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Elucidating the Effects of PRAS40 on Learning and Memory

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The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is integral in regulating cell growth as it maintains a homeostatic balance of proteins by modulating their synthesis and degradation. In the brain, mTOR regulates protein-driven neuroplastic changes that modulate learning and memory. Nevertheless,

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is integral in regulating cell growth as it maintains a homeostatic balance of proteins by modulating their synthesis and degradation. In the brain, mTOR regulates protein-driven neuroplastic changes that modulate learning and memory. Nevertheless, upregulation of mTOR can cause detrimental effect in spatial memory and synaptic plasticity. The proline-rich Akt-substrate 40 kDa (PRAS40) is a key negative regulator of mTOR, as it binds mTOR and directly reduces its activity. To investigate the role of PRAS40 on learning and memory, we generated a transgenic mouse model in which we used the tetracycline-off system to regulate the expression of PRAS40 specifically in neurons of the hippocampus. After induction, we found that mice overexpressing PRAS40 performed better than control mice in the Morris Water Maze behavioral test. We further show that the improvement in memory was associated with a decrease in mTOR signaling, an increase in dendritic spines in hippocampal pyramidal neurons, and an increase in the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin necessary for learning and memory. This is the first evidence that shows that increasing PRAS40 in the mouse brain enhances learning and memory deficits.

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2018-05

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The Impact of Blocked vs. Distributed Category Learning on Subsequent Generalization

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It is a well-established finding in memory research that spacing or distributing information, as opposed to blocking all the information together, results in an enhanced memory of the learned material. Recently, researchers have decided to investigate if this spacing effect

It is a well-established finding in memory research that spacing or distributing information, as opposed to blocking all the information together, results in an enhanced memory of the learned material. Recently, researchers have decided to investigate if this spacing effect is also beneficial in category learning. In a set of experiments, Carvalho & Goldstone (2013), demonstrated that a blocked presentation showed an advantage during learning, but that ultimately, the distributed presentation yielded better performance during a post-learning transfer test. However, we have identified a major methodological issue in this study that we believe contaminates the results in a way that leads to an inflation and misrepresentation of learning levels. The present study aimed to correct this issue and re-examine whether a blocked or distributed presentation enhances the learning and subsequent generalization of categories. We also introduced two shaping variables, category size and distortion level at transfer, in addition to the mode of presentation (blocked versus distributed). Results showed no significant differences of mode of presentation at either the learning or transfer phases, thus supporting our concern about the previous study. Additional findings showed benefits in learning categories with a greater category size, as well as higher classification accuracy of novel stimuli at lower-distortion levels.

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2017-12

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How Collaboration is Operationalized and Successfully Implemented in Language Learning Classrooms.

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Education plays a key role throughout many different fields of study. My question has to do with not what we are learning, but how we are learning it, therefore focusing more on the teaching and instructional design aspect of the

