What is Brain-Based Learning? Part 2 Strategies 4 - 6

02/23/14 | by Training Games | Categories: Play

Written by Eric Jensen

Brain-Based Education is the purposeful engagement of strategies that apply to how our brain works in the context of education.

Brain-based education is actually a "no-brainer." Here's a simple, but essential premise: the brain is intimately involved in, and connected with, everything educators and students do at school. Any disconnect is a recipe for frustration and potentially disaster. Brain-based education is best understood in three words: engagement, strategies and principles. You must engage your learners and do it with strategies that are based on real science. Below are Strategies 4 through 6.

Principle to Strategy Number Four

Chronic stress is a very real issue at schools for both staff and students. Recent studies suggest 30-50 percent of all students feel moderately or greatly stressed every day. In some schools, the numbers are double that! For those from poverty, the numbers can be higher. These pathogenic stress loads are becoming increasingly common and have serious health, learning and behavior risks. This issue affects attendance, memory, social skills and cognition. Some stress is good; chronic or acute stress is very bad for behavior and learning.

Practical school application: Teach students better coping skills, increase student perception of choice, build coping skills, strengthen arts, physical activity and mentoring. These activities increase sense of control over one's life, which lowers stress. All of these can reduce the impact of stressors.

Principle to Strategy Number Five

Schools are pushing differentiation as a strategy to deal with the differences in learners. That’s close, but not quite the truth. In fact, instead of there being mostly "typical" students with some with "differences" the brain research tells us the opposite. Let's find out how common it is to have a "healthy brain." Of those who responded to the UCLA "healthy brain" student advertisement and considered themselves to be normal, only 32 percent passed the initial telephone screening process. Of those who qualified for the in-person health history and physical examinations, only 52 percent passed these screening procedures.

Now we can do the math: only 11 percent of those individuals who believed they were healthy/normal even qualified for brain imaging. Of the original 2000 students, just over 200 ended up meeting the criteria. The actual study concludes by saying, "The majority of individuals who consider themselves normal by self-report are found not to be so." Let me repeat: almost 90 percent of human brains are atypical, damaged or in some way not healthy. That does not mean that many students have not compensated; they have.

Practical school application: Make differences the rule, not the exception at your school. Validate differences. Never expect all students (fourth-graders, for instance) to be on the same page in the same book on the same day. That runs counter to an extraordinary research databases that shows variations in maturation rates and other brain differences. Allow kids to celebrate diversity, unique abilities, talents and interests. Give them the skill sets, relationships and hope to succeed.

Principle to Strategy Number Six

New evidence suggests the value of teaching content in even smaller chunk sizes. Why? The old thinking was that students could hold seven plus or minus chunks in the head as capacity for working memory. But that science is outdated. The new research says two to four chunks are more realistic. In addition to this shorter capacity for working memory, our mid-term "holding tank" for content, the hippocampus, has a limitation on how much it can hold. It is overloaded quickly, based partly on learner background and subject complexity. There are other reasons our students get overloaded quickly with content. Learning and memory consume physical resources such as glucose and our brain uses this quickly with more intense learning.

Practical school application: Teachers should teach in small chunks, process the learning, and then rest the brain. Too much content taught in too small of a time span means the brain cannot process it, so we simply don’t learn it. Breaks, recess and downtime make more sense than content, content and more content. Here's the guideline: the less background the learner has and the greater the complexity of the content, make the time chunk of content shorter (use 4-8 minutes). The greater the background knowledge, the less the complexity, the longer you can make the "input" stage (8-15 min. is acceptable). Under no condition, should there be more than 15 consecutive minutes of content input. Share this with your colleagues. But share it in a small chunk, and then allow time for processing it.

Anxiety Disorders: An Overview - OCD and Phobia

02/23/14 | by Training Games | Categories: Play

anxietyConsidered the most common mental illnesses, anxiety disorders affect an estimated 18 percent of the adult population in a given year, or 40 million Americans.

Anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); panic disorder; phobias, such as acrophobia, or fear of heights and; agoraphobia, or fear of open spaces; social anxiety disorder; generalized anxiety disorder; and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These disorders can be crippling, to the point of keeping people completely housebound. What's more, anxiety disorders often occur with depression, and individuals doubly afflicted are at a high risk of suicide.


People with OCD become trapped, often for many years, in repetitive thoughts and behaviors, which they recognize as groundless but cannot stop. Such behavior includes repeatedly washing hands or checking that doors are locked or stoves turned off. The illness is estimated to affect 2.2 million American adults annually. One-third of adults develop their symptoms as children.

Neuroscientists think that environmental factors and genetics probably play a role in the development of the disorder. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans reveal abnormalities in both cortical and deep areas of the brain, implicating central nervous system changes in individuals with OCD.

