Archive for the ‘Processing Speed’ Category

Antidepressants may cause long-term, negative effects on brain function

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by admin

SSRI treatment, which is frequently used to alleviate depression and anxiety, may cause negative, long-term changes in brain function.

Recent research on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) indicates that taking these antidepressants during pregnancy may increase autism risk in the developing child.  Another recent study shows that these same SSRIs, which are regularly used to treat depression and anxiety, may change brain function.  SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, which might cause long terms changes impeding brain function.  While SSRIs generally create positive effects in the individuals to whom they are prescribed, and while these benefits can outlast usage, negative side effects can also remain in users after they cease taking SSRIs.

BioMed Central’s open access journal Molecular Brain recently published a study on the physiological changes that may occur in the brain as a result of using SSRIs.  The study closely investigated SSRI treatment’s relationship with the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is involved in long-term memory and spatial awareness.  Throughout life, neurons in the hippocampus can alter their activity and strengthen connections.  This pliability is referred to as “plasticity.”  Abnormal activity in the hippocampus can result in memory loss and disorientation, which are traditional symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Department of Pharmacology, Nippon Medical School, demonstrated that treating adult mice with a generic version of Prozac, fluoxetine, caused the mice’s granule cells to change.  These cells are one of the main types of neuronal cells in the hippocampus. The chronic use of fluoxetine in these mice also altered the connections between granule cells and other neuronal cells.  The new granule cells “appeared to undergo serotonin-dependent ‘dematuration’, which increased their activity and reversed adult-type plasticity into an immature state” (Science Daily). Decrease in brain plasticity generally correlates to decreased cognitive processing speed.

Brainjogging strengthens neural connections in the brain and is a viable alternative for treatment of anxiety and depression.  Anxiety and depression are often experienced in individuals with learning disabilities; Brainjogging treats both the learning disability and the emotional struggles that often accompany it.

Green Eggs and Ham – meet Brainjogging

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 by admin

Brainjogging increases brain plasticity and cognitive processing speeds.  Brainjogging has been used to treat individuals with autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, auditory and language processing disorders, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder and many others. Brainjogging is a twice daily activity – students must complete their Brainjogging exercises two times every day to achieve positive results.  For this reason, Camp Academia, Inc. generally requests that all Brainjogging students have access to a laptop computer. Brainjogging must be easily transported from one place to another.  Students are not always conveniently at home to complete their Brainjogging exercises.  Rather, the situation is a bit more like that in Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. Seuss postures, “Would you, could you on a boat?”  Camp Academia, Inc. posed a similar question to students’ parents:

My child has completed his/her Brainjogging exercises…

…in the car, on the way to or from school.
…at parents’ offices.
…at sleepaway Boy Scout camp.
…in Grand Cayman
…on a boat.
…on a plane.
…under the kitchen table.
…at school.
…at a family reunion.
…in Australia.
…in the car before a Georgia Tech football game.
…in a doctor’s office.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of places that students have completed their Brainjogging exercises. If you have anything to add to this list, please post a comment and the location will be uploaded. Brainjogging exercises can be completed nearly anywhere: some students have not missed a single exercise in two years or more of using Brainjogging.    Consistency is key – Brainjogging is enormously successful when completed as recommended.

There is another parallel between Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and Camp Academia, Inc.’s Brainjogging program: students and their families generally follow a trajectory of doubting their ability to complete the exercises twice a day and, as a result, are averse to what they view as Brainjogging’s “demands” on their time to being awestruck by the effects of consistent Brainjogging on their child’s and family’s well being. Parents and students themselves are shocked at the changes students begin to demonstrate, in their attitudes, struggles at school and overall levels of contentment.

Multiple sclerosis and marijuana

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 by admin

This graphic was taken from a website promoting the use of medical marijuana in patients with MS. Marijuana use to treat MS is controversial in that cannabis potentially furthers cognitive delay even as it relieves other MS-related symptoms.

Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), which affects the brain and spinal cord, have increasingly begun to turn to smoking cannabis to relieve symptoms. Approximately 16% of MS patients smoke cannabis regularly.  MS cannabis smokers believe that smoking relieves “pain, spasticity, insomnia, bladder problems, tremors and emotional distress” (NPR).

