Digital Fitness, Music, Nintendo Wii

Where are my Wii Drums

Back in May 2007, there was a demonstration of Wii Drums yet there is no sign of a release date. There have been some hints that a PC version will be released but what is the point of that? The Wii with its unique controllers is the only platform where a drumming game could work well. As it is, some enterprising hacker has linked his Wii Remote to his PC and some drum machine software.

Wii Drums May Help You Read

The Wii has tremendous potential as a brain and body training machine. There is growing evidence that developing a sense of rhythm is an important part of a child’s neurological development. Interactive Metronome have produced research that shows children with education problems show a remarkable improvement after just a few weeks of rhythm training. As Nintendo, unlike the PS3 or XBox, is actively targeting whole families with its adverts and low price, a Wii will find itself in more homes than the other consoles. Combine Wii Drums for rhythm training with Wii Fit for cerebellum and vestibular training and you get a very powerful tool for helping children develop health minds and bodies.

Wii Drums for Dyslexia

The connection between poor rhythm and dyslexia is not clear. It may be that poor rhythm is simply symptomatic of an underdeveloped cerebellum or it may be that having a sense of rhythm helps with language skills. Language and rhythm are closely developed. Most if not all primitive peoples developed basic drumming and singing. We need more research so it will be some time before Nintendo Wii Drums and Wii Fit are part of the school curriculum but I believe they will be one day.

Wii Drums Demonstration

Wii Drums Related Links

Wii Drums: Not Released on the Wii Yet, But There’s a PC Version Afoot

Dyslexia, Music

I’ve picked this up from theEide Neurolearning Blog ,a study on how dyslexics are effected by background noise. Its looks at how long dyslexics take to respond to a either a pure tone or huggins pitch against background noise.

Dyslexics were overall slower than controls by about 120ms. Although we did not run a pure tone detection test in quiet (without background noise), the literature indicates that in simple reactions to pure tones, dyslexics respond as quickly as controls (e.g., Nicholson & Fawcett, 1994). Furthermore, the difference in miss-rates (but not false positive rates or response variability) between the subject groups suggest that the response time differences are not likely to be simply due to a different hearing profile, delayed motor execution or clumsiness, but are related to the processes via which the listeners detect the tonal objects in noise.

Source: Delayed detection of tonal targets in background noise in dyslexia [ PDF ]
See Also: Background Noise, Dysleixa and Earobics

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia, Games, Music

West Virginia is putting the computer game Dance Dance Revolution into every one of its public schools. Whilst West Virginia’s aim is to tackle obesity it also has a potential to improve pupils’ coordination and rhythm skills. This could have a significant impact on their academic achievement.

This initiative by West Virginia also signifies a major shift in educational thinking about computer games. Previously the negative effects of video games, lack of physical activity and the possible links to violence, have been the focus of the education establishments. By putting Dance Dance Revolution into schools they are accepting that video games can have a positive effect. It simply depends on the game and the context it which it is played.

There are various games we have featured on Myomancy that can be positive. Ranging from the low-tech Cornhole throwing game, the hand-held electronic game Bop-It, games that measure physiological responds where you have to relax to win and games to help with ADHD. The data on how effective the games are is thin and a great deal more research is need. However there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence such as how surgeons who played more computer games perform better. The skills these games teach include spatial awareness, attention control, problem solving, physical coordination and memory. Many of the skills children with dyslexia and ADHD lack.

Source: Dancing video game helps kids avoid weight gain

See also: Switch on the TV and Dance

Balance & Coordination, Music

Clapping hands games seem to be very common across cultures with countless variations. Their prevalence suggests that they play an important part in a normal child’s development. To find out more I’ve been searching YouTube for examples of different clapping games and clapping behaviour. It has proven an absolute treasure trove.

In the previous article on clapping, And they all went to heaven in a little row boat , research suggests it developed from 2 1/2 onwards. However there are plenty of examples of infants playing the clapping hand game pat-a-cake or If You’re Happy and You Know It.

By comparing different videos we can see the necessary coordination skills developing in a child. In this clip, an infant is struggling to master the basics of clapping, getting both hands in same place. In this second clip, a more developed infant can has mastered the coordination but the action seems to be mimicry of the adult without any intent to produce sound. Further along the development process the child gains more control and is starting to understand the behaviour in context of a clapping hand game.

As the child develops the ability to clap and rhythmic skills develop in tandem. By pre-school or kinder garden age, clapping hands games have developed to quite complex cooperative activities involving singing and different types of clapping. This trend continues through junior school and into pre-teens with the speed and length of the games growing with age. They can even become group activities.

As an aside, I think all the children featured in these clapping games are girls. These games along with playground activities played by predominately by girls such as skipping and hopscotch are good cerebellum training activities. They are also played at age when girls tend to be academically more advanced than boys at the same age. Whether this is connected or not is hard if not impossible to tell but its an interesting coincidence.

