Peer-Guided Study Groups help you stay on track in challenging courses. Study Group students come together weekly throughout the quarter, in small, comfortable learning communities, to boost their learning and support their course success.
Students enrolled in an array of first-and second-year courses have the option of enrolling in a Peer-Guided Study Group alongside the course. Study Group participants meet weekly in groups of about 5 to 7 with a peer facilitator — another student who has taken and done well in the course (or, in some cases, an equivalent course). In the two-hour meetings, students talk through key concepts from the course, ask questions on points of confusion and help answer one another’s questions, and work through practice problems or exercises together. The Study Groups are highly collaborative, comfortable environments where undergraduates can learn from one another and help one another succeed.
Peer-Guided Study Groups are available for the following courses:
Any student enrolled in the accompanying course can join a Study Group. Students who are looking for a supportive, community-oriented learning experience and some additional support with the course may find the Study Groups particularly useful. If you are enrolled in one of the supported courses, you will receive information on registration at the beginning of the quarter.
Registration for Fall Quarter 2023 study groups is through CAESAR and begins on Wednesday, September 20. Please note that the registration window opens at 12:00am midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Study Groups will begin meeting Monday, September 25 and all sessions will be held in-person. Study Groups end Sunday, November 26.
Participants enjoy being part of a small, friendly learning community within large, rigorous courses. Having a set time to focus on the course material each week also helps participants stay on track in the course. Program evaluations show that students participating in small-group, peer-led study at Northwestern tend to find that their confidence in the course material increases, and that they Boost their study skills. Many students also find that they learn the material at a deeper level, and that their grades improve.
A large body of research points to many benefits of peer-based learning, including an enhanced course experience, deeper learning, and improved grade outcomes. We have also studied the impact of these programs at Northwestern – learn more about our program evaluation.
We recruit for facilitators each spring. We look for students who have a strong command of the subject (although straight A's are not necessary), and who have good interpersonal skills and a desire to help others succeed. See our peer leader page for details.
For more information, please contact us.
A study published this week could help doctors to identify patients with brain injuries, in seemingly unresponsive states, who are more likely to recover.
In the study, published in the journal Brain on Monday, researchers identified what may be the source of a curious phenomenon known as "hidden consciousness" or cognitive motor dissociation (CMD).
Hidden consciousness is seen in patients with acute brain injury who appear to be in a coma or other unresponsive state.
Patients with CMD seem to be able to hear and comprehend verbal commands even though they cannot carry out those instructions because the body does not respond, study author Jan Claassen, a researcher at Columbia University and critical care neurologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said in a statement.
The CMD phenomenon has only been identified in the past few years and is still poorly understood.
Methods have been developed to detect CMD in unresponsive patients. These include analyzing changes in electrical activity or cerebral blood flow recorded by an electroencephalogram (EEG) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) respectively. But both of these methods currently have their limitations.
Nevertheless, it is thought that around 15 to 20 percent of patients who appear to be in a coma or another unresponsive state display signs of CMD when evaluated with such methods, Claassen told Newsweek. The detection of CMD is reshaping our understanding of patients in comatose or other unresponsive states.
Clinicians define when a patient is in a "coma" purely based on the clinical examination, Claassen said. They apply this label to patients who display a complete absence of arousal (for example, eye opening) and awareness.
Patients with CMD do not seem to be able to follow commands and may in clinical examination appear to be in a coma.
But an analysis of EEG or functional MRI, recorded while patients are given verbal commands, reveals that the brains of these unresponsive patients are being activated in a similar way to conscious patients, Claassen said. This supports the interpretation that patients with CMD are to some degree conscious.
Identifying patients with CMD has important clinical implications for interactions, communication with families and the guidance of therapeutic decisions, according to the study.
Importantly, in prior research, Claassen and colleagues have been able to associate CMD with the recovery of consciousness and long-term recovery of independence in brain-damaged patients.
