Environmental Enrichment: Interventions and Interpretations Andrew Brown Psy328 March 15, 2005

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Environmental Enrichment: Interventions and Interpretations Andrew Brown Psy328 March 15, 2005 Slide 2 Aims and Objectives Reinforce awareness that environment and biology interact in development Emphasize the importance of long-term follow-ups and scientific controlled investigations Consider scientific vs pseudoscientific interventions Slide 3 Ramey & Ramey (1998) Early years programmes must attempt to alter rate of cognitive development if genuine catch-up is to occur little is known about how to accelerate cognitive development beyond normative or typical rates Slide 4 Seven Principles of Successful Early Intervention Programs (Ramey & Ramey, 1998) Timing Intensity Direct provision of learning experiences Breadth Recognition of individual differences Environmental maintenance of development Cultural appropriateness and relevance of intervention strategies Slide 5 Science Vs Pseudoscience (Beyerstein, 1995) Science experiments controlled conditions public accessibility peer accountability gold standard = RCT expert opinion = a low grade of evidence anecdotes not acceptable as evidence the plural of anecdote is not data Pseudoscience tries to appropriate prestige of science lacks rigorous controls secrecy/role of experts / gurus reliance on anecdotal evidence Their explanations are usually contradicted by well-established scientific knowledge their own findings rarely, if ever, withstand scrutiny by competent critics Slide 6 Pseudotechnology commercial ventures promoted by hucksters who mislead consumers into thinking that their products are sound applications of scientific knowledge any supporting research done by these distributors or their associates will be found to be seriously flawed (Beyerstein, 1995) http://www.sfu.ca/~beyerste/research/articles/02 SciencevsPseudoscience.pdfhttp://www.sfu.ca/~beyerste/research/articles/02 SciencevsPseudoscience.pdf http://skepdic.com/ Slide 7 Brain Gym Drinking water Simple physical exercises Pseudoscientific explanation Slide 8 Slide 9 www.braingym.org What is Brain Gym ? Brain Gym is an educational, movement based programme which uses simple movements to integrate the whole brain, senses and body, preparing the person with the physical skills they need to learn effectively. It can be used to improve a wide range of learning, attention and behaviour skills. Educational Kinesiology and Brain Gym are the result of many years of research into learning and brain function by an educationalist, Dr Paul Dennison PhD, from the United States. It is now used in over 45 countries and is recognised as a safe, effective and innovative educational and self-development tool. Slide 10 www.braingym.org Who does it help? Originally created to help children and adults with learning challenges, for example dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD, Brain Gym is now used to improve functioning and life quality by people from all walks of life from education to the arts, business, healthcare, sport and personal development. The movements can be safely used by people of almost any age and mobility, from babies upwards. Slide 11 Rationale Movement improves learning Much of the movement focuses on improving communication between hemispheres Specific neurophysiological explanations given Water consumption also aids this process Slide 12 Slide 13 Brain Gym in UK schools 1700 teachers trained by one body (Osiris) Widely in use in Wakefield LEA In use in over 40 countries 43 Brain Gym consultants in the UK (to complete all BG courses costs around 3,000) Slide 14 Guiding concepts for efficacy trials (Ramey and Ramey, 2004) Recruitment from prespecified populations Random assignment to treatment and control groups Application and documentation of a replicable compound of services Minimization of attrition Independent assessment of outcomes by researches blinded to participants condition Slide 15 Guiding concepts for efficacy trials (Ramey and Ramey, 2004) Pre-planned statistical analysis of hypothesized outcomes Replication of key findings in independent samples Publication in peer reviewed journals Dissemination of findings to key policy makers following peer-reviewed publication Slide 16 Brain Gym research pack Summaries of evidence, most in the Brain Gym Journal 10 expts, 9 from BGJ, 1 from Perceptual and motor skills (impact factor 0.3) 21 quasi expts (most from BGJ) 11 qualitative reports Slide 17 Brain Gym research pack Populations included in the research pack: ADHD Simple response times (only peer reviewed paper) Improves learning and memory in adults learning disabled children Emotional handicaps Foetal alcohol syndrome Improves hearing Athletes Alzheimers patients Insurance salesmen Slide 18 Brain Gym teachers handbook (1989; still in use) There are no lazy, withdrawn or aggressive children, only children denied the ability to learn in a way that is natural to them Slide 19 Slide 20 Movements to improve laterality: Slide 21 Slide 22 hook-ups shift electrical energy from the survival centres in the hindbrain to the reasoning centres in the midbrain and neocortex, thus activating hemispheric integration the tongue pressing into the roof of the mouth stimulates the limbic system for emotional processing in concert with more refined reasoning in the frontal lobes Slide 23 Slide 24 Slide 25 Why the popularity ? Offers a very quick, relatively cheap, easy fix to almost any ailment Contains enough (incorrect or inappropriate) science to go unquestioned by teachers Trappings of scientific respectability Brain metaphors, the PhD effect Probably works ! Fun, running around before doing work, special components eg being allowed to drink in class, huge potential for expectancy and placebo effects Slide 26 Conclusions Programs like Head Start are based on the assumption that it is possible to modify the trajectory of a childs intellectual development Enrichment programs are most effective when they are intensive and start early, but they will only be effective within the limits of biology Wild claims are likely to surface whenever proven empirical techniques offer no quick and easy route to a desirable end if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is (Beyerstein, 1995) In an ideal world, we would be teaching children enough science in school that they were able to stand up to a teacher who was spouting this kind of rubbish (Ben Goldacre, the Guardians Bad Science column, 2003)