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1971 – Merzenich - Professor at the University of California at San Francisco - Department of otolaryngology and physiology.
He did research on diseases of the ear.
He spent much of the 70’s mapping the auditory cortex of different species of animals.
Using micro mapping Merzenich discovered that in the auditory cortex, sound frequencies are mapped tonotopically.
He set up to find if the brain which decodes thousands of complex signals coming from the cochlear now decode only a couple of thousand from a far simpler device? If it could it would mean that the cochlear is plastic – capable of modifying itself and responding to artificial inputs .
We now know that brain plasticity exists from the cradle to the grave
Radical improvements in cognitive functioning are possible even in the elderly.
Brain exercises may be just as useful as drugs to treat attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, cognitive impairments, auditory processing disorder, language impairments and diseases as severe as depression and schizophrenia
In 1986 by Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen received the Nobel prize for identifying a set of proteins called nerve growth factor or NGF for short
A neurotrophin is a type of protein that promotes the survival of neurons.
One type of neurotrophin, known as a "neurotrophic factor", is a growth factor that affects neurons in particular.
A growth factor is a protein that signals certain types of cells to survive, differentiate, or grow.
BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) was the second neurotrophic factor to be characterized after nerve growth factor (NGF). BDNF itself is important for long-term memory
BDNF acts on certain neurons of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, helping to support the survival of existing neurons and encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses.
In the brain, it is active in the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain—areas vital to learning, memory, and higher thinking
Merzenich honed in on brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF .
Mice born without the ability to make BDNF suffer developmental defects in the brain and sensory nervous system, and usually die soon after birth, suggesting that BDNF plays an important role in normal neural development
Theory – during the critical period some situations overexcite the neurons in children who have genes that predispose them to autism - leading to the massive, premature release of BDNF.
Instead of important connections being reinforced, all connections are – so much BDNF is released that it turns off the critical period prematurely, sealing all these connections in place and leaving the child left with undifferentiated brain maps
Pervasive developmental disorder.
Their brains are hyper-excitable and hypersensitive. An autistic child will hear a sound/frequency and it sets off the whole auditory cortex.
Katz (1994), “It is what the brain does with what the ear hears
Auditory system is the only sensory system to be fully functioning in utero
By its order in our development the auditory system demonstrates its importance to the growth and maintenance of the brain and body
The ear is physiologically and neurophysiologically connected to nearly every organ in the human body as well as the auditory and language centers in the brain
A well developed and fully functioning auditory system serves as a critical foundation for balance, coordination and movement, communication, relationships, language, self regulation, attention and thinking
The auditory system should be the first system addressed when issues are present
Sensation – the ability to identify the presence of sound
Localization – The ability to determine the location of the signal.
Auditory attention – the ability to direct attention to relevant acoustic signals and sustain that attention for the age appropriate amount of time.
Auditory figure-ground – the ability to identify the primary linguistic or non-linguistic sound source from background noise.
Auditory discrimination – the skill necessary to discriminate among words and sounds that are acoustically similar. (i.e. bad/bath – deaf/death)
Auditory closure – the ability to understand the whole word or message when a part is missing.
Auditory synthesis – the ability to merge or blend isolated phonemes into words which is critical to the reading process (c – a – t….Cat)
1996 ASHA Concensus Statement of APD (continued)
Auditory analysis – the ability to identify phonemes embedded in words. This is important for distinguishing verb tenses (worked vs. words) and other morphological markers that may be acoustically distorted or masked by background noise.
Auditory association – to identify the signal and associate it with its source or label a linguistic or non-linguistic sound or experience. This is a fundamental skills for developing auditory memory.
Auditory Memory – the recall of acoustic signal after it has been labeled, stored, and then recalled. This skill also requires remembering and recalling various acoustic stimuli of different length or number. Short-term memory is the ability to retain auditory information as immediately presented, and auditory sequential memory is the ability to recall the order of a series of details.
Developmental dyslexia. Specific reading disability, A.D.D., Autistic spectrum disorder, Specific language impairment, Pervasive developmental disorder, Developmental delay
Auditory processing - in the pediatric population
Diseased or injured central auditory nervous system <5%
Behavioral tests that include a number of different types of stimuli : low redundancy, filtered speech, time-compressed speech, speech in noise, binaural fusion, dichotic tasks, temporal ordering and sequencing.
Advanced technology – objective electrophysiological measures of the central auditory nervous system i.e. ABR using middle latencies , late latency, and event-related responses (P300). Functional MRI’s.
Auditory training dates back to 6 th century and was initially used in cases of hearing loss.
It was found not to improve pure-tone thresholds, but instead improve speech perception.
