Jody Victor: New Study at OSU Finds Kids Notice What Adult’s Miss

Although adults can beat children at most cognitive tasks, new research shows that children’s limitations can sometimes be their strength.

In two studies, researchers found that adults were very good at remembering information they were told to focus on, and ignoring the rest. In contrast, 4- to 5-year-olds tended to pay attention to all the information that was presented to them – even when they were told to focus on one particular item. That helped children to notice things that adults didn’t catch because of the grownups’ selective attention.

The results have important implications for understanding how education environments affect children’s learning.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute for Educational Science.

Jody Victor: How Streaming Music Has Changed Our Listening Habits

Music Theory doctoral student, Hubert Léveillé Gauvin, has found a possible link between changing trends in music, streaming services and listener attention spans. His study found that in the mid-1980’s song intros tended to be about 20 seconds long and have dropped to only about 5 seconds long.

Spending a few months analyzing modern songs he noted not only the shift to shorter introductions, but a marked increase in tempo. Vocals also mentioned the words in the title much sooner along with song titles being shortened dramatically, often to single words.

This evolution is likely driven by what Léveillé Gauvin calls the “attention economy” of modern-day pop. And that means that artists get to the musical point more quickly in the interest of grabbing a fickle listening audience, many of whom tune in on Spotify, Pandora and other skippable services.

Léveillé Gauvin measured the tempo of 303 top-10 singles and found a clear trend toward faster-paced pop music in the last three decades. The average tempo increased roughly 8 percent. He compared the number of words in song titles and found more and more “one-word wonders” as the years passed.

When he analyzed how long it took for the lyrics to start, Léveillé Gauvin found that intros lasting an average of more than 20 seconds in the mid-80s have given way to intros that average 5 seconds today. And once the lyrics started, it took less time (by about 18 percent) for the first “hook,” which he defined as the song’s title.

There was a 78 percent drop in the length of instrumental introductions. While that drop is dramatic, it makes sense, the researcher notes. The voice is one of the most attention-grabbing things there is in music.

The doctoral student noted that musical trends have often been shaped by technology. The “skipability” of songs has changed dramatically has the medium has allowed: from vinyl to cassette, from cassette to CD, from CD to streaming.

OSU Arrives at the Future, in a Bright Blue Bus

A bright blue bus is making its way around the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University. The bus is more than a way for students to get around campus; it’s a research platform that could lead to a cleaner campus of the future.

Friday was the first trip around campus for a new hydrogen fuel cell bus. It’s part of the Campus Area Bus System fleet and is on loan from the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority for one year.

Hydrogen fuel cells essentially convert hydrogen into energy to power the bus. The exhaust of the bus is water – as opposed to greenhouse gases. hydrogen fuel cells can be recharged quickly and can run all day. The Center for Automotive Research has installed a hydrogen fueling station at its Kinnear Road location.

The bus serves a research purpose as well. CAR researchers are collecting data on the bus’s performance at Ohio State to share with interested scientists. That transportation research fits with the university’s role as the lead research partner on the Smart Cities initiative. Last summer, Columbus won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge.

So more than just a strange blue bus on campus, it’s one piece of a long-term effort to help people get around in a cleaner and more efficient way.

OSU Joins Volunteer for College Credit Program

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake and John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, announced the university is joining the state’s GIVE back. GO forward program. The program promotes community service among Ohioans 60 years or older by offering the opportunity to earn a college tuition voucher.

Ohio seniors who are enrolled in GIVE back. GO forward complete 100 or more community service hours at one of three area non-profits. They then earn a voucher for three free undergraduate credit hours at Ohio State. Volunteers have a year to complete their service hours.

Up to 100 Franklin County residents can enroll in the program each year. They can choose to support either the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Mid-Ohio Foodbank or St. Stephen’s Community House. Seniors can use the voucher for themselves or donate it to another Ohio resident.

To learn more or to sign up, visit the GIVE back. GO forward website.

When Being A “Friend of a Friend” Keeps the Peace Between Nations

Results suggest that indirect peaceful relationships between nations have a surprisingly strong ability to prevent major conflicts, and that international military alliances may matter more than we typically expect.

Here are many examples of these indirect alliances helping keep the peace. One is the lack of conflict between Turkey and Iran from 1965 to 1979, a period during which they were indirectly connected at two degrees of separation. After losing this connection in 1980, disputes arose between the neighbors, reaching a peak in 1987 when they had a militarized dispute with fatalities.

Many studies have shown that nations with military alliances are less likely to go to war. But this new study is the first to show that neighboring countries without direct alliances are still unlikely to have serious conflicts, as long as they are indirectly connected through an ally in common.

In fact, this peace dividend extends up to three degrees of separation without getting weaker: Nations are much less likely to have wars with their allies, the allies of their allies, and the allies of their allies’ allies.

Funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Fellowship for Experienced Researchers.