Positive Thinking Does it Work?

Positive Discrimination aids happiness

Moving Mountains One Thought at a Time

  

By Amy Price PhD   

Positive thinking can be effective  in the beginning to change  outlooks because we are using the mind to actively alter our internal environment and this requires choice and discrimination at the conscious level.  This response gradually gets automated and conditioned to specific symptoms of negativity and loses impact.      

 Response to our environment is often at sub conscious levels and this response can be heightened by threatening, or rejecting information. Negative information which is not optimally processed can perpetuate sensitivity to rejection and lead individuals to  develop low self esteem. Studies have shown that people with low self-esteem have an attentional bias for rejection and people with high self-esteem do not [5]. Imaging studies show that we process rejection in the same area of the brain we process physical pain. Negativity releases a bio-chemical cascade that derails our built in reward system. Suddenly we have a need for sweets and fats to overcome the pain. This is a short term solution that makes us fat, cranky and tired over time as blood glucose levels spike and then drop causing motivational loss, exhaustion and frustration. Positivity discrimination can train you to quickly and automatically filter the positive, beneficial things from every situation and keep your reward system balanced, strong and happy.    

Research indicates self esteem levels can be increased with training.[5] Positivity bias trained in targeted ways can boost natural dopamine levels scores and trigger reward response mechanisms. Oxytocin [1], a  neurochemical crucial for satiation . Flourishing or a positivity bias is characterized by four key components: (a) goodness, indexed by happiness, satisfaction, and superior functioning; (b) generativity, indexed by broadened thought action repertoires and behavioral flexibility; (c) growth, indexed by gains in enduring personal and social resources; and (d) resilience, indexed by survival and growth in the aftermath of adversity    

 Brain strategies that focus on discriminating positivity factors under speed conditions require visio spatial skills, divided attention, executive function and speed of processing.[2]Targeted Action games starve out negative flashbacks by competing for visio spatial and sensory processes using mental rotation thus minimizing PTSD or other negative  memory traces. Deliberate memory recall is left intact [1] Positivity ratios need balance as individuals   flourish  when positivity ratios are above 2.9 ration, while  disintegration occurs when positivity rations top 11.6.  [2] Positivity needs to be recognized as genuine to increase esteem and promote flourishing [3] Older adults with relatively high levels of trait neuroticism evidence impairments on decision-making tasks, Neuroticism  signals a greater likelihood of age-related neuro-cognitive decline. [4] Positivity discrimination can reduce negativity[5]    

 My Brain Solutions is offering a free trial of  E-Catch the feeling to help you to increase your skill at discriminating quickly in favor of positive input and decreasing your sensitivity towards rejection and negative events. If you have an IPhone or Blackberry this can be teamed with My Calm Beat for optimal heart rate variability. This link will take you to mobile solutions including E-Catch The Feeling for your cell phone. For more information on My Brain Solutions, the first integrative neuroscience based brain optimization program and a free trial please email    

  References:    

  1. Holmes et al Can playing the computer game “Tetris” reduce the build-up of flashbacks for trauma? A proposal from cognitive science. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(1):e4153.
  2. Fredrickson B, Losada M. Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing. American Psychologist. 2005;60(7):678–686.
  3. Rosenberg, Et al ,Linkages between facial expressions of anger and transient myocardial ischemia in men with coronary artery disease. Emotion,. (2001). : 1, 107–115.
  4.  Denburg, et al. Poor decision making among older adults is related to elevated levels of neuroticism. Annals of behavioral medicine 2009;37(2):164-72.
  5. Baccus JR, Baldwin MW, Packer DJ.(2004) Psychological APS.;15(7):498-502..
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Art Wires Brain for Success Model

Know Your Brain, Train Your Brain, Optimize yourself-Evian Gordon

Know Your Brain, Train Your Brain, Optimize yourself Dr.Evian Gordon

By Amy Price PhD

The Brain Revolution is an international project which focuses on enabling children in impoverished areas to develop their brain potential. Many children are handicapped by cognitive deficits sustained during malaria bouts, AIDs infection,  dysentery, typhoid and poor nutrition. Even when these children were offered educational opportunities they were unable to take advantage of them until now because of delayed cognitive function

Young brains can recover much of what is lost through specialized training which encourages neuroplasticity or the restructuring of new learning patterns. Art partners with computerized brain training and personal mentoring to increase goal centered vision and learning potential. Art develops procedural and conceptual memory and in so doing can magnify a child’s sense of self and enhance their ability to negotiate the boundaries of the world that surrounds them. Art allows children to express passion, conflict and joy for which words are insufficient with dignity and privacy. Positioning children for inner success equips them to back themselves. The Brain Revolution provides transformation from the inside out by empowering children to celebrate their destinies. 

