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.
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...
A 9 year old girl with a diagnosis of hypotonia was referred for Interactive Metronome to help with strength and coordination. After working with her for one session, we began to discover some sensory issues that had not been addressed before that were impacting the development of her skills. Another therapist asked me if we should stop IM because we wouldn’t be able to handle her sensory issues during our sessions. I reassured her, that we’d be able to adapt the activities and work with her to help her sensory system.
There is still controversy over whether Autism Spectrum Disorders result from some interaction with environment after birth (i.e., toxic exposures, immune-modulation post-vaccination, etc) or whether they result from genetic defect(s). Some would argue both are contributing factors, that certain individuals are born with a genetic predisposition and that exposure(s) in the environment turn on or off certain genes that may contribute to the development of Autism Spectrum Disorders. In this study, researchers provide a strong argument for a genetic defect in the “clock genes,” genes that control our perception of time and with genes for a process called “methylation” that controls the turning on and off of our genes or how they are expressed (ultimately how they control our abilities). Individuals on the Autism Spectrum demonstrate numerous symptoms resulting from an impaired perception of time from circadian rhythm (sleep/wake/appetite) to millisecond timing required for speech-language, social/behavioral, cognitive, motor, and visual skills. The Interactive Metronome (IM) is a training program that is administered under the guidance of a certified professional. It is designed to improve the basic timing skills necessary for development of speech, language, cognitive, and motor skills. Many parents and professionals also report decrease in aggressive behavior, improved social skills, and better sensory processing following IM training.
Wimpory, D. (2002). Social timing clock genes and autism: A new hypothesis. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 46(4), 352-358.
A Bit of Research: The important of timing in Speed Skating and the use of the Interactive Metronome
The important of timing in Speed Skating and the use of the Interactive Metronome
Researchers at Korea University College of Medicine (Park et al, 2012) recently conducted a neural imaging study of elite speed skaters to investigate whether training of complex motor skills resulted in structural changes to the cerebellum. The cerebellum responds to intense, repetitive training with increased brain mass in areas critical for skilled motor movement, in this case for control of balance, precisely coordinated movement, and visually guided movement. The authors compared the cerebellums of professional speed skaters to individuals who did not engage in regular exercise. They found that the specific skills required for speed skating that were trained repetitively resulted in structural changes to the brain that enhanced balance and coordination. They also found that the particular side of the cerebellum that was exercised repeatedly was affected (i.e., the right side due to maintaining balance on the right foot during turns). Of note, the cerebellum is also a central part of the brain’s internal timing network. The timing and synchronization of neural signals ultimately controls balance and coordination...
The front portion of the brain, or frontal lobes, are particularly vulnerable to damage during accidents. Individuals with traumatic brain injury frequently have what is called a “frontal lobe injury.” This is significant because this area of the brain is responsible for so many important skills for successful community reintegration: our personality and mood, our ability to plan and organize events, to manage and monitor time, to focus our attention and problem-solve, to sequence and coordinate motor movements, and the list goes on and on...
Have you ever heard that ADHD is genetic? Ever notice that children with ADHD seem out of sync? Here is a research study by Nanda et al (2007) that supports this view and does so by showing that not only is timing in the brain disrupted in children with ADHD, but that it IS ALSO slightly disrupted in their siblings who do not have ADHD (when compared to children from families with no diagnosis of ADHD). From this and other studies, evidence shows that the more the brain’s timing skills are off, the more symptoms like impulsivity, hyperactivity, inattention, lack of organization, poor time-management, or difficulty with reading and other academic work are evident. The Interactive Metronome is a relatively easy, non-medical treatment program for ADHD that improves the brain’s critical timing skills and is tailored to each child’s specific needs.
Nanda, N.J., Rommelse, M.S., Oosterlaan, J., Buitelaar, J., Faraone, S.V., and Sergeant, J.A. (2007). Time reproduction in children with ADHD and their nonaffected siblings. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 46, 5.
IM and Transverse Myelitis – a tool to recovery
Transverse Myelitis can be very scary. Its onset is fairly quick, and its symptoms can be long lasting. It can be very treatable though, and typically when patients are medically stable, they can benefit from some type of rehabilitation therapy...
ADHD as a brain network dysfunction—IM as a tool to “fine tune” and control this network.
The explosion of research on large scale brain networks, and the “resting state” or “default mode or default network” in particular, has been dizzying. I previously reviewedkey brain network research describing the interaction between the default, salience (attention) and executive controlled networks. The most important conclusion, which was reinforced by my personal experiencewith Interactive Metronome (IM), is that problems with controlled attention (focus) may be responsible for a number of the behavioral symptoms of ADHD—and this is due to the poor ability to suppress the random self-talk “background noise” of the default brain network. [Click herefor related IM-HOME ADHD posts; click herefor ADHD- related Brain Clock.]
Pervasive Developmental Delay: We have seen tremendous improvement with the use of the Interactive Metronome
Pervasive Developmental Delay
I have had the opportunity of working with many children who are diagnosed with PDD. The diagnosis in general seems to have a very wide range of abilities and areas that are affected. I have found in my area (Northeastern part of the country), that these children seem to fall somewhere between those who are diagnosed with Autism, and those diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. So their responses to using the Interactive Metronome have been very similar, with great progress in a shorter amount of time...
