Arrowsmith Program: is it Right for You?

 

A Permanent Life Changing Solution

The Arrowsmith ProgramTM has a 40+ year history of providing life changing solutions for those who would like to improve their ability to think, learn, and understand.

The Arrowsmith ProgramTM was originally designed to help improve the lives of people with Specific Learning Difficulties. Since then, the brain training exercises in the Arrowsmith Program have been used for a variety of purposes including: improving brain health and cognitive abilities in old age, turbo charging existing strengths, and improving cognitive abilities for business people and athletes.

Taking Your Abilities to a New Level

People entering the Arrowsmith ProgramTM typically want to improve abilities related to:

  • reading
  • writing
  • mathematics
  • logical reasoning
  • general understanding
  • memory
  • processing speed
  • social abilities
  • non-verbal learning
  • auditory processing
  • attention

 

Typically, people enrolling in the Arrowsmith ProgramTM who would like to address Specific Learning Difficulties:

  • are of average or above average intelligence;
  • have a one or more learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Auditory Processing Disorder, Non-verbal Processing Disorder, Attention Difficulty; or,
  • have undiagnosed challenges related to organization, learning, and social abilities;
  • does NOT have severe emotional or behavioral disorders that would prevent them from participating in sustained cognitive training exercises;
  • does NOT have moderate or severe Autism Spectrum Disorder;
  • does NOT have intellectual delay or Downs Syndrome

Every person who applies for the Arrowsmith ProgramTM is considered based on their individual needs. Trained Arrowsmith instructors and administrators have a deep understanding that each person has different abilities, goals, and dreams.

Customized to Your Needs

Upon enrollment, each student receives a full cognitive assessment to determine which brain functions are functioning well, and which brain functions need to be strengthened in order to function optimally.  Based on this assessment, a brain training program is designed for each individual. The participant then take part in daily brain training exercises that are tailored to his or her specific needs.

Brain training typically takes 1-4 years of daily cognitive exercise to fully strengthen weak cognitive functions and overcome learning difficulties. Participants receive annual reassessments to track progress and redesign programs based on growth and development. Taking part in the Arrowsmith ProgramTM  is truly life changing and can unlock the cognitive potential of individuals who are ready to be at their best.

Taking the First Steps

The first step in enrolling in the Arrowsmith ProgramTM is to complete an inquiry form. The information will be kept confidential and will be used by our trained staff to determine how we can best meet your needs.

Once we have reviewed your information our staff will contact you to determine your specific needs and provide further information and options to build a better cognitive future.

Inquire today to see if the Arrowsmith Program is right for your needs.

Grow New Brain Cells: Here’s How

Grow new brain cells? In adults? Until recently, even the most forward thinking neuroscientists would have dismissed such an idea as scientific heresy. Neurogenesis–the production of new brain cells–is not only possible but we have the ability to influence it though out actions. It helps to improve both the capacity and quality of our memory. It helps to reduce depression and is a factor in maintaining brain health as we age.

How can I grow more brain cells?

Your environment and your actions can drive the growth of new brain cells.  Learning new things, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, exercise, and diet all impact our ability to grow new brain cells.

Dr. Sandrine Thuret explains how neurogenesis is not only real, but has impacts on some of the most important aspects of our lives.

 

We can grow new brain cells. Dr. Sandrine Thuret explains. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_tjKYvEziI

 

What Is Executive Functioning?

What Is Executive Functioning?

Executive Functioning sounds like a phrase that you might hear around a boardroom table. However, it relates to something much more important – the human brain and more specifically, the brain’s ability to maintain focus and attention.

If you think of your brain as a tightly run organization, executive function can be likened to the boss. It’s in charge and responsible for setting goals, planning tasks and basically just getting things done!

Signs that all is not right with the brain’s executive function, may include difficulties around maintaining attention, prioritizing tasks, and switching focus from one task to another. People with executive function challenges can also be perceived as rigid or stubborn, all of which combines to affect work performance and personal relationships.

