Care and Feeding Instructions for the Millenial Brain

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Edward C. Taylor, Ph.D.
Child and Adolescent Psychologist
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Socially and Cognitively, Neither Here Nor
There
High Volume of Data Presented Rapidly
Rapid Shifts in Topic or Place
Compressed Speech
Environmentally Directed Awareness
Digital and Visual Data
Multi-Tasking
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Every experienced event modifies the brain’s
structure and processing style
The brain is plastic into old age
All behavior comes from the brain
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Musicians who became music teachers engaged
in solitary, intense, reflective music practice 9
hours per week or 4000 hours total by age 20.
Musicians who became expert performers
practiced 24 hours per week or 10,000 hours
total by age 20.
The brain becomes expert by practice, practice,
practice and by trying to improve in each
practice session, until automaticity is achieved,
by storing information and patterns in long-term
memory and constantly reflecting upon one’s
performance.
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Divided controlled attention
Heightened reactive attention
Heightened arousal
Frequent shifts from one topic to another
High volume of data
Inadequate time to reflect and evaluate
External rather than internal direction
Multisensory experience
Limited physical activity
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Reacting, Not Planning or Reflecting
Someone else is making decisions about
what, where, how, how long, and how much.
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Control over emotions
Impulse resistance
Planning
Plan execution
Execution monitoring and self-evaluation
Task persistence
1940
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3 year olds
5 year olds
7 year olds
2001
0 minutes
3 minutes
a long time
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3 year olds
5 year olds
7 year olds
0 minutes
0 minutes
3 minutes
PLAY IN FIRST HALF OF 20TH
CENTURY
Unsupervised
 Child directed
 In groups
 Imaginative
 Activity focused
 Improvisation
 Symbolic toys
 Kids made the rules
 At home and at school
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PLAY IN SECOND HALF OF 20TH
CENTURY
Adult organized and
directed
 Toy or object focused
 Real toys with a specific
purpose or theme
 Rules are given
 TV, video games, or lessons
 Schools focus on cognitive
skills development to pass
the test
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Imaginative play promotes self-regulatory
self-talk
Self- regulatory self-talk promotes
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Control over emotions
Impulse resistance
Planning
Plan execution
Execution monitoring and self-evaluation
Task persistence
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The Rule of 7
Divided attention
Superficial engagement
Continuous partial attention leads to staying
busy without truly focusing on anything
Limited opportunity for reflecting and
planning
Continually in the “on” position; stimulus
seeking; increased cortisol production
Are we producing an ADD style of living ?
Country
2000
2003
Japan
557(1st)
534(4th)
Korea
547(2nd)
542(2nd)
China
-
550(1st)
United States
International Average
493(18th) 483(24th)
500
500
(32 Countries)
(39 countries)
Country
1995
1999
2003
Singapore
609(1st)
604(1st)
605(1st)
Korea
581(2nd)
587(2nd)
589(2nd)
China
569(4rd)
582(4th)
586(3rd)
Japan
581(2nd)
579(5th)
570(5th)
U.S
International
Average
492(18th) 502(19th) 504(12th)
519
487
(23 Nations)
(38 Nations)
466
(45 Nations)
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“Technology… The knack of so arranging the
world that we don’t have to experience it.”
Max Frisch, architect and author
Decreased capacity for social perception
Decreased tolerance for social interchange
over a period of time
Lower scores on memory testing
More ADD-like in relationships
Derivatives traders
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Pilot induced oscillation
Heal thyself first
List your priorities
Allocate your time accordingly
Schedule your time
Power naps
Alternate tasks
Pause, reflect, summarize, plan before moving
on
 Set limits
 Watch your speedometer
 Slowly build multi-tasking ability
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Mind you mind
Consciously engage your mind
Increase the interest value of the task
Minimize distractions
Manipulate the environment
Be a noisy learner
Frequent breaks
Power naps
No phones at the dinner table, etc.
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Simon Says
 Thinking
 Impulse inhibition
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Complex Imaginative Play
 Sustained for 30+ minutes
 Of the 1940’s style
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Activities requiring planning
 Games with directions and goal seeking
 Construction activities
 Pattern recognition activities
 Cooking
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Joint Storybook Reading
 Process the characters self-regulatory behavior
promoted modeling
 Mastery models not Expert models
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Model self-talk
Encourage self-talk
Internalize, do not externalize, the conflict
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Classroom routines
Classroom rules
Classroom organizational systems
Learning strategy training
Classroom process meetings
Managing developmental angst
Watch your language
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Explicit instruction in learning processes
Modeling
Post-mortems to discuss why the patient
lived or died
Post-mortems to define the “next level’ and
how to get there. Then, go do it.
Practice, practice, practice with a focus on
attaining a specific level of proficiency or
grade
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iBrain, Gary Small, MD and Gigi Virgan
The New Brain, Richard Restak, MD
The Overflowing Brain, Torkel Klingberg, MD
Learning and the Brain Conference,
November 2009, Boston, MA