Monday, December 14, 2009

From Stress To Financial Mess: Acute Stress Affects Financial Decision Making

From Stress To Financial Mess: Acute Stress Affects Financial Decision Making

ScienceDaily (Apr. 2, 2009) — It is not surprising that as our economy continues its freefall, we are feeling increasingly more stressed and worried. Many of us are feeling extreme unease about the security of our jobs and being able to make our next mortgage payment. However, according to new a report in Psychological Science, stress could make our financial troubles even worse.

The results were consistent with a phenomenon known as the reflection effect - we tend to show increased conservatism when choosing between two potentially positive outcomes, but increase our risky behavior when choosing between two gambles that result in a loss. However, this study suggests that stress exaggerates this effect; while exposed to stress volunteers were more conservative when choosing between potentially positive outcomes and were riskier when choosing between gambles that could result in a loss.

The researchers propose that under stressful conditions, we fall back on automatic, lower-level thought processes and we "are less able to utilize more rational and deliberative thinking to assist in making decisions." They also note that these findings have implications for understanding how our environment might influence decision making. In financial decision making, where rational and deliberative thinking is essential, a stressful environment might hamper our ability to make decisions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"How Can Parents Identify ADD or ADHD?"

The question to be answered is; "Who can identify and remediate ADD - ADHD to help parents"? Is it a physician, a school psychologist, a brain scientist, universities’ special education or psychology departments, the school, the teacher, the parent, or a special education specialist?

Unfortunately, each has a small piece of the puzzle, and often, many of the pieces do not interface.

The author's qualifications: I am the parent of three children of whom I conducted auxiliary home schooling as I developed The Bridge To Achievement cognitive skills brain building program. They were: an ADD - ADHD student, an average grade school student, and a gifted student (all who later excelled remarkably and who are now VPs of major national companies (two of them), the third, a finance Director of an Irvine, CA company. They, and 2500 others seeking information processing acceleration, propelled to upper limits through cognitive skills retraining, which is applicable for all of us.

I have been a special education specialist/clinician heavily trained in measurement, assessment, and evaluation; a teacher with years of experience in 7 school districts, including a special education classroom, an Itinerant Learning Disability teacher, a researcher and private program administrator who set up 14 national testing sites observing that most people have deficient cognitive areas of their brain, and who conducted small group and school investigations for many years without funding support. I also set up a nonprofit parent-teacher literacy organization in 1980 to help all individuals learn more efficiently and be more productive.

According to J. R. Ramsay, "ADHD management usually involves some combination of medications, behavior modifications, lifestyle changes, and counseling. Its symptoms can be difficult to differentiate from other psychiatric or other disorders, increasing the likelihood that the diagnosis of ADHD will be missed. Additionally, most clinicians have not received formal training in the assessment and treatment of ADHD, particularly in adult patients." (Ramsay, J. Russell. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adult ADHD. Routledge, 2007).

Brain scientists can verify that there is a physical problem with a lack of dopamine, and that with ADHD, the receptors and transporters are significantly less abundant in mid-brain "reward" structures. (Arias-Carrión O, Pöppel E (2007). "Dopamine, learning and reward-seeking behavior". Act Neurobiol Exp 67 (4): 481–488. A recent (October 2009) Dana Foundation's Brain in the News p. 6 article, "Brain Scans Link ADHD to Biological Flaw Tied to Motivation" offers some contemplative thought. The article reveals 4.5 million U.S. Children have received diagnosis for the disorder, and more than half of these children take prescription drugs. There is much controversy on medication (the long-range effects on the brain and behavior) and remediation, and "how to remediate" approaches. (National Institutes of Health (NIH) "Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)". NIH Consensus Statement 1998 Nov 16(2): Reason R (1999). "ADHD: a psychological response to an evolving concept. Report of a Working Party of the British Psychological Society". Journal of learning disabilities 32 (1): 85–91.

The Dana Foundation continues (October 2009, p.6) that these scientists are "years away" from a biological test for the disorder, but their studies are a step in the right direction. In the frontal lobes, dopamine controls the flow of information from other areas of the brain. "Dopamine disorders in this region of the brain can cause a decline in neurocognitive functions, especially memory, attention, and problem-solving. Reduced dopamine concentrations in the prefrontal cortex are thought to contribute to attention deficit disorder and ADHD" (Biederman J (1998). "Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a life-span perspective." Journal of clinical psychiatry 59, (Suppl. 7): 4–16.)