Researchers have been trying to develop more effective screening methods to identify which patients are likely to be in a state of hidden consciousness. But progress has been hampered by the fact that the brain mechanisms underlying the phenomenon have remained a mystery. This is where the latest study comes in.
In previous research, Claassen and colleagues found that subtle brainwaves detectable with EEG are the strongest predictor of hidden consciousness and eventual recovery for patients with brain injuries.
For the latest study, the scientists used EEG to examine 107 unresponsive patients with acute brain injury. Almost half of the patients appeared comatose, while one quarter were in a vegetative state—i.e. their eyes were open but they could not follow commands.
The remaining patents were in a minimally conscious state—meaning they could track an examiner with their eyes or look at them but were not able to follow any commands.
Using the EEG, scientists can identify when patients are trying, but are unable, to respond to a command such as "keep opening and closing your right hand."
This method detected CMD in 21 of the patients. The scientists then analyzed structural MRI brains scans from all the patients.
Using a special analysis technique, the team were able to identify patterns of brain injury that the patients with CMD shared and contrast those to the individuals who did not display signs of hidden consciousness.
The researchers found that all of the CMD patients had intact brain structures related to arousal and command comprehension. This supports the idea that they were able to hear and understand the verbal commands.
But they also found that the CMD patients had damage to brain regions responsible for integrating and carrying out motor commands, which is why they were unable to take action.
"Our study suggests that patients with hidden consciousness can hear and comprehend verbal commands, but they cannot carry out those commands because of injuries in brain circuits that relay instructions from the brain to the muscles," Claassen said in the statement.
The findings could lead to more frequent and earlier diagnosis of CMD. This, in turn, could help better predict which brain-injured individuals are more likely to recover with rehabilitation, according to the scientists.
More research is required before the approaches documented in the study can be applied to clinical practice. But the latest study shows that it may be possible to screen for CMD using widely available structural brain-imaging techniques.
Due to the technical complexity of CMD detection, at this time it is only available in a few academic centers. As a result, the vast majority of patients with hidden consciousness in the United States and around the world remain undiagnosed.
"Not every critical care unit may have resources and staff that is trained in using EEG to detect hidden consciousness, so MRI may offer a simple way to identify patients who require further screening and diagnosis," Claassen said in the statement.
Researchers are proposing using artificial intelligence technology to help diagnose autism spectrum disorder.
In a latest article published in Scientific Reports, researchers from Brazil, France and Germany reportedly used magnetic resonance imaging to train a machine learning algorithm.
The work – in which the "quantitative diagnostic method" is proposed – was based on brain imaging data for 500 people, with more than 240 that had been diagnosed with autism.
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Machine learning techniques were applied to the data.
"We began developing our methodology by collecting functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] and electroencephalogram [EEG] data," Francisco Rodrigues, the last author of the article and a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science, explained in a statement.
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"We compared maps of people with and without ASD and found that diagnosis was possible using this methodology," he added.
The machine learning algorithm was fed with the maps, and the system was able to determine which brain alterations were associated with autism with above 95% mean accuracy.
While previous research proposes methods for diagnosing autism based on machine learning, the article notes it often uses a single statistical parameter that is not brain network organization.
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Analyzing the fMRI data showed changes in certain brain regions associated with cognitive, emotional, learning and memory processes, and the cortical networks of autism patients showed more segregation, less distribution of information and less connectivity compared to controls.
"Until a few years ago, little was known about the alterations that lead to the symptoms of ASD. Now, however, brain alterations in ASD patients are known to be associated with certain behaviors, although anatomical research shows that the alterations are hard to see, making diagnosis of mild ASD much harder. Our study is an important step in the development of novel methodologies that can help us obtain a deeper understanding of this neurodivergence," Rodrigues said.
The methodology is under development and will take years to implement, according to the São Paulo Research Foundation, which supported the research.
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About one in 36 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diagnosing the developmental disability can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to do so.
Improve your study skills with our assistance. We provide many forms of academic help, but studying begins with you. Check out some of these resources about self-management and learning, two areas essential to your academic success.
