Interactive Metronome & IM-Home Blog
Get the latest news on Interactive metronome training, it's application and breakthroughs as well as insights in the science behind it and the latest tips and success stories from clients and therapist using IM and IM-Home.
Many of you are already familiar with Dr Kevin McGrew. You’ve read his intriguing and elucidating blog posts and you know he is affectionately referred to as The Time Doc because of his incessant interest (et..em, obsession ☺) with any and all things related to mental timing. You may also know that his unique curiosity has lead to a vast collection of literature contained at one of his many blogs, The Brain Clock Blog. Dr McGrew’s singular effort to bring together and collectively analyze the existing literature has contributed greatly to our understanding of the role of temporal processing in various human abilities and medical conditions and how interventions like the Interactive Metronome may be improving the resolution, synchronicity, and performance of our internal clock...
I have had the privilege of working with many children who are recovering from their bout with cancer. I have had many children who have gone through intensive chemotherapy and radiation that are left with some motor challenges after their treatment is over. These kiddos are near and dear to my heart, as a child in my family was one of the victims of the terrible thing called cancer. His diagnosis was sudden and tumor removal surgery was scheduled within a few days. When he awoke from surgery, you could tell things were “different”. His speech was slurred and his movements were shaky. His balance was very impaired, as we watched the little soccer star have difficulty with every step. His parents were just heartbroken. Chemo and radiation followed the surgery as well as a bout of rehab which included IM as part of his therapy regimen!
I am currently working with a teen who has a great difficulty with initiating anything from movement to speech to fine motor skills. He has a multitude of diagnosis from autism to ataxia. It took over 3 hours to perform standardized testing with him as he had difficulty initiating each task requested of him. He is such a COOL kid who loves drawing and music. Due to his difficulties he is homeschooled. School was just such a difficult place for him as he just took so much longer to perform tasks than the other children did.
Andrew was adopted in 2000 from Russia...he was 4 years old. (He is now 15 years old.) He had an un-repaired cleft palate, profound hearing impairment, severe malnutrition, profound insomnia of unknown origin, severe sensory dysfunction at time of adoption, along with intestinal infections (parasites and h. pylori). Andrew's had triennial neuropsychological testing, both privately and through the school district routinely since he joined our family in 2000. Through these evaluations, he's been diagnosed with PDD/NOS (pervasive developmental disorder/not otherwise specified), dysgraphia, attachment disorder, institutional autism, gross motor planning impairment, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), severe visual motor deficits, and RAD (reactive attachment disorder), emotional disorder among other things...
Cognitive psychologists theorize that the faster we are able to process information (or think), the more intelligent we are, and the more readily we can learn and demonstrate what we’ve learned. There are many recent studies that support this view, including this one published in the journal Intelligence. Each individual is born with a certain amount of resources for attending to and processing information. How well a person allocates those resources appears to be a major factor in determining intelligence. Taub et al (2007) demonstrated that Interactive Metronome (IM) training has a significant positive effect on reading achievement (affecting 4 of 5 critical pre-reading skills) in elementary school students. They proposed that IM training was primarily improving “processing [thinking] speed,” which in turn improved the students’ ability to allocate resources for attending and holding information in working memory … all essential for fluent reading.
Ben-Shakhar, G. and Sheffer, L. (2001). The relationship between the ability to divide attention and standard
measures of general cognitive abilities. Intelligence, 29: 293-306.
Taub. G., McGrew, K.S., and Keith, T.Z. (2007). Improvement in interval timing tracking and effects on reading
achievement. Psychology in the Schools, 44(8), 849-863.
Every few weeks, I have a new batch of kids who will be receiving IM during their occupational therapy sessions. This also means there is a whole new batch of parents who like to know what exactly it is that their kids are doing and working on. I always refer them to www.interactivemetronome.com as well as having them search Interactive Metronome on youtube so they and their children will get some idea of the specialized treatment that their child will receive over the next few weeks. So hopefully the terminology listed below will help you get a better understanding as a parent when your child comes running out to you from their session saying something like “I got 15 bursts today and my task average was 65!”
As summarized in prior posts, neurocognitive research suggests that the predominant gear of our minds transmission is neutral. Our mental engine is working (idling) but to those observing us, our brain is not moving—we often do not appear cognitively engaged in any complex thinking or processing.
The typical person spends up to half their time engaged in the spontaneous chasing of miscellaneous thoughts down various rabbit holes of our minds. Our thought promiscuous mind wanders here-and-there when daydreaming (“zoning out”) or becoming trapped in a cycle of negative unchecked thoughts (e.g., rumination over negative unhappy thoughts; mania; obsessions). However, the unconstrained busy or wandering mind can also produce creative insights and thoughts. An unquiet or busy mind can be good or bad depending on the demands facing the individual at any given time. More importantly, the amount of optimal mind wandering may vary for different people.
