Psychologists have observed that people with learning disabilities process input from their environment differently than those with more “neuro-typical” brains. Many people with learning difficulties just think differently. Giving a person with learning difficulties complicated directions often dooms them to failure. More words require a longer attention span, and that may not be possible.
Brain Function Depends Upon Proper Timing
This information processing issue is related to brain timing. Before two bits of information can be linked, the nervous system must be “on” and receptive. But the entire human nervous system is never “on” at the same time because different centers process information at different speeds. At any given time certain centers are normally on and others are normally off. Each center has its own specific and unique rhythm so it can conserve energy. When a system is on, it is receptive, and when it is off, it is quiet. Brain centers can only process information when they are switched “on.”
Even a simple arm movement follows this same rule. Although your brain knows what movements to make, the motor system must wait for its controllers to be on before any movement can occur. This idea also applies to learning.
Two seemingly separate bits of data can be connected into a stream of data if the centers that deal with the data are switched on to receive it. When these streams of input couple, they can be stored. If the two bits of information arrive at the same time and only one center is on and able to deal with the data, the signal can go no further. It is as if the data died for lack of a linkage. Streams of unconnected data go nowhere. That is a breakdown in attention span.
Two Brain Centers
Two of the major centers for learning are the cerebellum and thalamus. Both are in the brain and their jobs are similar, but they go about their jobs differently. The cerebellum seems to have eight to 12 on/off cycles every second, but the thalamus has around 40 to 50 of them per second. When these two systems are in time with each other they can communicate clearly. Information that comes in when they are both on is crunched and filed away for reference.
Q: Did you know that these same brain centers are also naturally influenced by how well muscles and bones do their jobs? That is just how we are designed.
Muscle and bone signals both go to the thalamus, but the muscle signals also go to the cerebellum; the cerebellum gets no signal from bones. When the thalamus and cerebellum collect all the incoming information it is sent to the brain, and that sets the stage for neurologic synchronization. All the rest of the information that comes in from the special senses like touch, vision, hearing, smell, taste, etc, cause us to respond to our environment.
For example, try tapping your fingers on a table 8 to 12 individual times a second. Its hard. Now try to do it 40 to 50 times in a second. That’s tougher. If you can do that, then try to tap one hand 8 to 12 times in a second and the other hand 40 to 50 times in a second. That’s impossible! These timing patterns are designed to work every second of every minute of every day, for your entire lifetime so that this world we live in has meaning. The nervous system is a very busy place!
Learning is Linked to Movement
Q: Did you ever notice that people with learning problems also seem to have movement troubles? Coordination and learning go hand in hand.
What happens when one or both of these two brain centers develop a timing problem and they get out of sync with each other? What if one of them slows down and the other stays normal? Any neurological dissonance between these centers reduces the opportunity for them to be on at the same time, and the two bits of information may never be linked. That’s a processing or timing problem; it is brain-based.
The environment can have a profound impact on timing. External influences like chemicals, allergens, sounds, and stress of many kinds can make some systems work faster and others work slower. Internal issues like organ problems or nutritional deficiencies can cause problems too.
Medication May Not Be the Answer
Optimally, the brain centers should perform at their highest level, but sometimes they fail. That is when parents tend to put their kids on medications because there seems to be no alternative. Drugs are designed to change the way the nervous system works. Some make nerve chemicals hang around longer keeping the nerve centers switched on, but at what price? There may appear to be improvements, but medications always have side effects.
Many of the most common medications are not tested for use by children, and their long term effects have never been studied. Some drugs are known to create problems in nerve cell function, and others may lead to brain cancers. Tragically, many people start taking these drugs and stay on them for years at a time despite the fact that they are meant for only short term use. And trying to get off these drugs brings other complications.
The best way to influence nerve performance is to treat the whole person. Brain-based patterns are sensitive to bone and joint movements as a result of muscle function. When the structures move according to their original design, clearer nerve signals are sent to the timing centers and more neurochemicals are naturally produced, causing a self-regulation without the need for dangerous drugs or medications.
Want more information? There are simple and painless ways to see how your nervous system is working, and the right treatments can show immediate results.
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