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What is Personal Brain Training and What Can it Do for Your Child?

By Tanya Mitchell, Chief Research Officer of LearningRx

For children who struggle in school, many parents mistakenly assume that tutoring or classroom accommodations are their only options. But there is another approach to help target the root cause of weak learning skills: personal brain training.

What is personal brain training?

Unlike most digital brain games, personal brain training programs (also called "cognitive skills training programs") target and remediate seven primary cognitive skills and multiple sub-skills through repeated engagement in game-like mental tasks delivered one-on-one by a clinician or cognitive trainer. These seven primary brain skills include:

  • Attention: Focus over time, despite distraction and while multitasking
  • Processing Speed: Think and perform tasks quickly and accurately
  • Working Memory: Hold on to and use information during the learning process
  • Auditory Processing: Distinguish, blend and segment sounds accurately
  • Visual Processing: Create and picture mental images while thinking or reading
  • Logic & Reasoning: Reason, form ideas and solve problems
  • Long-Term Memory: Efficiently recall facts and stored information
The tasks emphasize visual or auditory processes that require attention and reasoning throughout each 60- to 90-minute training period. Using a synergistic "drill for skill" and meta-cognitive approach to developing cognitive skills, the programs incorporate varying levels of intensity, hierarchical sequencing of tasks, multiple task loading and instant feedback from the clinician.

Training sessions are focused, demanding, intense and tightly controlled by the clinician to push students to just above their current cognitive skill levels. Deliberate distractions are built into the sessions to tax the brain's capacity for sorting and evaluating the importance of incoming information. This ability to correctly handle distracting information and interruptions is the foundation for focus and attention skills.

Who can benefit from personal brain training?

Although many personal brain training clients are children and teens with learning disabilities, students who struggle with reading, learning, reasoning, remembering or paying attention often grow into adults with the same struggles. Many personal brain training clients are, in fact, adults of all ages and stages of life, from the college-bound, to career builders to seniors.

"LearningRx personal brain training is also being used with early-stage Alzheimer's," explains Tanya Mitchell, Chief Research Officer of LearningRx (www.LearningRx.com), the world's largest one-on-one brain training company. "We're also using it with traumatic brain injury among civilians and soldiers."

How do you define effective brain training?

If you're comparing brain training programs, consider using these seven criteria to determine if the program will be effective:

  1. Brain training must be practiced. Because brain training builds skills, it can't be taught in the classroom. It must be practiced, like learning to play tennis or the piano.
  2. Brain training that gets the best results is done one-on-one with a personal trainer. Teaming with an experienced trainer provides accountability, motivation and-ultimately-life-changing results.
  3. Brain training exercises need to be intense, requiring concentrated repetitions in order to train skills quickly.
  4. Brain training exercises need to be targeted in order to address specific weak cognitive skills.
  5. Brain training exercises need to be done in a particular sequence. Small challenging steps don't overwhelm the client, but allow the trainer to continually challenge the client incrementally and keep them engaged in the training.
  6. Brain training exercises must be progressively loaded. Loading incorporates multi-tasking and is a fast-track way to take a new skill and make it a more automatic skill.
  7. Brain training, to be effective, requires immediate, accurate feedback. Instant, effective reinforcement and adjustments keep training focused and intense.
How do I know I'm working with a legitimate personal brain training business?

First, ensure the programs and company are highly rated. Ask for testimonials and inquire as to how many satisfied clients the company has had. Second, ask for evidence that the program works, including independent scientific research, published studies and large-scale results.

"LearningRx has trained more than 100,000 brains and has countless published studies and collected data to provide evidence that our personal brain training programs work," says Mitchell. "We encourage sceptics to download our Client Outcomes and Research Results report and to visit the research side of LearningRx, the Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research" Finally, research the company's history. Are they a start-up? Do they have multiple locations?

"Since 1985, LearningRx's founder, Dr. Ken Gibson, and his colleagues have helped over 100,000 clients with a unique cognitive training methodology designed to remediate deficits in multiple underlying learning skills," says Mitchell. "Using input from a team of psychologists, educators, speech and language pathologists and occupational therapists, Dr. Gibson has continuously studied the results of learning and cognition research to inform the development of an intensive reading, math and reading comprehension interventions that have complemented the original training program. It's a long history steeped in research."

If you're exhausted from dealing with homework battles, poor grades and behavior issues related to learning struggles, consider personal brain training. It may be the key to unlocking your child's potential.

Tanya Mitchell is the Chief Research Officer of LearningRx (www.LearningRx.com)


Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help people find the right help for their special needs children and teens. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, type of special education professional, specific special education professional, or educational methods.

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