Sex differences in certain abilities, which have persisted for decades in various psychological tests, are now widely believed to be the result of conditioning that is in turn shaped by cultural factors. This applies to math abilities, spatial skills, and a range of other activities. Neural plasticity is key, and widely misunderstood or ignored. (Indeed, this is at the heart of the race discussion. Some people really want genes to “cause” different levels or kinds of intelligence, but are unable to explain how a few thousand genes wire up a few billion neurons … but that is the subject of a different discussion, at a different time)…



Guitar Hero 2 and Plasticity

Frontal Cortext has this video:

and opines: “I’d love to check out the somatosensory cortex of this prodigal eight year old. The agility of his fingers is pretty impressive. It’s just a shame that he has invested so much time in a guitar video game instead of practicing an actual guitar…”

I think one could make some specific predictions and actually test them. This behavior very biased in terms of handedness, for instance. Also, while Johah laments that it would be better that the child learn an actual guitar (and I tend to agree) one also has to wonder if he would be better at the regular guitar after molding his brain with this activity for a few months. Or worse!

Comments

  1. #1 Eamon Knight
    December 3, 2007

    I’m about 2/3 through The Blank Slate. The lesson I take from your post is: you think Pinker’s full of shit about this, right? ;-)

    Can you please suggest where I can read a counter-balancing view, and hopefully converge on some half-way accurate understanding of the situation?

  2. #2 Gerard Harbison
    December 3, 2007

    Sex differences in certain abilities, which have persisted for decades in various psychological tests, are now widely believed to be the result of conditioning that is in turn shaped by cultural factors.

    Widely, by whom? You and the cultural left? Certainly not by Kimura, or by a dozen other people working in the field.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    December 3, 2007

    It is a little bit old and out of date now, but still as brilliant as ever:

    The Symbolic Species, by Terrence

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    December 3, 2007

    Gerard (a.k.a. “the right wing professor): This is not a political argument, but rather, a scientific argument. I don’t make political arguments about how neurons work.

  5. #5 Gerard Harbison
    December 3, 2007

    There’s a scientific argument above? What, the scientific argument from incredulity? (I can’t figure out how behavior could be genetically encoded, so it can’t be).

    Your claim that it is widely believed that sex abilities in various abilities are culturally conditioned is not widely accepted; on the contrary, it’s pretty much discredited. Pinker is one who doesn’t accept it, and Pinker is no conservative; Sheri Berenbaum’s studies on girls with CAH, which show that in utero hormone exposure causes girls to adopt stereotypicially male interests and behavior, is a major body of scientific work that indicates that gender differences are at least partly innate.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    December 3, 2007

    There are numerous well documented and credible sex differences, there is no doubt about that at all. But that there are sex differences that arise mainly from hormonal conditioning (at various developmental stages) does not mean that every observed difference falls into this category. It is more complex than this!

Current ye@r *