If you say you have never lied, you are almost certainly lying. Only little lies, you say? Well, it’s long been thought that’s where the seeds of dishonesty are usually sown. Even convicted swindler Bernie Madoff thought so. According to his secretary, he said: “Well, you know what happens, it starts out with you taking a little bit . . . and before you know it, it snowballs into something big.”
Let’s be really clear about this. Once a child ingests lead, whether from paint or water or some other source, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream. It bullies its way into the red blood cells, where it begins a biochemical version of clipping wires and flipping switches, throwing off the efficient machinery of the cell. It interferes with mitochondria, the part of the cell structure responsible for producing energy. It disrupts the tree-like formation of dendrites, which conduct impulses to nerve cells. It disturbs the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers. And it interrupts the production of heme, the iron-rich pigment without which hemoglobin can’t do its job of carrying oxygen through the body.
One of the best parts of reporting and writing about science is the gee whiz factor. As a regular part of my day, I stumble across facts and stories that make me say, “wow, I didn’t know that.” Sometimes I am surprised by how much of what I learn has been right under my nose all along.
Take the question of perception. Our eyes, ears, skin, nose and mouth are all receptors. Everything that comes into the brain enters through one of these doors. Because most of us take the world in through our senses effortlessly, we don’t give much thought or attention to how we do this.
One researchers search for the perfect amount of practice
My children were given math homework this summer in hopes of avoiding the infamous “brain drain.” That’s the tendency, between June and September, to lose a surprising amount of what they learned the previous school year. The other day, I finally sat down with the boys and made them start the assignments. And sure enough, after just a few weeks of vacation, they already seemed to have forgotten a lot of what they learned last year.
Fortunately for them, instead of freaking out, I was intrigued.
Babies’ brains crave repetition, rhythm, and rhyme
Did you like green eggs and ham? Did you wish the cat in the hat would come to play at your house? Whether or not you loved hearing the spritely sentences of those stories as a child, your brain lapped them up-and children’s brains continue to do so half a century after they were written. There is a reason these books still fill racks everywhere from Target to your local library. It turns out that listening to the infectious cadence of lines like Dr. Seuss’s works wonders helping kids learn to read. One fish, two fish… My..!