Posts Tagged ‘brain’

Who is Shirley Pennebaker’s Mentor?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 by admin
Pennebaker and Eden

Shirley Pennebaker, Gwinevere Eden, and Katie Cypers at the conference for learning disabilities in Orlando.

Last week, at the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Conference in Orlando, Shirley Pennebaker, creator of the Brainjogging method, reunited with her mentor Gwinevere Eden!  Gwinevere Eden and her colleagues were the first to apply functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to the study of dyslexia. Eden’s findings helped experts understand the neural basis of dyslexia. In other words, researchers and medical professionals were finally able to understand the difference in function and appearance between a typical brain, and a brain of someone with Dyslexia. She continues to investigate the neural representations of sensory processing and reading, and how these may be different in individuals with learning disabilities or different early childhood experiences.

A lot of Shirley’s early research includes imaging from Eden’s studies. What a wonderful meeting between two experts in the field of Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities!





The Real Deal on Screens

Monday, September 19th, 2016 by admin

Is it me or is there an app and screen for every moment in our lives? My two year old doesn’t know the alphabet! There’s an app for that! Our baby won’t stop crying! There’s an app for that! But, what if the “app” cannot be found in our phone’s app store. What if the real “app” was within us all along!

Digital media, in particular tablets, seem to be taking over our children’s lives. At a young age, children are exposed to YouTube videos of nursery rhymes, “educational” apps, and endless cartoons that can be repeated with just a touch of the screen!  (Trust me, I’ve been there!)  But what we see as entertainment and convenience is really changing our child’s brain and in fact making it more difficult to parent!

Time and again, peer-review studies have shown that kids raised on a high-tech diet struggle with attention and focus.  Creators of “educational” video games claim that students no longer have the attention span for traditional learning.  However, giving students lessons on tablets is not helping the problem, it is making it worse!  These children are only motivated and focused in front of a screen.  They aren’t able to engage and stay focused in normal every-day tasks.  Dr. Kentaro Toyama, from the University of Michigan’s School of Information found in his research that technology helps education when the educational system is already doing well.  Unfortunately, it does little for mediocre systems, and even worse in dysfunctional schools.  Dr. Toyama states, that technology “can cause outright harm” in these schools.

At a young age, exposure to screens can be extremely harmful.  Through the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, the brain’s “motivation chemical”, babies and toddlers are conditioned to focus only when given the immediate rewards or feedback found in technology.  And while you might claim that you only allow your toddler to watch educational shows, in reality, children under 2 do not understand how the world they see on a screen relates to reality.  Young children need to interact directly with people and objects around them to fully understand how their world works.

Unfortunately our country’s education system has become highly dependent on technology.  The education technology industry is estimated to become a 60 billion dollar industry by 2018!  The convenience of giving each student a tablet, that can be updated within seconds, seems to have outweighed the risks to our children’s health.  Jane Healy, education psychologist and author of Failure to Connect:  How Computers Affect our Children’s Minds, reports that “time on the computer might interfere with development of everything from the young child’s motor skills to his or her ability to think logically and distinguish between reality and fantasy.”

The future of our families, our country, and in fact our world lies in the minds of our children.  We can encourage new ideas by giving our children tools that develop their skills to think creatively and critically, and to observe the world around them.  So the next time your baby cries, instead of finding the YouTube video for Rock-a-bye Baby, maybe you can put on one of your “old-fashioned” CDs, or even sing the song yourself!


Screens in Schools are a $60 Billion Hoax, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, Time, August 31, 2016

Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children, The New York Times, July 6, 2015

Wired Kids:  How Screen Time Affects Children’s Brains,

The Key To Success is NOT IQ! It’s this…

Monday, September 9th, 2013 by admin

In education, the one thing we know how to measure best is IQ, but what if there is more to your child’s success than his/her ability to learn quickly and easily?

Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, from the University of Pennsylvania looked at who is successful and why. Researchers looked at West Pointe Military Academy cadets, National Spelling Bee participants, rookie teachers in tough neighborhoods, and private company salespeople to explore who had the most staying power; most advancement; highest sales performance; most likelihood to still be teaching after the school year and who will be most effective with learning outcomes.

One characteristic emerged as a predictor of success – GRIT! Grit means having a passion and perseverance for those long-term goals; having stamina; sticking with your future day in, day out, for years; and working really hard to making that future a reality; living life like a marathon instead of a sprint.

We need to help our children work through problems and solutions. Every issue they have is not, in fact, “Google”able. Teaching them to stop, think, draw on their prior knowledge, and stick with something to its end is the kind of teaching that lasts a lifetime.

Dr. Duckworth built upon another idea called “Growth Mindset,” developed at Stanford University by Dr. Carol Dweck. It is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed; it can change with effort. When kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they are more likely to persevere when they fail, because they recognize that failure is NOT a permanent condition. “Growth mindset is a great idea for building grit, but we need more,” says Dr. Duckworth. “We need to take our best ideas and strongest intuitions and we need to test them and measure whether we’ve been successful. We need to fail and start again. We need to be gritty about helping our kids get grittier.”

“Excuse Me…”

Monday, January 14th, 2013 by admin

Brainjogging helps distracted studentsWouldn’t it be interesting if each interruption in our lives started out with “Excuse me…?” We would never be able to function due to all the noise! Our children are now exposed to more interruptions than ever – phone calls, text messages, Facebook alerts, and other digital distractions.

A newly released study out of Michigan State University and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory examined college undergraduates first few seconds of post-interruption performance on a cognitively complex task. After a 2-second interruption, participant errors DOUBLED! Each time a person was interrupted for as few as two seconds, upon returning to their task-at-hand the mistakes were outrageous! Imagine the implications for your child! During homework, are text messages coming in? One student recently had 27,000 incoming and outgoing texts over one month! A nine year old fell asleep daily for two weeks in math class. He reportedly was staying up late at night on his cell phone!

When using the Brainjogging Program, one of the many benefits is the brain is “in training” to increase cognitive agility! Amazing how only five to seven minutes affects the brain performance! Students’ focused attention will increase and recovery time will decrease! If they do attend to interruptions, their ability to return to the task at hand may be without errors! Brainjogging to the rescue!


Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 by admin

Stress! We are all feeling it…school, meetings, practices, game schedules, driving, volunteering, oh – and grocery shopping! When adults stress out, we look the part: growly-faced, short-tempered, and tense. Kids feel our stress and they experience their own level of stress at school. When we stress, internally or externally, we are unable to think effectively.

A study from the University of Wisconsin found that when we are under stress, our neurons are unable to hold key information that helps us think clearly, organize, prioritize or problem-solve. Stress does damage to our working memory. We essentially lose the function of our prefrontal cortex – that’s the conductor of our beautiful brain!

Under stress, our neurons become hectic, bouncing everywhere and paying attention to things that distract us. The really scary part is that stress doesn’t just suppress the activity; it MODIFIES the nature of the activity at the cellular level. When your child is asked to complete a math worksheet and (s)he has trouble remembering number facts, there is going to be a level of stress going into that activity that will alter how it is completed. It will take longer, it may look messier, and the order of sequential thinking so vital to mathematical concepts will be scattered. Additional classroom noises, smells, and activities also contribute to the stress reaction.

The very last part of this article states that “treatments that keep neurons on their self-stimulating task while shutting out distractions may help protect working memory.” Guess what? Brainjogging does just that – it keeps the neurons ON TASK and it helps tune out distractions. Keep working that Brainjogging treatment and watch how your child transforms into a happier, more confident and relaxed individual – ready to take on the world!