Welcome to the July 2014 edition of the Learning Brain.

Barbara Arrowsmith (developer of the Arrowsmith Program) has been in Australia & New Zealand for the last month speaking to audiences about how her program can help learning disabled people. LearnFast was able to interview Barbara while she was in Sydney.

Highlights from the interview, including her comments that every student should be able to develop their learning capacity by using brain training exercises when they start school, are included in this newsletter.

Also, the Learning Differences Convention is on again next month in Sydney. Details Below.

Warm regards,

Devon NL signature jpeg..jpg

PS: Can you solve the ‘Only for Geniuses’ puzzle? We will publish the answer in the August Learning Brain Newsletter.

What’s New?

“I believe every child, whether they have a learning difficulty or not, can benefit from good cognitive stimulation”, said Barbara Arrowsmith, in a wide ranging interview with LearnFast’s Peter Barnes. Barbara Arrowsmith is the founder of the Arrowsmith Program and the Arrowsmith Schools in Canada for learning disabled students.

We will soon be publishing a transcript of the interview. In the meantime read “The 7 Great Things I Learnt from Barbara Arrowsmith”.

Latest Research

Anxious children have bigger ‘fear centres’ in the brain

Researchers have found that children with high levels of anxiety tend to have a larger ‘fear centre’ in the brain.

The study of 76 children aged 7 to 9 years involved assessments for anxiety and brain imaging using fMRI. In addition to a larger ‘fear centre’, changes in other brain regions responsible for attention, emotion perception and regulation were also found. Read more.

Brains sync in conversations

How often do you have the experience of knowing what someone is going to say, during a conversation?

A study in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that the brains of speakers and listeners synchronised when the listeners could predict what the speaker was going to say.

This remarkable ability of our brains helps us use language to express common ground or share our understanding of an event with someone else. Read more.

Book of the Month

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain – How I Left My Learning Disability Behind and Other Stories of Cognitive Transformation by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was born with severe learning disabilities. As a child, she read and wrote everything backward, struggled to comprehend language, and was continually getting lost. But she overcame these disabilities by inventing cognitive exercises to “fix” her own brain.

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain interweaves her personal tale with case histories from more than thirty years of her work with both children and adults.

What’s On?

Learning Difference Conference

The Learning Difference Convention is on at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse in Sydney – August 6 & 7. This year the Convention has been awarded Professional Development Accreditation by The Board of Studies and the Teachers Institute.

Devon Barnes will be speaking on Auditory Processing Disorder on Thursday 7th at 9am and LearnFast will be exhibiting at the convention, why not drop by and say hi?


Questions & Answers

Do you have questions about your child or students? Email us

Question: Just a quick question on the ‘Q&A’ segment of your latest newsletter. Your answer seems contradictory – it begins by saying that benefits from using Fast ForWord are lasting and it ends by saying that the saying ‘use it or lose it’ is very true (implying that if you stop the program and its exercises, any benefit that may have been gleaned in 4 months will be lost). Can you please explain this?

Answer: Thanks for your email. When we say “use it or lose it”, it refers to their brain – more specifically the neural pathways in the brain that have been strengthened/developed by the Fast ForWord exercises.

Fast ForWord builds new brain pathways and strengthens existing ones (these are the neural connections for the key cognitive and language skills that are essential for successful learning and reading). Once these have been developed they will be maintained if they are used.

So when a child finishes their Fast ForWord program, the changes that have been made in their brain, and the functional skills resulting from those changes (such as improved attention, memory, language and reading etc) will not be lost if the child exercises those pathways in their daily life.

Because children are learning, attending school, interacting with others and using language throughout the day, they certainly “use it”. This is why the benefits form Fast ForWord are lasting.

See the Blog Use it or Lose it? – Why the benefits of Fast ForWord are long lasting.