of the traits that competitive athletes share with many creative geniuses is the ability to mentally rehearse skills when
they are not actually performing. I call it Body Thinking in SPARKS Ignite Imagination. This ability of the
brain to “go through the motions” simply by thinking about moving, has been demonstrated through brain imaging.
The scientists call the brain cells that do this mirror neurons.
Mirror neurons are activated when you perform an action yourself as well as when you see someone else doing
it. Even more amazing are another kind of neuron, the canonical neuron. Canonical neurons send out movement
signals when you just see an object that can be grasped by the hand. It is like your brain can plan ahead in case you might
want to pick the object up.
Having a brain that can anticipate and
plan ahead allows us to consider the consequences of taking action without having to actually do it.
The mirror and canonical neurons may also help us understand the actions of others simply by observing.
Perhaps this is how the brain can imagine the intentions and state of mind of other people. If these neurons allow us to form
representations of action by watching someone else do it, they may be the reason a baby cries on hearing another baby cry.
They may explain why we feel sad while watching a sad movie.
can exercise your mirror neurons by actively thinking about where your body is in space. You know where your
arms are. Think about where your arms are. Move your arms over your head. Feel this new position. Imagine yourself swinging
on a swing. What does it feel like? Can you see the sky, smell the wind, feel the chain in your hand?
Playing with body thinking exercises your imagination.
SLEEP AND THE BRAIN You need
plenty of sleep for your brain to operate at it's best. Sleep gives the brain time to assimilate information taken in during
the day. That is why the best time to study is before sleeping.
TEENS and SLEEP There has long been scientific evidence that elementary
school students wake up earlier and function better in the morning. High school students would do better sleeping in and starting
school later in the day. Few school districts have responded to this evidence. Even in districts that stagger start times
due to bus schedules start the high school students early and the elementary students later.
Further research presented at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual
Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) demonstrated that later high school start times do indeed lead
to more sleep and less student sleepiness.
“Following a 40-minute delay in start time, the students utilized 83 percent of the extra
time for sleep. This increase in sleep time came as a result of being able to ‘sleep in’ to 6:53 a.m., with little
delay in their reported school night bedtime. This study demonstrates that students given the opportunity to sleep longer,
will, rather than extend their wake activities on school nights,” said Mary B. O'Malley, MD, PhD, corresponding author
of the study. http://www.aasmnet.org/Articles.aspx?id=869
Zaw W. Htwe, MD, of Norwalk Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center in Norwalk, Conn., studied 259 high
school students who completed the condensed School Sleep Habits Questionnaire. More information about “teens and sleep”,
including a new questionnaire that assesses the level of sleepiness in adolescents, is available from the AASM at: http://www.SleepEducation.com/Topic.aspx?id=71.
MOVING AND THE BRAIN
The development of sitting, crawling, and walking are tied to changes in the
brain. Even after the brain has matured, movement energizes your thinking. Improving balance and eye-hand coordination has
a direct impact on student learning. Learn to juggle. Jump rope. Ride a bicycle. Watch TV on a balance
board. Dribble a basketball. Learn to play an instrument. Any of these activities will improve your brain.
What is intelligence? E. G. Boring, a well-known Harvard psychologist in the 1920's, defined intelligence as whatever intelligence tests measure.
or Intelligence Quotient is a score on a standardized test. It compares an individual's ability to respond
to the test items to the general population's responses to the same test items.
Intelligence tests usually focus on visual-spatial (mathematical) skills and verbal (language) skills.
- skill in reading, speaking, and thinking in words
Logical-mathematical - ability to reason and ability to reason quantitatively
Spatial Intelligence- ability to
visualize and mentally manipulate forms in space
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence - skill at movement and object manipulation
Musical Intelligence - ability to
translate written symbols into pitch, rhythm, timbre
Interpersonal Intelligence - ability to notice and make distinctions among other people's
moods, temperaments, motivations, and intentions
Intrapersonal Intelligence - ability to identify your thoughts and feelings and to use them to understand
your own behavior
Intelligence - ability to see differences in the living environment
Existential/Transpersonal Intelligence - ability to search for and connect with the
Intelligence Origionally proposed by two American university professors, John Mayer and Peter Salovey, emotional
intelligence recognizes that some people are better than others at things like identifying feelings, and solving problems
involving emotional issues.
Knowing how to separate healthy from unhealthy feelings and how to turn negative feelings into positive ones is a useful life
Intelligence Can humans make a machine that can think and solve problems?
Computers are designed to perform mechanical computations
using fixed programmed rules. This allows them to perform simple repetitive tasks efficiently and reliably.
Humans have a complex approach to
problem-solving involving pattern recognition, abstract thought, and high-level reasoning. Computers have trouble understanding
specific situations, and adapting to new situations.
Artificial Intelligence is a branch of Science which deals with helping machines find
solutions to complex problems in a more human-like fashion.
SEQUENTIAL MEMORY OR WHAT IS YOUR DIGIT SPAN? Preschool to PhD the secret to doing well in school is sequential
memory. How much can you remember in the order in which it is given? One quick check of sequential memory is called
the digit span. Given a series of random numbers, how many can you recite back correctly? Here are some for you to try
with a friend.
7, 4, 6, 5
2, 9, 3, 1, 8
3, 5, 2, 7, 2, 6
5, 1, 6, 4, 3, 2, 9
people can remember up to seven numbers at a time. To help you remember you can group numbers together like phone numbers.
555-232-5682 is easier to remember than 5552325682. Numbers are grouped in threes in math: 5 billion, five hundred
and fifty two million, three hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred and eighty-two.
Another check of sequential memory is spelling. When someone spells a word for you, do they have to
stop every letter or two for you to write, or can you remember several letters for the time it takes to write them down? Are
your spelling errors missing some sounds, or are all the letter sounds there but in the wrong order? You can use letters
or words to practice sequential memory.
R, T, B, L
K, E, P. N, D
S, V, Z, W
related words: apples, bananas, grapes, pears,
or unrelated words: house, sock, tree, rock, train,
If you have trouble with auditory sequential
memory there are things you can do to improve. If you are forgetting some of the items in the list you can exercise
your attention. Try turning the volume down a bit when you are watching television to give your listening attention a workout.
When someone gives you directions, practice remembering by repeating back what you heard.
If you remember all the items in the list but get the order mixed up you can practice sequencing. Start by practicing sequences of movement. Touch your nose with your pinky finger first, then your ring finger, then the middle finger, then the pointer and last your thumb.
Hold your head still and move your eyes
up and to the left, then up and to the right, then straight ahead, then ahead and to the left, then straight
ahead and to the right, then down and to the left, finally down and to the right. Have a friend challenge you
with a sequence of movements for you to imitate. For example, stand up, arms up, swing arms left, arms out, swing arms
right, sit down. Line dancing, cheerleading, and playing an instrument are good practice for sequencing. However, if
sequencing is a problem for you, you may quit these activities out of frustration. Practice simpler activities to strengthen
This information is copyright
2008, Nancy Illing. It may not be reproduced completely or in part without the author's permission.