09 April 2008

Brain, Mind, and Education

What a nice feeling to discover the right niche! I've started a new blog which I think will subsume my previous work here - please join me at Brain, Mind, and Education. As much as possible given my "real life" responsibilities, I'm keeping up with current research in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and education, and thinking about relationships among the three. I don't anticipate any further posts here, and though I'll leave the material accessible, I'll also be working to bring some aspects of it over to the new blog - I hope you'll join me and hop in on some discussion!

24 November 2007

Better late than never...

A long-needed update: I decided to switch thesis topics in October of 2006 and successfully defended my new thesis in December of 2006. I realized, after many starts and stops, that I wasn't going to be able to finish the research needed to develop a more robust model for cognition within the limitations of time and energy available to me as I saw them. So, I wrote about a subject that was a little more clear-cut: a developmental biology curriculum for secondary-level students centered on researching the zebrafish (Danio rerio). I designed it for the Upward Bound Math-Science program at UMaine in 2003, and realized that analyzing the curriculum along with artifacts of student learning would be a much more "do-able" thesis - and so I did it, wrapping up a long, challenging, and incredibly beneficial graduate school experience.

Since then, I've moved into a new job, serving as the Academic Dean at Foxcroft Academy. The curriculum is standards-based, which I've started to think of in a way that is very compatible with the knowledge-in-pieces-based cognitive modeling I have attempted to apply to the concept of evolution. Although the rigor of the position doesn't give me a lot of time to develop these ideas (at least in this part of my learning curve for the job...), I hope to continue to update this blog from time-to-time as I shift from the micro-analysis of cognition of a specific concept to the macro-analysis of an entire set of secondary-level learning standards.

Stay tuned...

23 May 2006

Human influence on biological speciation (NY Times)

This article (NY Times, may require registration) is interesting for many reasons. The main idea is to point out the influence that humans have on the evolution of other organism populations. The process of speciation seems to be moving towards hybridization and selection for intermediate traits for many organism populations. Classification issues will abound - a good biology "hook" for the idea of representing "differentiated" cognitive resource populations.

19 May 2006

A whole new twist on "I Can't Quit You Baby"

Patterson et al have published a study in Nature (press release) indicating that the common ancestry of humans and chimpanzees is more complex than suggested by recent and historic data interpretation. The new study, which utilized a large number of high fidelity DNA sequence comparisons, presents data that suggests that the common ancestor population split once, came back together to form a hybrid population, and then diverged once again to form the modern human and the modern chimpanzee. DNA sequence similarities (particularly on the X chromosome) indicate that the first population break resulted in the modern chimp line, and that the hybrid population evolved into the modern human.

..."Don'tcha realize sweet baby? Woman I don't know... which way to go. Woman I can't quit you babe." (from "I Can't Quit You Baby", a blues song performed by a number of great artists)