Having problems with executive function is not necessarily a specific learning difficulty on its own. Rather, it is a broader term to describe challenges within a group of cognitive abilities important to learning. The 3 elements of executive functioning are:

  1. Working Memory
  2. Cognitive Flexibility (also called flexible thinking)
  3. Inhibitory Control (including self-control)

Testing

Testing for executive functioning issues requires comprehensive evaluation that looks for underlying learning difficulties. This type of evaluation can be done by a professional who is trained to administer the tests and interpret the results.  Specific tests look at a wide range of skills including:

  • Attention
  • Inhibitory control
  • Working memory
  • Organization and planning
  • Concept formation
  • Set shifting (the ability to shift from one task to another)
  • Word and idea generation

Impacts

ADD and ADHD are by and large a problem of executive function. The symptoms of a person with ADHD for instance, typically include impulsivity, difficulty paying attention, poor working memory, trouble managing emotions and difficulty shifting focus from one task to another.

People with specific learning difficulties like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia can often have weak executive function skills. When these learning difficulties are compounded the challenges of learning can become even more complex.

Anxiety and depression are also common in people suffering executive function issues. This could be attributed to the ongoing negative impacts of high stress and lower self-esteem resulting from learning challenges.

Brain imaging studies have been used to identify how executive function issues appear in the brain. Research shows that in people who struggle with these skills, the frontal areas of the brain responsible for executive function are slower to develop. This is also evident in other learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

There is also a genetic component associated with executive function issues. Like many other neuro and physiological ailments, people with executive function issues can often trace back to a family member that may have had similar difficulties.

Finding Solutions

The standard solutions to improve the lives of those struggling with executive functioning typically involve several strategies in unison. Medication is widely prescribed for attention issues but can have side effects that do little to improve overall well-being.  Education workers, coaches and healthcare providers can provide strategies to navigate social situations, improve organizational skills and behavior management (1).

Cognitive training interventions, read brain training, has been used since the late 1970’s to address the root cause of executive function difficulty. Strengthening weaker cognitive functions can be a challenging long term process. However, improvements can be dramatic and the effects permanent (2).

 

Original Sources

  1. The Understood Team (2019) Understanding Executive Functioning Issues. Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/executive-functioning-issues/understanding-executive-functioning-issues#item3
  2. Doidge, Norman. (2010). The brain that changes itself : stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Carlton North, Vic. :Scribe Publications. http://www.normandoidge.com/?page_id=1259

 

 

Neuroplasticity Explained

In simple terms, neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to grow and change. Changes to the brain occur over time and allow individuals to adapt to new situations or changes in their environment [1]. Neuroplasticity is sometimes referred to as brain plasticity; reinforcing that the brain can be molded, like plastic. This is great news because it means that our brains are designed to change throughout our lifetime. Changes in the brain can be structural, such as differences in size, shape, and density. Changes can also occur to the organizational function of the brain. This means that new connections can be made within the brain, and that existing connections can be strengthened [2].

How Does Neuroplasticity Relate to Real Life Situations?

We all have the ability to grow and change our own brain.

Changes to the brain can occur in response to a single event, such as a brain injury. When part of the brain is damaged, neuroplasticity allows for an intact area of the brain to take over some of the functions of the damaged brain area [1]. In effect, one area of the brain compensates for the area that no longer functions. This compensation is useful for individuals who have lost all function of a particular brain area(s).

In less extreme cases, the principles of neuroplasticity can be applied to weak brain areas. For example, just as all people exhibit a variety of physical traits that can be seen, each brain is also unique. Each human brain has different strengths and weaknesses. Weak brain areas, also referred to as areas of weak cognitive function, can result in a variety of  learning challenges. The underlying causes of learning difficulties can be addressed by strengthening weak areas of the brain.

Compensation Vs. Strengthening

There is an important distinction between compensation and strengthening. In layman’s terms, compensation involves one part of the brain completing a task for a weak or damaged area of the brain that has a limited ability to perform that specific function. In a way, it is the brain taking the path of least resistance. Brain strengthening is described as taking specific intentional action to improve a weak or malfunctioning area of the brain to address the underlying cause. Importantly, brain strengthening exercises can be of benefit to anyone, but life-changing gains in cognitive function can be seen in people with learning difficulties.

The Arrowsmith Program specializes in assessing each individual to identify the specific brain areas that need to be strengthened. Each student receives a personalized set of cognitive exercises to target their particular learning challenges. The program is suitable for children, adolescents, and adults – all of whom are able to benefit from the principles of neuroplasticity.

Here’s a video from Perth Brain Centre explaining neuroplasticity:

 

Sources

[1] Shiel, W.C., Medical Definition of Neuroplasticity. Medicinenet. 2019-05-15. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=40362

[2] Arrowsmith School. Neuroplasticity. 2019-05-15. https://arrowsmithschool.org/neuroplastic/