Archive for February, 2009


** All it takes to lose 10 percent of your body fat is 15 seconds… Sort of. James over at has a great summary of the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT), especially as it relates to weight loss. The nitty gritty: subject who sprinted on their bikes for 6 seconds, then rested for 9 seconds, and repeated the cycle for 20 minutes lost 10 percent of their body fat, while those who exerised to longer durations at more moderate levels did not lose any.

** Speaking of being paunchy, it does not matter if you eat a low carb, low fat, or low protein diet… The secret to losing weight is restricting the number of calories we consume every day. See: A calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

** How would you react if you were thrown into the deep end of an Olympic-sized pool with your hands tied behind your back, your feet bound together, and a strap of dive mask stuffed in your mouth? Most of us would panic… And black out from oxygen deprivation. But most special ops trainees “quickly realize the only way to avoid drowning is to relax and sink to the bottom of the pool, kick off powerfully toward the surface, gasp for a little bit of air through clenched teeth, and then fall back into the water and drop down to the bottom again.”

Lessons in Survival” is an awesome article about “the science that explains why elite military forces bounce back faster than the rest of us.”

** The NYT has a great profile of ultrarunning all-star Matt Carpenter: “At 44, a Running Career Again in Ascent.”

** Too many college students think simply showing up and doing the assigned work is enough to earn them an ‘A’: “Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes.”

** Things that make you say “Hmm…?”: Scientists turn to their kids for test subjects. Said one neuroscientist at MIT about the birth of his son, “[I am excited] because I really want to study him and do experiments with him.” NYT article here.

** One last fun NYT article: Low-Tech Fixes for High-Tech Problems explains how sticking your computer hard drive in the freezer after it crashes can help you recover the files and data on it, how a homemade antenna can help you extend the WiFi range of your router, and how to rescue your cell phone from an accidental swim in the toilet.

As always…

play, think…
J.R. Atwood


February 26, 2009 at 6:06 am 3 comments

Resources for out-of-school time programs

Here is some great information on afterschool programs, courtesy of the Promising Practices in Afterschool Practices (PPAS) listserve

The Finance Project’s Report, “The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs,” commissioned by the Wallace Foundation:

Out-of-school time (OST) programs are increasingly expected to be of high enough quality to produce real benefits for children, but until now there has been little information on what such quality programming costs. This groundbreaking report fills that gap, providing a data-filled examination of the costs of 111 diverse, quality OST programs in six cities. The report finds that costs vary widely depending on a range of factors from program goals to times of operation and the ages of the children served. The report is also distinctive because it looks at the full costs of programming, including non-cash contributions OST operators often depend on such as free-of-charge space for programming.

To bring these findings to life, Wallace and the report’s research team also created an online “OST cost calculator” on Wallace’s website to help users calculate the costs of various options for high-quality OST programs. To visit the site – which includes the cost calculator, examples of program costs and options, quality strategies and other resources – click here.

The Connecticut After School Network reports that every dollar invested
in after school programs will save taxpayers approximately $3
, not
including the savings from reduced crime. For more information about the
Connecticut After School Network visit:

Florida’s Afterschool Network has developed a brochure of the Florida
Standards for Quality Afterschool Programs. To obtain a download of the
brochure and find out more information:

The response to why is quality in after school important and how to
recognize a quality program when you see it is provided in Iowa Policy &
Community Leaders’ Guide to Quality Afterschool. The Iowa Afterschool
Alliance’s Standards and Corresponding Indicators of Quality Afterschool
in Iowa provide a basic foundation for providing the most effective
afterschool program – a program that prepares all its students to
succeed in school, work and life. For more information on the Iowa
Afterschool Alliance’s quality Research and Assessment Effort, contact
Michelle Rich  ( or Brooke Findley (
For more information on afterschool in Iowa:

Development of the California After-School Program Quality
Self-Assessment Tool (QSA Tool) was informed by research regarding
program quality and review of multiple after-school program assessment
tools. The QSA Tool provides a way to conduct a process evaluation for
the internal assessment of programs and is intended to supplement
outcome evaluation results and other informal data. To download the QSA

Play, think…
J.R. Atwood 

February 7, 2009 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment

The Obama effect: More than hope

This is change we can believe in: 

Now researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama’s nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election.

The inspiring role model that Mr. Obama projected helped blacks overcome anxieties about racial stereotypes that had been shown, in earlier research, to lower the test-taking proficiency of African-Americans, the researchers conclude in a report summarizing their results.

[Read the NYT article here.]

play, think…
J.R. Atwood 

February 7, 2009 at 8:43 pm Leave a comment

Registration Open: U.C. Berkeley School Psychology Annual Conference, Mindset and the Mechanisms Beneath Social and Emotional Intelligence

Registration is open for what promises to be a provocative conference. See below for details…

UC Berkeley School Psychology 42nd Annual Conference

Mindsight and the Mechanisms Beneath Social and Emotional Intelligence: What Neuroscience Teaches About the Interconnectedness of Development, Environment, and Happiness

Monday, April 20th, 2009
7:45am – 3:15pm
Clark Kerr Conference Center
UC Berkeley – Berkeley CA

Space is limited
More Information and Online Registration:

Dr. Dan Siegel
Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine

Dr. Dacher Keltner
Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California,

Panel: Decreasing Anxiety and Improving Student Behavior and with Simple
Mindfulness Techniques: Community Partnership for Mindfulness in Education
(CPME) of Park Day School – Laurie Grossman, Megan Cowan, Richard Shankman

Early Registration till March 15, 2009
Non-student Rate $85
Student Rate $35

This conference brought to you by the second year students of the UCB School
Psychology Program
Conference Mailing Address:
UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education
School Psychology Program
4511 Tolman Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1670

February 7, 2009 at 10:52 am Leave a comment

Minding the News

Some of the more interesting general news items and articles related to psychology and the brain sciences…

** SharpBrains, which continues to publish a wide range of fascinating news and research related to brain fitness, has a provocative interview with chess champion Joshua Waitzkin. In the interview, Waitzkin reflects on his retirement from the game, his struggle to rekindle his passion for chess, what he learned about philosophy and psychology from Tai Chi, and his book The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance.

** “First Person Plural” by Paul Bloom of the Atlantic:

An evoloving approach to the science of pleasure suggests that each of us contains multiple selves — all with different desires, and all fighting for control. If this is right, the pursuit of happiness becomes even trickier. Can one “bind” another self if the two want different things? Are you always better off when a Good Self wins? And should outsiders, such as employers and policy makers, get into the fray?

** One of the reasons why I continue to subscribe to Newsweek is to read Sharon Begley’s “On Science” column, which distills and makes accessible some of the more interesting and important research in science. “When DNA is Not Destiny” explains how psychology, cognitive science, and genetics studies show that otherwise assumed inhereted aspects of our personhood, including intelligence and personality, are not immutable: “Experiences can silence genes or activitate them. Even shyness is like Silly Putty once life gets a hold of it.”

** Best Life magazine has a good general article about “Your Brain at 40,” seeking to explain the “recent breakthroughs in neuroscience that provide answers to questions on how the brain ages and how men can maintain a sharp cognitive edge.” Especially with the recent explosion of the brain-fitness market, I found the related post “Lobes of Steel” to be a handy cheat-sheet that evaluates the theories behind and evidence for some of the more popular computer-based mental-training programs, including Posit Science‘s Brain Fitness Program, Cogmed’s Working Memory Training, CogniFit’s Mindfit, and Lumos Labs’ Lumosity.

Play, think…
J.R. Atwood

February 3, 2009 at 3:06 am 1 comment

Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

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