Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Don't Think It Means What You Think It Means

The "Neuroskeptic" blog at Discover takes on a supposed finding that shows brain activity is lower during a lecture than almost any other point in the day, proving that lectures are very poor teaching methods.

Except, of course, that it doesn't do anything of the kind. For one, Neuroskeptic notes, the test was not designed to measure brain wave activity; it was designed to test a new kind of sensor attached to the skin to read electrical impulses inside the body. For another, it was tested on one person, as a way of seeing if the sensor could be worn long term with little or no notice from other people. And for yet another, the sensor was measuring what's called "electrodermal activity," or changes in the skin's ability to conduct electricity. These can be affected by a wide range of factors, many of which have nothing to do with brain activity.

Some lectures may indeed do a poor job of teaching, but that may have more to do with the lecturer than the communication format. At least, that's the way it works for sermons.

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