My husband and I were privileged to attend the Brain Art Exhibition of  Dr. Evian Gordon who is an international thought leader in the area of brain function and integrative neuroscience.  The photograph is me with Dr Gordon and his painting  ‘Fighting for Self ‘ This painting plus others and his excellent book Brain Revolution can be viewed and purchased here. Proceeds go to the Brain Revolution which is a non profit organization to empower children and the development of their brains.

I see this combination of computer training, mentoring and art as a significant therapy for people of all ages including those with other cognitive needs or for all of us who choose brain optimization

Brain Art Restores Mind Potential

A mind for every child (Photo by permission Brain Revolution 2009)

A mind for every child (Photo by permission Brain Revolution 2009)

By Amy Price PhD

Dr. Evian Gordon of Brain Resource Company is hosting an art exhibit to jump start the Brain Revolution. If you are in the New York City Tribeca area please feel welcome to visit and see the future in the making. Please spread the word – everyone is invited!

I have travelled as a consultant and on the mission field in many third world countries and have met children and young people. Many of them could experience the joy of having brain power ravished by disease and malnutrition restored with simple interactive tools. These strategies will enable lost generations to contribute to society and provide for their families. A working brain should be a right and freedom for all. Dr. Gordon and those working with him have taken steps to help this happen by investing wisely in others without immediate tangible return for themselves.

The Brain Revolution project serves to empower children around the world with ideas and ways to train their brain for Self Mastery. The overall goal of the project is to contribute to Brain Development being a Human Right.

As part of the Exhibition, there will be excerpts from the evolving documentary about the Brain Revolution Project – Brainstorm, by award winning documentary filmmaker Pat Fiske and Executive Producer Steen Rees. As part of the project, and filmed in Brainstorm, Dr. Evian Gordon has invited children around the world to explore and paint their own BrainArt. These paintings will be on display.

A multilayered musical exploration Brain Sound Scape, composed for the exhibition by renowned composer, Mal Green, will also be on display.

These pieces expemplify the Brain Revolution. For more information on the Brain Revolution – visit www.brainrevolution.org
I hope to see you there!

IQ, Poverty and Culture

Change Ethnic Poverty

Change Ethnic Poverty

Students of African American and Hispanic background were recently part of a pilot project using a novel system of cognitive assessment to assess children’s learning potential. It was developed by Professor Reuven Feuerstein. The assessment consists of a battery of six to eight tests which measure abstract thinking, analogies, and qualitative thinking and are not culturally-biased.

“Nationally, African American students are identified as educationally mentally retarded twice as often as their white peers; and African Americans are identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered one and a half times as often as their white peers. The actual number of these “BD” (Behavioral Disorder) diagnoses has increased by 500% between 1974 and 1998.”

Dr. Eric Cooper, President of the National Urban Alliance notes how unfortunate it is that “misdiagnosis of special education status has been used to place a significant number of children of color into programs that doom them to a life of low expectations and low achievement.”

Professor Feuerstein agrees and writes that “Too often we give up on children who are labeled with learning disabilities, but my work has found that using more creative techniques to teach these children will lead them to the same successes that life offers the other children in the classroom. Poverty is not destiny and we can reverse major depression in a child’s cognitive development and realize impressive results.”

Feuerstein’s theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability “views the human organism as open, adaptive and amenable for change. The aim of this approach is to modify the individual, emphasizing autonomous and self-regulated change. Intelligence is viewed as a propensity of the organism to modify itself when confronted with the need to do so. Intelligence is defined as a changeable state rather than an immutable trait.”

