriz Madruga, Nery Adamy, Silvia A. Bunge, Mauro Copelli and Sidarta Ribeiro

To explore the relationship between memory and early school performance, we used graph theory to investigate memory reports from 76 children aged 6–8 years. The reports comprised autobiographical memories of events days to years past, and memories of novel images reported immediately after encoding. We also measured intelligence quotient (IQ) and theory of mind (ToM). Reading and Mathematics were assessed before classes began (December 2013), around the time of report collection (June 2014), and at the end of the academic year (December 2014). IQ and ToM correlated positively with word diversity and word-to-word connectivity, and negatively with word recurrence. Connectivity correlated positively with Reading in June 2014 as well as December 2014, even after adjusting for IQ and ToM. To our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating a link between the structure of children's memories and their cognitive or academic performance.

Cerebral Dynamics during the Observation of Point-Light Displays Depicting Postural Adjustments

Eduardo F. Martins, Thiago Lemos, Ghislain Saunier, Thierry Pozzo, Daniel Fraiman and Claudia D. Vargas

Objective: As highly social creatures, human beings rely part of their skills of identifying, interpreting, and predicting the actions of others on the ability of perceiving biological motion. In the present study, we aim to investigate the electroencephalographic (EEG) cerebral dynamics involved in the coding of postural control and examine whether upright stance would be codified through the activation of the temporal-parietal cortical network classically enrolled in the coding of biological motion.

Design: We registered the EEG activity of 12 volunteers while they passively watched point light displays (PLD) depicting quiet stable (QB) and an unstable (UB) postural situations and their respective scrambled controls (QS and US). In a pretest, 13 volunteers evaluated the level of stability of our two biological stimuli through a stability scale.

Results: Contrasting QB vs. QS revealed a typical ERP difference in the right temporal-parietal region at an early 200–300 ms time window. Furthermore, when contrasting the two biological postural conditions, UB vs. QB, we found a higher positivity in the 400–600 ms time window for the UB condition in central-parietal electrodes, lateralized to the right hemisphere.

Conclusions: These results suggest that PLDs depicting postural adjustments are coded in the brain as biological motion, and that their viewing recruit similar networks with those engaged in postural stability control. Additionally, higher order cognitive processes appear to be engaged in the identification of the postural instability level. Disentangling the EEG dynamics during the observation of postural adjustments could be very useful for further understanding the neural mechanisms underlying postural control.

New fronts in the effort of disseminating science

The RIDC NeuroMat currently hosts five projects to disseminate science, funded by FAPESP. These projects focus on many aspects of how to develop a media strategy for improving science communication: collaborative technologies, transmedia, interactions between specialists and interested audiences, training of science journalists.

Streaming of two sections on the uses of Wikipedia for education and scientific dissemination

Videos of the workshops "The Use of Wikipedia in Education," with LiAnna Davis (Wiki Edu Foundation), and "How to disseminate scientific topics on Wikimedia projects," with Davis and João Alexandre Peschanski (NeuroMat/FCL), that occurred on March 13 and 14, at the University of São Paulo. Streaming was made available by USP. Videos in English.

Encouraging education work in Brazil

A group of Wikimedians based at USP’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat) has dramatically improved information available on the Portuguese Wikipedia on topics in neuroscience and mathematics. With a grant funded by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), they’re working hard to bring more science information to the Portuguese Wikipedia. LiAnna Davis, Wiki Edu Blog, 03/20/2017.

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The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics is hosted by the University of São Paulo and funded by FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation).

 

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