Modern auditory training is based on brain plasticity.
Research has provided evidence that AT can enhance various auditory processes by reorganizing auditory neural substrates.
This theory has been supported by documentation of electrophysiologic changes in the brain following auditory therapy.
Auditory therapies must be challenging to the auditory system so as to trigger appropriate changes in structure and function. Tasks that are too easy or too difficult will not yield the type of improvement that can result from tasks of moderate difficulty that progress over time.
Stanford University School of Medicine Associate Professor and expert on longevity and robust aging - - Dr. Walter Bortz II
"There is research that justifies the belief that games can aid the brain's health”
10 Questions to Choose the Right Brain Fitness Program
Based upon Scientific Research?
1. Are there scientists and a scientific advisory board behind the program?
2. Are there published peer-reviewed scientific papers written by those scientists? How many?
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes millions of citations science journals. If a scientist has not published a paper that appears in that database, he or she cannot make scientific claims.
Measurable Claims and Benefits?
3. What are the specific benefits claimed for using this program?
4. Does the program tell me what part of the brain or which cognitive skill I am exercising and is there an independent assessment to measure progress?
5. Is it a structured program with guidance on how many hours per week and days per week to use it?
10 Questions to Choose the Right Brain Fitness Program for you
6. Do the exercises vary and teach
Is it Exercise or Entertainment?
7. Does the program challenge and
motivate the person, or does it feel like it would
become easy once learned?
Good Fit for Me?
8. Does the program fit the person’s personal goals?
9. Does the program fit their lifestyle
10. Is the person ready and willing to do the program or would it be too stressful?
Published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society .
The largest study ever on aging and cognitive training done using a commercial product
Participants who used the Brain Fitness Program, on average, more than doubled their processing speed, improved their memory and attention by about 10 years, and noticed significant changes in their every day lives
Tallal’s research - Children with language disabilities have auditory processing problems –
Difficulty understanding the fast parts of speech.
Merzenich believed these children had neurons in their auditory cortex which were firing too slowly. Normally neurons after they have processed a sound are ready to fire again after about a 30 millisecond rest.
Neuron firing patterns were examined - they weren’t firing rapidly enough – their signals weren’t clear.
Difficulties in processing leads to weaknesses in all language tasks: vocabulary, comprehension, speech, reading and writing.
In 1996 Merzenich, Tallal, Jenkins and Miller formed a company called Scientific Learning – devoted to using neuroplastic research to help people rewire their brains.
Fast ForWord – training program developed for language-impaired and learning disabled children. The program exercises every basic brain function involved in language from decoding sounds up to comprehension (cerebral cross training).
Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: Evidence from functional MRI: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 100 (5): 2860 -65
Children diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) made significant gains in their oral language skills after using the Fast ForWord Language product. One-third of the children were diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder- autism, two-thirds were diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder- not otherwise specified. The improvements seen for the two diagnoses were similar
Brain imaging scans of children with dyslexia who used the Fast ForWord Language product showed normalization of activity in critical areas of the brain used for reading. Furthermore, this group of students showed significant improvements in reading and oral language skills on a number of assessments.
Slide IM… Scalar Timing Theory ; Mauk & Buonomano (2004) Our brains measure time continuously! – Circadian Rhythms – 24 hour oscillations Second processing – conscious thoughts on what to do next Millisecond level – do it without thinking Microsecond processing – speech processing and motor coordination -
IM Impacts Mental/Interval Timing Structures of the Brain
Dorso-Lateral Pre-Frontal Cortex
Neuro-imaging Study Presented at 65th Annual American PM&R Conference Slide MEDIAL BRAINSTEM Neuro-Motor Pipeline BASAL GANGLIA Integrates Thought and Movement CINGULATE GYRUS Allows Shifting of Attention Cognitive Flexibility Alpiner (2004). Results from this pilot fMRI study show IM directly activates multiple parts of the “neuro-network.”
According to CHC Theory, these improvements likely result from a more efficient mental clock (faster processing) after IM.
Drs. Taub, McGrew and Keith studied the impact of IM on academic achievement. They believe IM is impacting the timing structures of the brain and that IM is currently the ONLY intervention that works on both mental and interval timing.
