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1  EARLY LEARNING / Teaching Your Child to Read / Re: Research: Can babies learn to read? No, study finds on: March 11, 2014, 04:57:49 PM
reply: reviewers are supposed to be confidential.  So only revierwers know who they are.  Titzer would only found out if reviewers spoke up.
thus he should not be questioned if they spoke up.  How could he control confessions of other people?  sometimes when things are done in secret they might not be above board.  Sometimes those in the know feel uncomfortable with whats going on.  that could be why they confess.

I don't know the settings in educational research, but revealing identities of reviewers or speaking up as a reviewer would violate reviewer's agreements at best and scientific ethics at worst.

reply:  here it is assumed that PhDs in white coats know much more about a child than a parent, who is "assumed" to be biased.  Is there objective data that parents are "biased"? When making assumptions, it is easy to come to the wrong conclusion. 

Well, surely parents know better, but there is ample evidence that parents estimates of their kids' cognitive abilities have been grossly inaccurate (article 1, article 2, article 3). Nevertheless, parental beliefs and practices are correlated with their kids' eventual academic performance. So, in the context of babies, I think it is important to separate parental bias from real scoring.

Note: I am not against EL. I do EL to my kids and with some success. Do not direct the attacks against me (as some did through PMs).

Edit: Added a more recent article. Also note that, concluding from the articles, it always pays to always believe in your kids.
2  EARLY LEARNING / Teaching Your Child to Read / Re: Research: Can babies learn to read? No, study finds on: March 05, 2014, 11:44:38 PM
Quote from: Seastar
He said that one of the peer reviewers of the article...

Generally, the peer reviewers of scientific articles of reputable journals are anonymous (and remain anonymous even if the article is already published or rejected) to ensure at least single-blind situation. The reviews are typically confidential and only the authors know about it.

Given this knowledge, I'd put a huge question mark if Dr. Titzer said he knew about one of the reviewers. Firstly, how did he know which reviewer? Secondly, how did he know that one of them was critical to his product? Did he mean one of the editors of the journal?

Regarding the flaws you raised, here is what I think:
1. The authors purposefully dismissed parental views in order to avoid bias (especially because parents tend to praise their babies more than deserved).
2. There might be flaws in the protocol, such as 7 month being insufficient or ensuring fun, but the paper makes it clear that they are following the manufacturer's protocol. This only shows that the current protocol, as endorsed by the manufacturer, is at least incomplete.
3. About testing letter sounds: This was because they want to be thorough in examining reading stages as prescribed by Ehri 1994. While I agree it is an overkill, I was taken aback that the authors couldn't find the pre-reading stage to be significantly different between treatment and control.
4. I think testing protocol needs to be clarified further to ensure performance capture.

I understand that many EL moms are upset about this finding. I think the right approach is to refine the training and testing protocols and then publish another paper.
3  EARLY LEARNING / Teaching Your Child to Read / Re: Research: Can babies learn to read? No, study finds on: March 04, 2014, 09:47:59 PM
After scouring the web, here is the PDF of the paper.

Wow. The result is pretty damning. The material used in the intervention is YBCR. The author used Ehri's definition of reading phases (see here for critiques). From what I see when teaching my daughter, infants tend to see words as shapes. So, when my daughter saw the same word in another font, she would not recognize the word. But if the font matches, she would recognize the word. This is why I was betting on the results on the pre-alphabetic phase, but it showed no difference. The fidelity of implementation also showed no difference.

I have some qualms on the statistical analysis that they did---why did they choose F test instead of T? It obscures the effect directionality and F with first degree of 1 is equivalent of T. They have 4 different measurements (one per exam), so, why DF1 is 1 and not 4? They stated that they used ANCOVA, but I see no covariates mentioned or at least it is unclear. They should use paired T analysis or its analog. Plus, the pre-alphabetic test was done when? at 3 month or at each meeting? This is not clear either. They did all the tests in 45 minutes, for all the 14 categories? That's a lot of tests in a short period.

