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Change Your Mind With Nintendo DS January 7, 2009

Posted by drrohn in 9-5-4, add parents, adhd, aging, alternative treatment, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention training, brain, brain drain.
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Professor Kawashima followed his dream. When he was a boy he saw himself putting his brain on a computer system. He believed that if he could represent mental functioning on a computer, he would be able to understand how people’s brains worked. On his journey he created the Nintendo DS brain training games. These games are inter-generational tools that are entertaining to people of all ages. Dr. Kawashima studied brain response with pet scans. He found when people simply watch television, brain zones that handle sound and sight respond. When playing a video game, zones that deal with motion and color respond. The part of the brain that really helps us think is called the prefrontal cortex. It is not stimulated with either of these activities.

Difficult math does not light up this part of the brain either, but simple math done under speed conditions makes a big difference. Reading silently does not use this part of the brain as much as when we read out loud. Dr. Kawashimi developed games that stimulate the prefrontal cortex. So the principle is to work out with your brain and have fun!

He came under fire because a British newspaper quoted him as saying videogames harm the brain. This is not actually true. He said videogames de-activate the prefrontal cortex. Professor Kawashima has four children. He let them all play video games but only for one hour every day. His reasoning was that sometimes the brain just needs to rest and video games were not harmful. He has done tests on elderly Japanese people. What he found was that solving mental puzzles can often arrest cognitive decline. Dr. Kawashimi says ‘I cannot comment on whether the illness of dementia is cured or not, but with these methods symptoms of dementia certainly improve”.

Other virtual activities that were once exclusively the domain of the young are being used with increasing success to rehabilitate older adults and bring them quality of life. In some senior centers card games and crossword puzzles are being replaced with virtual reality bowling or tennis. Crossword puzzles and sudoku are played in groups with computers and a mouse. These are much easier to navigate than small pieces of wood and studies have shown that simulated activities are almost as useful for practice as the real thing.

Some other scientists are jealous and treat his work with disparaging remarks such as there has not been enough time to test this or there is little empirical evidence. Other scientists like Dr. Posner are finding exciting results after only a few sessions with brain fitness tools. Scientists are testing brain games and finding increased brain fitness from the very old to the very young. Some say Professor Kawashimi is in it for the money. This is sad as all the royalties from the games and the books he wrote about the mind go entirely to the University. Dr. Kawashimi feels as a scientist it is his obligation and the obligation of others to return the results of our research to society.

This story is adapted from an article by Richard Lloyd Parry of the Times newspaper, London UK

By Dr. Amy Price

How to Fight Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease June 27, 2007

Posted by drrohn in 9-5-4, aging, alternative treatment, Alzheimer's, brain, brain injury, cognitive decline, concentration, dementia, focus, medication, meditation, memory, memory loss, mTBI, neurogenesis, neuroscience.
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What’s going to be the disease of my generation? I’m 64 years old, and many say it’s Alzheimer’s Disease. Scientists today are beginning to give mice the disease and then take it away. Believe it or not.

A recent New York Times article says that most biotechnology companies, large and small, are developing Alzheimer’s drugs. In the rat race to find a “cure,” these companies are investing billions of dollars to help more than five million Americans with the disease. The Times article notes this industry is “…often criticized as making pricey “me too” drugs that involve minor tweaks to competitors’ products.

Computerized cognitive training is very promising for fighting off Dementia.

Is there anything else in the works that can help adults with mild or moderate cognitive impairment that lead to dementia? Science shows computerized cognitive training is very promising.

Starting early with brain training before the disease progresses may delay onset and increase cognition Dr. Paul Nussbaum, believes that the physiological and psychological aspects of learning in childhood may act as a vaccine against Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases of the brain. Link is: http://www.paulnussbaum.com/thhc.pdf

This is based on 1) the discovery of neuroplasticity (the brain is dynamic and constantly or-organizing itself) and 2) the fact that novel, rich, complex learning environments promote healthy changes in the physical structure of the brain.
At Sparks of Genius (www.sparksofgenius.com) adults with labels like “mild cognitive impairment” train their brain for daily successes on home computers and in our office.

