BRAIN TRAINING RESEARCH

The Science

Three-Level Hypothesized Explanation of the BTT effect (McGrew, 2012)

Brain Training Technology is believed to improve the resolution and efficiency of an individual’s internal brain clock(s) and temporal processing. In turn, it is hypothesized that this results in more efficient brain connectivity, communication, and synchronization via increased integrity of the brains white matter tract communication system, producing more efficient communication between critical brain networks. In particular, research and theory suggests that IM training increases the efficacy of the parietal-frontal brain network, the brain network most associated with general intellectual functioning, working memory, controlled attention and executive functions.

The primary conclusions from the detailed scientific explanation of the IM are:

  1. The diversity of performance domains positively impacted by IM technology is due to IM improving the function of crucial brain-based domain-general neurocognitive mechanisms.

  2. The precise, real-time IM millisecond feedback impacts the temporal processing resolution of the internal brain clock, which in turn improves neural efficiency—and thus, more efficient temporal and information processing in the brain.

  3. The IM effect appears to be the result of increased efficiency and synchronization of communication between the primary brain structures that comprise the functional brain networks involved in performing both the cognitive and motor demands of IM training.

  4. IM technology may be improving brain network communication, especially within the major brain networks at the core of the P-FIT (parietal-fontal integration) model of general intelligence. IM technology may be improving the efficiency of the parietal-frontal brain network which is critical to general intellectual functioning, working memory, controlled attention, and overall cognitive efficiency.

  5. One of the most important IM training outcomes (but not the only outcome) is improved focus via increased efficiency of the attentional control system (ACS) that maintains goal related information active in working memory in the presence of internal (mind wandering) and external distractions. Improvement in efficiency of executive functions and working memory results in more efficient complex cognitive processing and learning.

2019 Publications

Profound Effects of Brain Training and Brain Balance Exercises on a Subset of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Martin H Teicher, PhD, MD White paper: Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program, McClean Hospital, Harvard Medical School RESULTS:
Preliminary results from this ongoing study showed that 5 of 14 children (36%) diagnosed with ADHD demonstrated 40% or greater improvement on standardized neuropsychological measures of hyperactivity and spatial working memory (the executive function most notably impaired in ADHD) following completion of a combined Brain Training and Brain Balance (BB) training protocol. According to Dr Teicher, “this is a degree of improvement that we have not previously observed in children with ADHD unless they were receiving medications, and then only if they were receiving the correct medication at optimal dose.” Neuroimaging of brain regions strongly implicated in the neurobiology of ADHD helped to parse out the influence of each training program and the effect of combining them. Specifically, scans showed that BB training was associated with increased connectivity between prefrontal cortex and the frontal pole, temporal pole, cerebellum, precentral gyrus and supramarginal gyrus with extensive effects on connectivity of the amygdala and hippocampus, which are involved in implicit and explicit memory as well as stress response. Increased connectivity of the amygdala with supramarginal gyrus, cingulate gyrus, anterior cingulate, angular gyrus, frontal pole and precuneus were associated with combined IM and BB training. Greater connectivity between the amygdala and cingulate allows for better emotional self-regulation and impulse-control. IM training was associated with increased connectivity between the hippocampus and the angular gyrus, precuneus, middle temporal gyrus, lateral occipital cortex, supramarginal gyrus, cingulate gyrus and frontal pole, areas responsible for language processing, memory retrieval, handwriting, mathematical calculations, and L/R discrimination. A closer examination of the impact on the cerebellum revealed that IM training was associated with increased resting state functional connectivity between: cerebellum I and middle frontal gyrus; cerebellum II and inferior temporal gyrus/fusiform gyrus; cerebellum IV-V and parahippocampal gyrus and inferior temporal gyrus/fusiform gyrus; cerebellum VII and lateral occipital cortex; cerebellum VIII and superior frontal gyrus and cerebellum IX and lingual gyrus and postcentral gyrus. IM training was also associated with decreased resting state functional connectivity between cerebellum III and anterior cingulate gyrus and cerebellum VI and lateral occipital gyrus. “These appear to be potent changes. Our findings of symptomatic improvement and enhanced connectivity of the supramarginal gyri with the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex is consistent with a recent report showing that reduced connectivity of the left and right supramarginal gyri was associated with increased symptom severity in ADHD24. Given the role these regions appear to play in timing makes these observations particularly compelling.” Research is ongoing and will continue to investigate and further define the host of neurobiological changes associated with IM and BB training as well as their relationship to clinical outcome for individuals with ADHD. DETAILS:

  • n=14 (8-14 years of age) confirmed to have ADHD through structured diagnostic interview (K-SADS-PL)
  • intervention: 15 weeks of combined Brain Training and Brain Balance training (up to 75 sessions) were completed remotely via online access
  • standardized exercises with no individualization
  • not directly supervised by an experienced administrator (carried out by families at home)
  • clinical outcome measures:
  • ADHD Quotient System. “This test is highly responsive to the effects of medication, correlates with blood levels of methylphenidate but is not responsive to placebo. Indeed, we reported in N=30 children receiving placebo that only 7% showed a greater than 25% improvement and none had a 40% or greater improvement in Quotient scaled scores.”
  • Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) to evaluate spatial working memory
  • Neuroimaging with diffusion MRI optimized to evaluate the brain’s structural connections (part of the Human Connectome Project)
Download PDF




How Rhythmic Skills Relate and Develop in School-Age


Silvia Bonacina, Jennifer Krizman, Travis White-Schwoch, Trent Nicol, and Nina Kraus Published in GLOBAL PEDIATRIC HEALTH RESULTS:
Simply drumming to a isochronous beat had no impact on recall of rhythmic patterns. Children who performed better at drumming to the beat of music were better at both drumming to a beat and remembering rhythmic patterns. However, children who were able to clap in time with a steady beat with the least amount of variability in their synchronization (due to real time millisecond feedback from Brain Training) demonstrated better ability to drum to a beat, recall rhythmic patterns & drum to the beat of music. According to Dr Nina Kraus, rhythm is complicated, there are several rhythm intelligences, & Brain Training, by itself, impacts all of these vital rhythms that are so important to the development of language and literacy. “Several clinical populations exhibit timing deficits that co-occur with to language deficits; for example, individuals with reading impairment often struggle to tap along to an isochronous beat. It is conceivable that clapping in time to feedback could be a viable intervention for populations with distinct rhythmic deficits (such as one group who struggles to synchronize to a beat and another who struggles to remember rhythmic patterns).” The authors hypothesize that the perception & production of rhythm begins as a global skill early and becomes more specialized later in life. This is in line with previous IM research and the IM Indicator Table data. DETAILS:

  • n=68 typically developing children between 5 – 8 years of age
  • n=46 children were re-assessed 1 year after conclusion of the study to monitor development of rhythmic skills
  • first study of its kind to provide evidence of the interconnections among rhythmic skills in school-age children
  • assessed via 4 different rhythmic tasks:
    • 3 tasks used a conga drum, with a trigger to register drum hits:
      1. Drumming to an Isochronous Beat: listen and drum to an isochronous pacing beat presented through in-ear headphones
      1. Remembering and Repeating Rhythmic Patterns: listen to 3 repetitions of a rhythmic sequence without drumming and then drum out the sequence during a pause, producing the sequence exactly when it would have occurred had it repeated a fourth time
      1. Drumming to the Beat of Music: listen to a musical excerpt through speakers and tap to the perceived beat
    • 1 task involved clapping in time and was completed using Brain Training Technology
Download PDF