In addition to this symptoms, MS is often marked by cognitive decline and delayed processing, which manifests in difficulty thinking and communicating thought clearly.  Researchers in Canada investigated cannabis’s effects of MS patients’ thinking.  If patients with MS already have cognitive delay, and cannabis further decreases cognitive processing, Canadian researchers believed perhaps cannabis is not the answer to relieving MS symptoms.  They compared cognitive function of people with MS to that of people with MS who also partially self-medicate, or medicate by prescription, with marijuana

The MS patients that smoked marijuana “fared slightly worse on tests of thinking speed, working memory, executive function, and other cognitive tasks then their non-toking peers. And they did worse overall on thinking clearly, with 64 percent doing poorly on overall cognitive performance, compared to 32 percent of nonsmokers” (Honarmand, Tierney, O’Connor & Fiernstein, 2011). The study’s results appear in the the journal Neurology. Researchers wrote the following:

Given that approximately 40 percent to 60 percent of patients with MS are cognitively impaired to begin with, any drug that may add to this burden gives cause for concern.

If you are suffering from MS, Brainjogging can curb decreased cognitive efficiency.  Brainjogging actually increases the speed of neuron communication in the brain, strengthening neural pathways and creating new ones.  Brainjogging has also decreased medical distress, specifically depression, in patients.

Honarmand, K., Tierny, M. C., O’Connor, P. and Feinstein, A. (2011). Effects of cannabis on cognitive function in patients with multiple sclerosis.  Neurology, 76(13). doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318212ab0c

Kindergarten readiness and cognitive abilities – know where your child stands

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by admin

Your child's cognitive abilities are the building blocks for his education. They are the true ABCs of education!

Kindergarten.  Perhaps this is your child’s first year in a formal school environment. Perhaps he or she attended a church preschool or a local playground. Maybe he or she was even a pre-kindergarten student.  Kindergarten is, nonetheless, a vital cornerstone of your child’s education. Camp Academia, Inc. can help prepare your child and your family for kindergarten. First and foremost, Camp Academia, Inc., is an institution of learning.  It is also an educational firm that specializes in enhancing cognitive processing speed.  Processing speed is the most reliable indicator of a child’s reading ability.  A cognitive evaluation for your child will inform your family about his or her cognitive abilities.

A cognitive evaluation investigates your child’s strengths and weaknesses in areas most relevant to reading.  A recent study, conducted by Annmarie Urso, investigated the correlation between slow processing speeds and poor reading skills.  Urso administered the following Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities:  Verbal Comprehension, Visual-Auditory Learning, Sound Blending, Visual Matching, Numbers Reversed, Decision Speed, Rapid Picture Naming and Pair Cancellation and Cross-out.  Camp Academia, Inc. completes the same tests in its cognitive evaluations.  These tests yield a measurement of your child’s processing speed, which correlates directly with reading ability during his or her academic journey.

Call 706-884-4492 today to schedule your child’s cognitive evaluation.

It is important to know where your child stands cognitively.  A cognitive evaluation predicts your child’s learning capabilities before he or she enters school.  If there is an issue, you will be able to identify it and pursue a solution before your child even begins his or her education.

Early intervention is the key to identifying, addressing and treating learning disabilities. It is also essential for understanding your child’s cognitive foundations before he or she enters kindergarten.  Camp Academia, Inc.’s cognitive processing software, Brainjogging, can enhance cognitive processing speed for students whose processing speeds are slower than desirable.  Brainjogging sessions provide additional support for students in need of cognitive enhancement.

Feel good about where your child stands cognitively; a cognitive evaluation will illustrate the nuances of your child’s cognitive framework even before he or she begins school and problems can be identified by a teacher.

Urso, Annmarie. Processing speed as a predictor of poor reading. Diss. University of Arizona, 2008. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2008. Print.

Boost language proficiency by treating your child as a conversation partner

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 by admin

Engage your child in conversation to prepare her for success in school. Brainjogging can facilitate familiarity with academic language.

Some topics are not appropriate for children, particularly those between the ages of three and six.  Children at this age do, however, need to be treated as conversational partners in order to increase their capacity for and understanding of academic language.  Academic language is not independent of a child’s natural language; academic language is the language that teachers and other professionals in the field of education use to communicate with children – and usually expect students to employ. Academic language typically includes abstract concepts and words, difficult words and elevated sentence structures (Science Daily).  It also contains clauses and conjunctions.  Simple sentences are not typical of academic language, but compound, complex and compound-complex sentences are. Many instructions are conveyed using academic language, both in the home and in educational environments.  Verbal instructions are very often conveyed in academic language.