OCD is not limited to people either. Scientists have recently discovered that certain breeds of large dogs develop acral lick syndrome, severely sore paws from compulsive licking. These dogs respond to the serotonergic antidepressant clomipramine, which was the first effective treatment developed for people with OCD. This and other serotonergic antidepressants, as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as sertraline and paroxetine, are effective in treating OCD. A specialized type of behavioral intervention, called exposure and response prevention, also is effective in many patients.

Panic Disorders

With a lifetime prevalence rate of 4.7 percent in the United States, panic disorder usually starts unexpectedly. Patients experience an overwhelming sense of impending doom, accompanied by sweating, weakness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

With repeated attacks, patients may develop anxiety in anticipation of another attack. As a result, people may avoid public settings where attacks might occur. If these individuals are untreated, they may develop agoraphobia and become virtually housebound. Antidepressants, including SSRIs, are effective, as is cognitive behavioral therapy.


Phobia is an intense, irrational fear of a particular object or situation. Individuals can develop phobias of almost anything, including dogs, dating, blood, snakes, spiders, or driving over bridges. Exposure to the feared object or situation can trigger an extreme fear reaction that may include a pounding heart, shortness of breath, and sweating. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment. It is likely that panic disorders and phobias have similar neurochemical underpinnings that emerge as the result of a particular "stressor."

This an other fine articles found at www.brainfacts.org, Creation Date: 1 April 2012 | Review Date: 1 April 2012

What is Brain-Based Learning?

02/04/14 | by Training Games | Categories: Play

Written by Eric Jensen

Note to Readers: Ten Brain Based Learning Strategies will be reviewed over the next 3 Newsletters.

Brain-Based Education is the purposeful engagement of strategies that apply to how our brain works in the context of education.

Brain-based education is actually a “no-brainer.” Here’s a simple, but essential premise: the brain is intimately involved in, and connected with, everything educators and students do at school. Any disconnect is a recipe for frustration and potentially disaster. Brain-based education is best understood in three words: engagement, strategies and principles. You must engage your learners and do it with strategies that are based on real science. (I’m a big fan of cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology and other mind/brain sciences).

How reputable is brain-based education? Harvard University now has both a master’s and doctoral degrees in this field, known as the “Mind, Brain and Education” program. There’s also a peer-reviewed scientific journal on brain-based education, which features research reports, conceptual papers, reviews, debates and dialogue. Now that I’ve reminded you that brain-based education is the “real deal,” there’s one more thing.

There are what you and I might call “macro strategies” and “micro strategies.” The micro strategies are very situation specific. For example, when you are giving directions, only give one a time, because the brain needs time to process the location, the action and the qualities of the action (“Go find your teammates and wait quietly at your team stations.”). I provide these in our actual workshops because they require demonstration and context to maximize the understanding and transfer. Here, we’ll focus on macro (the “big picture”) strategies. These are the “biggies” that reap huge rewards. But you’ll need to use your own experiences to customize them for your situation. Trust me; they all are achievement boosters, so here they are.

Principle to Strategy Number One

It’s confirmed: Physical education, recess and movement are critical to learning. How? We now know that we can grow new neurons through our lifetime and that they are highly correlated with memory, mood and learning. This process can be regulated by our everyday behaviors, which include exercise. The optimal activity is voluntary gross motor, such as power walks, games, running, dance, aerobics, team sports and swimming. We also now know that early childhood movement wires up the brain to make more efficient connections. Schools can and should influence these variables.

Practical school applications: Support more, not less physical activity, recess and classroom movement. It raises the good chemicals for thinking, focus, learning and memory (noradrenaline, dopamine and cortisol). Students need 30-60 minutes per day to lower stress response, boost neurogenesis and boost learning. For the first few weeks of school, expose students to a variety of physical activities. Then, offer choice. That’s critical because voluntary activity does more good than forced activity, which may cause an overproduction of cortisol.

Principle to Strategy Number Two

It’s confirmed: Social conditions influence our brain in multiple ways we never knew before. School behaviors are highly social experiences, which become encoded through our sense of reward, acceptance, pain, pleasure, coherence, affinity and stress. In fact, poor social conditions, isolation or social “defeat” are correlated with fewer brain cells. Nobody knew this occurred five or ten years ago.

Practical school application: Do not allow random social groupings for more than 10-20 percent of the school day. Use targeted, planned, diverse social groupings with mentoring, teams and buddy systems. Work to strengthen pro-social conditions. Teacher-to-student relationships matter, as do student-to-student relationships.

Principle to Strategy Number Three

The brain changes! All educators should know the brain can and does change every day. In fact every student’s brain is changing as they attend school. The ability of the brain to rewire and remap itself via neuroplasticity is profound. Schools can influence this process through skill-building, reading, meditation, arts, career and building thinking skills. The evidence is compelling that when the correct skill-building protocol is used educators can make positive and significant changes in the brain in a short period of time. Without understanding the “rules for how our brain changes,” educators can waste time and money, and students will fall through the cracks.