Waiting for a biological measurement is not necessary, as there are many high ranking psychological batteries, which will determine cognitive weaknesses. These include: The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Revised (WISC-R) and the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho Educational Battery (WJ); Test 1 Cognitive Skills Test Battery and Test 2 measures Academic Achievement among others. In the 1970s- to 1980s, these tests were widely used by schools to identify learning disabled students in accordance to Public Law 94-142 in 1975. (the first predecessor was PL 89-750, 1966). Gradually, these tests gave way to simpler measurements, if any. Students were placed in remedial classrooms to receive tutoring. Abilities were not changed. The the learning deficient status quo was maintained, and often test scores stagnated. Lives became limited.

Who can administer these tests and how is it diagnosed? Tests can be given by any professional trained and certified at the master's or doctoral level having educational and psychological testing and measurement proficiency. This includes physicians, psychologists, special education clinicians, and university experts. Evaluators look for high and deficient or low cognitive areas, which can be improved through a specific therapy regimen.

What do they charge for a full battery? The fees usually run $2,500-$4,000 depending on how many subtests are given, and how many hours it takes to administer them. Since many object to these measurement fees, they prefer amphetamine medication.

However, you can request some of these tests from your school at no cost. Unfortunately, they are backed up with measurement requests, and are reluctant to do the WISC-R and in depth Woodcock Johnson Psycho Educational Batteries as they are labor intensive and time consuming, let alone the time it takes to score, evaluate, and report the complete results in special meetings.

Yet, according to the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement (PL 108-446) schools are required to furnish independent evaluations and evidenced-based management techniques (Turnbull, H. R., Stowe, M.J., and Huerta, N.E. 2007, Free Appropriate Public Education 7th edition, Denver, Co: Love Publishing Co. p. 362).

It was most unusual that I was conducting scientific inquiry testing since 1980, for overly nominal fees or for pro bono, in order to gather important data for thousands of individuals. For twenty years, a series of publications documented the progress. With the fortitude to continue the investigations, additional scientific reports are in publication process. Testing and reporting a specific protocol with various ages, abilities, and demographic groups for nearly three decades was deemed landmark in 2001 (International Alliance for Learning publication, June 2001). How can you find a program that will "actually work?" That will take research.

Examine the program’s research, and how long they have been practicing and collecting results that show academic achievement gains longitudinally. Longitudinal results are difficult to come by, as it takes roughly 7-8 years for any experiment to be administered, evaluated, concluded, and published. The good news is that everyone can step forward whether there are minimal or more serious cognitive skill deficits. Plus the consideration that behavioral remediation is possible as an alternative to medication!

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Cognitive Skills Training or Brain-Based Learning; Which Is It?"

Cognitive Skills training has a long history from the 1960s into the 1970s. Since it is a scientific, technical term, the average lay person is not sure as to what it really means. It can convey a detrimental underlying meaning that something mentally is wrong with the person.

This is not the case. Unless you understand the psychometric testing that measures the information processing and cognitive skill components, the subject becomes complicated. Unless one has advanced course work in this area, it is difficult to explain memory and cognitive processes in simple terms. Yet, we all have a particular cognitive profile, and most of us do not realize or know what it is.

For years, cognitive psychologists tested for problems, and gave medication or remediation. Little assistance was available for the average person. Teachers knew they had learning and behavioral difficulties in the classroom. Yet, it became too tedious and time consuming to complete full psychological batteries on the many children requiring identification. And, only the certified School Psychologist could administer the complex testing batteries. Yet, something had to be done.

In jumped "Brain-Based Learning" into the typical classroom. Many teachers and lay people came up with an irrational exuberance of solutions. The problem was that these techniques or methodologies were randomly implemented and not scientifically tested. It became a "hit and miss" proposition.

Interestingly, it requires minimally 12 hours of pre- and post-testing and a few more hours of evaluation to arrive at solid conclusions. This level of work becomes mind-boggling, and psychologists and specialists deservedly charge solid professional fees.

Since people are not willing to make large investments unless there is a real nagging necessity for it, subsequently the average person is not often, or ever, tested for cognitive skills weaknesses.