Cognitive-Behavioral Outcomes of Interactive Metronome
Harvard Learning & The Brain Presented by Taub, McGrew & Keith (2005)
3-4 weeks of IM treatment
7% to 20% gain in reading/math achievement
Effect was larger in the elementary-aged children
Developmental Growth Curve
Little academic growth takes place over short periods of time in children averaging 15.5 years of age
Edward Taub has shown that paralysis caused by strokes, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and brain trauma can be significantly improved using the Interactive Metronome – a brain exercise that reorganizes the brain to work around dead tissue. In some cases, disabilities in place for as long as 50 years can be reversed
Auditory Processing Pilot Study Etra (2006) Applied Dissertation, Nova Southeastern University
8 children, 15 hours of IM training
Competing Words (dichotic listening)
Competing Sentences (dichotic listening)
Statistically significant gains
Greatest Gains subtests 3 & 4
Strongly suggests IM affects auditory processing disorders by influencing neurological organization.
Research Continues & Takes Two Divergent Paths
Myth 1: It’s all in our genes. Reality : A big component of our lifelong brain health and development depends on what we do with our brains. Environment plays 80% of a role while genes are only 20% responsible. Genes predispose us, not determine our fates. • Individuals who lead mentally stimulating lives, through education, occupation and leisure activities, have reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest that they have 35-40% less risk of manifesting the disease” - Dr. Yaakov Stern, Division Leader of the Cognitive Neuroscience Division of the Sergievsky Center at Columbia University.
Myth 2: The field of Cognitive/ Brain Fitness is too new to be credible. Reality : The field rests on solid foundations dating back decades --- what is new is the number and range of tools that are now starting to be available for healthy individuals. • “ Rigorous and targeted cognitive training has been used in clinical practice for many years. Exercising our brains systematically is as important as exercising our bodies.” - Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, neuropsychologist, clinical professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine, and disciple of Alexander Luria. • "Today, thanks to fMRI and other neuroimaging techniques, we are starting to understand the impact our actions can have on specific parts of the brain." - Dr. Judith Beck, Director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research.
Myth 3: Medication is and will remain the only evidence-based intervention for a number of brain-related problems. Reality : Cognitive training programs are starting to show value as complements to drug-based interventions. • “ Cognitive training rests on solid premises, and some programs already have very promising research results"- Professor David Rabiner, Senior Research Scientist and Director of Psychology and Neuroscience Undergraduate Studies at Duke University.
Myth 4: We need to buy very expensive stuff to improve our brains. Reality : Every time we learn a new skill, concept or fact, we change the physical composition of our brains. Lifelong learning means lifelong neuroplasticity. • “ Learning is physical. Learning means the modification, growth, and pruning of our neurons, connections–called synapses– and neuronal networks, through experience...we are cultivating our own neuronal networks.” - Dr. James Zull, Professor of Biology and Biochemistry at Case Western University,
Myth 5: Schools should just focus on basic skills like Reading and Math. Reality : “Mental muscles,” such as working memory, are fundamental to academic performance and are currently overlooked by the school system. • “ I don't see that schools are applying the best knowledge of how minds work. Schools should be the best place for applied neuroscience, taking the latest advances in cognitive research and applying it to the job of educating minds.” - Dr. Arthur Lavin, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western School of Medicine.
Myth 6: On-the-job training is the only way to train one's mind. Reality : Computer-based programs can be more effective at training specific cognitive skills. • “ What research has shown is that cognition, or what we call thinking and performance, is really a set of skills that we can train systematically. And that computer-based cognitive trainers or “cognitive simulations” are the most effective and efficient way to do so.” - Dr. Daniel Gopher, Professor of Human Factors Engineering at Technion Institute of Science .
Myth 7: Brain exercise is only for seniors. And, only about memory. Reality : People of all ages can benefit from a variety of regular brain exercises. For active professionals, managing stress and emotions is often a good first step. • “ It is important to understand the role of emotions: they are not “bad”. They are very useful signals. It is important to become aware of them to avoid being engulfed by them, and learn how to manage them.” - Dr. Steenbarger, Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences at SUNY Upstate Medical University, and author of the book Enhancing Trader Performance.
Myth 8: This all sounds too soft to be of real value to managers and professionals. Reality : There is nothing soft about the hard science-based training of specific cognitive and emotional skills. • “ I can easily see the relevance in highly competitive fields, such as professional sports and military training.” - Dr. Bradley Gibson, Director of the Perception and Attention Lab at University of Notre Dame .
Myth 9: Videogames are always a waste of time. Reality : Scientifically-designed, computer-based programs can be a good vehicle for training specific skills. For example, it has been shown that short term memory can be expanded by such programs. • “ We have shown that working memory can be improved by training.” – Dr. Torkel Klingberg, Director of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Karolinska Institute.
Myth 10: This means kids will spend more time playing videogames. Reality : In Japan – the world’s earliest adopter of brain-related videogames- overall home videogame sales have declined, with children playing less over time. Interestingly, adults in Japan have started to play brain-related video games more, and we are starting to see the same trend with adults in the US and Europe.