Feuerstein’s claim that “poverty is not destiny” and that we can improve a child’s cognitive development and realize impressive results is profoundly important. He asserts that the benefits to all of society cannot be overstated.

Let me give one example. It has been proposed by Dr. Paul Nussbaum that learning may act as a potential vaccine again Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases of the brain.

If we begin to think of learning as a process that improves health, like nutrition and exercise, then all students need to maximize their cognitive development. If tens and hundreds of thousands of poor children are placed in programs that doom them to a life of low expectations and low achievement and learning does act as a vaccine against age-related neurodegenerative diseases of the brain, we are accelerating the rate of dementias.

Childhood poverty has already been linked to dementia. Author of the research, Dr Moceri, said that “a poor quality childhood environment could prevent the brain from reaching a complete level of maturation.” The areas of the brain that show the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s are the one that take the longest time to mature during childhood and adolescence.

There are more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s. This means that every 72 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. The indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias amount to more than $148 billion annually. Feuerstein’s International Center for the Enhancement of Learning works with children throughout the world. Plans are underway to start implementing the partnership in 20 U.S. cities. Educators, policy makers and journalists should follow the story carefully.

–Dr. Rohn Kessler

CEO and Founder Sparks Of Genius

Vision and The Paranoia Switch

Thoughts are Seeds of Destiny

Thoughts are Seeds of Destiny

By Dr Rohn Kessler

 

In The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hahn writes about five spiritual powers that are the foundation of happiness—faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration and insight. Let’s focus on diligence, the notion that can train ourselves to come back to our best and highest self.

Imagine that we have seeds in our consciousness such as joy, forgiveness, peace, anger despair and hate. These seeds can be awake or asleep. If you live in a positive environment seeds like anger, fear, despair, violence and craving are sleeping and not touched. If you live in a negative environment these seeds are touched, watered and begin to grow.

“So it is wise for you to choose a good environment that will prevent these negative seeds from being touched often. You should not allow other people around you to touch these seeds, and you should not allow yourself to water them.” This is diligence.

“When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program you turn on the seed of violence. The first step of diligence is not to turn on these negative seeds and not to allow the environment to turn them on…Try not to expose yourself to sights and sounds that stimulate the seed of craving or the seeds of anger in you…You need diligence to practice this, and you may need a community or group of friends with similar values to help you create a good environment.”

I was thinking of this while reading The Paranoia Switch, a book about how terror rewires our brains by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout. She asks one question: What were you doing on the morning of September 11, 2001?

Dr. Stout claims we all have immediate and vivid memories of 9/11 that we will carry to our graves. “We will be able to recall small details—the weather where we were, what we had been up to but stopped doing, exactly which telephone we picked up—as if we had had tiny videotapes in our heads.”

She also claims that, based on neuropsychological research, the 9/11 attack turned on our “fear switch” by traumatizing our brains and causing overreactions to the reality of life.

The following is some of the information presented:
1) Immediately after the attack eight out of ten women and six out of ten men were depressed.
2) Three to five days after the attack, 44% of Americans reported at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
3) Two months later 31% of respondents to a L.A. Times poll felt their personal sense of security was still “a great deal” shaken.”
4) One year later, 30% of Americans said they still thought about 9/11 every single day.
5) A study published in 2005 that followed the infants of 38 mothers who had been at or near the World Trade Center attack reported that at one year old the babies of mothers who had PTSD showed low cortisol levels —linked to being vulnerable to post-traumatic stress. In other words, “…maternal post-traumatic stress disorder may have transgenerational effects beginning when the child is in utero…”

What’s the point? The point is that “When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program you turn on the seed of violence.”

Diligence is the practice of training ourselves to come back to our best and highest self.

Dr Kessler is the CEO of Sparks of Genius in Boca Raton Florida.

Brains Hardwired By Music?