Yet, I conducted these exhaustive, comprehensive, standardized measurements and evaluations on thousands of high average, average, low average, and gifted individuals as part of the course pro bono because of my scientific curiosity. Each had a unique profile, which could be improved.

Importantly, I could see dramatic change with my intervention, although experienced at different time intervals by each individual. I knew how important it would be to document it completely.

Living in a university town, full professors and statisticians volunteered their services for this important analyses work, that entailed twenty years of publications and almost thirty of applied research practice. I had many scholarly advisors. As the work progressed through publications and peer review, additional psychology and education professors from different universities analyzed and followed the unique data compilations.

Scientific discovery was in process.

Today, there are programs that have statistical results, but few that have longitudinal findings. In other words, does the training intervention "last"? It takes years to collect this type of data, especially among various demographic groups. It is also difficult to locate the same individual years down the road for subsequent testing. Additionally, even if they are located, are clients willing to be retested years later?

Of my seven experiments, six studies, with a variety of ages and demographic groups, had 1-3 years longitudinal tracking with complete positive findings.

For further information, see the link "scholarly publications" on the nav bar. For comment, click on:" Respond Further on Jan's Blog."

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Connecting Creativity Applications into the Classroom"

In July, I entered a blog commentary regarding adding creativity through puppetry with choral speech into the classroom to help children learn faster. Unfortunately, there are still teachers and schools who resist creative applications, even if they are so-called "proven." This factor has always been a puzzling factor to me, as I have instructed critical thinking skills with creative applications for many years successfully with various demographic classroom groups and ages.

This resistance is because they are unsure of what to protocols use and how to use them. Administrators and educators also worry they will be criticized for being creative when there are pressures for making annual yearly progress achievement with their students.

Recent educational change articles published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Educational Leadership, September 2009 | Volume 67 | Number 1
Teaching for the 21st Century Pages 22-26 "Why Creativity Now? A Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson," by Amy M. Azzam. Subtitled: " Creativity: It's been maligned, neglected, and misunderstood." But it's finally coming into its own. Here, creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for creativity as the crucial 21st century skill we'll need to solve today's pressing problems.

It goes on to say, "It's interesting that people see creativity and critical thinking as being opposed. It's partly because people associate creativity with being totally free and unstructured. But what we really have to get hold of is the idea that you can't be creative if you don't do something. Creativity is a process of having original ideas that have value."

It is important that the applied creative applications are not mere time consuming "fluff," but are used as a tool for teaching critical thought central to academic achievement.

Teachers now have the resources for finding both creativity and critical thinking. Of course, they are pressed for time with budget constraints to find and use them. What professionals and parents can do is find reliable, documented resources such as this website, where it is all spelled out for them. This site can point parents and educators in the right direction to achieving success both at home and in the classroom.

This may sound like a "no-brainer," but creative applications are the tool for how you make annual yearly progress (AYP), or showing student academic yearly improvement. Now, I am not trying to sell my own researched The Bridge To achievement program. Unfortunately, it is at this time unavailable for implementation, as it will be adapted to a e-Learning platform.

At some point in the future it will become available through publishing houses. Nevertheless, it is crucial for parents, teachers, and schools to become informed of "what works," and how to use proven methods to make their own lives more fruitful.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"Multi-Sensory Training in the Traditional Classroom?"

Many schools today are embracing change to help learner's perform easier and at a faster rate. There are multitudes of commercial programs, yet few have in-depth scientific documentation. This is because it takes years and years of experimentation to obtain it.

Multi-sensory education has been around for many years, even before I applied it in 1980, nearly thirty years ago, having learned from the experts and textbooks of that time.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a push for sensory integration through auditory-visual-motoric-kinesthetic applications, led by Jean Ayres, Chalfant and Scheffelin, and others. (in Lerner, J. W. 1976, 1971; Children with Learning Disabilities, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston p. 180). Inter-sensory exercises were emphasized during the 1970s, then they were abandoned. Other, often lesser effective, methods replaced them.

The missing link was the creative inter-sensory Accelerated Learning applications that could be applied to these theories. In 1980, I applied them with The Bridge To Achievement program, and it has taken me nearly thirty years to show documentation that they work. Traditionalists were skeptical and children , especially those with learning difficulties, often floundered, as they stayed within a narrow educational mindset.