Education plays a key role throughout many different fields of study. My question has to do with not what we are learning, but how we are learning it, therefore focusing more on the teaching and instructional design aspect of the learning process. Specifically, the goal of my thesis is to theoretically define collaborative learning and develop a framework that demonstrates how collaboration and interactivity can be successfully implemented in a language learning classroom. Language learning is essential in schools because it enables students to be culturally aware. According to the Modern Language Teachers' Association of South Australia, language learning plays a significant role in 21st Century learning. It assists students in being more community engaged as well as culturally diverse. They state that "knowing additional languages and cultures involves connecting, engaging, and interacting with others and negotiating boundaries based on diverse ways of understanding the world." (MLTASA) Collaboration can be very beneficial in the human learning process. According to Webb, students that collaborate with each other engage in challenging conversations and produce joint solutions whereas students that don't collaborate engage in conversation about practical rather than abstract matters (Webb, 2009). The success of collaboration is defined by the content of the dialog, groups won't necessarily engage in beneficial dialogue without help and facilitation by the teacher. It's important for teachers to keep groups on task and monitor their progress throughout the lesson. Through collaborative learning the student is able to take more from the lesson and view each concept from an alternate perspective. With teacher facilitated group discussions, students preform knowledge construction and challenge individual thoughts in order to come up with a joint solution that's takes everyone's point of view into perspective (Nastasi, 1999). Many researchers have concluded that collaborative learning, is a very beneficial learning method when it comes to challenging thoughts and concepts between students. Because each individual has a different thought process and ideas, each student brings a different concept that can be challenged and discussed among the group. Many researchers have previously studied the benefits of collaborative learning as well as the teacher's role in correctly facilitating and implementing it. Webb, highlights the importance of teachers actively pushing students to collaborate and challenge ideas. She states "In classrooms in which teachers pushed students to make explicit the steps in their mental processes (whether students' answers and strategies were correct or incorrect), collaborative groups engaged in frequent explaining and provided explanations that were correct and complete" (Webb, 2009, pg.18). Similarly, researchers such as Rijkje Dekker and Marianne Elshout-Mohr argue that collaboration in classrooms is especially important in terms of the type of work that is assigned. Assignments that require collaboration generally go more in depth and are considered more challenging than those given in individual assignments "Collaborative learning tasks are in general designed as complex, challenging and authentic problems. Such problems motivate students to attempt different strategies and co-construct and justify solutions" (Elshout-Mohr and Dekker, 2000, pg.40). Collaboration in language learning classrooms is beneficial and quite easy to implement (Elshout-Mohr and Dekker, 2000).

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2016-05

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The Effects of Prior Knowledge of Students within Dyads on Learning Outcome

Description

Collaborative learning is a potential technique for teachers to use to meet the diverse learning needs of the students in their classrooms. Previous studies have investigated the contexts in which the benefits of collaborative learning show greater presence. The most

Collaborative learning is a potential technique for teachers to use to meet the diverse learning needs of the students in their classrooms. Previous studies have investigated the contexts in which the benefits of collaborative learning show greater presence. The most important factor found was the quality of the interactions. Studies have suggested that high achieving students are capable of improving the quality of interactions. This bears the question if prior knowledge plays an influence in the learning outcome of students in collaborative learning. Results show that high prior knowledge students do not face a detriment in having low prior knowledge students as a partner comparing to having another high prior knowledge student and that low prior knowledge students show significantly higher learning outcome when partnered with a high prior knowledge partner than with another low prior knowledge student. It is therefore likely that having a high prior knowledge student within a dyad improves the quality of interaction, resulting in greater learning outcome through collaborative learning.

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2014-05

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Optimizing Biofeedback and Learning in an EEG-Based Brain-Computer Interface

Description

Brain-computer interface technology establishes communication between the brain and a computer, allowing users to control devices, machines, or virtual objects using their thoughts. This study investigates optimal conditions to facilitate learning to operate this interface. It compares two biofeedback methods,

Brain-computer interface technology establishes communication between the brain and a computer, allowing users to control devices, machines, or virtual objects using their thoughts. This study investigates optimal conditions to facilitate learning to operate this interface. It compares two biofeedback methods, which dictate the relationship between brain activity and the movement of a virtual ball in a target-hitting task. Preliminary results indicate that a method in which the position of the virtual object directly relates to the amplitude of brain signals is most conducive to success. In addition, this research explores learning in the context of neural signals during training with a BCI task. Specifically, it investigates whether subjects can adapt to parameters of the interface without guidance. This experiment prompts subjects to modulate brain signals spectrally, spatially, and temporally, as well differentially to discriminate between two different targets. However, subjects are not given knowledge regarding these desired changes, nor are they given instruction on how to move the virtual ball. Preliminary analysis of signal trends suggests that some successful participants are able to adapt brain wave activity in certain pre-specified locations and frequency bands over time in order to achieve control. Future studies will further explore these phenomena, and future BCI projects will be advised by these methods, which will give insight into the creation of more intuitive and reliable BCI technology.