In the literature, psychologists describe two forms of intelligence that each contributes separately to our ability to perform tasks. These are “fluid intelligence” and “crystallized intelligence.” Whereas crystallized intelligence is the information and knowledge about things we have learned over the years, fluid intelligence is our ability to strategize and problem-solve. In the example of taking a test, we would recall knowledge about facts and information we learned from class and from studying our notes to answer the test questions (crystallized intelligence), but we may need to answer the questions in a strategic way like crossing out all multiple choice responses that clearly are not the answer and narrow the choices down to the two most possible, working from there to get the correct response (fluid intelligence). Stankov et al. (2006) studied the physiological neural oscillations (or rhythmic, repetitive neural signals between brain regions in the central nervous system) involved in human intelligence, or what we know is our ability to learn, access what we’ve learned, and problem-solve. They discuss the importance of synchronicity in brain activity to intelligence and propose that the degree of synchronization in brain activity may account for differences between individuals’ cognitive processing abilities. In a small pilot study completed in 2004, Dr Alpiner demonstrated under fMRI that individuals who’d received training for timing and rhythm using the Interactive Metronome demonstrated more synchronous activity in the brain when compared to individuals who did not receive this training. Other researchers (Taub et al., 2007) who studied the effect of IM training on reading achievement theorized that synchronized metronome tapping (via Interactive Metronome) increases the efficiency of the brain’s timing (or synchronicity of neural oscillations), thus improving the ability to process, store, and retrieve information.
Stankov, L., Danthiir, V., Williams, L.M., Pallier, G., Roberts, R.D., and Gordon, E. (2006). Intelligence and the tuning-in of brain networks. Learning and Individual Differences, 16, 217-233.
I just thought I would share this great testimony that I received with all of you:
Just HAD to share some exciting news!
You may recall me asking your advice on the 10-year old boy with Muscular Dystrophy that I’m working with. He has extremely low muscle tone, and as a result, we had to make a lot of modifications to the program for him. He could not perform the required arm circles when doing both hands tasks, and therefore found the speed very slow and hard to maintain. Most of the feet tasks couldn’t be done, as he is confined to a wheelchair. However, we do some of them when he is in his walking sling. When he started IM, even the 1 minute tasks completely exhausted him...
Several of the teens that I see have come into the clinic for learning issues, but also are wondering if IM will help them in sports. Whenever a child brings this up to me, I really like to involve them in creating an exercise that they think will help them to work on their specific sport. Now sometimes, the activity is very crazy, and the child is unable to perform it – but sometimes they come up with something really good that I then ask their permission to use with other children.
A person can only hold only “so much” information in working memory … here is an anology: There are 5 babies in the bed. Put another one in, and one of the babies in the bed falls out. The bed can only hold “5” babies. Period. This study by Kane et al (2001) published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology further bolsters the theory that our ability to focus and pay attention is largely driven by how many bits of information (“babies”) we can hold in our working memory without losing them in the presence of more bits of information or distractions (“more babies”). Working memory is a skill that is dependent upon timing in the brain. The better the brain’s timing, the better working memory can hold onto the bits of information and use them for the situation (i.e., learning) or problem at hand. Taub et al (2007) have theorized that Interactive Metronome, a patented program that improves timing in the brain, primarily addresses thinking speed and working memory, thereby improving our ability to focus and learn.
Kane, M.J., Blecky, M.K., Conway, A.R.A., and Engle, R.W. (2001) A controlled attention view of working-memory capacity. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 130(2), 169-183.
Taub. G., McGrew, K.S., and Keith, T.Z. (2007). Improvement in interval timing tracking and effects on reading
achievement. Psychology in the Schools, 44(8), 849-863.
Wow, did you ever think you would hear those words come out of your child with ADHD’s mouth? Homework tends to be a struggle with our kids affected by ADHD. Afterschool can be rough in general, as they have held it together all day long in school, and then there is the issue of their medication wearing off around that time. No matter what, homework tends to stretch into the evening hours as you work with your child to get all of their homework done. This is such a bad cycle, as then the kids don’t have time to go outside and play or to just be a kid!
I am currently working with a little 7 year old boy who has a developmental coordination disorder. When you observe him, you notice things that are subtly different from his same aged peers. His body movements are somewhat awkward and he has a hard time figuring out how to move his body through space. He can’t skip or perform a jumping jack and riding a bicycle is difficult for him. His fine motor skills are also affected and it’s difficult for him to have a steady hand when building with blocks or printing his letters.
I have been reading Winfred Gallagher’s 2009 book “RAPT: Attention and the focused life.” In many of my blog posts I maintain that Interactive Metronome (IM) training requires controlled attention—focus. I have further suggested that “on demand focus” is a potentially powerful tool. By this I mean one wants to train your brain to invoke focused attention when facing cognitively demanding tasks. However, 100% laser beam focus is not attainable, nor would one want to constantly be super focused. The mind wandering of the default brain networkneeds to be shut down to focus. However, unfettered mind wandering can allow for creative thought (and also the flip side—ruminations of irrational or bad thoughts).