As it is, the paper itself is pretty solid. It is hard to argue against it, to be honest. The major qualm I have is that the authors didn't use MRI or other brain-based measurements during learning sessions. If babies' brains do exhibit over expression in brain areas for languages, then we can argue that these learning videos may indeed be helpful to stimulate language development, but the results may not be immediately apparent (even after 7 months).

I would love to see replication studies across different populations. The study itself is on pretty well off families for the most part. Perhaps more gains could be achieved in more disadvantaged populations.

Footnote: On shape-word connection, I couldn't find the paper I had read (that was a long time ago). I think this paper is somewhat close. So, I think there might be a pre-pre-alphabetic phase of learning, or maybe something else altogether.
4  EARLY LEARNING / Teaching Your Child to Read / Re: Research: Can babies learn to read? No, study finds on: March 04, 2014, 06:58:12 AM
I think it is incomplete to not include NAEYC's statement:

Quote
It is the position of NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center that:
Technology and interactive media are tools that can promote effective learning and development when they are used intentionally by early childhood educators, within the framework of developmentally appropriate practice (NAEYC 2009a), to support learning goals established for individual children. The framework of developmentally appropriate practice begins with knowledge about what children of the age and developmental status represented in a particular group are typically like. This knowledge provides a general idea of the activities, routines, interactions, and curriculum that should be effective. Each child in the particular group is then considered both as an individual and within the context of that child’s specific family, community, culture, linguistic norms, social group, past experience (including learning and behavior), and current circumstances (www.naeyc.org/dap/core; retrieved February 2, 2012).

Children’s experiences with technology and interactive media are increasingly part of the context of their lives, which must be considered as part of the developmentally appropriate framework. To make informed decisions regarding the intentional
use of technology and interactive media in ways that support children’s learning and development, early childhood teachers and staff need information and resources on the nature of these tools and the implications of their use with children.
5  EARLY LEARNING / Teaching Your Child to Read / Re: Research: Can babies learn to read? No, study finds on: March 04, 2014, 06:51:43 AM
Interesting. Will read the full paper tomorrow. The study sample looks okay (117), with appropriate age range (9-18 mos). Randomization appears to be used. Longitudinal data (7 mos) follow up. Not sure about dropout rate. I am not very sure about the measurements or the materials used or the scoring. The authors appear to use eye-tracking method, with which I have some qualms. My problem is with this statement:

"If the babies’ eyes moved across a word from left to right, as would a normal reader’s, it indicated greater “reading ability” than if the child’s gaze floated freely across the screen."

Well... It is hard to make the babies focus and stare at the words. Arguably, their eyes are all over the screen. So, eye tracking method isn't really a reliable measure for "reading ability".

I reserve further comments for later.
6  Parents' Lounge / General Parenting / Re: Article: Infant Sound Machines Causing Hearing Loss on: March 03, 2014, 06:05:42 PM
Whoa! 50dB at 2m distance? That's like having some moderate buzzing of a machine right in the ear. Insane! It's no surprise that the babies could have hearing loss. Should be at 30dB level. Reference.
7  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: Moved - Discussing Merits/Legitimacy of Mid-Brain Activation on: February 26, 2014, 10:11:24 PM
This makes me curious to know if any studies have been done to see the effects of midbrain "activation" on conditions such as Tourette's and Parkinson's, both of which seem to be related to the dopamine hormone.  I haven't read recent research on either of these, but several years ago when I happened to have 3 students at the same time with Tourette's, I remember finding it interesting that both Tourette's and Parkinson's were somehow affected by dopamine, although scientists didn't really understand how. 

By the way, it looks like congratulations are in order, Robbyjo!  A new little learner!  Wonderful! smile

CVMomma, I doubt that the advertised midbrain "activation" would follow any of the conditioning methods known to science since the scientific conditioning/methods require some time to "sink in" (i.e., much longer than 2 days). Since I do not have any curriculum or material for these advertised methods, I am not acquainted to any of them. So, really, I cannot comment. Even if immediate measurable effects are not readily apparent after the 2 day workshop, I am still doubtful to any qualitative benefits, such as "mindfulness" or whatnot. I tend to attribute such qualitative benefits to placebo effects.