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2014-05

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Association of olfactory learning with cuticular hydrocarbon discrimination in the ant Camponotus floridanus

Description

Communication amongst eusocial insect is key to their success. Ants rely on signaling to mediate many different functions within a colony such as policing and nest mate recognition. Camponotus floridanus uses chemosensory signaling in the form of cuticular hydrocarbons to

Communication amongst eusocial insect is key to their success. Ants rely on signaling to mediate many different functions within a colony such as policing and nest mate recognition. Camponotus floridanus uses chemosensory signaling in the form of cuticular hydrocarbons to regulate these functions. Each cuticular hydrocarbon profile contains numerous hydrocarbons, however it is yet to be seen if Camponotus floridanus can discriminate between linear hydrocarbons of similar length. Individual specimens were conditioned in three different ways: 5 conditioning with high concentration of sugar water (1;1 ratio), 1 conditioning with high concentration of sugar water, and 5 conditioning with low concentration of sugar water (1;4). Two linear hydrocarbons were use, C23 and C24, with C23 always being the conditioned stimulus. Specimens who were conditioned 5 times with high concentration of sugar water were the only group to show a significant response to the conditioned stimulus with a p-value of .008 and exhibited discrimination behavior 46% of the time. When compared 5 conditioning with high concentration to the other two testing conditioning groups, 1 conditioning with high concentration produced an insignificant p-value of .13 was obtained whereas when comparing it with 5 conditioning low concentration of sugar a significant p-value of .0132 was obtained. This indiciates that Camponotus floridanus are capable of discrimination however must be conditioned with high concentration of sugar water, while number of conditioning is insignificant.

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2014-05

Replacing Labels with Hope: The Study of a Learning Difference Mentorship Program

Description

Introduction: The Eye to Eye mentorship program is a national program in which college or high school students with learning differences mentor middle school students with learning differences. There are 68 Eye to Eye programs around the country, but little

Introduction: The Eye to Eye mentorship program is a national program in which college or high school students with learning differences mentor middle school students with learning differences. There are 68 Eye to Eye programs around the country, but little research has been done on their effectiveness and how to improve it. We conducted and evaluated one program site at Arizona State University and implemented this mentorship program for the first time during 2019. We hypothesized the Eye to Eye mentorship program that paired college students who have learning differences with middle school students who have similar learning differences would improve the outcomes and socio-behavior skills of both mentors and mentees.

Methods: The Eye to Eye mentorship program assessed involved mentors and mentees who completed 12 in-person art sessions out of the normal 20 in-person sessions. The first main assessment was the BLD (Breger Learning Difference) Feedback Survey addressing one’s experience in the Eye to Eye program and which were completed at the end of the mentorship program and filled out by mentors, mentees, and mentees parents (one parent for each mentee). A total of 12 mentors, 6 mentees, and 6 mentee parents were included in the feedback survey final analysis. The second main assessments were the pre and post Behavior Assessment System for Child, Third Edition (BASC-3) provided to mentors, mentees, and mentees parents (one parent for each mentee). A total of 10 mentors, 5 mentees, and 5 mentee parents were included in pre and post BASC-3 final analysis. Fall 2019 (pre) and Spring 2020 (post) optional interviews involved 5 mentors and 3 mentees who showed interest and were comfortable participating with additional release forms.

Results: The program was generally positively rated in the feedback survey by mentors, mentees, and mentee parents. The highest responses for mentors, mentees, and mentee parents all incorporated average ratings of 4.0 or higher (out of 5.0) for perceived understanding of socio-emotional skills after Eye to Eye, experience in Eye to Eye, how having a mentor or mentee made them feel, and perceived change in self-awareness. All three groups reported fairly high ratings of improved self-awareness of 4.0/5.0 or above. No negative ratings were provided by any participants and the lowest response was no change. The BASC-3 evaluation found statistically significant improvement in mentors’ anxiety and atypicality and mentees’ sense of inadequacy.

Discussion: The Eye to Eye program was popular and well-rated despite only involving 12 in- person one-hour art sessions. The mentors, mentees, and mentee parents felt positive about the Eye to Eye program when answering the feedback survey. Some suggestions are made on how to improve this program to better enhance someone with learning differences future ability to succeed. Future research is needed to assess the true impact due to the COVID-19 epidemic and other limitations.

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2020-05

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Addressing Mental Health in Rural Indian Primary Schools Through Experiential Learning: A Viable Model?

