Digital Fitness, Music

Do you have an iPhone? Would you like to learn to play guitar? Then PocketGuitar is for you! Its an iPhone homebrew application (meaning you need to hack your iPhone to make it run) that uses the iPhone multitouch screen as fret board so that you can practice your chords whilst away from your guitar.

Another wonderful way technology can help to train your brain.

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Testing & Diagnosis, Dyslexia Treatment, Music, Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit

The Corpus Callosum is a large structure in the brain that connects the two hemispheres. Its roll is to pass information from the left hemisphere to the right and vice versa. This is a vital as the two hemispheres perform different tasks and need to communicate efficiently. The Corpus Callosum has been linked by scientists to dyslexia and ADHD for a long time. They theorize that the problems in these conditions may be caused by insufficient information passing between the two halves of the brain.

Plenty of research has been done on the size of the Corpus Callosum in dyslexics and in children with ADHD and the results have generally found a correlation. Its seems that the anterior region of the Corpus Callosum was significantly smaller in the dyslexic children. However the results are not clear cut with at least one study has found no difference in dyslexic versus non-dyslexic children and another study on adult, male dyslexics found areas of the Corpus Callosum were larger that normal.

These variation in results may have several causes. How the study defines dyslexia when selecting there sample population may make an impact. The sophistication of the equipment used is important. Some of these studies date back to the early 1990’s when fMRI technology was still new so the ability to accurately measure the Corpus Callosum may of been poorer. Our knowledge of the brains structure has also improved and later studies have tended to focus on specific areas of the Corpus Callosum, partially areas linked to the processing of sounds. However, with a lot of maybes and provisos it does look like the Corpus Callosum in dyslexic and ADHD children is subtly different.

Being able to efficiently pass information from one half of the brain to the other is vital. Much like a road between to busy cities. The better the road, the more information, wealth and trade will flow between the cities. So in dyslexic and ADHD children this road may be poor and restricting vital traffic. But there is hope that this roadway can be improved.

Its has been found that the Corpus Callosum was larger in professional musicians than in non-musicians. Playing instruments involves a lot of cross hemisphere processing to keep both hand’s movements in time with each other. This suggest that by regular practice the Corpus Callosum can be strengthen. The Dore Program, Interactive Metronome and primitive reflex based treatments such as INPP all involve cross-lateral movements designed to train this area of the brain. Other activities may also help. Such as computer games like Wii Drums and some aspects of Wii Fit may also help.

If you would like to try out your Corpus Callosum, have a look at this test on Mind Hacks. You will need a friend to help you but otherwise it is an extremely simple demonstration of what the Corpus Callosum does.

Studies

Dyslexia and corpus callosum morphology
Magnetic resonance imaging of the corpus callosum in developmental dyslexia
Corpus callosum morphology, as measured with MRI, in dyslexic men
Developmental Dyslexia: Re-Evaluation of the Corpus callosum in Male Adults
Less developed corpus callosum in dyslexic subjects—a structural MRI study
Increased corpus callosum size in musicians

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Brain & Body, Digital Fitness, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Music, Nintendo Wii

Doing the post on the Wii Drums remindered me of a book I wanted to write about. Its 4-Way Coordination: A Method Book for the Development of Complete Independence on the Drum Set . I forget how I found it but it immediately got my attention as a way of learning cross-lateral and limb-independent movements. Drummers need to be able to use each of their four limbs independently from each other and this takes a lot of time to learn. Education problems such as dyslexia and ADHD are linked to a poorly developed cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls the limbs, and retained primitive reflexes which restrict limb movements. Training regimes such as the Dore Programme teach children (and adults like myself) how to use their bodies. If this book has a good training method for limb independence that doesn’t focus on drumming it could be and effective resource of parents.

Here is what one of its reviews says:

You don’t need a drumset to work it — all you need are hands and feet to
get better. the “score” is set out in various patterns of LH,RH, LF, RF
(left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot). So if you can’t get
enough of drumming, take this on the road with you for vacations, work
trips, whatever and work on breaking the mold. The floor, your knees
and any flat surface in front of you will do for practice.

This is one of the few drum books you can literally practice from
anywhere at anytime with nothing but the book and you.

I’ve ordered a copy and will be reviewing it soon.

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

Balance & Coordination, Brain & Body, Digital Fitness, Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit

What is Wii Fit?

Wii Fit is a new product for the Nintendo Wii console due to be released later this year. It is designed to be a fun and effective way for the whole family to exercise. It uses a new accessory for the Wii, the Wii Balance Board. A plastic rectangle (approximately 1 foot by 2 foot) that not only senses when you are standing on it but also how you are standing on it. It will detect if you are standing on one leg, leading forwards or any other movements such as heading a ball. The technology in this is similar to posturgraph used to diagnoses medical problems ranging form dyslexia to dementia.

