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What is Cognitive Training?

Cognitive Training Builds Better Brains: To understand cognitive training it is important to understand a little about intelligence. Intelligence is not one thing. It is a combination of cognitive abilities working together that allow your child to take in information from the environment, make sense of or “process” it, remember it, and then use it for thinking, problem solving and everything to do with school. If you think of intelligence as being a brick wall, then each brick would be a cognitive ability. These abilities also allow your child to think logically, solve problems, and control his or her behavior. Weak cognitive abilities can lead to ADHD, learning disabilities, and emotional, behavioral, and social problems. Through Cognitive Training Programs—MindBlaster and Cogmed—your child strengthens their cognitive abilities and thus their intelligence.

How does it work?

Cognitive Training is based on neuroplasticity research: scientific findings that cognitive functions are not fixed.

Your child’s intelligence is not something that is fixed at birth. It can go up—or down—depending upon the type and amount of stimulation to which he or she is exposed. The brain is plastic, it can be molded. Children who train diligently on the violin or piano form more neuropathways in the music centers of the brain than those who don’t practice. And most of us would agree that the more one practices a sport, the better one gets

Yet despite overwhelming evidence that Practice Builds Better Brains, the idea has persisted that intelligence is fixed—measure a child’s IQ and you can predict that child’s academic and professional future.

To understand why this is not true it is necessary to understand a little bit about how the brain supports learning. For example, for a child to read the brain must perform many functions, each of which is called a cognitive ability. First, the child must be able to recognize the letters and words—visual processing. Then these visual symbols must be translated into sounds and words—auditory processing or “phonics”. These words must be held in short-term memory (rote and working memory) until the reader reaches the end of a sentence or paragraph. The brain must then transfer important information to long-term memory to be stored for later use (visualization may play a role in this process). And finally, higher order reasoning abilities along with working memory are used to extract the meaning from the stored information and use it to understand the author’s message, solve problems, etc.

Cognitive training works by strengthening these cognitive abilities (and others) through a series of mental exercises that stimulate areas of the brain that are often overlooked. Furthermore, this is done at a high level of intensity both in terms of time and effort expended. The term “mental boot-camp” has been applied to such training. You don’t become a concert violinists practicing 30 minutes twice a week, and you don’t develop an enhanced intellect by playing an occasional game of Scrabble. An expanded intellect is the result of knowing what to practice, how to practice, and then practicing intensely.

Will cognitive training help my child?

The only honest answer is “I don’t know if your child will be helped”, but I do know that cognitive training has helped many children suffering from ADHD, learning disabilities—reading and math—, low intelligence, and a host of other problems. I know this because I have met with the parents of over 100 graduates of our MindBlaster program and everyone has told me how much MindBlaster has helped their child. I know because for the past decade we have tested every MindBlaster student before and after cognitive training and there are statistically significant improvements; and more importantly, children love MindBlaster and it shows in their self-confidence. And I know because Cogmed has been demonstrated to work in over 25 published studies. (Robert Kleemeier, Ph.D.)

What should you do?

Contact Susan Kann, M.Ed., Director of Cognitive Training at APPA, to register for a cognitive training program or for more information. Phone: 770-939-3073 or Email: info@appanorthlake.com.