A Year in Review at The Study Academy

A Year in Review at The Study Academy

Educational Research High School Middle School

Hello Readers,

with classes ending, its been making me think of all that’s happened through the year. I’ve tried to share them all with you each and every week. We have also discussed many of the recent and pressing issues in Education and research. I must say, it  has definitely been quite exciting each and every week.

When I first was approached to write for The Study Academy’s blog, I was shocked. The first concern that came to my mind was how could I make these posts relevant to you, the Reader. I knew it had to be about The Study Academy, but I felt there just had to be something more. It came to me one morning- Theoretical Thursdays!  In addition to Tuesday’s The Study Academy Reports, Theoretical Thursdays has come to comprise the basis for this blog.Neurfeedback training for ADHD

The posts these past few months have been diverse, but I hope they have been informative. On every Tuesday’s The Study Academy Report I tried to detail to you all the exciting happenings going on at school, both in the Highschool and Middle School sections. In some of my posts, I’ve written about the Neurofeedback training at The Study Academy lab, or the Study Academy’s small class sizes.  I also detailed to you about the exciting volunteering abroad opportunity that some of the students took in Nicaragua and the array of activities during Inspire Week. In the last remaining weeks, as things slowed down I spoke about the music classes available, the anti bullying policies at the school, the structured educational system, the theatrical performances by students, and the exciting new work happening at The Study Academy lab.

Teaching methods based on graduate research in action!Likewise , every Theoretical Thursday you, the Reader, were provided with the exciting research happening around the world and its relevance to Education and your child. You learned about the lasting effects of smaller class sizes, the self control technique of Mindfulness, the importance of divergent thinking in children, and the exciting new method of detecting autism.  In addition, I discussed the importance of music and goal setting for children, while using the most up to date and relevant research. Those who read my previous posts also learned the dangers of stereotype threat for young girls who like Math and the ways to prevent their impact, as well as how to use the structure of memory to one’s advantage so children will not forget their lessons over the break.

To say the least, we have had some very good time this year at The Study Academy, however summer is finally here, so we are going to have to say goodbye to our regular Tuesday posts, The Study Academy Report. The final The Study Academy Report will be next week . It will be detailing the last days of Brain Camp. However, it will be replaced with a new opinion section. All my readers will now get an opportunity to interact and really give your opinions about Education and Research. So, definitely don’t stop dropping by on Tuesday; instead come as you are and bring your opinions with you!

Theoretical Thursday: Reliable New Method of Detecting Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children

Theoretical Thursday: Reliable New Method of Detecting Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children

Middle School The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

And welcome to another Theoretical Thursday! As most of you may already know, every Thursday I try to bring you the most recent  and exciting research and theories on Education, Psychology and Neuroscience. This week’s post will be no exception as we delve into the research done on Autism and how this could help future students.

Functional Connectivity in ASD relative to control Neuroscientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (http://casemed.case.edu/) and University of Toronto’s own Luis Garcia Dominguez Ph.D (http://www.mehri.ca/People.html#Luis) and Jose Luis Perez Velazquez Ph.D  (http://www.neuroscience.utoronto.ca/faculty/ list/perezvelazquez.htm) have developed an efficient and reliable new method of detecting Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD) in children. They have discovered a way to distinguish an ASD brain from a non-ASD brain by simply looking at the   neural activity inside it!

How you ask? Well, of course I’m going to tell you, my loyal Readers. They have recorded and analyzed patterns of brain activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Essentially this device records the natural occurring magnetic fields that occur in our brains that results from electrical currents. These electrical currents are like the communication pathway that connect the different parts of our brain. In the study with 19 children, nine with ASD, had 141 sensors attached to each child’s cortex. Don’t worry, its painless! With this device they were able to determine the brain’s overall functional connectivity in both the control and ASD group.

functional connectivity ASD compared to control

The results were impressive!So, allow me to summarize a bit of what they found in this fascinating study. They found stronger connections between rear and frontal areas of the brain in ASD group. However there was an asymmetrical flow of information to the frontal region, an area designated for such things as planning, attention and motivation. Results from spatial maps of inputs from the brain also showed less complexity and structure in the ASD group.

This discovery really opens some doors.For instance, this discovery  can serve as a new tool that may complement existing diagnostic behavioral tests for ASD. Also by helping to identify anatomical differences in those with ASD, imagine the future treatments that can be developed that are tailored around neuroscientific fact. Even if you aren’t a scientist, one must admit this is very exciting, and for students too. To be able to have new doors opened in diagnosis and future treatments can help a student develop and succeed in their own learning environment.

 If you would like to read them in detail you can find them published on the online journal, PLOS ONE, athttp://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0061493

Theoretical Thursday: The Positive Effects of Music on Children

Theoretical Thursday: The Positive Effects of Music on Children

The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

Over the past week and a half, my posts have divulged the creative endeavors  of The Study Academy and the results of scientists on the effects of such creativity in the classroom.  In particular, I discussed the importance of creativity and innovation in fostering divergent thinking in young students (http://thestudyacademy.ca/theoretical-thursday-creativity-innovation-education/). I had also mentioned this week that music classes have been made available at The Study Academy, and therefore students are being given another opportunity to foster such thinking processes (http://thestudyacademy.ca/study-academy-report-music-classes-study-academy/). However, the importance of music goes  beyond divergent thinking.

divergent thinking, creativity and music In one study by North & colleagues (2000), research stated that music allows children to satisfy their emotional needs, both while listening and when actively involved in music making. Active participation in music classes has also been found to enhance a student’s prelinguistic communicative gestures and social development, in particular social behaviour. (Gerry et. al., 2012).

Because of such capacities of music to affect us so deeply, therapies for students with attentional difficulties  and Autism Spectrum Disorder have been proven to be quite effective. Music therapy is one type of therapy available to those with attentional difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorder. The idea is that a certified music therapist uses music (and its capacity to affect one physically , emotionally , mentally, and socially) to help clients to improve or maintain their health. Musical interventions have been designed to mange stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation too.

SCOPEThere are in fact a few brain based reasons why music works in such beneficial ways for us. Firstly, you must understand that music has always had a core function in our brain. My goodness, from an evolutionary standpoint, music precedes even language! Even day old infants, who are still developing, can detect patterns in music. For this reason, it seem that music has some basic engrained influence over us. One of the more important reasons made available, is that we have emotional and physiologic responses to music. We can experience anything from our heart rates increasing to chills down our spine depending on the types of melodies that reach our ears. On the other hand, music also taps into our emotions, and  allows one to easily access our emotions in a beneficial and therapeutic manner. Therefore, in trained hands, music has the capacity to effectively help. In this respect, music can definitely serve as a positive instrument for students who experience challenges in the classroom.

For a student suffering from attentional difficulties , music can bolster attention and focus, while reducing their hyperactivity. It is the structure within music that can help them. The reason for this is because the rhythm within the music can allow the child to plan, anticipate and react in a structured way. With time and practice, a child with attentional difficulties  can apply their strategies they have learned from music to the classroom.

Music therapy patient needs tables music selectionsMusic therapy is useful with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Disorder also owing to the noted sensitivity Autistic Spectrum Disorder patients have to music. Evidence of this is shown in a study found in the Pertanika Journal (2012). Over a ten month period, when weekly music therapy sessions were given to children for an hour, there were notable improvements made in inattentive behaviour, restlessness, aggression, and noisiness.

Overall research has shown that music does indeed have quite a positive effect on many children! I will leave you today with a picture summary of some of the things I have discussed today and hope that maybe the next time you listen to your Ipod, you will wonder too, what your music is doing for you.