T.R.A.I.N™ –ing Fluid Intelligencess

Within the concept of general intelligence, the aspect of Fluid Intelligence is crucial for a child to be able to reason and be able to solve new problems, which are independent of knowledge that has been externally acquired.

The concept of fluid intelligence is very important in learning for a child and remains critical for a broad range of cognitive tasks needed at school and later on in work and life.

Children who go on to achieve educational and professional success in today’s complex and demanding competitive environment have demonstrably higher measures of fluid intelligence as compared to their peers who struggle in their adaptive ability to reason comprehensively and their inability to solve with comparative ease novel and new problems.

Genetic inheritance – to a large extent, play’s a major role in the level of fluid intelligence that a child is inherently endowed with. Along with the inherited genetic ability, performance on cognitive tasks, that draw upon the construct of fluid intelligence also depend on the mindful effort that the child employs to exercise his ability to learn new tasks - that challenge his ability and in the process raise the benchmark of his level of cognitive functioning.

Measured performance on tasks which draw on fluid intelligence can be improved via direct practice, but the gains are lost quickly if transfer of the new learning to other tasks does not take place.

The T.R.A.I.NTM programme attempts to overcome this gap by helping children increase their working memory using neuroplasticity based cognitive training and facilitating a transfer effect which significantly helps raise the bar on the particular child’s ability to reason and solve new and diversely challenging problems.

At the finish of the T.R.A.I.NTM programme, the adaptive capacity constraint within the region of the brain, responsible for the working memory capacity of the child would have undergone neuroplasticity induced modulations which will be externally demonstrated by the child through enhanced performance. What the child was and how he improves on tasks of cognition would be ample evidence to these changes.

The cortical changes, which make this enhanced performance possible, are brought about by synaptogenesis, which result in the number of inter-relationships that are held and maintained between elements increasing in the area of common capacity. Synaptogenesis also ensures that the process of common demand for attention when temporary binding processes are occurring strengthens the potentiation effect of pre-synaptic and post synaptic excitation.

The net affect will be that after the intervention, the child will develop the ability to derive increased / enhanced relations on tasks and between tasks – and be able to maintain a larger set of possible goals in his working memory accounts. Again this will be visible by differences between pre training responses and post training period responses on cognitive tasks.

The anticipated neural circuitry that is addressed by the T.R.A.I.NTM programme for this area of cognitive training is most consistently located in the Lateral Pre-Frontal Cortex and the Parietal Cortices. It is now proven that these overlapping and proximally located neural circuits have a shared variance between a child’s working memory and the overall fluid intelligence we get to see. So creating conditions, which are fertile for increased synaptic potentiation here translates into smoother information, flow and better processing ability where children are able to come up with a higher percentage of correct solutions within a given time limit.

Cognitive constructs are usually not isomorphic in nature and the T.R.A.I.NTM programme understands this. As an example, in certain cognitive task training that is provided to the child, the programme engages multiple processes in the brain and discourages the development of task specific strategies. So on one hand we would witness a child gaining better control over an attentional issue related to the executive functions of the human brain, and on the other hand the same child would be improving on how he automates processes in the mind. Why does the T.R.A.I.NTM programme emphasize enhancing the working memory of a child?

Working memory of a child is a highly heritable and complex cognitive trait and this cognitive trait is crucial for a number of higher-level functions that a child will need in his life. As children grow and interact with their environment, they rely heavily on their capacity to keep information active and available for reference especially for academic tasks.

Children will use this to absorb information from the outside world – in their case the school and home, apply this information to a current situation on hand, use it as a step in solving a problem – or use the information they store as a probe for long term memory. If children are endowed with intact working memory activities important in childhood, such as writing, reading, problem solving, planning, sensible and coherent output of verbal communication will happen. If there is any impairment then this roadblock will lead to a disruption in the child’s day-to-day functioning.

How does an average child use his or her capacity for working memory?

When the brain of the child receives information, there is a brief encoding period, followed by a period of maintenance and processing in the absence of the original stimulus followed by a retrieval period. Children store memory transiently and for a child to excel in academic tasks, he must be able to remember the target stimuli across a time delay, and eventually – discard it.

The T.R.A.I.NTM programme accesses the initial intelligence ‘capacity’ of the child and calculates the cognitive age level of the working memory component of the overall intelligence factor of the child. Using a combination of scientifically standardized neuropsychological assessments and controlled experimental tasks designed to test cognitive functions, T.R.A.I.NTM ascertains the level and number of stimuli that a child can retain and marks the interference ratios that may result in decreased memory performance.

Once this is known, cognitive activities specific to the programme help the child evolve and modulate strategies of self-intervention to code information efficiently so that this child can work to raising the construct of cognitive ‘reserve’. Broadly speaking cognitive reserve would be the (child’s) ability to optimize or maximize performance through differential recruitment of brain networks and or alternative cognitive strategies. T.R.A.I.N™ pushes to increase resilience via increasing the density of neuronal synapses the number of which should increase as they are stimulated to fire together based on a consistent, repetitive and slowly increasing stimulus and function (here the processing efficiency) – which allows the child to develop faster transfer of learnt task response that emerge.

One account of the programme being able to achieve seamless transfer between working memory and the measure of fluid intelligence is that T.R.A.I.NTM may be partly facilitating the child’s ability to control attention and increased metacognition.

Evolution of the human species has ensured – for better or worse, that ADHD and IQ are both heritable phenotypes. Even within the IQ subcategory it is the fluid IQ that is affected more by heritability. In terms of morphometric properties of the brain - overlapping genetic effects influence both IQ and ADHD. Evidence now suggests that the brain change characteristic of ADHD may vary as a function of the child’s IQ.