Tourette and Parkinson are not my area---but I think you're right that these are affected by dopamine. I think it is still way too early to see how, especially that some activation might do harm instead.

Thank you for the congratulation!

@andreasro: I don't think that Parkinson can be reversed just yet. There's an indication that it is a diabetic-like disease, as is Alzheimer, but it is still under intense investigation (as of Jan 2014). Caveat: This is not my area, so I might be wrong.

I highly doubt that a casual research by someone has no relevant scientific publications would result in "natural cure" for ADHD among other things. I respect John Gray for his Mars book, but he really should not offer medical advice. His wikipedia states that he obtained his Ph.D. from a correspondence university should speak volumes about his academic credentials. I don't think that his "cure" would hold in a rigorous clinical trial. His webpage is appropriately adorned with the following paragraph:

Quote
The statements and products referred to throughout this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. They are the expressed opinion of John Gray for the sole purpose of educating the public regarding their health, happiness and improved quality of relationships. Individual results may vary. Seek the advice of a competent health care professional for your specific health concerns.

In other words, Mr. Gray doesn't want to be held accountable for non-results or harm resulting from his advice.
8  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: Moved - Discussing Merits/Legitimacy of Mid-Brain Activation on: February 24, 2014, 07:45:23 AM
Oh, also... The left brain vs. right brain "difference" is a myth. Here is an article explaining why such myth won't die. I hope I am not perceived as disrespectful, I am just stating the facts.
9  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: Moved - Discussing Merits/Legitimacy of Mid-Brain Activation on: February 24, 2014, 07:24:15 AM
Midbrain area is where dopamine (or "reward hormone") is processed. Basically, when dopamine is released, our body will feel good. There is strong evidence that dopamine is involved in cognitive function, especially learning and memory. However, to date, the structure or how the dopamine system works is still largely unknown, especially in humans (as of Feb 19, 2014). This means that we still do not know how to "activate" such system at will for the benefit of cognition growth or what not. I would imagine that such activation will implicate a lot of systems (like appetite, motivation, emotion, addiction, etc.) and it would be really hard to narrow the focus of such activation only to cognitive purposes without side effects. Moreover, wrong activation (using Pavlovian Conditioning) would cause problems.

There are Pavlovian Conditioning and Instrumental Conditioning in learning. Both are recently (as of Jan 2014) shown to activate dopamine. I would say that such conditioning methods could be considered as "midbrain activation" methods---although that term is somewhat foreign to me.

That's actually the scientific side of midbrain "activation". I was flabbergasted to read claims about "scientifically proven" fantastical midbrain activation methods in some articles. Let's just say that I am highly skeptical of any of those claims. If the methods actually hold water, I would like double-blind randomized trial.

Don't get me talking about alpha-wave brain activation, etc. I can supply scientific evidence from that side too.
10  EARLY LEARNING / Teaching Your Child to Read / Re: Do you want to share your favorite Ipad apps? on: January 27, 2014, 01:37:14 AM
My kid currently falls in love with Dr. Panda apps:
http://www.drpandagames.com/
11  EARLY LEARNING / Early Learning - General Discussions / Re: How to raise a rational child. on: January 26, 2014, 03:18:25 AM
I'd be blunt: I am sorry, but I very much doubt a "tip to raise a rational kid" from a childless person. Theory is easy, practice is not. I'd say, eat your dog food first before offering it to others. You can theorize a lot of things, but when you have your own kid, your whole world is turned upside down and you'll find much of your "theories" no longer work.
12  The BrillKids Forum / Forum Feedback + Questions / Re: Cell Phones and Child Brains: 'Casualty Catastrophe' and more on: January 24, 2014, 06:41:45 PM
Well, I suppose that Backfire Effect is a consequence of Confirmation Bias.
13  The BrillKids Forum / Forum Feedback + Questions / Re: Cell Phones and Child Brains: 'Casualty Catastrophe' and more on: January 23, 2014, 05:07:23 PM
Well, I have to disagree with Neil deGrasse Tyson somewhat. He's coming from a physics standpoint, while I am from a medical standpoint. I agree with him that we are constrained by what we can measure and by the measurement device (or method, or protocol, etc).