Once in puberty , hand clapping games loose their interest as children discover other activities to keep themselves occupied but hand clapping games do have some carry over into adult behaviour. This Hand Clapping Montage shows that they still have an attraction to adults. Clapping also plays an important part in music creation as well as way of showing appreciation. This choir integrates clapping beautifully into their performance. Finally, no discussion of music and clapping can be complete without mention of Beck’s Clap Hands. Its more about percussion than clapping but its a joy to behold

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ADD / ADHD, Balance & Coordination, Dyslexia, Music

Question: What has an obscure 80’s pop song and Sesame Street got to do with ADHD and dyslexia?
Answer: Clapping
I’m currently digging around on Google Scholar for information on hand clapping. Why? because connections between dyslexia and poor rhythm have been found and the Interactive Metronome has generated some interesting research on rhythm and academic achievement. The role of coordination is also well documented. So as clapping is a simple activity that involves coordination and rhythm it should could provide an interesting insight into neurological development and learning disorders.

As a starting point I wanted to look at when and how children without learning problems develop their clapping skills? Work from 1996 (Dynamical Patterns in the Development of Clapping) found that it developed been the ages of 3 and 7. When combined with another task, i.e. walking, children had reached an adult level skill by the age of eight. However in the harder task of clapping and running, ten years did not reach an adult level of skill (see How do children coordinate simultaneous upper and lower extremity tasks? The development of dual motor task coordination). It seems that pure rhythmic ability developers earlier than this. Looking at the ability to simply tap along with a rhythm the study, Spontaneous motor tempo and rhythmical synchronisation in 2½- and 4-year-old children , found that “regular spontaneous manual tapping tempo could be observed in children as young as 2½ years”.

These studies suggest that basic rhythmic ability starts at about 2 1/2 years old with clapping skills developing from three upwards. By the age of seven most children can clap in time and by ten they can combine it with other tasks. Having established a base line, the next step is to look for research on the clapping abilities of children with learning problems. I will be writing about this subject in the next few days.

Balance & Coordination, Music, Science

What role does left or right handedness play in dyslexia? Some approaches such as
The Dominance Factor by Carla Hannaford argue that learning problems occur when children have mis-matched dominance. For example, right handed but left eyed. The data on this is very confused and no one really knows even the basics such as why are most people right handed but some are left handed?

The two hemispheres of the brain communicate using the Corpus Callosums. A thick bundle of nerves that links the two halves of the brain. Research has shown that its thickness can vary a great deal from person to person suggesting that some people are better equipped for cross-hemispheric communication. What difference does this make and what factors influence the size of the corpus callosum? BPS Research Digest has an interesting article looking at new research in this area.

…the callosum varied little between the sexes or between the left and right-handers (less than 3 per cent difference in each case), but varied significantly according hemisphericity, with right-brain dominant participants having a 10 per cent thicker callosum on average.

Thickness of the callosum was also independently related to something called ‘dichotic deafness’, a common characteristic of people with a left-hemisphere dominant brain . This is the inability of some people to hear two sounds presented simultaneously, when one sound is played to one ear and the other sound to the other ear.

The brain’s great connector

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Medication, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Auditory, Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Tests & Diagnosis, Autism Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Books, Commercial Dyslexia Centres & Treatments, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Testing & Diagnosis, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink, Franchised Dyslexia Treatments, Games, History, Medication, Memory, Music, Science, Sports, Television, Visual, Web/Tech

Over the last few weeks this website has been attracting comments from various members and ex-members of staff of the Dore Achievement Centres. This has come to the attention of the CEO of UK branch, Bob Clarke, who has posted comments on Myomancy and also to Wynford Dore himself who has phoned me. Conversations with Wynford are always enjoyable but challenging because Wynford believes so passionately about what he does. So when Myomancy runs a negative story about the Dore Program he tends to forget all the places on Myomancy where I’ve said the Dore Program works and that it changes lives.

In light of all this I thought it wise to make a clear statement to all my readers about why I devote a considerable amount of time and money to running Myomancy.

  • The goal of Myomancy is to provide independent information on treatments for dyslexia, ADHD and autism so that parents and sufferers can make an informed choice about what is the best approach for them.
  • Myomancy is a blog, a personal web site. It represents my views and my views alone on all things connected with ADHD, dyslexia and Autism.
  • These views are researched and expressed on Myomancy to the best of my abilities but I am not a scientist, teacher or a professional writer. I am just someone who’s life was changed by the Dore Program and felt a need to express myself.
  • I believe in free speech which is why I allow anyone to post comments on the articles regardless of whether they are for or against my views. Only post that are illegal or purely offensive are removed.
  • Myomancy generates a small amount of income for advertising. I would like it to be more so that I can afford to spend more time on Myomancy. It is up to the reader to decide what, if any, impact that has on the independence of Myomancy.

With reference to the above I have removed one comment from the website that is highly critical of the Dore Program and, based on additional evidence I have at my disposal, is completely false.

Music

From Science Daily

The findings, published today (20 September 2006) in the online edition of the journal Brain [1], show that not only do the brains of musically-trained children respond to music in a different way to those of the untrained children, but also that the training improves their memory as well. After one year the musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ.

