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Poverty impairs brain function like a stroke

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I wonder how many potential Einsteins—or Beethovens or Marie Curies or Mother Teresas or Mohandas Ghandis or Martin Luther Kings—struggle for survival, unable to follow the yearning of their hearts.  I wonder how many millions of good, productive, loving people—people who would bless their world—are locked into spending all their strength battling desperate personal conditions.

Are we not all poorer when one of us is poor? Is there anything that would improve us all as much as dragging poverty to its knees?

clipped from www.usatoday.com

Life Expectancy at birth (years) {{col-begin}}...
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A new study finds that certain brain functions of some low-income 9- and 10-year-olds pale in comparison with those of wealthy children and that the difference is almost equivalent to the damage from a stroke.

“It is a similar pattern to what’s seen in patients with strokes that have led to lesions in their prefrontal cortex,” which controls higher-order thinking and problem solving, says lead researcher Mark Kishiyama, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California-Berkeley. “It suggests that in these kids, prefrontal function is reduced or disrupted in some way.”

Research has shown that the neural systems of poor children develop differently from those of middle-class children, affecting language development and “executive function,” or the ability to plan, remember details and pay attention in school.
“It’s really important for neuroscientists to start to think about the effect[…] of people’s socioeconomic status […] on their brain function […]
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Web-surfing helps brain; may fight Alzheimer’s!

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“What’s that, my sweet? No, sorry! Can’t help right now. Taking care of the old brain, you know.'”

clipped from www.msnbc.msn.com

For middle-aged and older adults, searching the Internet could be a boost to the brain, a new study suggests.

[Researchers studied] volunteers between the ages of 55 and 76 as they searched the Internet. Half of the participants had experience surfing the Web, while the others did not […]
All the study participants showed significant brain activity during the book-reading task […]
But Internet searches revealed differences between the two groups. While all the participants showed the same activity as during the book-reading, the Web-savvy group also registered activity in the frontal, temporal and cingulate areas of the brain, whereas those new to the net did not. (These areas of the brain control decision-making and complex reasoning.) […]
“Our most striking finding was that Internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading — but only in those with prior Internet experience,” […]

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Written by Monte

October 16, 2008 at 11:45 am

Brainlessness, interrupted (readings for Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008)

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Surely Simon Peter had ADHD. Blissfully blind to consequences, he lurches about in the dark, heaving improvements into whatever’s happening, until the lights go on—Eeyow!—he’s tossing anvils onto the boss’s Lexus.

I get that. Once 40 years ago, I lay in bed in my childhood home, drifting off to sleep as I ended a good junior high school day. Then—Pow!—this thought: YOU HAD A CONCERT TONIGHT. Sure enough, I was to have played in the school orchestra’s performance three hours earlier. My room being upstairs, looking out on the front-porch roof, I pondered alternatives: Could I jump from the roof in such a way as to break only my arm, and show up at school with a cast on? Ah, the ADHD life—chock full of excitement.

To Peter’s frequent brainlessnesses (see one, just below), Jesus responds with compassion.

Thank God.

Transfiguration Sunday (Last Sunday Before Lent) February 3, 2008

Matthew 17:1-9; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 2

Matthew 17
Sunlight Poured from His Face
1-3 Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.

4Peter broke in, “Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?”

5While he was going on like this, babbling, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 30, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Great comments of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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In honor of Martin Luther King, several great quotes.  All are sourced at Wikipedia.

  • True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
    President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Marti...
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  • I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway … I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
  • Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time — the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts… man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
  • What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
  • [T]hrough violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that.
  • This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. …  I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.

And today on the National Mall—where 40 years ago “I have a dream” became a part of the world’s lexicon of ideas—men and women again gather.  This time they face the other direction—not toward the Lincoln Memorial, but the platform on the steps beneath the dome of the U.S. Capitol.


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What I got for Christmas – a goat!

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My daughter gave me this World Vision goat – which goes to a family in countries like Haiti and Kenya, and provides them with milk, cheese, fertilizer, yogurt, and goat kids to sell. I love it!
clipped from donate.worldvision.org

The early-morning bleating of a dairy goat is a happy sound for children in countries like Haiti and Kenya — they know it’s ready to be milked. A goat nourishes a family with protein-rich milk, cheese, and yogurt, and can offer a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market. It even provides fertilizer that can dramatically increase crop yields!

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Imagine the difference a fertile garden and a steady protein source will make to a family with too little to eat. Imagine how their children will grow strong in bones and brains!
What a delight!


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Written by Monte

December 27, 2008 at 10:16 am

Posted in Poverty, Social change