Timing skills play a pivotal role in the development of speech production and perception, or the ability to speak and understand the speech and/or intent of others (Kello, 2003). Not only must a child rapidly decipher the timing characteristics of each individual sound, syllable, word, and phrase in the speech stream, but for successful communication to occur there must be precisely timed coordination between centers of the brain for language and cognitive processing or thinking skills and the muscles and structures of the mouth and throat (or voice box). On top of that, a child must process and understand other information associated with what is said, such as demeanor of the person (Is he happy? Angry? Sad? ) or humor (Was he serious? Or was he joking?) Many children on the Autism Spectrum either don’t understand what you said, or don’t understand the unspoken social aspects of speech. All of this depends upon timing in the brain!!! That’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time! However, in normal development the brain’s “internal clock” functions very precisely so that children learn to speak intelligibly and understand you when you speak to them, including your mood and intent. Interactive Metronome (IM) training impacts the very critical timing centers of the brain necessary for effective communication...
Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD), also called Nonverbal Learning Disability, is a developmental disability which all too often goes undiagnosed. Individuals with this potentially debilitating disorder generally suffer in silence...
The "Time Doc" (K. McGrew) Voice of America interview on focus and "quieting the busy mind"
Why is a scholar in intelligence theory and testing spending time working with and researching the brain-clock based neurotechnology of Interactive Metronome? I have now explained this connection on my recent Internet radio show interview. In it you will learn why IM technology appears to increase focus (controlled attention; working memory) in a manner similar to mindfulness meditation and other brain fitness programs. You will learn that these technologies help to "quiet the busy" mind that is due to the default brain network, via the strengthening of the salience and central executive networks. The connection with general intelligence (g) is also discussed via Jensen's neural efficiency hypothesis and the temporal g notion of neural efficiency. If you want to read more, check out the Time Doc's posts at the IM-Home blog (check for posts under my name or under the category of "science"... and be sure to click on "see other stories" if it does not give you all the posts) These include the Time Doc's own personal experience with the IM-Home brain clock based technology... Read more...
Often upon completing a brief description of the benefits of IM to an individual, which centers on the benefits of increased controlled attention or “on demand focus”, people often ask me why not just drink one of those highly advertised energy drinks. These drinks claim to increase alertness, attention, energy and focus. Drinking an energy drink is much easier when compared to committing to IM training for three weekly hour sessions over a period of 4-5 weeks
In general, the primary claim of these energy drinks is increased alertness. Thus, it is important to understand that alertness is not the same as controlled attention or focus. Given all the claims circulating in the “cognitive enhancement” market place (energy drinks, brain fitness technologies), it is important that the discourse be scientifically-based and grounded in a professional consensus of terms. So let me attempt to add some order to the increasing confusion of terms.
I first turn to the highly respected Annual Review of Psychologyfor an article published by Posner and Rosthbart (2007).Their comprehensive research review makes a distinction between three different attention networks—alerting, orienting, and executive attention. These three different attention networks are orchestrated by different areas of the brain (see figure below). They also differ in the primary neurotransmitters utilized by each system---alerting (acetylcholine), orienting (norepinephrine), and executive (dopamine). Although related and often...
“IM not only gave me back my life - it became a part of my life”
Joanne had no idea what was in store for her when her daughter enrolled her grandchildren into one of my IM programs. As the weeks went by and the children started to show dramatic signs of improvement, her daughter’s plan to help her began to unfold. It started with an innocent e-mail “I see how much IM is helping my children, do you think it could help my mother?” - and so the plot began to thicken...
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.
Clapping to a bell? …That sounds boring. How is this going to actually help my child?
This is a question that I hear from many parents as I try to explain to them what IM is and how it works to make changes in the brain’s mesh of neurological connections. “I don’t think my child would do that for a whole hour” or “I think you are going to lose them during the session” are common responses, and there is always the “My child already knows how to clap, so how would this ever help them? These are actually all really good statements, and a parent should never hesitate to ask what it is that we are doing and why we think it will help.
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.
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...