Firstly, yes, real "signal" is repeatable, but not necessarily huge or even big (especially true in the medical research). Secondly, if there is "no signal", properly designed experiments would almost always give no positive results. Rare exceptions do happen, especially when the sample size is small. Thirdly, inconsistency amongst results is not always an indicator of "no signal", but it is always an indication of the difference of the experiments. This is why we ought to know experimental design in order to throw away badly designed experiments. However, if the experiments are equally good in design and yet still give inconsistent results, it might be an indication of either "no signal" or failure to account for "hidden and significant variables" or the experimental protocol being too complicated to be executed flawlessly or the measurement device (or method, or protocol) is not precise or consistent enough.

In this (electromagnetic-hypersensitivity, EHS) case, it is mostly about measurement issue. What is being measured as an indication of "adverse health effects" of cell phones / electromagnetic devices (EMF)? What Dr. Havas did was essentially "a fishing expedition". That in itself is reproachable. There is no way for me to access her scientific articles due to pay-wall. I have access to many respectable journals, but none of the journals through which she submitted her articles is accessible. Her webpage online only provides white papers and policy statements, showing no real experimental design. A scientist's website usually provides an electronic copy of his/her articles, especially so since major research funding agencies around the world now make that a requirement.

The backfire effect has a formal name, "Confirmation Bias", by the way.
14  The BrillKids Forum / Forum Feedback + Questions / Re: Cell Phones and Child Brains: 'Casualty Catastrophe' and more on: January 20, 2014, 07:50:19 PM
Thank you all, that is so kind of you. I just want everyone to be informed of the current status and spare everyone from unfounded worries.

Mind you, while there is no measurable health impact, the radiation effect is certainly non-zero. It is still a contentious issue with no consistent replication of the Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) results. Here is a very good review from a respectable journal. Basically, WHO says: "Alright, this might be a problem, but get the evidence first."

----

Despite increasing reports in the world literature recognizing EHS as a legitimate clinical entity, (World Health Organization, 2011a, McCarty et al., 2011, Havas et al., 2010, Havas, 2000, World Health Organization, 2011b and Chemical Sensitivity Network, 2011) many people remain skeptical about the veracity of the idea that a subsection of the population experiences illness and disability as a result of intolerance of ordinary everyday levels of EMR (Levallois, 2002). Some consider the EHS condition to be purely psychosomatic (Rubin et al., 2010 and Das-Munshi et al., 2006) — a “made-up term used by hypochondriacs and alternative-medicine practitioners to explain away unrelated medical problems” (National Post, 2011).

This stance is buttressed by the failure of numerous studies to prove a connection between people's reported EHS and their actual exposure to EMR (Nam et al., 2009 and Mortazavi et al., 2007). In fact, many of the studies show that people with self-reported EHS were more sensitive to devices emitting no EMR than true EMR (Frick et al., 2005). In contrast to the more recent double-blind work confirming measurable physiological change in response to EMR exposure (McCarty et al., 2011), Rubin et al. (2011) found that participants with self-reported EHS did not have any abnormal physiological responses to acute EMR exposure. Looking at twenty-nine single or double-blind studies that exposed people to real and sham EMR, they report that most of the studies did not show any significant association between EMR and consistent symptoms in the self-reported EHS participant (Rubin et al., 2011).

Secondly, many EHS patients with EMR-induced brain dysfunction have CNS symptoms involving mood, cognitive ability, perception, and behavior. Because of the labile nature of this condition depending on incitant exposures, EHS patients are often perceived as inconsistent and unreliable, which makes it tempting for skeptics to label their condition as psychogenic. As a result of these various factors, many clinicians, politicians, and industry groups have chosen to label EHS as a fictitious malady.