For years, e-cigarettes were seen as a slightly healthier way to smoke or as a tool to help chronic smokers quit. But a growing body of research has found that e-cigarettes, like "regular" cigarettes, can also be damaging to your health.
The use of e-cigarettes is growing, especially in kids. They're the most commonly used tobacco product among youths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2022, 2.55 million American middle and high school students reported having used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, per CDC data, including 3.3% of middle school students and 14.1% of high school students.
A new study from the Ohio State University has found that teens with an e-cigarette habit quickly develop noticeable respiratory symptoms. But why might that be the case and what happens next? Here's what you need to know.
The study found that teens who start to use e-cigarettes can show symptoms of bronchitis and shortness of breath in as little as 30 days.
The study, which is published in the journal Thorax, analyzed data from several waves of surveys. In 2014, the researchers asked 2,097 teens of a mean age of 17.3 from the Southern California Children’s Health Study about their e-cigarette, regular tobacco and cannabis use, along with any health symptoms they experienced. Three additional waves of surveys were taken in 2015, 2017 and 2018. By wave 4, more than 15% of those surveyed said they used e-cigarettes.
During the first wave, 23% of the teens surveyed said that they had asthma. Symptoms of bronchitis were common in each wave, ranging from 19.5% of study participants to 26%, depending on the survey.
The researchers found that use of e-cigarettes within the past 30 days was linked to an increased risk of wheezing, symptoms of bronchitis and shortness of breath. The odds of wheezing were 81% higher in those who had used e-cigarettes over the past 30 days compared to those who had never smoked. The chances of having symptoms of bronchitis was twice as likely, and shortness of breath was 78% more likely, than in those who had never smoked.
Doctors say the study results are significant. "These findings highlight the important message that use of e-cigarettes [is] associated with health harms," Dr. Michael Ong, professor in residence of medicine and health policy and management at UCLA Health, tells Yahoo Life. "These products are not harmless."
Dr. Robert Hamilton, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., and host of the podcast The Hamilton Review: Where Kids and Culture Collide, agrees. "The overall perception out there is that e-cigarettes are better than cigarettes, but nothing is for free," he tells Yahoo Life. "It isn't like you get a pass when you use e-cigarettes."
Why might e-cigarettes cause symptoms in such a short period? That is probably due to lung irritation, Hamilton says. "The lungs are fragile entities," he says. "They're highly sensitive to environmental smoke. Your body's response is to immediately reject it, and you cough." Wheezing can also be a reaction people experience when their lungs are irritated, he says.
When people routinely use e-cigarettes, it leads to routine irritation in the airways, Hamilton explains. Unfortunately, people — including kids — tend to use them a lot, Ong says. "E-cigarette use is often high intensity, particularly among youth, which can accelerate the health harms, such as respiratory symptoms," he says.
Hamilton says this is just more evidence that e-cigarettes are not good for people. "The lungs are saying, 'Don't do this,'" he says. "The best advice I can provide for kids is, 'Don't go there.'"
Ong notes that while traditional combustible cigarettes involve additional harms, "e-cigarettes also have health risks" — and it's important for people to be aware of them. "We continue to need strong tobacco product regulation to ensure that health harms as identified by this study are accounted for in the regulatory and approvals process for e-cigarettes," he says.
Puzzles, chess and writing journals may be more than pure amusements to pass the time. These brain activities could help reduce the risk of dementia.
According to a latest study in JAMA Network Open, activities related to adult literacy, such as taking classes, using a computer or writing journals, as well as active mental tasks like games, cards, or crossword puzzles, were related to a reduced dementia risk over 10 years.
The study looked at 10,318 adults in Australia who were 70 years old or older, who were generally healthy and without major cognitive impairment at enrollment.
The participants who engaged in literacy activities and active mental activities had an 11% and 9% lower, respectively, risk of dementia.