Now, brain science is verifying the early works of the eminent professors and the practitioners, like myself. The last several issues of Brain in the News by the Dana Foundation, Washington DC, tout how Neuroaesthetics and Neuroeducation are moving forward together. They state that the elements of the theater through simultaneous use of several sensory inputs, work for activating the brain for learning (July 2009, p. 3).

The multitudes of published learning applications may very well move in this direction, because they do create the academic achievement change that is now not only necessary, but mandatory.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Can Puppetry With Musical Choral Speech Serve as a Tool to Enhance Memory and Intelligence?"

Today, there are many brain exercise programs, and most expect the client to have the motivation and interest to stay with a new, often tedious program. Many are random exercises without a specific goal in mind, and are no more than mere visual memory improvement of some sort. The various types of memory are not completely pre tested or delineated, and if they do, they are with the pretests primarily visual in nature and deliberately made difficult so the applicant performs poorly.

What is obviously missing from this paradigm is the crucial "listening-auditory memory" facet. Researchers have long written that auditory memory must couple with visual memory for comprehension to ensue. But how to teach auditory memory and the various subcategories of it?

My program has always used recognized nationally standardized cognitive skills tests. We did pretests and posttests to see and compare the improvement after twenty-four hours of intensive cognitive skills brain-skill practice. The results always showed improvement, and yet, every person's profile was different; pre- to posttest. That was most interesting to me and the client, and remains to be so, even today.

None of us have perfect profiles, although we would like to think that we do have them.

To teach rapid auditory-visual memory, and to make the training palatable and exciting, we used a family of ventriloquist puppets, speaking in tonal sequences.

Puppet characters have the following qualities: 1) they offer a non-threatening, stress free presence. The student remains in an abstract "one-up" position. Puppets do not challenge or intimidate you.

2) Their messages are rapidly understood. For example, they are used in political cartoons and comic strips.

3) With the recent surge of ventriloquist puppets as entertainment (America's Got Talent), they are now, and have been accepted for a long time, as a sophisticated arts medium for adults (remember Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy? and puppetry in the Czech Republic and India?).

Now, we can learn from them, too. They can improve our cognitive skills, which include visual and auditory memories. And, if puppet characters do give us "guff," we really do not mind!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jan on: Those Who Have Improved Intelligence

Can Intelligence Be Improved?

Many eminent psychologists and brain scientists have worked on improving intelligence - making people smarter, and success was obtained! Even teacher practitioners, like myself, have created effective applications, with much effort, of course. 

Most research conducted through university research institutions find that with constant rotating doctoral staffs, and difficulty in obtaining longitudinal measurement in schools that can not always furnish this important data tracking, discover creating intelligence enhancement programs is a difficult undertaking. This, coupled with the 1997 federal privacy act of students’ records, plus checking with each individual student for annual outcomes, makes continual monitoring difficult, if not impossible.

Additionally, learning institutions of higher education are focused on their own system capacity building by creating a long series of research with their applications. Therefore, faced with disconnects, they can lack the capability of developing innovations of raising cognitive intelligence, and taking a new system to the marketplace. 

Robert Sternberg, formerly of Yale University, now Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University, has long given technical discourse about raising intelligence in the classroom. Howard Gardner, Harvard University, offered a directed design of “Seven Intelligences” modules for classroom application. 

The University of Kansas, my alma mater, and number one school internationally for learning disabilities, offers a series of learning strategies for secondary school students. The success of these strategies requires the student’s selective application, which can not always be determined or measured. All of these intelligence building programs, which are comprised of study skills, are most beneficial, but unfortunately give just measured steps toward desired elevated and permanent intellectual change. 

However, in 1965, J. P. Guilford, professor of psychology at the University of South California (USC), and then president of The American Psychological Association, (APA) defined an intelligence cube, or model, of 128 components, which evolved into a program that did increase intelligence successfully. 

His doctoral student, Mary Meeker, applied it to a workable program in 1967 called “Bridges Learning.” It operated successfully in many school districts until recently, when Bob and Mary Meeker passed away. Their problem, however, was not only the cumbersome teacher training and lengthy teaching aspects, but the testing, evaluation, and tracking; as they used Meeker’s own designed set of assessments, which were not nationally standardized. But,there was success in this construct. Children's intellectual abilities improved. 