Brains, Music  and Learning (Web Weaver Clip Art 2009)

Brains, Music and Learning (Web Weaver Clip Art 2009)

By Amy Price PhD

In 2007 colleagues and I conducted a 42 participant study as part of a research school experiment on working memory and cognitive loading. We explored using music as a strategic intervention to alter working memory loads. The premise was music could aid in more effectual encoding to increase learning potential.  As we learn extraneous or intrinsic cognitive load is invoked. Extraneous working memory loading is experienced by learners as they interact with instructional materials. Intrinsic cognitive load is the inherent level of difficulty associated with instructional materials (Chandler and Sweller 1991). More learning cues such as using pictures as well as words, learning with a song or even allowing student’s hands on instruction helps decrease this load. The more unnecessary information it takes to deliver your point the more extraneous cognitive load is produced. This is where a picture is worth a thousand words!  (Ayres 2006) states that when intrinsic or extraneous cognitive load is high, working memory is overloaded and learning is adversely affected.

This process happens as we learn new skills that we later do with some automaticity such as driving, riding a bike, learning a musical instrument or even doing algebra. The forming of efficient categorization and schemas is called germane load (Paas et al 2003, Sweller et al 1998).  

We considered that since music aids in efficient categorization perhaps learning and music together could decrease cognitive loading and increase germane ability by lightening the load. We tested this by having participants first listen to music designed to entrain concentration. According to (Doman 2007) entrainment can occur in as little as one minute. Music with specific timbres and rhythmic structure has demonstrated an increase in effectual category formation, (Ostrander1994, Rose1997) and can aid visual spatial perception, (Ruvenshteyn and Parrino, 2005) (Orel, 2006) Music is shown to aid in hemispheric transfer or communication between both halves of the brain (Taut et al 2005). We felt participants in the auditory condition would increase germane load and decrease extraneous load. The decrease in extraneous load is expected because of the neuronal changes evoked by entrainment (Pouliot 1998) (Carter and Russel 1992)

 What were our findings? Approximately 50% of our participants immediately increased their ability to sustain cognitive load by 150%. The other 50% decreased in this ability however many of these reported greater clarity of thought later in the day and improved their testing scores considerably. The lesson we learned from this is that for music to be effective at least for ½ the population consistency is the key. Many individuals need a consolidation period where learning is categorized and music is internalized.  

In fact, there are long term benefits of listening to music, notes Dan Levitin in This is Your Brain on Music.

“Music listening enhances or changes certain neural circuits, including the density of dendritic connections in the primary auditory cortex…The front portion of the corpus callosum—the mass of fibers connecting the two cerebral hemispheres—is significantly larger in musicians than non-musicians, and particularly for musicians who began their training early…Musicians tend to have larger cerebellums than non-musicians, and an increased concentration of grey matter…responsible for information processing.” In the end music is like exercise, starting later in life is better than not starting at all and may confer neuroprotective benefits…but that is another study!

 

References

Ayres, P.L (2006) “Impact of reducing intrinsic cognitive load on learning in a mathematical domain”, Applied Cognitive Psychology, vol.20, 99 287-298.

Carter, J & Russell H. (2002) A Pilot Investigation of Auditory and Visual Entrainment of Brain Wave Activity in Learning Disabled Boys Stanford University USA

Chandler, P. & Sweller, J. (1991). “Cognitive Load Theory and the Format of Instruction”. Cognition and Instruction 8 (4): 293–332. doi:10.1207/s1532690xci0804_2. 

Clark, R., Nguyen, F., and Sweller, J. (2006). Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load. San Francisco: Pfeiffer. ISBN 0-7879-7728-4. 

Conway, A. R. A., Jarrold, C., Kane, M. J., Miyake, A., & Towse, J. N. (Eds.). (2007). Variation in working memory. New York: Oxford University Press

Doman A, (2007) ABT conference Miami Fl. Advanced Brain Technology 5748 South Adams Avenue Parkway Ogden, Utah 84405, USA

Naish, P. 2005, Perceptual Processes ‘Attention’, Cognitive Psychology, Braisby and Gellatly, (eds) Open University in association with Oxford University Press UK

Orel, P., (2006) ‘Music Helps Students Retain Math’, Rutger’s Focus, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Jersey USA

Ostrander, S., Shroeder, L., and Ostrander, L. (1994) Super Learning New York, Delacorte Press, (1994)

Paas, F. Tuovinen, J., Tabbers, H., and Van Gerven, P., (2003) ‘Cognitive load measurement as a means to advance cognitive load theory’, Educational Psychologist, Vol 38(1), 63-71.