2018 Publications

Profound Effects of Brain Training and Brain Balance Exercises on a Subset of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Martin H Teicher, PhD, MD White paper: Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program, McClean Hospital, Harvard Medical School RESULTS:
Preliminary results from this ongoing study showed that 5 of 14 children (36%) diagnosed with ADHD demonstrated 40% or greater improvement on standardized neuropsychological measures of hyperactivity and spatial working memory (the executive function most notably impaired in ADHD) following completion of a combined Brain Training and Brain Balance (BB) training protocol. According to Dr Teicher, “this is a degree of improvement that we have not previously observed in children with ADHD unless they were receiving medications, and then only if they were receiving the correct medication at optimal dose.” Neuroimaging of brain regions strongly implicated in the neurobiology of ADHD helped to parse out the influence of each training program and the effect of combining them. Specifically, scans showed that BB training was associated with increased connectivity between prefrontal cortex and the frontal pole, temporal pole, cerebellum, precentral gyrus and supramarginal gyrus with extensive effects on connectivity of the amygdala and hippocampus, which are involved in implicit and explicit memory as well as stress response. Increased connectivity of the amygdala with supramarginal gyrus, cingulate gyrus, anterior cingulate, angular gyrus, frontal pole and precuneus were associated with combined IM and BB training. Greater connectivity between the amygdala and cingulate allows for better emotional self-regulation and impulse-control. IM training was associated with increased connectivity between the hippocampus and the angular gyrus, precuneus, middle temporal gyrus, lateral occipital cortex, supramarginal gyrus, cingulate gyrus and frontal pole, areas responsible for language processing, memory retrieval, handwriting, mathematical calculations, and L/R discrimination. A closer examination of the impact on the cerebellum revealed that IM training was associated with increased resting state functional connectivity between: cerebellum I and middle frontal gyrus; cerebellum II and inferior temporal gyrus/fusiform gyrus; cerebellum IV-V and parahippocampal gyrus and inferior temporal gyrus/fusiform gyrus; cerebellum VII and lateral occipital cortex; cerebellum VIII and superior frontal gyrus and cerebellum IX and lingual gyrus and postcentral gyrus. IM training was also associated with decreased resting state functional connectivity between cerebellum III and anterior cingulate gyrus and cerebellum VI and lateral occipital gyrus. “These appear to be potent changes. Our findings of symptomatic improvement and enhanced connectivity of the supramarginal gyri with the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex is consistent with a recent report showing that reduced connectivity of the left and right supramarginal gyri was associated with increased symptom severity in ADHD24. Given the role these regions appear to play in timing makes these observations particularly compelling.” Research is ongoing and will continue to investigate and further define the host of neurobiological changes associated with IM and BB training as well as their relationship to clinical outcome for individuals with ADHD. DETAILS:

  • n=14 (8-14 years of age) confirmed to have ADHD through structured diagnostic interview (K-SADS-PL)
  • intervention: 15 weeks of combined Brain Training and Brain Balance training (up to 75 sessions) were completed remotely via online access
  • standardized exercises with no individualization
  • not directly supervised by an experienced administrator (carried out by families at home)
  • clinical outcome measures:
  • ADHD Quotient System. “This test is highly responsive to the effects of medication, correlates with blood levels of methylphenidate but is not responsive to placebo. Indeed, we reported in N=30 children receiving placebo that only 7% showed a greater than 25% improvement and none had a 40% or greater improvement in Quotient scaled scores.”
  • Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) to evaluate spatial working memory
  • Neuroimaging with diffusion MRI optimized to evaluate the brain’s structural connections (part of the Human Connectome Project)
Download PDF




How Rhythmic Skills Relate and Develop in School-Age


Silvia Bonacina, Jennifer Krizman, Travis White-Schwoch, Trent Nicol, and Nina Kraus Published in GLOBAL PEDIATRIC HEALTH RESULTS:
Simply drumming to a isochronous beat had no impact on recall of rhythmic patterns. Children who performed better at drumming to the beat of music were better at both drumming to a beat and remembering rhythmic patterns. However, children who were able to clap in time with a steady beat with the least amount of variability in their synchronization (due to real time millisecond feedback from Brain Training) demonstrated better ability to drum to a beat, recall rhythmic patterns & drum to the beat of music. According to Dr Nina Kraus, rhythm is complicated, there are several rhythm intelligences, & Brain Training, by itself, impacts all of these vital rhythms that are so important to the development of language and literacy. “Several clinical populations exhibit timing deficits that co-occur with to language deficits; for example, individuals with reading impairment often struggle to tap along to an isochronous beat. It is conceivable that clapping in time to feedback could be a viable intervention for populations with distinct rhythmic deficits (such as one group who struggles to synchronize to a beat and another who struggles to remember rhythmic patterns).” The authors hypothesize that the perception & production of rhythm begins as a global skill early and becomes more specialized later in life. This is in line with previous IM research and the IM Indicator Table data. DETAILS:

  • n=68 typically developing children between 5 – 8 years of age
  • n=46 children were re-assessed 1 year after conclusion of the study to monitor development of rhythmic skills
  • first study of its kind to provide evidence of the interconnections among rhythmic skills in school-age children
  • assessed via 4 different rhythmic tasks:
    • 3 tasks used a conga drum, with a trigger to register drum hits:
      1. Drumming to an Isochronous Beat: listen and drum to an isochronous pacing beat presented through in-ear headphones
      1. Remembering and Repeating Rhythmic Patterns: listen to 3 repetitions of a rhythmic sequence without drumming and then drum out the sequence during a pause, producing the sequence exactly when it would have occurred had it repeated a fourth time
      1. Drumming to the Beat of Music: listen to a musical excerpt through speakers and tap to the perceived beat
    • 1 task involved clapping in time and was completed using Brain Training Technology
Download PDF





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