After reviewing all available evidence, however, the WHO in 2004 released a factsheet identifying non-specific multi-system illness resulting from EMR exposure as ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ (EHS) (World Health Organization, 2011b). In May of 2011 a coalition of physician scientists met with officials in the WHO responsible for developing the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The WHO expressed a willingness to consider professional and public input on evidence supporting the inclusion of EHS into the 11th version of ICD to be released in 2015 (Chemical Sensitivity Network, 2011).

Various national governments have also recognized EHS as an emerging medical problem. Sweden (with about a quarter of a million people with EHS reported in 2004 (Johansson, 2006)) classifies EHS as a functional impairment (Johansson, 2006). Taking steps to diminish the risk of toxicant exposures – the source etiology of SRI and EHS – the Swedish Chemicals Agency has introduced recommendations in the form of a ‘Substitution Principle’. This report recommends: “If risks to the environment and human health and safety can be reduced by replacing a chemical substance or product either by another substance or by some non-chemical technology, then this replacement should take place” (Swedish Chemicals Agency, 2007). Other nations have also begun to introduce guidelines and legislation in relation to EHS. Spain, for example, recognizes EHS as a permanent disability (Grupo Medico Juridico, 2011) while the Canadian Human Rights Commission includes EHS among environmental sensitivities as a disability to be accommodated under Canadian federal legislation (Sears, 2007a). With conflicting outcomes in EHS research to date, however, legislative and public health action has been slow in many jurisdictions.

What considerations might potentially explain the apparent inconsistencies and contradictions in study outcomes and conclusions about the legitimacy of the EHS diagnosis?

6.1. Response to challenges relating to the EHS diagnosis

Lack of Clinical Response to EMR in some Research: Individuals with EHS may be sensitive to different frequencies; not all electromagnetic frequencies are the same. Just as people with food intolerances are not sensitive to all foods and chemically sensitive patients are not sensitive to all chemical exposures, EHS patients are not necessarily sensitive to all frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. Testing EHS patients for identifiable physiological changes by exposing them to one frequency may miss frequencies that they are sensitive to — it is equivalent to testing people for food intolerances by exposing them to only one food or testing for all atopic illness in a patient by testing with only one antigen.

Fluctuating Clinical Response to EMR in some Research: For those individuals with SRI, levels and intensity of intolerance can change over the short and long term (Genuis, 2010a, Ashford and Miller, 1998 and Miller and Ashford, 2000). The intensity of response can fluctuate depending on changing levels of the total body burden, incitant dose, overall inflammatory status of the body, concomitant associated triggers, medication or natural health product use, general health, emotional state, and various other determinants.

Delayed Clinical Response to EMR in some Research: Clinical change following incitant exposure is not necessarily immediate and can be delayed in onset. As some inflammatory responses can take time to manifest, immediate clinical testing for the purposes of research may not be reliable.

Differing Clinical Outcomes in Different Individuals: Some of the studies claiming to disprove EHS utilize a reductionist approach to assessing patient suffering. Each person with EHS is a unique individual functioning in a complex environment, not a machine in a laboratory. Many of the studies attempt to create a controlled environment, and then draw conclusions — which are not generalizable to the complex environment where biochemically unique individuals with distinct genomes exist, and where a multiplicity of interconnected determinants may impact susceptible persons.

Psychogenic Etiology: Many patients with EHS have been able to recover and have achieved sustained health using physiological interventions, without psychological therapies. In other words, correction of patho-physiology rather than patho-psychology has been successful in ameliorating this condition. This suggests that there may be a physiological basis for at least some portion of EHS.

Lack of Objective Evidence: Unlike hypertension or diabetes, where isolated predetermined clinical markers determine diagnosis, EHS is not easily measured with quantifiable criteria. Without objective markers, some health professionals tend to dismiss the EHS diagnosis. EHS generally does not occur in isolation — it is often one component of complex multi-system health problems resulting from SRI (Genuis, 2010a, Dahmen et al., 2009 and Sears, 2007b). EHS is a person-specific syndrome based on a person's total environmental burden, on their overall health, and how their unique bioelectric cellular chemistry responds to external EMR. Individuals with EHS may have associated biochemical deficiencies, toxicant bioaccumulation, and individual genetic polymorphisms that affect cellular detoxification processes, neurocognitive biology, and other determinants of health and illness (Landgrebe et al., 2008).