In fact, neuroscience is exploding with discoveries about the brain as being highly malleable. We used to think about the paradigm as either genes or experience. We now know it can be a hybrid of both. We now know that environments can trigger genes to express themselves in ways we never would have predicted—if you know what to do. You can upgrade a student’s capacity for memory, processing, sequencing, attention and impulsivity regulation. Why not teach these skills to give students the tools to succeed?

Practical school application: Give teachers a mandate of 30-90 minutes a day and 3-5 times per week to upgrade student skill sets. Teach attentional skills, memory skills and processing skills. Progress requires focus, “buy-in” and at least a half-hour a day.

New Research on Heart Attacks - 2014

02/04/14 | by Training Games | Categories: Play

TUESDAY, Jan. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Older men who spend a lot of time sitting around are more likely to face heart failure down the road, a new study shows.

sedentary man on couchThe research included more than 82,000 men between the ages of 45 and 69. Those who spent more time being sedentary outside of work hours, even if they exercised, had a higher risk for heart failure, reported the researchers from Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

"Men with low levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men with higher levels of physical activity," said study author Deborah Rohm Young, a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, Calif.

Young said those who spent at least five hours per day sitting were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than those who spent less than two hours a day sitting. The research is published in the January issue of Circulation: Heart Failure.

The scientists used data from a large study called the California Men's Health Study. None of the men had heart failure at the start of the study.

"We looked at baseline information on a questionnaire about physical activity and sitting time outside of work," said Young, who noted that the men were followed for up to a decade. Their exercise levels were calculated in a way that tallied how much energy the body uses. The researchers also tracked how many hours a day the men were sedentary.

"Those who had low physical activity -- who sat a lot and got little exercise -- were more than twice as likely to have heart failure compared to those who were active and had not very much sitting time outside of work," Young explained.

Heart failure is the inability of the heart muscle to effectively pump blood throughout the body, said Young. It affects 5.7 million Americans -- mostly older people. Approximately 20 percent of adults will be diagnosed with it during their lifetime, according to the American Heart Association.

"It affects a lot of people. Of those who have heart failure, about half will die within five years of being diagnosed," Young said, noting that transplants are rare and most with the condition manage it through medication. "But it is associated with a reduced quality of life." One expert praised the research.

"This is a nice paper showing the importance of physical activity to reduce the risk of heart failure," said Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, in New Orleans.

"Numerous studies suggest that low cardiorespiratory fitness is perhaps the strongest cardiovascular risk factor. Probably the strongest contributor to cardiorespiratory fitness is regular physical activity and exercise training, but there also is a genetic component," said Lavie. "If two people do exactly the same amount of physical activity and exercise, one may still do considerably better in a race or a fitness test due to better natural ability and genetics."

Rare but Real: People Who Feel, Taste and Hear Color

01/23/14 | by Training Games | Categories: Play
When Ingrid Carey says she feels colors, she does not mean she sees red, or feels blue, or is green with envy. She really does feel them.

She can also taste them, and hear them, and smell them.

The 20-year-old junior at the University of Maine has synesthesia, a rare neurological condition in which two or more of the senses entwine. Numbers and letters, sensations and emotions, days and months are all associated with colors for Carey.

The letter "N" is sienna brown; "J" is light green; the number "8" is orange; and July is bluish-green.

The pain from a shin split throbs in hues of orange and yellow, purple and red, Carey told LiveScience.

Colors in Carey's world have properties that most of us would never dream of: red is solid, powerful and consistent, while yellow is pliable, brilliant and intense. Chocolate is rich purple and makes Carey's breath smell dark blue. Confusion is orange.

Scientific acceptance

Long dismissed as a product of overactive imaginations or a sign of mental illness, synesthesia has grudgingly come to be accepted by scientists in recent years as an actual phenomenon with a real neurological basis. Some researchers now believe it may yield valuable clues to how the brain is organized and how perception works.

"The study of synesthesia [has] encouraged people to rethink historical ideas that synesthesia was abnormal and an aberration," says Amy Ione, director of the Diatrope Institute, a California-based group interested in the arts and sciences.

The cause remains a mystery, however.
v According to one idea, irregular sprouting of new neural connections within the brain leads to a breakdown of the boundaries that normally exist between the senses. In this view, synesthesia is the collective chatter of sensory neighbors once confined to isolation.

Another theory, based on research conducted by Daphne Maurer and Catherine Mondloch at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, suggests all infants may begin life as synesthetes. In this way of thinking, animals and humans are born with immature brains that are highly malleable. Connections between different sensory parts of the brain exists that later become pruned or blocked as an organism matures, Mondloch explained.

Maurer and Mondloch hypothesize that if these connections between the senses are functional, as some experiments suggest, then infants should experience the world in a way that is similar to synesthetic adults.

In a variation of this theory, babies don't have five distinct senses but rather one all-encompassing sense that responds to the total amount of incoming stimulation. So when a baby hears her mother's voice, she is also seeing it and smelling it.

See more at: http://www.livescience.com/169-rare-real-people-feel-taste-hear-color.html

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