What do I get when I buy a Wii Fit?

Nintendo haven’t announced all the details for the US and Europe releases of the Wii Fit. (See below for the release dates). However the Japanese version is on sale. The two main parts are the software and the balance board. The software loads into the Wii just like any other console game. The board is solid plastic and comes with four AA batteries to enable the wireless link to the games console. Setting up is simple. Load the software into the Wii and it will detect the balance board.

The Wii Fitness Games

Once everything is unpacked and installed, what can you do with the Wii Fit? The important thing to note is that this is not a game, or at least not a normal game. It is a fitness tool. With a normal Wii game, you buy it, play it for several hours a day for a couple of weeks until you have finished it. Wii Fitness isn’t like that. Its like having a personal training and a gym. First you enter you details such as your age and height, then it assesses your current level of fitness using a few simple tests. After that you either follow the training program the Wii suggests or make up your own but just like any fitness training its about doing a small amount everyday for months. So the the fitness games are not really games but ways of encouraging you to exercise and tracking the results.

There are four types of ‘Fitness Games’ in Wii Fit. These are Aerobic Exercise, Muscle Conditioning, Yoga Poses, and Balance Games. These focus on slow, controlled exercise that develop general fitness and core muscle strength rather than big muscles. The aerobic exercises include pushups, jogging and step-aerobics in time to music. The use of music and rhythm means the game will be training your brain as well as your body and this can have benefits in the classroom. Muscle conditioning is done through simple games that focus on one particular muscle group. Such as the Hula Hoop game that works the abdomen. The yoga poses game is exactly what it says. The Wii console directs you to stand, move and hold in various yoga poses. Finally the balance games are the most accessible and ‘fun’ part of the package. Simple games like heading footballs whilst dodging other missiles or tightrope walking all strengthen the vestibular (the inner ear that controls balances) as well the muscles that keep you upright.

Wii as a Fitness Tool

The Nintendo Wii with Wii Sports and Wii Fit can be an effective fitness tool but they are not a silver bullet for getting fit. Fitness is gained through regular exercise and a healthy diet. No pill, no gadget, no diet is every going to make you fit without you putting in hard work over a number of months. If anyone tells you anything different then they are trying to sell you something. However the three biggest handicaps to getting fit is lack of knowledge, boredom and lack of progress. And this is where the Wii fit can help as a fitness tool.

Because the Wii Fit guides you through an exercise program you do not need to know anything. It doesn’t matter if you think Abs and Pecs are comedy double act. If you follow the program you will become fitter and you can do it in the privacy of your own home. Going to a gym for the first time can be intimidating with lots of jargon and complicated machines. With the Wii you can do fitness training in your own home, becoming fit and learning about fitness at your own pace. For some people, this alone will make the Wii an effective fitness tool.

Doing exercise is hard work so unless you get some pleasure out of it, most people will give up after a few days. After all, we have jobs where we have to work hard but we get paid for that. Here is where the Wii Fit earns its money as a fitness tool. Especially for children and the lazy who think exercise is something other people do. Admittedly its hard to make press-ups fun but by having a variety of different types of press-ups the console can keep setting new challengers. To sugar the pill of hard exercise, the more light hearted games such as tight-rope walking and hula hoops are there. These mean that in a twenty minute exercise program you may only spend three minutes doing obvious exercises. This doesn’t mean that the more gentle fitness games are not helping you. Health and fitness depend on the brain as much as the body and games such as Heading the Ball improve muscle tone, balance and mental agility all at the same time.

One of the hardest parts of an exercise program is the simple fact it take time. This is why products are often sold with claims of ‘I lost 10 pounds in a week’ from satisfied customers. If we work hard we want to see the results straightway. Unfortunately the body doesn’t work that quickly. If you want to loose a couple of stone quickly your only option is to cut off a leg. Here is where Wii Fit helps as a fitness tool. It tracks your fitness level constantly, so you can see the progress you are making. It may be slow progress but its visible progress and you can compare it with your friends or family. This helps in setting achievable goals, one of the most important motivation aspects of fitness training.

Overall, Wii Fit is a fitness tool that works as long as you put in the work. It will not make you fitter over night. It will not solve all your health problems. If you are willing to use it everyday for several months then the Wii will be a good tool for making you healthier.

Where can I buy Wii Fit?

Assuming you already have a Wii then buying Wii Fit will be easy. It will be carried in all the main video game shops because when it was launch in Japan it sold over a million units in the first few days. It is possible to buy import version of Wii Fitness though these can be problematic if you don’t have an import Nintendo Wii.