Description

Social-emotional learning (SEL) methods are beginning to receive global attention in primary school education, yet the dominant emphasis on implementing these curricula is in high-income, urbanized areas. Consequently, the unique features of developing and integrating such methods in middle- or

Social-emotional learning (SEL) methods are beginning to receive global attention in primary school education, yet the dominant emphasis on implementing these curricula is in high-income, urbanized areas. Consequently, the unique features of developing and integrating such methods in middle- or low-income rural areas are unclear. Past studies suggest that students exposed to SEL programs show an increase in academic performance, improved ability to cope with stress, and better attitudes about themselves, others, and school, but these curricula are designed with an urban focus. The purpose of this study was to conduct a needs-based analysis to investigate components specific to a SEL curriculum contextualized to rural primary schools. A promising organization committed to rural educational development is Barefoot College, located in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India. In partnership with Barefoot, we designed an ethnographic study to identify and describe what teachers and school leaders consider the highest needs related to their students' social and emotional education. To do so, we interviewed 14 teachers and school leaders individually or in a focus group to explore their present understanding of “social-emotional learning” and the perception of their students’ social and emotional intelligence. Analysis of this data uncovered common themes among classroom behaviors and prevalent opportunities to address social and emotional well-being among students. These themes translated into the three overarching topics and eight sub-topics explored throughout the curriculum, and these opportunities guided the creation of the 21 modules within it. Through a design-based research methodology, we developed a 40-hour curriculum by implementing its various modules within seven Barefoot classrooms alongside continuous reiteration based on teacher feedback and participant observation. Through this process, we found that student engagement increased during contextualized SEL lessons as opposed to traditional methods. In addition, we found that teachers and students preferred and performed better with an activities-based approach. These findings suggest that rural educators must employ particular teaching strategies when addressing SEL, including localized content and an experiential-learning approach. Teachers reported that as their approach to SEL shifted, they began to unlock the potential to build self-aware, globally-minded students. This study concludes that social and emotional education cannot be treated in a generalized manner, as curriculum development is central to the teaching-learning process.

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2020-05

Reevaluating the Relationship between Contingency and Congruency via the Flanker Task

Description

The purpose of this project was to extend Whitehead 2016 to determine what neural substrates supported conflict-mediated learning. Unfortunately, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic we were unable to address this. To repurpose the collected data, an

The purpose of this project was to extend Whitehead 2016 to determine what neural substrates supported conflict-mediated learning. Unfortunately, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic we were unable to address this. To repurpose the collected data, an analysis of which features of the Flanker task subjects were learning was conducted. Specifically, we wanted to know if subjects were learning by using the flanking stimuli to predict the central target or vice versa. Over 14 blocks comprised of 120 trials, we found that subjects made more stroop errors than flanker and target errors, indicating subjects were responding to stimuli in context of the flanker rather than the stroop effect.

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2020-12

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Emotion and learning in children attending summer science camp

Description

With the overall health of the environment rapidly declining \u2014 mostly due to human behaviors, solving the problem of nature deficit disorder and getting more children interested and aware of nature could be paramount to improving the environmental health of

With the overall health of the environment rapidly declining \u2014 mostly due to human behaviors, solving the problem of nature deficit disorder and getting more children interested and aware of nature could be paramount to improving the environmental health of our planet. In this study, the relationship between children's learning and emotion is explored. Pre- and post-tests were given to children attending a week-long summer freshwater ecology camp; their knowledge of and emotional connection to different ecological concepts were measured. Two separate ecosystems were tested \u2014 a freshwater ecosystem that was taught over the course of the week, and a marine ecosystem for comparison. Increases in knowledge and emotion were seen in every freshwater ecosystem concept. Additionally, the knowledge and emotion scores were correlated, suggesting a positive relationship between them. The marine ecosystem did not show improvements in concrete knowledge, but showed increases in abstract learning, indicating that the abstract concepts learned about the freshwater ecosystem were able to transfer to the marine. Overall results show the ability of a hands-on learning experience to foster an emotional connection between a child and the subject matter. However, long-term studies are needed to track the relationship between children and their knowledge of and emotional connection to the subject matter.

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2013-05