EHS Defies Experience and Doesn't Make Sense: As most healthy people do not perceive EMR in their environment, it may be counter-intuitive to accept that some individuals experience physically disabling symptoms as a result of seemingly incidental exposure. As a result, many scientists and clinicians are not willing to entertain the possibility that such sensitivity exists, and automatically default to the psychogenic attribution of disease. It is instructive to consider, however, that just as some vulnerable individuals with peanut allergy can experience life-threatening anaphylaxis from exposure to miniscule amounts of everyday peanuts, some EHS persons can develop debilitating responses to everyday levels of EMR.

Conflict of Interest Issues: Sensitivity to environmental factors has huge implications for issues relating to insurance, employment, human rights, liability, policy initiatives, legislation, industrial policies, lifestyle and so on — issues with profound economic implications. In science and medicine as in other disciplines, there are those so closely allied to vested interests that they have seemingly been inoculated against truth, against credible research, and against observed fact (Michaels, 2008 and Moynihan, 2003). Regardless of how compelling the evidence to the contrary, some unscrupulous or uninformed scientists continue to serve and represent the vested interests that fund them or the entrenched ideas and ideologies that propel them (Michaels, 2008 and Angell, 2000). It has been suggested that perhaps some of the facts about EHS are being obfuscated and that ‘evidence’ has been manipulated to instill doubt and to impede public health regulation in exposure related matters (Genuis, 2008 and Michaels, 2008).

Historical Precedent: History repeatedly demonstrates that a disorder failing to fit the existing scientific paradigm of a specific era does not automatically translate into the condition being a psychosomatic or metaphysical nonentity. Many afflictions from Parkinson's to peptic ulcer disease were initially thought to be psychological rather than physiological in origin (Pall, 2007 and Marshall, 2002).

Knowledge Translation: Medical history consistently demonstrates that the adoption of new knowledge in clinical medicine is notoriously slow (Genuis, 2012, Genuis and Genuis, 2006, Doherty, 2005 and Grol and Grimshaw, 2003). Currently, EHS is generally ignored, ridiculed or denied in much the same way that many other conditions such as ulcerative colitis, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder were summarily dismissed in the past (Pall, 2007).
15  The BrillKids Forum / Forum Feedback + Questions / Re: Cell Phones and Child Brains: 'Casualty Catastrophe' and more on: January 10, 2014, 05:00:33 PM
More reading about this topic:
http://www.emfandhealth.com/EMF&Health%20EHS%20Poor%20Studies%201.html

Excerpt:
Quote
In this paper Havas studies 4 individuals suffering from diabetes. Here she tries to link their insulin levels to "exposure" to "dirty electricity. The biggest problem with this "study" is that it is entirely anecdotal. Both the patient and the experimenter knew when the GS filters were installed. We asked one of own scientist friends, who suffers from Type I juvenile diabetes, to read and comment on this "study". The following are his comments.

The most egregious problems with this "study" are the ones mentioned above, which are that it is an incredibly small population, which self-reports, and without double-blind controls.

These issues are exacerbated by the fact that this tiny group mixes diabetics of Types I and II, which are essentially different diseases, with different treatment regimes, and since this  includes a newly diagnosed Type I juvenile diabetic, who was monitored during only the first month following diagnosis!

Their conclusion:
Quote
Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University is probably Canada's leading alarmist. She has a web site that promotes her alarmist views. Following are a few of examples of her deeply flawed "studies" on the effect of EHS.

Further reading:
http://www.emfandhealth.com/EMF&Health%20EHS%20Poor%20Studies.html
http://www.emfandhealth.com/EMF&Health%20EHS%20Poor%20Studies%202.html
http://www.emfandhealth.com/EMF&Health%20EHS%20Poor%20Studies%203.html
http://www.emfandhealth.com/EMF&Health%20EHS%20Poor%20Studies%204.html

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