Based upon the Guilford Intelligence Model, but not interested in applying Meeker’s lengthy, labor-intensive applications, in 1981, I created a creative cognitive skills training program which included the fine arts of prosody, rhythm and music using filmed, media-driven historical vaudevillian puppets. It became Edutainment for the classroom, called "The Bridge To Achievement." 

Twelve national locations served as initial test sites, featuring a short 15-day, 1 ½ hrs per day, small group intervention, (based upon age and pre-tested cognitive ability levels). It consisted of 24 hours of intensive media based verbal repetition, called "The Bridge To Achievement." (The BTA) This time format was based on the earlier 1960s findings of biophysicist, Marian Diamond, University of California - Berkeley, who revealed that brain dendrites in rats could be developed in just 24 hours of treatment. 

The bottom line is longitudinal practice and research development success over time. Any program should be researh-based with years of field testing and publications. That is why it takes twenty-five or more years to realize whether any particular system really works and how effective it is in the long run. Long-term outcomes become overly evident. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jan's Insight

Commentary: "Rewiring the Under-wired Brain - Avoiding Constant Problems and Corrections" 

The other day, our electrician came over to rewire the under-wired aluminum wiring needed for our new stove. The wiring, installed years ago, should have been copper. At that time, the builder was cutting corners to save money, and it is a miracle our house has not burned down. 

Visiting with the electrician, I commented that "I rewired brains." Of course, he thought that comment very strange. How can anyone do that? And, why would you want to? Staying average seems just fine. 

I continued, "in order to know what the person's shortcomings are, I have to do in-depth diagnostics and evaluations. Do you do that?" He replied, "No, I can tell by just looking at a bunch of tangled wires what is wrong, and what to do to correct the problem." 

With his years of experience, like mine, I secretly envied that he did not have to do extensive diagnostics like I have to do. He simply looks and repairs. 

Unfortunately, there are many brain-building programs on the market place that "just guess, and give cognitive skills deficiencies a "general try, or remedy." They sell training lessons that are merely random, hit and miss exercise, and not programmed to correct a particular deficiency. 

They promise -- "these exercises or training will keep you sharp and improve your memory." The inference is: you have the abilities, just keep them. My question is, what if you were born with undetected, unidentified deficiencies in the first place? You can not correct memory and thinking skills randomly. It would be like taking a car in with a flat tire, having the oil changed, and then expect the tire to be repaired. An incorrect solution was applied. 

The electrician was proved wrong. When the installers came out to install our new stove, he had selected the wrong adapter for the wires. The three installers stood in our kitchen patiently waiting for forty-five minutes, while the frantic electrician returned after picking up a replacement part at a moment's notice, and worked feverishly to correct his error. The afternoon had been ruined for several people, with several other jobs delayed, because of incomplete and incorrect diagnostics. 

I receive many queries from those needing memory and thinking adjustments. They hope they will "qualify" with the ADHD label, and then can solve their problems by taking a stimulant pill. Even though this solution will cost them between $60 and $160 a month (depending upon insurance back-up) this "quick-fix" attempt is like a poor rewiring of the stove. 

You simply end up the same problem. You have lost both time and money. There are no short-cuts around skillful diagnostics and evaluations to find out what the problem is and what solution is required. And, whether the training will work in the long run. 

Jan's Brainy Insight

Commentary: "Common Sense: A Mystery for Some of Us "


Following my last blog, I have had interesting conversations with professionals from all fields regarding this topic. Although common sense may be related to logic, critical thinking with its consequences and implications, stays in a realm all its own. Logic and common sense can even be trumped by fast, sudden reactions.        


Without delving into the scientific literature on the topic, there have been some interesting comments from both a nero-surgeon that I came in contact with recently, and also an artist-poet. They concluded the same thing, although they haven't met.         


Their comments were, that with aging, common sense is "the first to go." Psychological data shows that information processing capability begins to decrease as early as age 35, assuming you had the capability in various brain areas in the first place.        


They commented that common sense is locked in a very fine line between our sensibilities of fantasy and reality. And, throw in tainted, emotional bias and habit, we may have a problem. In other words, as we age, we can easily fool ourselves with bad decisions, and can not, do not, recognize such. Let alone acknowledge that we may be way off base.        


I find this assumption and observation quite disturbing. Perhaps we should be aware of this hidden dilemma, and consciously make meaningful decisions. My last commentary discussed fluid intelligence, which is trainable to a significant and meaningful degree.         




