Tag: Systems (home)

Study: English a Factor in Dyslexia By PAUL RECER, AP Science Writer WASHINGTON (AP) - When English-speaking children with dyslexia begin to read, they face the awesome task of learning more than 1,100 ways that letters in the written language are used to symbolize the 40 sounds in the spoken language. This may explain why there are twice as many identified dyslexics in English-speaking cultures as in countries with less complex languages, according to a study appearing Friday in the journal Science. The study by an international team compared the brain scan images and reading skills of dyslexic university students in Italy, France and England. The researchers found virtually no difference in the neurological signature for dyslexia, but there was an immense difference in how well the students learned to read their native languages. ``It is much easier for dyslexics to learn to read in languages where there is a one-to-one relationship between a letters and the sounds,'' said Chris D. Frith, a researcher at the University College London and a co-author of the study. ``In English, there are more than a thousand ways to spell the sounds.'' In Italian, dyslexic students have a far easier time. The 33 sounds in Italian are spelled with only 25 letters or letter combinations. The researchers noted that identified dyslexics are rare in Italy because the language helps learning readers to quickly overcome problems caused by the disorder. To find dyslexics among Italian university students, the researcher had to conduct special tests to identify those with the neurological signature for the disorder. Experts have estimated that between 5 percent and 15 percent of Americans have some degree of dyslexia. Dyslexia involves a brain structure that makes it difficult for a learning reader to connect verbal sounds with the letters or symbols that ``spell'' that sound. Such connections are essential to learn to read. In the study, researchers found that English, French and Italian dyslexics did equally poorly in tests based on the short-term memory of verbal sounds, a key measure for the disorder. Yet the Italians were far better at reading their native language than were the English and French students. The students were then put through a series of reading exams using positron emission tomography to measure and image blood flow in specific parts of the brain, an indication of neurological activity. All of the students had the same deficits in the left temporal lobe of the brain while performing reading tasks. ``Although Italian dyslexics read more accurately than French or English dyslexics, they showed the same degree of impairment'' in the brain image, the study found. This suggests, the researchers said, that it is the language difference alone that makes it more difficult for English-speaking dyslexics to learn how to read. ``The complexity of the English and French written languages stems from historical events that have introduced spellings from other languages, while, in comparison, Italian has remained quite pure,'' said Eraldo Paulesu of the University of Milan Bicocca, the lead author of the study. In English, many words share the same letter combinations, but involve different sounds when spoken. For example: mint and pint; cough and bough, and clove and love. In French, the complexity stems from different letter combinations that ``spell'' the same or similar sound, such as ``au temps'' (at the time) and ``autant'' (as much, or so much). Firth said that Spanish, Finnish and Czech are ``dyslexia friendly'' languages because they lack the sound-spelling complexity of English and French. Japanese, he said, is also easier for children learning to read because of its consistency of sounds and symbols. ``One study found an Australian boy in Japan who was dyslexic in English, but not in Japanese,'' said Firth. ``That is the sort of thing that you would expect'' if language was a significant factor in the severity of the reading disorder. Dr. Thomas Zeffiro, co-director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University, said the study by the European researchers was ``an exciting result'' for researchers studying dyslexia. But Zeffiro said the study, with only 72 subjects in three countries, was too small to draw final conclusions about how common dyslexia is among the peoples of the world. He said that brain imaging studies with small numbers are notorious for sampling errors - statistical flukes that distort conclusions. ``For these results to be generalized (for all humans) you would need four or five times more subjects,'' said Zeffiro. ``This lays the groundwork to make it worthwhile to do a much larger study.''

permalink source: Associated Press: Thursday March 15 3:39 PM ET 2001
tags: Language, Systems

Unrecognized delays can also lead to instability and breakdown, especially when they are long. Adjusting the shower temperature, for instance, is much harder when there is a ten-second delay before the water temperature adjusts, then when the delay takes only a second or two. During that ten seconds after you turn up the heat, the water remains cold. You receive no response to your action; so you perceive that your act has had no effect. When the hot water finally arrives, a 190-degree water gusher erupts from the faucet. You jump out and turn it back; and, after a delay, it's frigid again. On and on you go, through the balancing loop process. Each cycle of adjustments compensates somewhat for the cycle before. A diagram would look like this: [diagram omitted] The more aggressive you are in your behavior--the more drastically you turn the knobs--the longer it will take to reach the right temperature. That's one of the lessons of balancing loops with delays: that aggressive action often produces exactly the opposite of what is intended. It produces instability and oscillation, instead of moving you more quickly toward your goal.