The neuroplasticity programme of the Dyslexia Association of IndiaTM attempts to help children increase the level of the fluid intelligence factor intrinsically so that the children who complete the programme can increase their metacognitive ability of perception and understanding which in turn scaffolds these children on issues related to working memory, transfer of learnt material from short term to long term memory and a better understanding of trigger factors that spark attentional issues.

With T.R.A.I.N™ based neuroplasticity intervention, the reinforcement affect of positive outcomes from ‘productive engagement’ help the children appreciate their own potential and learn how to exploit this potential in a manner, which their brains understand. The reason that the programme is so effective is because it focuses on training, which causes the best transfer effects and does so in a scientific and systematic manner taking into account the initial cognitive abilities of the children.

We see a large number of children enter school with wide variability in cognitive ability and ‘readiness to learn.’ This initial variability then heavily influences the amount a given student will pick up as he passes out of school or graduates from school to higher-level institutions of learning. As a student gains more information, his initial ability and the new information acquired then interact so he is able to expand his knowledge further, and so on and so forth. Therefore, while one needs access to “information,” the child’s general cognitive ability is the engine driving his or her educational achievement.

If despite observing and knowing intrinsically that our children may not be performing well in their academics due to reasons that are not purposely mediated and that they need external assistance, parents choose to consider that maturational development will rectify the deficit; it indicates an incorrect line of thinking. Cognitive ability along with skewed learning practices is becoming a contributor to decreased performance that we are seeing in school children in India. This “negative plasticity” – a phenomenon where learning driven changes in brain function are occurring in response to decreased brain use conditions - and increased noise conditions - that are leading to reduced accuracy and speed of processing in brain representations of sensation, cognition, memory, and motor control and decreased function of neuromodulatory systems that control learning and memory is creating irreversible deficits, which will continue into adulthood.

This is where the T.R.A.I.NTM program steps in and is designed in aggregate to reverse these dysfunctions by improving representational fidelity in auditory and or language systems and very intensively stimulate neuromodulatory structures throughout individual time dependent training sessions.

Most of the children who are being screened by the Dyslexia Association of IndiaTM are exhibiting specific deficits. Our research indicates that along with the genetic component the macro environment is also significantly contributing to specificity and general learning disabilities.

Based on these findings, when the T.R.A.I.NTM neuroplasticity programme attempts to create a cognitive delivery modus which focuses on ‘redistribution’. What is redistribution. Redistribution constitutes a combination of increases and decreases that are brought about by the Intervention – in the proposed functional activations of the brain, such that the task activation map which would be stimulated in the child’s brain generally focuses and consists of the same areas at the end as at the beginning of the intervention, but the levels of activation within those areas responsible for the output undergo a change.

The functional anatomy of the task there- fore remains basically the same, but the contribution of specific sectors of the brain - to task performance change as a result of intense practice. Intervention works on a pattern which typically reflects a decreased demand on control or attentional processes (wherein activation decreases with consistent intervention) and an increase in demand on storage and processing in task-specific areas (wherein activation increases) begins to develop. This scaffolding helps cope with novel demands during unskilled, effortful performance. The child begins to use his or her intelligence factor and increased practice which is distributed helps in a ‘valuemetric’ increase in the fluid intelligence factor of the particular child. With increased and faster ‘drawing on’ the fluid intelligence capacity the child can make association accurately and the associations are more efficiently stored and accessed and the scaffolding network which forms eventually drops away.

To illustrate this pattern of activation change we can share a live example where one of the children who was dominantly left handed and was extremely disgraphic used a particular device we provided to reach for a target but had to learn to adapt his reaching movements in response to a distortion imposed by the device which created ‘grab trajectories’ at variance with the locus of the target. However with practice, this childs performance became highly skilled and converged on that of a condition in which he eventually experienced no distortion and was able to move his hand normally and eventually went from disjointed cursive and sharp drops and errors to even and balanced target acquisition of this attempts. Fluid IQ measured at the end of six months for this child indicated a 10-point increase as he learnt and was able to control the task activities which freed the ‘cognitive clustering’ in his mind. This child’s visuo-motor task ability and motor task ability also bettered, as did his observable attentional mechanisms to the task performance on hand.

Parents should not take a back seat where their children’s academic performance is concerned, and while it is true that IQ and commercial success are not necessarily related, intelligence as indicated by IQ has a defining role to play in the academic success of a child. T.R.A.I.N™ believes that the human brain is not resistant to change and nor is it completely hard-wired – rather it is open to change and adapting to newer task learning.

Research has conclusively shown that the organization of the adult cerebral cortex can change substantially as a result of scientifically accurate intervention. Also, experience-dependent change can occur at multiple levels of the central nervous system, from the molecular or synaptic level to the level of cortical maps and large-scale neural networks. The neuroanatomic, neurochemical, and functional changes that take place in response to neuroplastic intervention also underlie the enhancement of function following negative plasticity and this knowledge aids the programme in the understanding of the mechanisms of repair and recovery of brains and how to help individual children.

To know more about the T.R.A.I.NTM programme, please e - mail The Dyslexia Association of IndiaTM at info@dyslexiaindia.org.in or you can even call us on 88260 – 22886 to speak to us freely and set up an appointment to meet us.

The T.R.A.I.NTM Neuroplasticity Programme is a copyright programme of the Dyslexia Association of IndiaTM and protected by the relevant provisions of the Copyright Act. Please do not use information gained from this programme to misrepresent any instructional course or programme being delivered by a third party vendor. The T.R.A.I.NTM programme is available only at the DAI™ Intervention Centre and it has not been franchised out to any vendor. The views expressed on the website of the organization are equivocal and private to the organization.