Pike and Edgar (2005) Perceptual Processes ‘Perception’, Cognitive Psychology, Braisby and Gellatly, (eds) Open University in association with Oxford University Press UK

Price A, Kessler R, 2006 “Sparks of Genius Recovered?”, Thinking Pays Boca Raton FL USA

Price A, Kirkpatrick M, Groszek M, “ 2007, Just practise? Or can ergonomic brain instruction or musical entrainment lighten the cognitive load to increase working memory performance and working load stamina?” Open University, Milton Keynes UK

Sweller et al (1988, 1989, 1993) Sweller, J., and Chandler, P., (1994) ‘Why some material is difficult to learn’ Cognition and Instruction, vol.12, pp185-233.

 Thaut, M., Peterson D., and McIntosh G. (2005) ‘Temporal Entrainment of Cognitive Functions: Musical Mnemonics Induce Brain Plasticity and Oscillatory Synchrony in Neural Networks Underlying Memory’, The Center for Biomedical Research in Music, Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Neuroscience Programs, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA

 Tomatis, A. (1991) The Conscious Ear, Station Hill Press, Paris, (1991)

Price A, Kessler R, 2006 “Sparks of Genius Recovered?”, Thinking Pays Boca Raton FL USA

Price A, Kirkpatrick M, Groszek M, “ 2007, Just practise? Or can ergonomic brain instruction or musical entrainment lighten the cognitive load to increase working memory performance and working load stamina?” Open University, Milton Keynes UK

Rose, C. & Nicholl, M. (1997) Accelerating Learning for the 21st Century. New York: Dell Publishing (1997)

Roure, R., et al. (1998) Autonomic Nervous System Responses Correlate with Mental Rehearsal in Volleyball Training. Journal of Applied Physiology, 78(2), 99-108

  Ruvinshteyn M and Parrino L, (2005) Benefits Of Music In The Academic Classroom

Nintendo DS Can Change Your Mind

Professor Kawashima followed his dream. When he was a boy he saw himself putting his brain on a computer system. He believed that if he could represent mental functioning on a computer, he would be able to understand how people’s brains worked. On his journey he created the Nintendo DS brain training games. These games are inter-generational tools that are entertaining to people of all ages. Dr. Kawashima studied brain response with pet scans. He found when people simply watch television, brain zones that handle sound and sight respond. When playing a video game, zones that deal with motion and color respond. The part of the brain that really helps us think is called the prefrontal cortex. It is not stimulated with either of these activities.

Difficult math does not light up this part of the brain either, but simple math done under speed conditions makes a big difference. Reading silently does not use this part of the brain as much as when we read out loud. Dr. Kawashimi developed games that stimulate the prefrontal cortex. So the principle is to work out with your brain and have fun!
He came under fire because a British newspaper quoted him as saying videogames harm the brain. This is not actually true. He said videogames de-activate the prefrontal cortex. Professor Kawashima has four children. He let them all play video games but only for one hour every day. His reasoning was that sometimes the brain just needs to rest and video games were not harmful. He has done tests on elderly Japanese people. What he found was that solving mental puzzles can often arrest cognitive decline. Dr. Kawashimi says ‘I cannot comment on whether the illness of dementia is cured or not, but with these methods symptoms of dementia certainly improve”.

Other virtual activities that were once exclusively the domain of the young are being used with increasing success to rehabilitate older adults and bring them quality of life. In some senior centers card games and crossword puzzles are being replaced with virtual reality bowling or tennis. Crossword puzzles and sudoku are played in groups with computers and a mouse. These are much easier to navigate than small pieces of wood and studies have shown that simulated activities are almost as useful for practice as the real thing.

Some other scientists are jealous and treat his work with disparaging remarks such as there has not been enough time to test this or there is little empirical evidence. Other scientists like Dr. Posner are finding exciting results after only a few sessions with brain fitness tools. Scientists are testing brain games and finding increased brain fitness from the very old to the very young. Some say Professor Kawashimi is in it for the money. This is sad as all the royalties from the games and the books he wrote about the mind go entirely to the University. Dr. Kawashimi feels as a scientist it is his obligation and the obligation of others to return the results of our research to society.

This story is adapted from an article by Richard Lloyd Parry of the Times newspaper, London UK