Weeks of January 23, 2009 - February 7, 2009


Commentary: "Is Common Sense a Natural Trait, or Is It Developed? "


I have always wondered why some highly intelligent people appear to not have any common sense. It amazes me how they continue to blunder in their lives, making continuous personal and professional mistakes that set them back., They go through their lives making more of them, and don't seem "to get it."          


It boils down to "seeing the big picture" (a right-brain capability) and being pragmatic (a left-brain function).

        It also ties into critical thinking, which according to my last commentary relates to fluid intelligence, which is trainable to a significant and meaningful degree.         

Critical Thinking has been a hot topic for years, which includes seeing implications, making inferences, and understanding consequences to any action. Unfortunately, many people operate from their emotional side and make snap judgments, paying for it later. They are not critical thinkers, nor do they use common sense (which would be like "getting out of the rain"). There used to be an old saying, "he doesn't have enough sense to get out of the rain." 


Common sense also connects to one's "personality" and "perspective", but of which are affected and developed by life experiences and influences. Personality is also created through our inherited genes, and how we would react to circumstances. 


I recently viewed a documentary on former President, Harry S. Truman, who was said to have had great common sense,  

        because he ended World War II, and fired General Douglas MacArthur on Wake Island for wanting to invade China. Unfortunately, these events were very controversial for some time, but later in history, are marked as President Truman having great "common sense." 

Perhaps we all need to have "common sense" called to our attention, give it some consideration, and consciously develop it to a greater extent by applying the elements of critical thought. 







Weeks of January 5, 2009 - January 19, 2009


Commentary: "New Research Documents Brain Exercise Transfers to Fluid Intelligence Improvement"


Proceedings from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America released April 2008 the work of the Department of Psychology of the University of Michigan, and the Department of Psychology of Bern, Switzerland, stated that increasing fluid intelligence is possible after all through working memory training. It was followed by a May 13, 2008 article by the eminent psychologist, Robert Sternberg, Tufts, University reviewing the same.     


According to Sternberg, fluid intelligence is trainable to a significant and meaningful degree." According to Sternberg's article (Increasing Fluid Intelligence Is Possible After All", May 13, 2008, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Vol 105, 19), robust results were not obtained because psychologists failed to use the  cognitive-theoretical basis for their training purposes.        


Fluid intelligence may be described as the ability to problem solve, learn new information, and succeed at taking tests. It is closely related to educational and professional success.


Changing working memory is through information processing activation of the various cognitive skill abilities -- primarily visual and auditory memories -- which need to be integrated for test-taking, and following and understanding directions. This entails specific brain exercise applications.        


Yet, interestingly, few tested curriculums exist, with the exception of "The Bridge To Achievement," which as 28 years of documented experimentation at 13 national test sites following the cognitive psychologists' research work of the 1960s and 1970s. 

        Most of today's psychologists had left these earlier theories for behavioral applications.

As stated in my previous blog article: It is often difficult for those unfamiliar with the field of cognitive psychology, how important it can be to change a person's functioning level, by improving visual and auditory memories. Yes, input modalities can be changed and/or enhanced to higher levels. This does not happen by taking a pill, or by having a tutor. Creating a higher proficiency level  occurs through intensive mental exercise through a specific documented system.        


This researcher has long advocated that both visual and auditory memory with other important cognitive skills, can be improved in an efficient manner. 


Now we can all become mentally sharper than we have been. It just takes the will and motivation to do so. 




Weeks of December 1, 2008

 - December 15, 2008

Commentary: "Getting to the Root of the Problem - More Than Tutoring "


It is often difficult for those unfamiliar with the field of cognitive psychology, how important it can be to change a person's functioning level, by improving visual and auditory memories. Yes, input modalities can be changed and/or enhanced to higher levels. This does not happen by taking a pill, or by having a tutor. Creating a higher proficiency level  occurs through intensive mental exercise through a specific documented system applying Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).        


This researcher has long advocated that both visual and auditory memory can be improved in an efficient manner. Unfortunately, everyone does not know how to do this -- I created a specific, workable system that has been in practice for nearly 30 years. Children to teens and adults have benefited, from low to high ability levels. Everyone stepped forward, some with giant leaps. 


