Perfect Pitch:The ability to “know” the musical pitch of any sound has traditionally been thought to be learnable only at a very early age through musical training. But new research shows perfect pitch is teachable to adults as well. Experts discuss the implications on all forms of learning.
Children and Social Anxiety: Social anxiety disorder is more than just shyness. It can be crippling and keep people completely inside the house. An expert whose daughter was afflicted discusses social anxiety warning signs in children and how the disorder can be treated
Certain musicians not only have the ability to produce and perform music, but also have a special ability to hear any sound and identify what note it is. Dr. Diana Deutsch, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego, describes this special talent as having “perfect pitch”. Famous composers Beethoven and Mozart were said to have this ability as well as performers like Jimi Hendrix and Mariah Carey. Do you have to be a famous musician to have this ability? Experts claim this might not necessarily be true.
Stephen Van Hedger, University of Chicago PhD student in psychology, not only has researched this ability, but also has perfect pitch himself. When given any sound, Van Hedger can name the note associated with it. Additionally, he can produce the same note without thought. Although he has a musical background dating back to age 7, Stephen has a special gift experts claim only one in ten thousand people possess. Why is that number so low? Van Hedger claims the reason is that many people do not have a musical background, so they may have this talent, but do not know how to utilize their skill. He also claims the earlier one learns music, the higher chance they will have to develop perfect pitch by adulthood.
After conducting a study at the University of Chicago, Professor of Psychology Dr. Howard Nusbaum found that people may be able to develop a learned and trained ability of music later in life. The study consisted of teaching adults a series of notes and later testing them. The participants in the study recognized the notes given because they spent a decent amount of time training. Dr. Nusbaum concluded that with the proper amount of training, perfect pitch might be achieved. This means that you may never be too old to learn a new trick.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, fifteen million Americans or 13% suffer from social anxiety. It is the most common form of anxiety and the fourth most common mental illness. Adolescence is typically where experts find the most onset of this disorder.
The opinions of peers can negatively affect any adolescent into thinking they do not belong. Some young adults and teenagers become so influenced by the opinions of others they develop social anxiety. According to Jennifer Shannon, co-founder of Santa Rose Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, social anxiety is an anxiety disorder that influences a person’s functioning. Those with social anxiety avoid social situations like class or parties all together because they perceive threats of their environment. These threats involve worrying about people looking at you or judging you. Adolescents with social anxiety often create excuses to avoid school or gatherings because their fear of judgement.
Although Jennifer Shannon is an expert in this field, she could not find any resources for her own daughter Rose, so she decided to take matters in her own hands. She wrote the books The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens and The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens as a guide for teens as well as their parents to cope and eventually overcome the disorder. On the bright side, Shannon claims this disease is completely treatable.
Jennifer Shannon runs a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy treatment for patients like her daughter with the hopes of curbing their social anxiety. She uses a method she calls “target practice” to allow patients to slowly face their fears in social situations. Shannon focuses on realistic social goals like smiling and asking questions as a first step to making patients feel more comfortable socializing with their peers. She notes that parents need to look out for consistent patterns in their children like missing school or social functions. If left untreated, symptoms can get worse, however, if parents catch it, they can prevent or help their children beat a disorder.
American highways have become increasingly safe, but in the past three years, traffic fatalities have jumped by 14%. So, what’s the problem? Many say the culprit is texting and driving. According to AAA, 67% of Americans are guilty of this form of distracted driving. Ben Lieberman, co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties or DORC, has proposed that law enforcers use a “Textalyzer,” a kind of device that works like a Breathalyzer, but instead of measuring a driver’s intoxication, it measures their cell phone activity while driving.
When Lieberman lost his son in a car accident, he suspected that there was more to the story than the driver falling asleep on the road. After obtaining the phone records of the driver, he discovered that the driver was texting throughout the drive. Lieberman says that while a drunk driver would be severely penalized for such an accident. The penalties for texting and driving are often as low as a $20 fine, and Lieberman also notes that there are currently states that don’t even have laws against texting and driving.
This led Lieberman to approach Cellebrite, a “mobile forensics” company that obtains digital data from cell phones, and together they developed a Textalyzer, a device that follows the same concept as a Breathalyzer; but instead of testing for alcohol, a Textalyzer can generate a report showing how many times a phone was accessed while driving.
While Cellebrite CEO, Jim Grady, and Ben Lieberman believe that the Textalyzer is ready for traffic enforcement, others disagree. Rashida Richardson, Legislative Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of New York, believes that the Textalyzer infringes on the privacy and rights of others and brings up questions about racial disparity in how these laws are enforced.
We live in a world filled with synthetic chemicals, and Americans are exposed to upwards of 100 chemicals each day. Whether it be in our clothing, our electronics, or the toys our children play with, chemicals are ever-present and not all are safe. According to Ken Guiser, Professor of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and author of Chemicals Without Harm: Policies for a Sustainable World, we are often exposed to dangerous chemicals, although usually only to a very low amount. Yet we are still at risk when those chemicals become present in our homes, schools and workplaces.
It’s a common assumption among consumers that the government regulates and prohibits all dangerous or unusable chemicals, but Guiser says that’s not the case. He explains, “The way our market works, products come on to the market; the government does not test those products. They are maybe tested by product manufacturers, but those test results are often proprietary; we don’t know what they are. We often don’t even know what the chemicals are in products. The government just doesn’t have the capacity or the authority to really test hundreds and hundreds of chemicals.” Due to our free market economy, the government is not able to place many restrictions on companies and businesses, including those that would typically call for product testing. The Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) has introduced measures in the past to limit how many chemicals are leaked into our air and water, but the industry is expected to police itself on the manufacturing of products.
Guiser blames the presence of these unsafe products on a lack of information; no one has really done the research. There are approximately 87,000 chemicals in production in the United States, but of the 2,300 that the EPA conducted research on, only 138 have ever received full testing.
Outside of the United States, the reality is quite different. The European Union has released a list of 2,000 chemicals which they consider to be of concern. Guiser advises that following a European approach would be highly beneficial, and that products supplied to both Europe and the U.S. have become safer due to higher E.U. standards.