Lotte Henrichs, a Dutch researcher, investigated the extent to which 150 children, ranging in age from three years to six years, were exposed to academic language in the home and in a nursery school and then early education environment.  Henrichs followed the students for three years.  She found that even in nursery school, teachers use academic language with students.  At home, reliance upon language varies. The children of parents who approached them as conversation partners, by encouraging turn-taking in conversations and the discussion of interesting subjects, were more likely to be receptive to, understanding of and comfortable with using academic language.  Allowing children to participate in conversations often enables them to become fluent in academic language without tremendous direct effort to address the need to develop familiarity with academic language.

Some children, however, do not become fluent in academic language, even if their parents and siblings treat them as conversational equals. That’s where Camp Academia, Inc.’s Brainjogging can be of assistance.

Children with learning disabilities, particularly language processing disorders, are in particular need of assistance with learning to use and understand academic language.  Camp Academia, Inc. tutors students in the tools they need to understand and employ academic language.  Brainjogging, Camp Academia, Inc.’s cognitive processing software, primes students’ brains to be receptive to language and abstract concepts.  Tutoring-like sessions complement Brainjogging, which is used twice daily in the home environment and once during Camp Academia, Inc.’s Brainjogging sessions with a cognitive therapist.

Increased odds: rates of autism spectrum disorder rocket

Friday, May 20th, 2011 by admin

The rates are rocketing: the suspected prevalence of autism has nearly tripled.

It was formerly believed that one in one hundred children in the United States had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Wallis, 2009).  Although this was considered a “stunning statistic” (Wallis, 2009), A recent study by a team of U.S. and South Korean researchers found that approximately one in 38 children has an ASD (Walsh, 2011).

Dr. Young Shin Kim at Yale School of Medicine headed the team of researchers, who conducted a six year study of children from ages 7 to 12 in the Islan district of Goyang, South Korea (Walsh, 2011).  Of the approximately 55,266 children screened for characteristics common to ASD, scientists found the rate of occurrence of ASD to be 2.64%.  This figure is the equivalent of the aforementioned one in 28 odds of ASD.

The "autistic box" refers to the metaphorical glass cages in which many students with ASD exist. A new study suggests that far more students than previously believed are struggling with ASD.

Researchers sent a 27 item questionnaire to elementary students’ parents and teachers.  The social deficits commonly found in individuals with ASD were particularly telling of whether or not a student might have ASD.  If a questionnaire indicated that a student may have had ASD, the child was evaluated to determine whether or not he or she required a diagnosis. The students identified as having a diagnosis of ASD were primarily high-functioning students who did not have any reported mental-health problems prior to the diagnosis.

ASD is an extremely complex disorder.  It is multifaceted and its many faces include social deficits, expressive and receptive language deficits, unawareness of nonverbal cues, etc.  Further screening for ASD will likely uncover more students suffering from the disorder.  Brainjogging is immensely effective in treating students with ASD.  Camp Academia, Inc.’s cognitive processing software, Brainjogging, is currently pending a patent specifically tailored to students with ASD.  Brainjogging prepares the mind to learn by increasing students’ cognitive processing efficiency.  Increasing cognitive processing speeds primes the brain to be more receptive to the nuances of language.  Brainjogging prepares the mind for further tutoring and instruction, making it more pliable and more likely to receive and retain information.

Wallis, C. (2009).  New studies see a higher rate of autism: is the jump real? Time. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1927824,00.html#ixzz1MrPssGRO.

Walsh, B. (2011). Not so rare. A landmark new study indicates that autism may be surprisingly widespread. Time, 177(21), 20.

Work it out: train your brain

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 by admin

Brainjogging exercises the brain as one would a muscle, stimulating synapse formation and increasing brain efficiency.

Research from the Salk Institute suggests that using a muscle can cue neuromuscular synapses to form around that muscle, making that muscle more efficient.  The brain is a muscle – exercising it as one would any other muscle strengthens the brain’s ability.  All messages in the body rely on synapses, small junctions that “coordinate communication between nerves and the muscles they control” (Salk).  Synapses are not finite; individuals can cultivate development of synapses even when synapse growth seems to be independently stagnant.  Salk Institute researchers, including Kuo-Fen Lee, the senior author of the study, hoped to discern whether or not initiation of synapse development is nerve-independent.  Essentially, they hoped to understand if cues from muscles could stimulate synapse development.

Researchers studied growing mouse embryos, specifically the clustering of neurotransmitter receptors, which are considered “an acceptable indicator of synapse formation” (Salk).   In 14-day old embryos, neurotransmitter receptor clusters were “not apposed by nerves,” which indicated that initiation of synapse formation was not nerve-dependent. The scientists genetically altered the embryos so that they would not grow a phrenic nerve, “which normally innervates the diaphragm muscle that is essential in controlling breathing” (Salk).  Despite the absence of a phrenic nerve, the mice had normal receptor clustering in the diaphragm muscle.  The clustering occurred around the midband of the muscle, where contractions occur in the fully-formed diaphragm muscle.  It appears that “by beginning to form synapses along the midband, the muscle attracts nerve cells to the appropriate location to form connections” (Salk).

