Brain Fitness Pro Jr - Brain Training for Children
In 1986, Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen received the Nobel prize for their work in identifying a set of proteins called nerve growth factor (NGF). Growth factors assist in the production and development of nerve cells in the human body. The growth factor BDNF controls the brainís ability to learn new skills and information. During the critical period of learning (from infanthood through late adolescence) BDNF keeps a child's brain constantly primed to learn.
Whereas neuroscientists and psychologists once believed that children grow and learn according to their genetic makeup, they now acknowledge that a child's environment plays a critical role in the development of intellectual skills. (Richard Nisbett's new book "Intelligence and How to Get It" is testament to this sea change.) Children develop intellectual skills at different rates and can develop more strongly in some areas than others.
Since a child's brain is naturally susceptible to stimulation, any child will benefit from an effective brain training program that develops core brain functions (working memory, attention, and mental agility). For the parent of a child with learning difficulties, brain training can be particularly useful; the problems the child faces often seem daunting, but the correct intervention will be extremely effective, in some cases even eliminating the dysfunction entirely.
Barbara Arrowsmith's Story
As a child, Barbara Arrowsmith Young suffered from a variety of serious learning dysfunctions. She found even straightforward concepts difficult to grasp, creating an almost insurmountable hurdle to learning. Despite or perhaps because of these deficits, Barbara had an excellent memory; this and hard work enabled to her to get through school and go on to college.
As a young woman, she stumbled on the work of Mark Rosenzweig of the University of Berkeley. Working with rats Rosenzweig had found that introducing rats to mazes and other forms of stimulation caused their brains to grow larger and healthier with more connections than rats left unstimulated. Rosenzweig's research prompted Barbara to wonder whether similar intensive stimulation might prompt her brain to grow and adapt, too.
Barbara designed exercises to stimulate the parts of her mental makeup that didn't work so well. To train herself to read an analog clock, for instance, she made hundreds of index cards with clock hands on one side and the correct time on the other. Training her brain for hours each day over a period of many months, Barbara gradually began to perform mental feats that had evaded her her whole life. With time she overcame her deficits altogether.
Barbara went on to found and run the Arrowsmith School in Toronto, Canada where children can enroll in programs to assess and correct a broad array of learning issues.
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