To a lesser extent, participating in creative artistic activities, such as crafts, woodwork, and painting or drawing, and in passive mental activities such as reading, watching TV or listening to the radio was also associated with reduced dementia risk, the study found. Creative artistic and passive mental activities both conferred a 7% decrease, according to the study.
“These results suggest that engagement in adult literacy, creative art, and active and passive mental activities may help reduce dementia risk in late life,” the study said.
The people in the study who developed dementia were older, more likely to be men and have lower levels of physical activity and to be in poorer health than individuals without dementia, the study said.
In 2022, there were 55 million individuals worldwide living with dementia, with 10 million new cases emerging annually, the study said. There’s no cure for dementia. As a result, “identifying new strategies to prevent or delay dementia onset among older individuals is a priority,” the study said.
These findings can help inform strategies for dementia prevention later life in terms of modifying daily routines and activities, the study said.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – A background in music helps speakers learn a tonal language, such as Mandarin, a new University at Buffalo study suggests.
People with musical training — whether instrumental or vocal — are better at imitating pitch than someone without that training. Understanding pitch structure is critical with tonal languages that rely on inflection to communicate meaning.
Unlike English, where the inflection placed on a single word can alter a word’s pitch in ways that convey emphasis or emotion, altering pitch in a tonal language can change a word’s meaning.
“Both a musical background and a Mandarin language background influences the ability to match pitch,” says Chihiro Honda, a graduate student of psychology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and first author of the paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. “These findings imply that teachers might want to introduce music as part of their instruction for those trying to acquire a second language.”
This research also speaks to the long-standing debate about whether our brains have separate networks for language and music, according to Peter Pfordresher, PhD, a UB professor of psychology and one of the paper’s co-authors.
“This paper isn’t the final say on that debate, but we seem to have the same network at work for both behaviors,” he says. “We might rely on different features of that network depending on whether we’re in a language or a music situation. If you’re attuned to paying attention to pitch through learning a tonal language or through music, that training is going to help you in either situation.”
The research team recruited 127 participants for the study: Mandarin and English speakers, both with and without a background in music. The researchers created 96 short sentences in each language phrased as both a statement and a question — “The children can’t sleep,” for instance.
The authors then used computer software to create pitch patterns based on the spoken sentences, and then composed short melodies based on the pitch of each syllable. Participants listened to and then vocally reproduced these synthetic pitch patterns and melodies, but never heard the original spoken sentences.
After collecting data, the researchers calculated the differences between target pitch and what participants produced.
“Musicians were more accurate in matching absolute pitch across syllables and musical notes than non-musicians,” says Honda. “Mandarin speakers were more accurate at imitating changes within and across pitch patterns compared to English speakers.
They say that there's no sense in crying over spilled milk. But what do they know? Crying can get you another glass of milk if you do it loud enough. Plus, crying may serve a real physiologic purpose, according to a study published recently in Emotion, meaning the journal and not in an Emo-kind of way.
For the study, three researchers from the University of Queensland (Leah S. Sharman, Genevieve A. Dingle, and Eric J. Vanman) and one from Tilberg University (Ad J. J. M. Vingerhoets) recruited 197 female undergraduate students. They said that they choose all women rather than including men because pilot testing of sad videos had revealed that more women than men cried or at least more women revealed that they were crying. This did not account for the men who cried inside or used some bro-language or high fives to hide the crying.
The research team then showed each of the study participants either a video that are supposed to make them feel sad (sad videos) or a video that was not supposed to elicit any emotion (neutral videos) like something from a documentary or a ted talk. Each video lasted for close to 18 minutes. After the video, the researchers noted whether or not each participant had cried while watching the video. Ultimately, 65 participants watched the neutral video, 71 watched the sad video and cried during it, and 61 watched the sad video and did not cry. Presumably, no one cried during the neutral video. But then again, actor Bryce Dallas Howard was able to cry when Conan O'Brien talked about Home Depot in this Conan clip:
Then, each participant underwent a Cold Pressor Stress Test (CPT), which involved placing the participant's left hand, up to the wrist, in cold 0° to 5°C water. Unless you are the Iceman or Killer Frost, this is supposed to be painful. The research team measured how long each participant could stay in this position until pulling her hand out of the water. During the study, the research team continuously measured each participant's heart rate and respiratory rate and periodically measured cortisol levels from saliva samples. Cortisol is a stress-hormone that's produced by the body.
