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!