Posts Tagged ‘test prep’

Brain Fitness Training And Learning: Neuroplasticity

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

After my “test prep review” post a couple of days ago I came across a piece in The Journal arguing the case for the use of brain training software to build critical brain structures in struggling learners. The story’s author, Dr. Martha Burns, emphasizes how much we now know about neuroplasticity, learning, and the impact of brain fitness software on cognitive function.

“Neuroscientists like Stanislas Dehaene, for example, provide evidence that specific brain structures in the temporal lobe are required so that learning to read happens easily and effortlessly,” Dr. Burns points out. “Research is helping us understand the reasons why that brain architecture may not be strong enough to support the learning process–for example, a home environment where there is not a great deal of oral language experience may have negative impact on brain architecture.”

But we can rewire the brain with specific brain training interventions. Neuroplasticity, even adult neuroplasticity, is now a well accepted process by which the brain changes in response to new stimulii.

Dr. Burns cites the work of John Gabrieli with dyslexic children. Reviewing new neuroscience approaches to dyslexia in the journal Science in 2009, John Gabrieli of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology noted that after six weeks of targeted brain training, the dyslexic children showed dramatic improvements on standardized reading assessments and increased brain function in previously weak regions of the left hemisphere. The brain function in the weak areas had reached levels associated with non-dyslexic children.

Further, Dehaene’s research report published in the December 2010 issue of Science shows that learning to read changes the brains of children as well as adults. Learning to read stimulates organization of the visual cortex and the brain functions associated with speech. Similarly brain training for children can also lead to improvements in math, social studies, and science.

Dr. Burns closes: “Neuroscience is helping educators understand how the brain learns, what causes learning disabilities, and what we can do about them. Moreover, neuroscience is developing technology-based interventions that can ameliorate the root cause of reading failure and, by enabling nonreaders to read, build brain capacity for other types of learning.” Well said.