Also, at four points during the study, participants answered questions from the Positive and Negative Affect Scale short form (PANAS). These questions asked the degree to which the participant was experiencing ten different emotions and to rank each on a five-point scale that ranged from a one (very slightly or not at all) to a five (extremely).
When it came to cortisol levels and how long the participants could keep their hands submerged in the cold water, the study ended up finding not much difference between the neutral video watchers, the sad video non-criers, and the sad video criers. So if you are about to dunk yourself in cold water or take a cold shower, it may not help to cry first.
But here's a difference that the study found. Are you ready? Take a deep breath. The difference was breathing rates. While watching the videos, the non-criers tended to have elevations in their breathing rates, whereas, by contrast, the criers tended to maintain their initial breathing rates. In other words, tearing up could have helped participants better control their breathing rates. This provides further evidence that crying may help you better regulate arousal, serving as an emotional release.
Another interesting finding was that right before crying, participants tended to experience decreases in their heart rates, seemingly in anticipation of the crying. Once the crying began, their heart rates then tended to creep back up but not above where their heart rates had been before everything began. This may be further evidence that crying has a beneficial regulatory effect on your physiology.
So perhaps next time you start crying you can tell people that you are regulating your physiology. You've probably heard of people saying that they had a good cry and feel better after they've let the tears flow. It can be important to find reasonable ways to periodically release your emotions. Otherwise, you may end up bottling everything up like a hot air balloon that can explode when you least expect it.
Moreover, crying can be a way of communicating. It's really the only way that babies can express their needs before they learn how to say things like "why you throwing shade on me," or "I'm not Gucci." Crying can help communicate to others that you need more sympathy, comfort, or help. Of course, this can be misused. You don't want to cry every time your order at a restaurant doesn't come out right. And of course, there is the whole concept of crocodile tears: people crying to get something when they don't really mean it.
Crying can also be a way of communicating with yourself. Even when you cry alone, you may be telling yourself about your own state because, like many people, you could be terrible at reading your own emotions and situation. Tears could be your body's way of saying, "hey, take a break," or "something's not right," or "take care of yourself." Tearing up can then be a way of your body literally crying out to you.
Your body is a complex system. Crying can be complex. Your tears can flow when you are very sad, very angry, or even very happy. Better understanding what causes us to cry and what happens as a result could help us better handle our emotions and stress.
AI has gotten a lot of attention lately, especially services like ChatGPT, which can be used for everything from finding a good recipe to writing a blog post. A new study shows that it also might be a powerful tool in helping bad writers Boost their skills.
In a study published this week in Science, two MIT researchers examined whether ChatGPT could be used to reduce gaps in writing ability between employees. The duo recruited 453 data analysts, marketers, and college-educated professionals and asked them to perform two different writing tasks normally associated with their jobs—writing press releases or a short report, for instance.
Half of the participants were given the option of using ChapGPT to help them complete the second of the two tasks. Afterward, their work was graded by other professionals who worked in the same field on a scale of one to seven, with seven being the best result.
Overall, the participants who used ChatGPT did better than those who didn’t. ChatGPT users took 40% less time to complete their task than their counterparts, and their completed work scored 18% higher in evaluations than the work of those who didn’t use it.
The researchers note that while ChatGPT is powerful, it can also introduce errors, so people who use it to write for them will need to double-check that everything written by the AI tool is correct.
That said, the workers who participated in the study said they were more likely to use the tool in the future. "Workers exposed to ChatGPT during the experiment were 2 times as likely to report using it in their real job 2 weeks after the experiment and 1.6 times as likely 2 months after the experiment," the study found.
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