Timing in the brain is critical for communicating effectively or participating in group activities (i.e., sports, music, play). Some individuals wait until just the right moment to act, while others have a tendency to “jump the gun.” This may manifest in a penalty for a false start if playing football or social difficulty if a person constantly interrupts others when they are speaking. Miyake et al (2004) describe the neurological underpinnings of the tendency to make “anticipatory” timing errors like these in a paper published in Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis. Once we’ve learned a task or situation, we tend to respond as if on automatic pilot (without consciously thinking about it). But sometimes, something changes ever so slightly in the situation, and we must adapt and recalibrate our response. How well we do this depends upon our brain’s ability to perceive time…even in small increments like milliseconds. During the initial phases of Interactive Metronome (IM) training individuals with these timing-related problems often clap or move too fast (milliseconds ahead of the beat instead of on it), but soon become more in sync with the beat and with their peers.
Miyake, Y., Onishi, Y., and Pöppel, E. (2004). Two types of anticipation in synchronization tapping. Acta
Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, 64, 415-426.
Ten fingers and ten toes
As a new mother, you have hopes and dreams for your child. You hope your child will be delivered with ten fingers and ten toes. You hope your child will cry, giggle and burp. You hope he or she will crawl, walk and eventually run. You even dream your child will grow up to be happy, healthy and successful.
But as we know for some mothers, our biggest fear is that all that our child will ever be is just a hope and a dream.
Ten fingers, ten toes, one diagnosis: autism
Within one month of Robin’s birth we knew something was not right. In 1971, my husband and I rejected institutional placement for our infant daughter who was recently diagnosed as severely disabled and later with classic (severe) autism. The doctor said to us, “…as long as she’s progressing, be thankful…any progress she might make in childhood will regress as an adult.” Scared and in disbelief, we chose not to accept his negative diagnosis - we chose not to believe the limited potential of our daughter.
At the earliest stages of Robin’s autism, my husband and I overcame our first challenge - we just wanted to stop the wild screaming, rocking and self-injurious behaviors. We did not know if she could develop beyond what we saw at infancy. Determined, we made a commitment, as long as she's progressing, regardless how slow, we'd keep pushing her forward. Thus, as parents we developed new hopes and dreams for our daughter - that eventually lead her to independency.
Individuals with language-learning disabilities show slowed or delayed timing in the brain (in particular in the brainstem), so that they are not processing the timed or temporal elements of speech quickly enough to decipher sounds accurately and comprehend what is being said (also called temporal processing). Auditory Processing Disorder is at the heart of language-learning disabilities and is the leading cause of problems with learning to read and write. But there is hope!! Research shows that auditory processing (or the brain’s ability to understand speech & language) can be improved (Kraus & Banai, 2007). Interactive Metronome training targets the underlying problem with timing in the brain. Once mental timing is improved, the brain can process information in the speech stream more timely and accurately, leading to development of phonological skills that are so vital for auditory comprehension, reading and writing.
Kraus, N. and Banai, K. (2007). Auditory-processing malleability. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(2), 105-110.
A recent study by the Kennedy Krieger Institute (2011) showed that areas of the brain that control thinking and motor skills are different (smaller) in children with ADHD compared to other children. The specific regions of the brain that were mentioned are known to be involved in mental timing. Mental timing (AKA timing in the brain) is vital for many of our thinking skills and for good motor coordination. Studies have shown that timing in the brain is disrupted in children and adults with ADHD, leading to problems with focus, other cognitive abilities, and motor skills. Interactive Metronome, a patented non-medical treatment for ADHD, is the ONLY program that simultaneously works on thinking AND motor skills by specifically addressing and improving the areas of the brain responsible for mental timing.
Kennedy Krieger Institute (2011, June 10). Brain imaging study of preschoolers with ADHD detects brain differences linked to symptoms.
Molly, a 10-year-old 5th grader, had a recent diagnosis that included ADHD, and she was said to be showing signs of High Functioning Autism. Molly’s mother noticed that her daughter would regularly forget things at home and school, and was unable to keep her belongings organized. She had trouble focusing, and even doing the smallest amount of homework was a daily battle. When a school test was over, she would regularly forget most of what she had worked so hard to learn.
As Molly moves into her junior high school years, she would be required to memorize more writing and reading, and Molly’s mother was anxious that she could only spend limited time assisting Molly with her studies. She wondered how her daughter would make her way through this seemingly overwhelming challenge.
When Molly’s mother saw the Interactive Metronome (IM) website, she read the content with a certain level of suspicion and doubt, but as a parent who wanted to do whatever she could to help Molly and lessen her frustrations, she decided to give IM a try...
Featured in the news: Families across the US are fighting ADHD and Autism with a personalized brain fitness program
Families across the US are fighting ADHD and Autism with a personalized brain fitness program. The computer based program is called 'Interactive Metronome' and its video game like technology has helped one student go from special needs to top of his class.
Just a few years ago, Adam Solomon was struggling with a severe case of ADHD. Labeled a special needs student at school, he was often relegated to the corner of the classroom to be on his own.
His parents were met with a decision: provide medicinal treatment for their son or leave him in the state that he was in. Unhappy with the choices available to them, his parents opted for an alternative measure recommended by a friend...