What is the Wii Fit Release Date

The Japanese release date was the 1st December 2007 but the Wii Fit release dates for the US and Europe haven’t been confirmed but its widely rumored to be the 20th May 2008 in the US. The European release date is likely to be in the summer of 2008. Part of the reason for the delay in US release date is that American’s are fatter than Japanese people. The original version of the balance board was only strong enough for a 300 pound person. For the the Western market (USA & Europe) a slightly larger board capable of supporting a 330 pound person is being used.

What is the Wii Fit Price?

The Japanese version of Wii fit sold for 8,800 yen. That is the equivalent of $79 US or £40 UK. Its doubtful that the US or UK version price will be much different. With the cost of the two years spent developing the board plus the 12 months developing the software and not to mention the production costs, it doubtful that Wii Fit will make much money. However it will encourage a whole range of people to buy a Wii who would never of thought of buying one before. Once a Wii is in the house, more games will be purchased for it and this is where Nintendo really make the money.

The Future of Wii Fit

There is a danger that Wii Fit will be seen just a toy. A fad that comes and goes. But it could easily be the breakthrough product for digital fitness. Its success depends a lot on how Nintendo support its fitness product. If they continue to release new exercises and games (like Sony does with its Singstar range) then it will have long term success and be seen as fitness tool.

Wii Fit Pre-order

Amazon are not yet taking orders but if you click here: Wii Fit; you can register your interest. You will be then be contacted when a release date and prices is announced and given an opportunity to pre-order.

Wii Fit Videos

Check out these Wii Fit videos:
Wii Fit official trailer
Wii Fit Demo at E3 and part 2
Trying the Wii Fit
Wii Fit taken for a spin
Unpacking the Wii Fit

Digital Fitness, Games, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii

I’m pleased to announce an expansion of Myomancy’s distinctive brand of independent news and reviews. From today we will be covering digital fitness products including Wii Fit, the soon to be released exercise system for the Nintendo Wii, Brain Training products on the Nintendo DS and elsewhere, rhythm bases games like Guitar Hero and lots more. In short if it involves electronics and has the potential to improve the brain or the body, then we will be reporting on it.

This is a natural extension of what Myomancy has been covering. Back in May 2004 we reported on Video Games Are Good For You (If They Involve Movement). In October 2005 we looked at the study by Professor Posner in Can Computer Games Help ADHD? and how games like Dance Dance Revolution have been shown to improve reading .

The science of how Wii Fit and dance games can improve coordination and rhythm and why this can help in education has been extensively covered. Currently specialised products such as Interactive Metronome have led the way but there is more and more evidence of how balance, coordination and rhythm training can help children and adults.

Dore Achievement Centres, Dyslexia, Television

I predict a lot of publicity (good and bad) for Wynford Dore and his Dore Treatment Centres over the coming weeks. The ex-Rugby player who has been on the Dore program to treat his dyslexia is appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. Kenny Logan has spoke out about hows the Dore program changed everything on several occasions. Wynford Dore has stated that Kenny Logan (and fellow celeb Toya Wilcox) that they attended the program as ordinary customers and were not approached by Dore.

Source: Rugby Star Kenny Logan On Strictly Come Dancing

Medication, Web/Tech

Can you match ten drug safety warnings to their drugs?

“Vision changes, such as seeing a blue tinge to objects or having difficulty telling the difference between the colors blue and green.” Also, “An erection that won’t go away”

“Babies born to mothers who have taken [this drug] in the latter half of pregnancy have reported complications, including difficulties with breathing, turning blue, floppiness, stiffness, irritability or constant crying.”

From Mental Floss

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Medication

Using the Myomancy blogroll and a few other tools I trawl the internet for references to dyslexia, ADHD and everything related. Generally I find nothing of interest but its like beach combing. Amongst all the flotsam and jetsam, something useful occasionally turns up. On a recent search I came across a reference on a blog that I would not normally link to from Myomancy but because they touched on an important issue I will. Its People Having Sex, a Not Safe For Work adult blog, that was looking at Drugs & Sex. One of the drugs they mentioned was Ritalin.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is widely used both legally and illegally. It apparently causes increased or decreased sexual desire dependent on the dosage. At higher doses, it may aggravate premature ejaculation and impotence and cause anxiety

On ADHD fourms (such as ADD Forums) you often find people taking ADHD medication and talking about sexual dysfunction (such as this thread). It seems to be quite a common problem but because most studies are done on children, it isn’t well documented. See Concerta Side Effects, Ritalin Side Effects and Adderall Side Effects for more information on ADHD medication side effects.

The only work I can find on the issues is The Management of Medication-Induced Sexual Dysfunction [ PDF ] which in turn references Methylphenidate and SSRI-Induced sexual side effects. Unfortunately that study is not available online.

The effects that ADHD medication like Ritalin and Adderall have on sex drive and sexual performance is real and is highly disturbing for those it effects. It is an area where more research it definitely needed.