It’s all in the Timing…

It’s all in the Timing…..
It’s amazing in our culture how many references there are to time or timing… “His timing was just off today”...””Time is money...”Timing is everything”…the list goes on and on. It’s “time” for us to start looking at that on a more personal level. Since time is mentioned so much, it must be important, right?
These phrases all refer to timing as something important for success. When we talk about a quarterback or a pitcher on a team, we know their timing needs to be spot on for accuracy and success. This is what we need for our children with special needs too. Even when we look as simply as our sleep/wake cycles – circadian rhythms– the importance of a sleep wake cycle can make or break someone’s day. Have you ever met a person who was excited that they couldn’t fall to sleep at night? Or how about breathing? When we are comfortable, we are breathing very rhythmically. If we aren’t, we tend to pass out! Even our heart beats out a rhythm on a regular basis. 

Featured in Kids Enabled: And the Beat Goes On – How Timing Affects Learning

And the Beat Goes On – How Timing Affects Learning
By Beth Ardell, MPT

The tick-tock of a metronome has long been used by pianists while practicing their craft. Research now suggests that students with learning differences who “stay on beat” can increase their focus, mental processing and cognitive abilities.
Rhythm and research?As infants, we very quickly develop a sense of rhythm. In the games we play and the songs we sing, rhythm is a way for children to learn about their bodies and their environment. For children with learning differences, activities using rhythm are increasingly being used as a tool to increase mental fluency, thereby improving the effectiveness of many brain and body functions. Growing evidence suggests a link between mental timekeeping and cognition and learning. Children diagnosed with dyslexia may have deficiencies in their timing and rhythm abilities, and some researchers believe the connection between time/rhythm and learning may be so significant that a student’s response time to a metronome beat may predict performance on standardized reading tests. Students have demonstrated significant improvements in broad reading and reading fluency, language processing, and even golf performance after participation in a program to improve timing. In addition, studies have indicated improvements in children with ADHD in the areas of attention, motor control, language processing, reading and ability to regulate aggression...

What the “Time Doc” is reading: Connectome

U snooze and you lose. I had received an advanced copy of Sebastian Seung's Connectome and had hoped to make one of the first book review posts about it. I simply could not find time to read it fast enough and the professionals have already weighed in on the you might as well read their reviews. I have a few minor comments.
I agree with the review in the Wall Street Journal review that this may be one of the best written books on the basics of brain science. Keeping up with contemporary neuroscience and placing it in the context of what I learned during my training and professional experiences has been hard. As I read some of the material that I consider "review" I realized that it was not just a review for me, but it helped my mind see the forrest-from-the-trees re: the neuroscience knowledge I had accumulated---but had not taken time to distill. It is a very good introductory book for the educated lay public on brain science and a nice "organizing review" for professionals.
Another review, which is more an excerpt of of the essence of the book is now also available at the brain fitness heart of the internet--SharpBrains.
My only complaint is that I had hoped it would deal more...

IM is measuring and changing something real and important

IM is measuring and changing something real and important


No human investigation can be called real science if it cannot be demonstrated mathematically

Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on Painting (1651)


Progress in science depends on new techniques, new discoveries and new ideas, probably in that order

Sydney Brenner (1980)

At the core of the IM intervention technology is a precise measurement system.  To users and clinicians the IM measurement system is transparent.  Yet, without the valid and precise measurement system, IM would not work.

In my “Brain or neural efficiency: Is it quickness or timing?” post, I advanced the hypothesis that the effectiveness of Interactive Metronome may be due to IM operating on a fundamental dimension of brain or neural efficiency, which intelligence scholars also relate to general intelligence (g).  I have also suggested that this mechanism improves control of attention and may allow individuals to “quiet a busy mind”and invoke “on-demand focus.”

As an applied intelligence test developer (click here), I have been intrigued by the underlying precise millisecond-based measurement system which is the heart of IM technology.  IM technology would not work if the underlying measurement system could not reliably measure differences in synchronized metronome tapping between individuals and changes within the same individual over repeated sessions. 

Brain or neural efficiency: Is it quickness or timing?


Brain or neural efficiency:  Is it quickness or timing?

It is time I return to where I first started the description of my journeyto understand Interactive Metronome (IM) and the human brain clock.  To recap, I firstbecame interested in the human brain clock after consulting on a school-based IM intervention study that produced positive results.  Next, I reviewed research and theory that suggested that for a brain-clock based intervention (IM) to work across multiple human performance domains, the technology must be modifying some form of jack-of-all-trades central brain mechanism.  I subsequently was excited to discover research that suggested that the human brain clock could be fine-tunedvia non-drug interventions.  Finally, it was the research discovery described below that sealed my fate as a scholar interested in the applied potential of brain-clock based neurotechnology interventions. 




Is there similarity between the attentional focus required during IM-Home training and that attained by experienced meditators?  Emerging scientific evidence suggests the answer is "yes."



The brain as a set of networks: Fine tuning your networks

The brain as a set of networks: Fine tuning your networks

Man has always known that the brain is the center of human behavior.  Early attempts at understanding which locations in the brain controlled different functions were non-scientific and included such practices asphrenology.  This pseudoscience believed that by feeling the bumps of a person’s head it was possible to draw conclusions about specific brain functions and traits of the person.

Eventually brain science revealed that different regions of the brain where specialized for different specific cognitive processes (but it was not related to the phrenological brain bump maps).  This has been called the modular or functional specialization view of the brain, which is grounded in the conclusion that different brain areas acted more-or-less as independent mechanisms for completing specific cognitive functions.

My personal and professional experience and task analysis of IM-Home: Focus and controlled attention.


My personal and professional experience and task analysis of IM-Home:  Focus and controlled attention.

I am departing from my original plan for this post, as I want to share my personal experience with IM-Home to date.  I have completed my 16th session and have been task analyzing the demands of the IM.

My first conclusion is that IM is challenging!  When I tell others that I am using a high-tech "clapping" machine that uses a cowbell sound, I am typically greeted with skepticism, much like my original skepticism.  It sounds simple and easy.  Trust me--it is a very cognitively demanding therapy. 

Being an extremely visually oriented person with expertise in the analysis of numbers (applied psychometrics and statistics), I immediately gravitated to the IM visual and numeric feedback on the computer screen.  In fact, I focused almost exclusively on the numbers.  I more-or-less ignored the auditory feedback in my ears.  Within a week I found it relatively easy to be "on target" and when off target, quickly and automatically adjust my pace to be in synch with my tireless IM taskmaster.  However, I found that when I was in a groove and being "super right- on" (exactly on the beat) for a number of consecutive trials, my mind would start to wander to random thoughts.  No sooner would my mind wander for a brief second then...

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