Psychopath Whisperer

5th July 2019

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience, by Kent Kiehl.  Like many people, we’ve long been fascinated by people who could even think of deliberately and unfairly harming others. (Barb’s book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend, acclaimed by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker among others, was her attempt to understand why seemingly above-board people likesay, your bosscan still sometimes act like psychopaths.) 

The story of how Kiehl got his start in interviewing psychopaths is fascinating and, at times, edge-of-your-seat scary. Kiehl’s work in imaging hundreds of psychopaths in the New Mexico area has resulted in important new theoretical breakthroughs, which Kiehl describes in easy-to-understand fashion.  Kiehl has probably studied more psychopath brains than any other living humanhe’s been able to do this in part because he’s witty and plucky, enough to spend enormous amounts of time in prisons. The Psychopath Whisperer is a surprisingly positive bookas Kiehl notes, there are now glimmers of hope for treatment. 

Barb was lucky enough to have attended one of Kiehl’s hands-on, immersive 3-day fMRI analysis workshops with Vince Calhoun and Tor Wager. It doesn’t get more intensely usefulor funnythan what that trio of seriously clownish instructors provides.

Barb in Spearfish, South Dakota on Saturday, July 27

In another of the sweeping annals of “Barb enjoys going everywhere,” she will be holding a meetup at 10:00 am on Saturday, July 27 at Blackbird Espresso, 503 N Main St, Spearfish, South Dakota.  If you’re in the Wyoming-Dakota area, come and have a cuppa, and share delight in learning!

What we learned from creating one of the world’s most popular MOOCs 

Here’s Barb & Terry’s article in npj Science of Learning on what they’ve learned from creating the course. In the article, we “reverse engineer” the course to see how creative application of well-known principles of multimedia learning appear to have helped make Learning How to Learn so popular.

Using Brain Activity to Measure Conceptual Understanding

Ensuring that students have a good conceptual understanding of a topic has long been the goal of educators–reform and traditional alike. Here comes a brilliant study in Nature Communications that, for the first time, gives researchers a way to analyze whether conceptual understanding has indeed been achieved by students. In this study, researchers “investigated whether patterns of brain activity collected during a concept knowledge task could be used to compute a neural ‘score’ to complement traditional scores of an individual’s conceptual understanding. Using a novel data-driven multivariate neuroimaging approach—informational network analysis—[the research] successfully derived a neural score from patterns of activity across the brain that predicted individual differences in multiple concept knowledge tasks in the physics and engineering domain… This technique could be applied to quantify concept knowledge in a wide range of domains, including classroom-based education research, machine learning, and other areas of cognitive science.” [Hat tip, Brandonrox10.]

We predict there will be a whole new body of research growing from this wonderful paper. 

Memory Champion Nelson Dellis Forgets His Name

Here’s a quirky reminder of Nelson’s vaunted memory prowess (not), along with an introduction to his work on Patreon. And don’t forget Nelson’s great book Remember It!

Moving Forward in LearningOne Country’s Perspective

Anniqua Rana, a Professor of English as a Second Language at the College of San Mateo in California, was in the audience at the panel discussion and Barb’s presentation in Lahore, Pakistan.  Here is her article about the afternoon of learning.

Is All Rote Learning Evil?

This perceptive column by Syed Nomanul Haq, in Pakistan’s oldest, most widely read English-language newspaper, questions Western dogma that rote learning is necessarily bad.

Barb on Memory Expert Anthony Metivier’s Podcast 

Anthony Metivier is a memory expert with great insights on how to improve your memory. In this podcast, Anthony and Barb enjoy talking about learning.

Improving Your Study Techniques: a Review of the Course

Pat Bowden of the blog Online Learning Success is back with a useful review of a new MOOC on Improving Your Study Techniques, by Maple Hupkens and Anne-Miek Hermsen of the University of Groningen (Netherlands), on FutureLearn.

The New All-Russian version of Learning How to Learn for Youth: Учимся учиться

Yes, Learning How to Learn for Youth is now available on Coursera in Russian as Учимся учиться, with an all-star Russian cast.  As Barb notes: “HSE’s fantastic new course, Учимся учиться, is a masterpiece. Anya Stogova and Vasily Klyucherov do an extraordinary job of conveying the key ideas of learning in a deeply insightful, but fun wayall solidly based the best of what we know from neuroscience about how the brain learns effectively. Who couldn’t enjoy such a fast-paced, vibrantly edited course! Want your kids to succeed? Don’t miss this course! (And incidentally, you’ll learn some great new tips yourself!)” 

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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