Temporal processing (or the timing of neural oscillations/transmissions) plays a critical role in coordinated motor movement. In this paper published in Science, the authors distinguish between “continuous” motor tasks, which involves moving steadily and smoothly at a certain pace, versus “discontinuous” motor tasks, which involve a succession of stops and starts as a person accomplishes each step of an overall goal (i.e., picking up a plate, walking it over to the table, and setting it down). They discuss the role of the cerebellum in each of these types of motor tasks and how the timing control for each differs in terms of the brain structures used, arguing that the cerebellum is involved only early on in setting the timing goal for continuous, smooth movements, but that the cerebellum is involved throughout the movement when it is discontinuous or involves several starts and stops by setting several, successive timing goals. Timing in the brain may be disrupted due to developmental disorder, trauma, or illness resulting in uncoordinated movement and/or cognitive impairment. The Interactive Metronome is a treatment program that measures and improves temporal processing, or timing in the brain, that is critical for movement and thinking.
Spencer, R.M.C., Zelaznik, H.N., Diedrichsen, J., and Ivry, R.B. (2003). Disrupted timing of discontinuous but not continuous movements by cerebellar lesions. Science, 300(5624), 1437-1442.
A bit of Research: The ability of Adults with ADHD to maintain a rhythm with a faster or slower tempo
Here is an interesting study by Gilden and Marusich (2009) published in Neuropsychology that looked at the ability of adults with ADHD to maintain a rhythm with either a faster tempo (less demand on focus, self-control, and working memory) or a slower tempo (more demand on focus, self-control, and working memory). Persons with ADHD had MUCH more difficulty when the tempo was slower, requiring them to estimate a longer time interval between beats, maintain the time interval in their memory, and restrain themselves from hitting too soon. This study, like many others, points to the direct relationship between timing in the brain and its command center “working memory.” Researchers theorize that Interactive Metronome is affecting this critical “control center” for timing in the brain and thereby improving many of the time-related symptoms of ADHD.
Gilden, D.L. and Marusich, L.R. (2009). Contraction of Time in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Neuropsychology, 23(2), 265-269.
Why Can’t I use a Regular Metronome?
Some parents have asked me if they could just use a regular musical metronome and get the same results as Interactive Metronome at home or IM-Home. A standard metronome is typically used by musicians to help them practice the tempo of music. They have also been used in traditional therapy to help patients with their timing and rhythm, however there is one piece that is missing. – FEEDBACK!
Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a noted expert in autism and child development/disorders, and his team of researchers conducted a study to see whether Interactive Metronome (IM) was a beneficial treatment for children with ADHD. They compared boys who received IM to boys who received either no treatment at all or boys who only played video games to try to improve their ability to focus. They found that those children with ADHD who received IM did far better than those that did not, with significant improvement in the areas of attention, motor skills, language processing, reading, and self-control (i.e., less aggressive behavior).
Shaffer R.J., Jacokes L.E., Cassily J.F., Greenspan S.I., Tuchman R.F., Stemmer P.J. Jr. (2001). Effect of
Interactive Metronome on children with ADHD. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 155–162
Timing skills play a pivotal role in the development of speech production and perception, or the ability to speak and understand the speech and/or intent of others (Kello, 2003). Not only must a child rapidly decipher the timing characteristics of each individual sound, syllable, word, and phrase in the speech stream, but for successful communication to occur there must be precisely timed coordination between centers of the brain for language and cognitive processing or thinking skills and the muscles and structures of the mouth and throat (or voice box). On top of that, a child must process and understand other information associated with what is said, such as demeanor of the person (Is he happy? Angry? Sad? ) or humor (Was he serious? Or was he joking?) Many children on the Autism Spectrum either don’t understand what you said, or don’t understand the unspoken social aspects of speech. All of this depends upon timing in the brain!!! That’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time! However, in normal development the brain’s “internal clock” functions very precisely so that children learn to speak intelligibly and understand you when you speak to them, including your mood and intent. Interactive Metronome (IM) training impacts the very critical timing centers of the brain necessary for effective communication & social skills.
Kello, C.T. (2003). Patterns of timing in the acquisition, perception, and production of speech. Journal of Phonetics, 31, 619-626.
Guidance shows improvement in children with Pervasive Developmental Delay
I have had the opportunity of working with many children who are diagnosed with PDD. The diagnosis in general seems to have a very wide range of abilities and areas that are affected. I have found in my area (Northeastern part of the country), that these children seem to fall somewhere between those who are diagnosed with Autism, and those diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. So their responses to using the Interactive Metronome have been very similar, with great progress in a shorter amount of time.
Infants, before than can speak, are exposed to rhythmic sounds in the form of music and song. This research by Bergeson and Trehub (2006) shows that their little tiny ears and developing brains are already tuned just like an adult’s to hear the slightest changes in tempo, tone, and rhythm. They discuss the importance of the brain’s “internal clock” as it relates to how infants respond and move their bodies to music and other rhythms. IM providers who specialize in infant care and early intervention are reporting very good results when using the Interactive Metronome in the treatment of infants and young children who have developmental delays or disorders with improvements in the areas of: sensory processing, pre-speech/cognitive development, and motor skills. Case studies can be found at www.interactivemetronome.com
Bergeson, T.R. and Trehub, S.E. (2006). Infants’ perception of rhythmic patterns. Music Perception, 23(4), 345-360.