The significance of this study cannot be overstated – individuals can use specific muscles to attract more clusters of neurotransmitter receptors and stimulate the development of synapses.  Stroke victims can regain function of their limbs by slowly exercising muscles and facilitating synapse formation; so, too, can paraplegics.  Individuals with learning disabilities can also gain more control over their body.  These individuals may not have enough synapses; by using Brainjogging, they stimulate synapse development, thereby increasing their brain’s efficiency.  Increased synapses allow communication to occur more quickly in the brain.  This increased communication leads to greater processing speed.  Individuals with learning disabilities can increase their overall ability to process information by working their brain using Brainjogging.  Brainjogging actually trains the brain to be more efficient by stimulating synapse creation.

Parents beware: even Nintendo is warning young users against its upcoming Nintendo 3DS

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by admin

Even Nintendo admits their upcoming 3DS is dangerous for children under six years of age and unsuitable even for adults to play for extended periods of time.

By Nintendo’s own admission, its new Nintendo 3DS, a handheld gaming system with 3D capabilities, may cause problems for children under the age of six.  The company issued a statement on its Japanese website.  The 3DS’s 3D gaming feature may stunt the growth of children’s eyes.  More and more research is suggesting that learning disabilities are centered in the eye.  A product that further debilitates children’s eyes is, therefore, undesirable.

While Nintendo’s warning applies specifically to children under the age of six, Brainjogging has noticed even in older students that any video games derail their academic progress and alter their eye movement patterns; the effects are even more apparent when the video game was 3D.

In an attempt to placate parents, Nintendo included the ability to turn off the 3D capabilities of its new 3DS.  Additionally, parents can set passwords to regulate children’s interaction with the 3D function.  Nintendo goes so far as to ask all gamers using the 3DS to take breaks from the game as frequently as every hour or 30 minutes.

It is discouraging that Nintendo would market the 3DS to children when it is aware of so many risks associated with the product.  Nintendo’s admission of its product’s dangers should warn parents away from the product.  The 3DS will hit markets in Japan in February and in the United States in March.  Parents, be wary of this product; by its maker’s admission, it is not beneficial for children, particularly those under the age of six.  Even adults are asked to take periodic breaks from the system.  If an adult’s fully-developed brain can handle the 3DS for only 30 minutes to an hour, imagine the havoc it could wreak on a child’s still-developing mind.

Vitamin A is essential to long-term potentiation

Thursday, January 20th, 2011 by admin

Including Vitamin A in children's and adults' diets significantly enhances cognitive ability.

Vitamin A is generally associated with low-light vision and color vision.  Salk Institute researchers also found that Vitamin A is essential to learning and memory.  When researchers removed Vitamin A from mice’s diets, they found that the mice experienced “diminished chemical changes in the brain considered the hallmarks of learning and memory” (Salk Institute).  When researchers added Vitamin A back to the mice’s diets, the mice’s cognitive impairment was reversed.

On researcher, Sharoni Jacobs, stated, “These data indicate that vitamin A is necessary for optimal function in the hippocampus, which we know to be a main seat of learning.”

Another researchers, Ronald M. Evans, added, “The study indicates that the detrimental effects of vitamin A deprivation are remarkably reversible, which offers hope to the millions of children worldwide with vitamin A-deficient diets.”

Genetically identical litter mates were given either normal diets or ones lacking Vitamin A.  Researchers evaluated the hippocampus regions of the brains for long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) in both groups of mice.  Both LTP and LTD have long been correlated with learning ability.  LTP is a long-lasting enhancement in signal transmission between two neurons that results from stimulating these neurons synchronously.

Vitamin A Rich Foods List Micrograms (mcg) Portion
Liver (pigs stewed) 23000 100g (3.5oz)
Cod liver oil 18000 100g
Liver Pate 7000 100g
Liver Sausage 2600 100g
Butter (fortified with A) 800 100g
Margarine (fortified with A) 750 100g
Ghee 700 100g
Faggots 450 100g
Cheese (hard) 330 100g
Fresh creams (pasteurised) > 200 100g
Eggs 200 100g
VEGETABLE SOURCES AS CAROTENE ** mcg
Carrots (raw) 8000 100g
Sweet potato 4000 100g
Capsicum pepper (red) 3800 100g
Spinach 3500 100g
Curly Kale (boiled) 3200 100g
Watercress (too little portion size!) 2500 100g
Mangoes 1400 100g
Apricots 1200 100g
Herbs & Spices High Vitamin A Sources but very low portion size! mcg per gram
Paprika 360 1g
Chili powder 210 1g

** Carotene – not as rich as Retinol as a source of vitamin A.

Jacobs reported, “At 15 weeks of age, the responses of vitamin A-deprived mice are reduced to about 50 percent normal. At longer time points, LTP is stable at 50 percent, but LTD drops to almost undetectable levels.”