permalink source: Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline p 90-91
tags: Change, Systems

Two hundred years ago in America people were scared of wolves. In fact, bounties were paid for killing wolves. Nowadays if you kill a wolf you get a fine! This is a powerful metaphor: if you kill enough wolves pretty soon you need to protect them. (this is not verbatim)

permalink source: Brian McLaren at AGTS Class
tags: Success, Systems

A modern person takes a car apart and claims they can understand the car in terms of its constituent parts alone. A postmodern person comes along and asks the modernist, "Who owns this car? What does it mean to them? Do they have teenage children? Can they borrow the car? How does the plant that made this car treat its employees?"

permalink source: Brian McLaren at AGTS Class
tags: Systems, Postmodernism

NOT ALL CHAOS ON THE WEATHER MAP IS EQUAL, researchers have found, providing insights that are hoped to improve weather forecasting. Researchers usually assume that all spots on a weather map are equally chaotic, meaning that small uncertainties in initial conditions grow to the point at which the conditions become unpredictable. Now, a multidisciplinary University of Maryland team of meteorologists, physicists, and computer scientists (DJ Patil, 301-405-4842, dpatil@ipst.umd.edu) has developed a technique that identifies what can be considered as chaos "hotspots," regions in which small changes in conditions are believed to magnify most quickly into large perturbations in the weather. Chaos hotspots shift their location on a regular basis, but tend to cover only about 20% of the global map at any given time. Making more meteorological observations in hotspots can help reduce forecasting errors, the researchers believe. Since 1992, the National Weather Service has provided "ensemble forecasts," in which a computer model generates a main forecast and several slightly adjusted forecasts providing a range of possible outcomes for the weather. The Maryland researchers look at global wind predictions from five of these forecasts at a particular level in the atmosphere (where the pressure is 500 millibars). Placing these five forecasts on the map, the researchers then look at wind vectors, which specify how each forecast deviates from the main forecast in wind strength and direction. Analyzing 1100 km-by- 1100 km squares in a global map, they identify regions where the vectors tend to line up with one another (see figure at http://www.aip.org/mgr/png). The aligned wind vectors have "low dimensionality," transforming the regions in which they reside into chaos hotspots where good initial observations become most crucial for reducing forecasting errors. All other points on the map are less important for forecasting, the authors say. (Patil et al., Phys. Rev. Lett., 25 June 2001; text at http://www.aip.org/physnews/select.)

permalink source: The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News Number 543 June 13, 2001
tags: Physics, Systems

WHY DOES IT HURT? A man went to see his doctor in an acute state of anxiety. "Doctor," he said, "you have to help me. I'm dying. Everywhere I touch it hurts. I touch my head and it hurts. I touch my leg and it hurts. I touch my stomach and it hurts. I touch my chest and it hurts. You have to help me, Doc, everything hurts." The doctor gave him a complete examination. "Mr. Smith," he said, "I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is you are not dying. The bad news is you have a broken finger." CITATION: David Holdaway, Kincardinshire, Scotland KEYWORDS: Cause and Effect; Consequences; Discernment; Disease; Judgment; Pain; Self-Examination; Sickness; Spiritual Perception SCRIPTURE: Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 12:57; John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Systems, Self-awareness

Celestial navigation is based on the premise that the Earth is the center of the universe. The premise is wrong, but the navigation works. An incorrect model can be a useful tool.

permalink source: Kelvin Throop III
tags: Paradigms, Systems, Assumptions

Fix The Crucial Things

When something crucial is missing, several things break down. And when the missing thing is supplied, several things get better. We write all our words using the same 26 letters. If one letter (e.g., "k") is missing, many words will be misspelled. When the missing letter is supplied, many words will be spelled correctly. Fixing one word fixes many words.

permalink source: Seth Roberts, "Positive Side Effects", http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2010/05/04/positive-side-effects/
tags: Problems, Systems