Friday, December 14, 2012

Presents for the kids

A post from Debbie Anderson on the important topic of presents:

Just in time for holiday shopping—some educational materials to help children learn more about their brains and brain fitness.

I believe that children should be taught, at an appropriate level with engaging media, to understand important concepts about their brains and learning. If you are a parent, educator, or therapist who wants to teach children information that will allow them to better understand themselves and empower their thinking (how they can control and modify their minds and behavior; a Growth Mindset), it is nice to know that a variety of groups have recently developed engaging books, videos and apps regarding the human brain and brain training or plasticity.  I recently discovered two sources of material that are worth attention.

The Adventures of Ned the Neuron is a free iPad app.  This well constructed app is 34 full color pages of material.  

The app includes:
  • Read to Me function with voice over and soundtrack
  • §Interactive educational diagrams
  • Three mini-games
  • Over 30 neuroscience concepts introduced
The original version crashed on original generation one iPads, but that has now been fixed and it works without a hitch on my iPad (generation one).  A brief introductory video is available for viewing.  Additional information regarding this free app can be found at the Kizoom website.  The app can be found at the iTunes App Storelink at the Kizoom website.  Below are a few select screen shots (the last being a collage of all screens). 

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain:  Stretch It, Shape It is a multimedia resource by the DEAK Group.  It includes an app, a book, posters, and other education related resources.  These materials are not free, but the costs are minimal and, in my opinion, are good investments in the education of children.  My only complaint is that the app frequently crashed when I tried to navigate from one page to a different section of the program.  I am using a generation one iPad, so I don’t know the extent to which this generalizes to later iPads.  Visit the link above to learn more and to find a link to the iTunes App Store.

The book is also available at  A brief introductory video is available for viewing at the web site or on YouTube

A brain hat

A terrific website with printouts and instructions on making an anatomically correct brain hat can be found here. A great resource for teaching kids.

PS: The website belongs to Ellen Johnston McHenry, who is a home-school curriculum author.  Among others she published The Brain: An introduction to neurology for ages 8-14 - a very nice, comprehensive book that starts from zero and ends somewhere at the early undergraduate level while explaining everything gently. Worth having a look (here)!

Les' biofedback gizmo - a follow-up from the conference

After the workshop I co-presented with Les Posen, quite a few people were interested in the little nifty biofeedback system he presented. For those interested, the name of the system is EmWave and detailed information about it can be found on

For those who did not attend the workshop: the system had very little to do with neuropsychology, but was very impressive, and useful for those who are doing treatment. It is mostly used for stress reduction and improvement in emotional self-regulation. A very nice gizmo for under $200. Good amount of information on the website.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Testing on an iPad - Part 3

It was my birthday and I have a new toy!

iPad mini is a darling! And so is my husband.

The screen 'feels' the same size as the full- sized iPad and is much crisper to view - I think it may be using smaller pixels.
Typing is also quite comfortable, much more comfortable than on my netbook, which also has a small keyboard.
I admit that typing may not be as easy for the guys.

Also, the main advantage of the iPad mini (fits easily into a handbag) may not appeal as much to the male of the species.

Anyway, on to the third, and arguably the most important, part of testing on the iPad:

The Q-interactive from Pearson.

For those who didn't go to the conference, or were too busy to visit the Pearson stand while there, Pearson is releasing a new way of administering tests.

WAIS, WISC, CVLT and four subtexts of D-KEFS are being released on an iPad. Soon to be followed by Children's Memory Scale, NEPSY and WMS. If you go to you can watch a video that tells you how much this new technology will change our way of doing things.
However, I would not worry about any drastic changes yet. For this release, Pearson is using the old normative data, so the administration needs to be very similar to that performed using the old booklets and pen. So, instead of writing on paper, you write with the stylus on the iPad screen. The are a few benefits: information about discontinuation is clearly provided, you can record audio during testing (but not save it with the rest of the data), and the scoring criteria are provided with each question.

On the minus side, to use the system, you need 2 iPads. So why would you buy them just to do the same testing in a more showy way?

The benefit is in the pricing. You pay $300 per year for the use of the system, and then you only pay for the tests or subtests you use. The price per subtest is currently set at $1.50, which adds up to $15/client, considerably more than the cost of the booklets (these are current prices from the US, that may change on travelling all the way across the ocean to Australia).
So far, not that good. BUT I understand that there is no upfront cost for any of the batteries. And this is where it gets worthwhile. For people who are starting a practice, and for those times when we need to update a test battery to a newer version, the iPad administration is suddenly very worthwhile. Add a little glamour that comes with shiny new electronic toys, and with time we will all move over to the new way of testing.