After restoring Vitamin A to the deficient mice’s diets for as little as two days, these mice’s brain responses returned to normal levels, as demonstrated by the mice receiving Vitamin A.

The mice also exhibited normal function when isolated areas of hippocampus tissue from the Vitamin A deficient mice’s brains were bathed in Vitamin A, “indicating that the nutrient functions in the hippocampus directly, not in other parts of the brain that might influence the important learning region.”

Experiencing Vitamin A deficiency impairs individuals’ ability to learn and retain information. This study overturned a previous study, which found that “mice born without receptors for vitamin A in the hippocampus lacked LTP ability and performed under par in standardized learning tests. Receptors are molecules within brain cells that detect and respond to the vitamin.”  The previous study failed to answer the question of whether or not Vitamin A activity was necessary during embryonic development; the current study proves that removing Vitamin A even from “fully-developed animals impairs learning pathways, and equally important, the effects are reversible.”

Brainjogging works because it activates various brain regions and neurons synchronously.  Vitamin A is essential to activating neurons synchronously.  Brainjogging trains the brain to activate neurons synchronously.  Brainjogging can activate these neurons synchronously even in Vitamin A deficient individuals, but Vitamin A better facilitates individuals’ ability to synchronize neural communication.  Vitamin A deficiency’s effects can be reversed.  Brainjogging encourages individuals to eat foods rich in Vitamin A to enhance one’s LTP and reduce one’s LTD.

Running stimulates the growth of new brain cells

Monday, January 17th, 2011 by admin

Running helps individuals stay physically healthy and improves many individuals’ state of mental health by reducing stress. Research from the Salk Institute proves that running can also enable individuals to grow more new brain cells, when compared to sedentary counterparts.

Researchers divided mice into groups and, for twelve days, gave them a chemical that labels dividing cells.  After the study, “the mice on the move had the most new brain cells, twice as many as mice housed in standard cages,” which did not contain exercise wheels or other physically stimulating toys (Salk Institute).

Salk Professor Fred H. Gage, the study’s senior author, remarked, “The difference was striking. And because we know now that human brains also make new cells, it just might be that running or other vigorous exercise stimulates brain cell production in people as well.”

Gage’s research recently disproved the long-standing neuroscience belief that humans do not gain new brain cells after birth.  His laboratory has shown that “mice raised in what they term ‘enriched environments’ grow more new cells than litter mates housed in standard laboratory cages.”  These enriched environments included numerous variables, including toys, exercise wheels, increased opportunities for social interaction and varied diets.

One postdoctoral fellow in Gage’s laboratory, Henriette van Praag, said, “The present study is an attempt to tease out which type of stimulation is most important.”

The study included a sedentary control group of mice, there were “runners” groups and “swimmers” groups.  The “swimmers” were placed in a shallow pool each day for a brief period.  Additionally, “one of the groups had a learning task to accomplish, which the investigators thought might boost brain cell growth, and the other group simply had ‘free swim’ time.”  Astonishingly, neither group of “swimmers” displayed brain cell numbers comparable to the “runners.”

“We don’t know if it’s the voluntary factor that’s key – that is, the running mice were free to jump on or off the wheel as they liked – or if it’s because the swimmers simply got less exercise,” said Gage.

Gage also noted that learning and completing a specific task may stimulate changes in existing brain cells rather than boosting the development of new ones.  The new cell growth took place in the brain’s hippocampus, which has been linked to learning and memory by many studies.  The mice in the “enriched environments” performed better on learning tests than did their sedentary and swimming counterparts.

Brainjogging changes the brain and increases individuals’ long-term potentiation, or the ability of neurons to be activated synchronously.  Brainjogging also stimulates new neuron growth.  Running, too, as substantiated by the Salk Institute, enables individuals to grow new neurons.  The fact that new cell growth occurs after birth, as proved by Gage’s research, is significant in that individuals do not have to become stagnant in their cognitive development.  Running – and other forms of vigorous exercise – improves one’s cognitive condition.