Friday, May 15, 2009

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!        


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