Full Story

There have been other studies looking at the effect of music training on intelligence. Learning to play the keyboards or sing increased IQ by seven points. Training children’s sense of rhythm has had a positive effect on academic performance.

Balance & Coordination, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Memory, Music

Talking about curing dyslexia can get a lot of people upset. Most professionals and most sufferers think dyslexia is incurable but is this right?

As always with dyslexia the starting point is what we mean when we say someone is dyslexic. If you define dyslexia as just a problem with reading then when a dyslexic learns to read they must be ‘cured’ because they no long fit the description of dyslexia. The reality is that dyslexia is a syndrome, a collection of symptoms where the sufferer needs to have several, but not necessarily all symptoms, to be diagnosed. These symptoms include reading, spelling and writing problems plus poor short-term memory, poor phonological abilities and poor motor skills (clumsiness). This definition of dyslexia as a syndrome makes discussion of a cure even harder. How many symptoms of dyslexia have to disappear or be reduced before the person is cured?

As there is no clear definition of dyslexia or what counts as a cure I’ve come with my own.

Dyslexia is cured when a person who has previously been diagnosed as dyslexic can perform a routine tasks such as school work, playing sports or social activities in the same length of time, with the same level of effort and with the same level of success as an average person.

Now we have a definition, is a cure possible?

Yes

Various studies using fMRI and other brain scanning techniques have shown that when a dyslexic reads, they use their brain differently from non-dyslexics. These same studies also found that when treated over a number of month with a phonic based reading program, the dyslexic’s brain changes to be more like a non-dyslexics.

If the brain can change when dealing with reading then the brain can change in relationship with the other symptoms of dyslexia. By combining multiple different types of training to tackle the multiple different symptoms then dyslexia can be cured.

Tackling each symptom one at a time is a long and slow process but by treating them in a sensible order so that the conquering of one problem makes it easier to deal with the next, some time and effort can be saved. Reading, writing and spelling are learnt by an average child after they have learnt about moving their body and how to hear. So it makes sense that a dyslexia cure would tackle the symptoms in the same order.

There are several approaches to treating poor coordination. The most famous is the Dore Achievement Programme. This is the programme I used and it was very effective but other approaches exist. Such as Learning Breakthrough and INPP.

The symptom of poor phonological skills is harder to treat. There are various phonic teaching systems but these are designed to teach reading. What is required is a way of developing the ear’s ability to differentiate between any sounds not just the sounds needs for reading. This is where learning to sing can help because you need to be able to hear the differences in the notes. It also has the added benefit of improving the sense of rhythm and is a good at building self-confidence.

Once the motor and phonological problems have been tackled it is very likely that no special training will be required to tackle the remaining symptoms of poor reading, spelling and short-term memory. Now the brain has mastered the basics of movement and hearing as well as average child it will learn academic skill with the same ease as an average child. If further work is necessary then phonic and multi-sensory reading programmes are recommend. There are also numerous approaches to improving memory skills.

Curing dyslexia is possible but it certainly is not easy. To tackle even one symptom will take months of hard work, day in and day out. To tackle all of them is a task measured in years.

Previously on Myomancy: Dyslexia and fMRI, Singing Cavemen and Amusia

On the Myomancy Treatment Database: Balance, Coordination

Research: Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: Evidence from functional MRI, Examining Rhythm and Melody Processing in Young Children Using fMRI [ PDF ].

ADD / ADHD, Balance & Coordination, Music, Television

I have a love hate relationship with TV. I spend hours watching Discovery and the History channels and through these I’m informed and educated. I also know that sitting still on a couch doing nothing is not good for my body, especially as my work has me sitting still for hours in front of a computer screen.

Now there is a TV program that entertains and works my body. Dance Revolution is a show based on the computer game Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). Unlike most computer games DDR involves physical activity as players have to step with feet on a special mat in time with music. Apart from being great physical exercise it also trains a sense of rhythm and improves coordination. Both of these have been shown to help increase academic performance and ADHD.

The new TV show will feature kids performing their dance moves in front of judges whilst at the same time encouraging viewers at home to try out the moves. This combination of encouraging a competitive spirit, providing role models (the winning performers) the viewers can aspire to and helping the viewers learn the moves is a powerful combination.

The show seems to be part of a the remarkably sensible Saturday morning line up:

As part of “CBS’s Saturday Morning Secret Slumber Party’s” balanced active lifestyle theme, the block will feature unique animated and live-action interstitials threaded throughout the morning block to promote healthy eating and balanced, active lifestyles for kids. The messages, which will promote nutritious eating habits, will be created in consultation with Baylor College of Medicine’s Children’s Nutrition Research Center (CNRC), an internationally renowned institute devoted to pediatric nutrition studies.

CBS and DIC Entertainment Debuts New Series, ‘Dance Revolution’, on ‘CBS’s Saturday Morning Secret Slumber Party’

Previously on Myomancy: Video Games Are Good For You (If They Involve Movement)