study shows coloring improves memory, reduces stress for veterans

UNF study shows coloring improves memory, reduces stress for veterans

Simple activities, such as drawing and coloring, may yield both mental health and cognitive benefits for veterans, according to a new study conducted by Dr. Tracy Alloway, associate professor of psychology at the University of North Florida.The study, in collaboration with UNF psychology graduate student Jourdan Rodak and psychology undergraduate student Michaela Rizzo, explored the use of coloring and drawing in veterans with and without self-reported Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

My Study Reveals Coloring Improves Working Memory/Reduces Stress Among Veterans

Simple activities, such as drawing and coloring, may yield both mental health and cognitive benefits for veterans. In my research, I found that:

1) Veterans showed decreased self-reported anxiety and stress after coloring a mandala—a geometric pattern—for 20 minutes

2) Veterans also showed improved working memory after drawing for 20 minutes.

Coloring can reduce stress and anxiety and improve memory in veterans

Study reveals coloring improves working memory/reduces stress among veterans

Simple activities, such as drawing and coloring, may yield both mental health and cognitive benefits for veterans, according to a new study conducted by Dr. Tracy Alloway, associate professor of psychology at the University of North Florida. The study, in collaboration with UNF psychology graduate...

Are Women more Emotional Decision Makers?

Women tend to describe themselves as emotional decision makers. Dr. Alloway conducted an experiment to discover if women would become more prone to making emotional decisions under pressure. She asked women to make a difficult decision (along the lines of sacrificing one person’s life to save many others.) Many women reacted emotionally, saying they simply could not make that difficult decision. 

Dr. Alloway then put the women under stress by asking them to count backward from 100 by sixes (100, 94, 87, etc.) After about a minute, she then asked them to make another difficult decision. Most women were able to make a more utilitarian decision (one that rationally considered the greater good, rather than personal emotions) under pressure. READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Proprioception & Working Memory on the News - Good Morning Jax, First Coast News (NBC/ABC)

#ThisIsMe; Improving your working memory

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tracy Alloway is a mother of two, an author, a psychologist and an all-around adventure seeker. To improve your working memory she suggests being proprioceptively dynamic. Which for Alloway, means bring wrapped in silk and hanging upside down like Spider-Woman.

Why your child’s lies may be a sign of intelligence

Lying is a relatively common behavior in children. But it does take effort – and quick thinking! Children learn to lie as young as 2, but it’s not till they are older that they learn to lie well.

It is around 6 or 7 years when we begin to see a shift – not just in a better understanding of social rules and how to interpret them; but also in an important cognitive skill known as working memory. Working memory is the ability to remember and process information.

In my research, I wanted to explore whether how working memory is related to lying. This is an important issue as lying involves keeping multiple pieces of information in mind in order to tell a successful lie. You have to remember what you said – what you think the other person knows – and what you what to tell them (the lie). And remember what you said when you are asked about it later!

So we designed this study looking at 6 and 7 year old children. We first tested their Working Memory by asking them how many things they could remember, like the letters that were presented on a computer screen.

Then we measured lying behavior using something called the temptation resistance paradigm. The goal here was to present a situation to the children that would be tempting. We asked the children a series of questions, like “What does a dog make?” and gave them a reward for every correct answer.

The final question was about a fake cartoon – What is the name of the character in Spaceboy? But before they can answer, we leave the room and tell them not to peek at the card.

Our results revealed 2 things:

1)       Children can’t resist to temptation to peek and lie about it!

All of the children who peek lied about it when asked, as we discovered when we checked our hidden cameras.

2)       Children with good working memory tell good lies

These children were able to mask their lies by making their guesses seem plausible, like "Oh it’s is my favorite cartoon, I watch it every Saturday.” However, those with poor Working Memory would often mumble something like, “I don’t know, I just thought of it.”

What does it mean for a parent?

The good news is that lying behavior decreases, as children get older. There is less social reinforcement for lying – on the playground for example. So take heart that is your child does lie, at least they are smart

How to Detect Early Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by difficulties in reading and spelling, despite average levels of intelligence. Individuals with dyslexia also show weakness in phonological awareness, verbal working memory, and processing speed. Younger students with Dyslexia tend to struggle with sounds, more than the meaning of words. This can explain why students with dyslexia are often described as bright and articulate, yet their written work shows little evidence of this. 

Poor working memory is a key part – we have to use working memory to match the sound with the letter and then put it all together.

One way to support poor working memory in students with dyslexia is to help them automate some letter sounds so they can use their working memory to focus on the comprehension of the text.  WATCH

When helping your child can harm their cognitive development

Parents are becoming more and more involved in their children’s lives – they do their homework for them, they call their college-age kids multiple times a day, and swoop in to personally intervene whenever something difficult happened. WATCH

However, is all this extra support actually harming our children? Research tells us that all this extra helping actually has the potential to undermine a child’s ability and need to master life’s stresses and strains in the times when you are not around.

A key skill that is missing in children of helicopter parents is the ability to self-direct their behavior – to set goals, identify what is important and work towards that. Some researchers have coined the phrase “grit”, -perseverance and passion for long-term goals

A recent study of 6-7 year-olds found that those who were surrounded with more structured activities (led by someone) were less able to use their brain power to direct their own play. This is an important skill – it helps them be self advocates in life.

Without it, we are raising children who are reliant on others to fight their own battles and accomplish them their goals (feeling a sense of entitlement). A study of over 400 adolescents found that kids with helicopter parents were more likely to skip class and turn papers in late.

It’s not just children – college students are also affected.

  • 71% of parents send at least 3 texts per day to their child at college.
  • About half of parents call their child at college more than three times per day. 
  • 50% of parents say they communicate the same amount with their child even though the child is out of the home.

Multiple studies have found that college students who have helicopter parents have lowered sense of self-efficacy—the belief that they are capable of meeting life’s demands and solving their own problems. 

They also struggle to respond well in stressful workplace situations, such as when they receive a negative performance review from an employer. Instead of responding by saying they would listen to the criticism and try to improve -  they were more likely to say that they would quit the job or even ask a parent to call the manager on their behalf.

What can you do to help our children establish independence?

·       Test Boundaries

Take them to the playground and avoid helicopter parenting. If they are old enough, let them use their own judgment about the risks they take. You can always step in if you think it is necessary. Indoor climbing walls are great places for them to learn to control their fear in a safe setting.

·       Follow your child’s lead— Let them be proactive in decision making in some situations.

·       Let them solve small problems on their own – don’t be so quick to intervene. Let them learn to speak up for themselves.