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In this post: the large version of the Brain & Behavior and Technology channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Technology. Radio telescope on the Plains of San Agustin, New Mexico. From Flickr, by Fort Photo


Brain & Behavior. Academician Andrei Sakharov. From Flickr, by dbking

Reader comments of the week:

On the Brain & Behavior channel, Jonah of The Frontal Cortex discusses the importance of Daydreams. In the age of television, he explains in an excerpt from his latest column in the Boston Globe, kids don’t have “empty time” to let their imaginations run wild; they simply switch on the tv. This inability to think creatively is carrying over into their schoolwork, too—teachers have noticed that even when given a very general writing prompt, many students demonstrate a surprising lack of imagination.

Reader Luci wonders exactly how “empty time” should be defined:

Using a ‘daydreaming’ tag is in itself so limiting for the variations of conscious states that anything slightly right (brain, of course) of someone’s idea of a rigidly focused state may include. Anything approaching wandering seems suspicious. But what happens when we read? Non-readers may consider that ’empty time’, but how is it possible to read without generating a full range of internally generated images and sounds? TV is passive, and massively boring to some of us. So we have another social-cognitive mix of who has been permitted and encouraged to include free time to play, create, sing, goof off, all the dreamy states – and who has been denied that freedom. This is not limited to children. Memory trains and the default network do allow us space and time, but if no satisfaction is felt in the wandering, that too easily assumed mantle of guilt obliterates the benefit. Creative use of time is not wasting anything.

Over on A Blog Around the Clock, Bora wonders What are teachers for? Having grown up with technology at their fingertips, kids are often more skilled at acquiring certain kinds of information than their teachers. It is easier for them to look up a fact or formula they need on the Internet than to memorize it in class. The role of teachers, therefore, will necessarily become more focused in the future on guiding the learning process—showing students how to navigate the many channels of information available to them, and how to organize and build upon the knowledge they gather.

Reader Peter Borah thinks the change is for the better:

There is so much information out there these days that it would be a crime to rely solely on what a middle or high school teacher can tell you. Between some good books at the library, blogs and online articles, and some lectures from UC Berkeley, I’m pretty sure I know more about psychology than the teacher of the extremely poor psychology class at the local high school. And I _definitely_ know more philosophy. Students need to be taught how to learn. It’s a waste of valuable time to have them memorize loads of facts they could just as easily look up.

Some other Brain & Behavior posts we thought were cool this week were:

Of voles and men: exploring the genetics of commitment

Is there a separate memory region for location of sound?


An orgasm in your step?

Semi-Formal Friday: Driving Habits

And from the Technology channel:

Introduction to Block Ciphers

What the hell. It’s only a nuclear fuel facility.

Towards a Data Sharing Culture

Google Chrome Not Ready for Real OS Deployment

Abiogenesis as a Tetris game!

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!