Month: December 2017

Carroll ReflectionsCurious David

Thoughts While Proctoring My Last Final of the Semester: My students are younger and younger—even the “nontraditional” ones!

“Have students changed since I was there?” I am often asked by alumni. Of course they are different in terms of their life experiences shaped by national and international events, what is taught and not taught in high schools and in the home–and how they learn. Still, the major differences I notice are that my students are younger and younger–even the “nontraditional” ones! To better understand why I need only look in a mirror or at my photo in 1977 when I first set foot on the campus:)

Today is a Commencement for me of sorts  I am fully situated into my new (temporary) office–other than sorting through boxes. A used bookstore is only a few steps from where I park my car in front of the Art gallery entrance. How delightful to walk past art galleries, photography labs, and beautiful creations of Carroll faculty and students. The chapel (usually empty) is peaceful. The ambiance surrounding my new office (and my new office neighbors) may well lend itself to enhancing creativity in my remaining work. In January I have agreed to be part of a  Saskia de Rooy’s insightful sculpture project: sculpture portrait project.

“Congratulations! You have been nominated to participate as a model for (in)sight: a portrait project.
 This is a campus wide project where students and faculty nominated individuals who they believed have an interesting story to tell. This means that someone at Carroll admires YOU and wants other to hear your story. Only 50 models were accepted and you are one of them! We hope you will consider participating in this exciting project.
What do models have to do?
·         Attend an art class on both January 30 and February 1 (time options below)
·         Be interviewed by a Carroll student
·         Be portrayed in a painting or sculpture
·         Have your visual and written portraits in a campus art show in April”
I wonder if the artist likes dogs?






AgingCurious David

Sharpening My Brain

I’m looking forward later today to (virtually) participating in the 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit.  As I await its starting, I am flooded by emails from brain fitness companies. Lumosity claims to have “…adapted age-old-techniques of Mindfulness training into a series of easy-to-learn courses and activities.” I’ll learn more about that on Thursday from a Summit presentation. BrainHQ from Posit Science shares with me their latest claims. A new blog piece is published by Smartbrainaging.

I now am a subscriber to a number of very science-based brain health resources coming from Harvard Medical School and UC Berkeley,  I also now monitor National Institute of Aging clinical trial research. There are some intriguing ongoing randomized trials investigating cognitive, dietary and behavioral interventions (such as exercise programs) for mild cognitive impairment such as these.

I am looking forward to opportunities to interact at the summit with some of these CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and fellow investigators and to continue those relationships over the next few years.

My student research team has now spend a semester investigating brain fitness research claims. We are in the process of reflecting on what we have learned. Here are a few preliminary thoughts which will be expanded into a book.


  1. “Brain Training” is a huge and growing industry with very expensive market research reports! Like this one:
  2. There exist a number of excellent, current, science-based guides to maintaining cognitive fitness and brain health (e.g. this one).
  3. There exist excellent scholarly reviews of the efficacy of “brain fitness” programs (e.g. this one).
  4. Many cognitive training studies and brain training companies overpromise results, cite the same methodologically faulty studies, ignore best practice experimental designs (see point 2 above), and fail to take into consideration placebo effects (See this study.)
  5. Many helpful insights into memory loss can be gleaned from literature such as Lisa Genova’s Still Alice and other like works (Such as these).

Time to log into the summit. To paraphrase the proverb, all work and no play makes David a dull boy.