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Welcome to the February 2023 Learning Brain News.

The new school year has started in Australia and New Zealand. If your children are going to school for the first time, how ready are they? This month’s article about school readiness lists seven skills that impact how well they will cope with their entry into formal learning.

Also, read about a new test  which uses a single strand of hair to help diagnose autism, and check out the book recommendation, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.

Kind regards,
The Learning Brain News Team

Latest Research
Cancer research

How AI Found the Words to Kill Cancer Cells

Using new machine learning techniques, researchers at UC San Francisco (UCSF), in collaboration with a team at IBM Research, have developed a virtual molecular library of thousands of "command sentences" for cells, based on combinations of "words" that guided engineered immune cells to seek out and tirelessly kill cancer cells.


Repeating New Words Out Loud Isn’t Always the Best Way to Learn Them

The most common way of learning a new word is to repeat it out loud. However, a study published in the journal Language, Cognition and Neuroscience suggests it may be better for teachers to encourage students to repeat a new word the first time they hear it, then to focus more on listening to it, than saying it.

What's New
Auslan for deaf children

New Show For Deaf Children

Former Wiggles member Emma Watkins has revealed her next big role as she embarks on a new chapter in children's entertainment. 

Watkins' new character has a focus on Auslan, the majority sign language of the Australian deaf community, and her tagline for the endeavour reads "Sing, dance and sign with Emma Memma".

Her new album will be released next month, with a TV show also in the making.

What's On?

It’s back to school time! 

School mornings can be busy. One of the best ways to handle them is by sticking to a consistent routine. This will help everyone remember what they need to do to get out the door happy and on time. The Raising Children Australian Parenting Website has put together some practical tips.

robots to identify smell

A Robot Able to “Smell” Using a Biological Sensor

A new technological development by Tel Aviv University has made it possible for a robot to smell using a biological sensor. The sensor sends electrical signals as a response to the presence of a nearby odour, which the robot can detect and interpret.


Where do Memories of Fear Lurk in Your Brain?

The brain’s hippocampus plays a central role in the memory's formation. But exactly where memories of fear are stored has remained elusive.

In a new study on mice, scientists from the University of California, Riverside, have outlined some of the key mechanisms through which remote fear memories are consolidated, and identified the physical embodiment of distant fears in a prominent part of our brains.

By understanding more about how these traumatic flashbacks get embedded, we might be able to improve therapies and treatments for those suffering them.


Scientists Create Test that Detects Autism in Single Strand of Hair

Scientists have devised a test for autism in babies that uses a single strand of hair.

It analyses the sample for levels of metals like lead and aluminium, which are higher in autistic children.

The test was shown to predict autism accurately 81 percent of the time in a peer-reviewed study. It might help clinicians identify autism in young children before they miss developmental milestones.


A Better Understanding of How the Most Commonly Used ADHD Medication Works

For decades, doctors have treated children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with methylphenidate, a stimulant drug sold as Ritalin and Concerta, a medication aimed at the central nervous system. 

One might expect that researchers would know how methylphenidate works in the brain by now, but little is known about the drug's mechanism of action. Now, a new study seeks to close this gap and understand how methylphenidate interacts with cognitive control networks and attentional behaviour.

The Learning Success Blog

Executive Function: The Foundation for School Readiness

Almost 400,000 children in Australia and New Zealand began their first year of school in late January or early February this year. They start school in classes known in various Australian states as Kindergarten, Prep, Pre-Primary or Transition, and into Year 1 in New Zealand.

Every one of these children will transition into their first year of a formal school setting in various stages of school readiness.

What will determine a successful transition?

Free Download

Decoding Dyslexia for Educators - A Guide to Helping Students

Did you know that dyslexia is not a problem with vision? It is primarily an auditory disorder with weaknesses appearing specifically in phonological processing.

Check out our free guide to find out what every educator should know about Dyslexia and how to ensure your students are maximising achievement.

Book of the Month
Dopamine nation

Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence Dopamine nation

In Dopamine Nation, Dr. Anna Lembke, psychiatrist and author, explores the exciting new scientific discoveries that explain why the relentless pursuit of pleasure leads to pain, and what to do about it. 

Condensing complex neuroscience into easy-to-understand metaphors, Lembke illustrates how finding contentment and connectedness means keeping dopamine in check.

Something Interesting

A Professor Gave A Balloon To Every Student...

A professor gave a balloon to every student, who had to inflate it, write their name on it and throw it in the hallway.

The professor then mixed all the balloons. The students were given 5 minutes to find their own balloon.

Despite a hectic search, no one found their balloon.

At that point the professor told the students to take the first balloon that they found and hand it to the person whose name was written on it. Within 5 minutes everyone had their own balloon.

The professor said to the students:

"These balloons are like happiness. We will never find it if everyone is looking for their own. But if we care about other people's happiness... we'll find ours too."

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