Brain exercise is now becoming  popular. Brain exercises feature crossword puzzles and repeating strings of numbers. Unfortunately, random exercises, while better than nothing, will not correct clefts. They will sharpen your abilities as they are now, and may prevent some deterioration. But, what if you want to jump to a higher realm of learning proficiency? 

        What if you like being especially sharp? 

"Handwriting Reveals Visual Memory Perceptual Changes Through Whole-Brain Activation" is an article in publication review process (2008). There are seven examples of clients of various ages' assessment samples pre- and-posttest. The first four pages are technical testing explanations. For the average reader, peruse on to pages 5-8 to see before, during treatment, and after training handwriting samples. These samples will demonstrate brain activation stages and the changes as they occurred.

Weeks of November 10, 2008

 - November 30, 2008

Commentary: "Tutoring -- Is It Always The Best Option?"


Mem-ExSpan retrains the brain so the learner is performing at a higher proficiency level. In contrast, tutoring helps the student perform a particular task, or complete an assignment. It does not retrain the brain or correct underlying deficiencies. It is difficult for most people to understand this difference.        


When cognitive skills are corrected, the learner can most often perform independently, at a higher success rate, and does not require a tutor to assist him with lessons. By enhancing the ability to "listen and learn well" students pick up what is taught them in the classroom.        


Schools receive large grant monies to provide for tutors, which are not only costly, but labor intensive, have to be trained, and the outcomes are often less than desirable. Effectiveness is often very marginal. Although the assignment is completed and turned in, the student remains at the same "brain power" level. 


Yet, this option is what most parents, school, and districts understand. Even with solid tutoring, schools still may not reach "Annual Yearly Progress" (AYP) standards, which means that each school must obtain a small amount of yearly improvement.         


School districts often spend 1 MM per building on para-professional "tutors," who sit and help students with poor information processing ability complete an assignment. Although tutoring does have its place in some circumstances, (like helping learn a specific subject) would correcting the problem and having a self-sufficient learner make more sense, than adding a band aid?




Weeks of October 13, 2008

 - October 27, 2008

Commentary: "Prioritizing"


Mem-ExSpan teaches how to rapidly sequence information as a key element of visual and auditory memory improvement. Those who have the training are rapid multi-taskers, read and learn faster, Most people do not realize this type of training even exists or is possible to have.        


I often wonder how people prioritize (or sequence) their daily existence. What do we do first in a sequence of actions - what do we complete last? We can observe people driving fast headed to unknown destinations. We are all in a hurry, and to where,  for what, and for what purpose? Are we wasting our time? Where does it all end?    


We need to stop and analyze what we are accomplishing, what is the most important factors in our lives, and if we are personally growing. It would be good to mentally contemplate and consider how we might improve our mental fitness and overall well-being as we grow older. Make a list of positive accomplishments you have made this week and the level of mental fitness it took to complete the task. Are you headed in the right direction? How are you affecting the lives of those around you? Are you making a difference?

        It is a matter of setting important priorities, which many of us may overlook. 



Weeks of September 22, 2008

 - October 6, 2008

Commentary: "Do You Apply Logical or Emotional Decision Making? Staying Out of Messes"


I have observed that many people do not always think as logically as they could have. In other words, they allow their emotions, attitudes, and behaviors play a big part in their decision-making. Quite frankly, this puzzles me, even though so many people operate in the emotional mode, which can put you at a distinct disadvantage.         


Those who are analytical, will outsmart you. If they have been lucky to have had my sequence training, which develops parallel thought, or are very intelligent naturally, they will assemble all of the negotiating components quickly in their head, and place you in jeopardy.        


This will be the case whether you are purchasing a house or automobile, deciding which area to reside in, or picking a mate. As current emotional intelligence research reveals (Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., and Caruso, D. R.  (September 2008). American Psychologist, pp. 503-517) that some individuals have a greater capacity to carry out sophisticated analytical processes while successfully integrating their emotions.  Yet, not all people have the ability to do this. They may let their emotions over-ride logical decision-making.         


These authors have defined this set of abilities as emotional intelligence (EI) p. 503.        

        They  conclude that all the parts of motives and emotions should come together successfully. These factors tie into your personality, and should fuse and blend in a coherent fashion.

This blog is  intended to provide not only interesting, new, high quality scientific information, but to also encourage the average individual to think about what affects them directly with a fresh perspective. By doing this, and becoming smart about your emotions, you improve the quality of your life by having fewer problems!