Alzheimer’s strikes one out of every 5 people between ages 75 and 84.

We believe that cognitive restructuring can enhance gains bought by new medications as well as natural remedies. Brain training leads to increased confidence, ability and lays in mental strategies to neutralize the fear of decline.

Is Alzheimer’s generation going to be the disease of my generation? Perhaps. Alzheimer’s strikes one out of every 5 people between ages 75 and 84. Five million is projected to be ten or fifteen million in another 40 years.

Where is “the cure” for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases of the brain? I do not believe any “cure” will come from drugs alone; the problem is too multidimensional.

A holistic approach will work best, including exercise, mentally stimulating activities and computerized brain training. For more tips, go to (link is) http://www.paulnussbaum.com/tentips.html

To check out whether you or someone you love can benefit from cognitive restructuring and receive your FREE 39 point Learning Assessment. http://sparksofgenius.com/screens.html

Receive personal feedback from a Sparks of Genius professional today.

-Dr. Rohn Kessler

How to Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem June 15, 2007

Posted by edukfun in 9-5-4, add, add parents, adhd, alternative treatment, aspergers, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention training, auditory, brain, challenged, children, cognitive decline, concentration, discipline, distractibility, education, homework, music, neurogenesis, neuroscience, school, Sparks of Genius, teacher, underachieve, video games.
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Self-Esteem is always a hot topic: what does it really do for people? How is it developed? Is it good to have a lot, or can you have too much? What effect does self-esteem have on school performance? It isn’t always easy to spot. Why?

“A given person with high implicit [or inner] self-esteem may be outwardly self-promoting or may be outwardly very modest,” said study team member Anthony Greenwald, a psychologist at the University of Washington.

Full Article Here

Low Self-Esteem is often confused with learned helplessness. Learned helplessness develops when a child is in school and has difficulty with, say, math. He struggles in math, possibly due to a weak teacher or just doesn’t have the same internal aptitude that others do. Maybe he was sick for a key week at school. For whatever reason, the child does poorly. Spurred on, the child decides to try his best for the next exam. Math being recursive, his lack of understanding of the prior material keeps him from really understanding the new stuff, and he gets a bad grade again even though he tried his hardest.

The child concludes, “I’m bad at math.” That is learned helplessness.

Contrast that experience with low self-esteem. A child goes to school and, despite good grades and many friends, feels like he or she isn’t any good in general.

Both conditions can lead to lack of effort in school and reduced performance, but one is based on a faulty conclusion drawn from real evidence while the other is a conclusion drawn despite external evidence (or due to internal evidence only).

The outward symptoms may look and sound the same, and the two issues are very similar, but they require a different touch to handle effectively.

This is where Sparks of Genius shines. What we do in our Electronic Playground is help children uncover hidden strengths, then we leverage those strengths to make improvements in other areas. How do we create total transformation? Through the 9-5-4 Program.

Even though there are 9 Intelligences, schools only care about one or two; Sparks of Genius taps into all 9.

  • Verbal intelligence
  • Mathematical intelligence
  • Spatial intelligence
  • Musical intelligence
  • Kinesthetic intelligence
  • Interpersonal intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence
  • Spiritual intelligence
  • Naturalist intelligence

Increase three or more [Cognitive Skills] and you’ve got a Total Transformation.

There are 5 Cognitive Skills. Increase one of these, and you increase cognitive ability. Increase three or more and you’ve got a Total Transformation.

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Thinking
  • Processing Speed

Finally, there are 4 Executive Functions. These are higher-order functions and essential for long-term success.

  • Organization
  • Planning
  • Prioritizing
  • Decision-Making

Students come to us, go through fancy, high-tech evaluations, and Dr. Kessler puts together a customized work-out regimen that plays on the student’s strengths and pumps up the areas that are weakest. 2-3 hours per week on a home computer, plus an hour in our high-tech, high-touch playground is usually all it takes. The results last, and they generalize to school, athletics, home, and the social realm.

Good luck!

Allen Dobkin

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