Archive for the ‘cognitive skills’ Category

Reminder to Register Now for Optiminds Cognitive Camp 2012

April 27, 2012

Optiminds offers metro Detroit’s only summer camp for improving your cognitive skills. With sessions starting beginning June 25, it’s time to register for Optiminds Cognitive Camp! It’s a fun way to keep your brain in shape over the summer with programs individualized and tailored by skill level to students of all ages.

We’re offering weekly camps from June 25 to August 17. Camp hours are from 9:00 a.m to 12:00 noon. Note: no camp July 4. Our NEW LOCATION is Addams Elementary School, 2222 W. Webster, Royal Oak, MI 48073.

Camp sessions focus on multiple areas, including the following:

  •  Cognitive Training
  • Math, Science, Language Arts, & Social Studies
  • Social Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • PCI© Reading Program
  • Orton Gillingham© Phonics
  • FAST© Phonics Program
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Using Puzzles & Games

Register at: http://optimindsct.com/doc/Optiminds2012SummerCampApplication.pdf

For more information about Optiminds Cognitive Camp, contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496.0150 or jstewart@optimindsct.com. Or Melanie Leavitt Weiss at (248) 417.1416.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

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Detroit Institute of Arts offers Program for People with Early Stage Dementia

April 20, 2012

“People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are often isolated and have few opportunities to interact socially or remain involved in the community,” according to Jennifer Czajkowski, executive director of the Learning and Interpretation department at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). That’s why the DIA is now offering “Meet Me at the DIA: A Program for People with Early Stage Dementia and Their Caregivers.”

The program provides a safe, inspiring environment for social engagement and intellectual stimulation, where participants will feel welcome and comfortable. People with early stage dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and their caregivers are invited to participate in gallery discussions about art led by DIA staff and volunteers with expertise in this area.

All participants, including caregivers, are encouraged to contribute to the discussions, which are based on the observations and connections made by the group. Each person will receive a small print of a DIA artwork so conversations can be continued after leaving the museum.

The goal of the program is to enhance Alzheimer’s patients’ quality of life through mental stimulation, communication, personal growth and social engagement. Similar programs have been shown to increase the mood and self-esteem of dementia patients and their caregivers immediately following their visit and for days afterward. For more information, call 313-833-4005 or click http://bit.ly/meetmeatthedia.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Alzheimer’s Update

April 15, 2012

In the United States, some 5.4 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Of the ten deadliest diseases in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is the only one “without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

At the same time, there have been great advances in understanding the disease and national policy has begun to move forward as well. In 2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act mandated a national plan to coordinate research efforts to fight the disease which is predicted to impact 16 million by mid-century.

Also in 2011, new guidelines were issued for diagnosing the disease for the first time since 1984. Highlights include the following points:

  • Alzheimer’s must be viewed in three stages, with the first stage beginning long before the initial symptoms are recognized.
  • Diagnosis ultimately will include cognitive testing and general neurological assessments, along with medical tests that show changes in the brain—as opposed to relying largely  on a doctor’s judgment and reports from the patient and loved ones.

Cognitive skills are the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn. They allow us to process the huge influx of information we receive each and every day at work, at school and in life. Cognitive skills include a wide variety of abilities that are necessary for analyzing sounds and images, recalling information, making associations between different pieces of information, and maintaining focus on a given task.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Be a Seeker of New Things

February 13, 2012

One way to continue to improve your cognitive skills is to seek out novelty. It’s no accident that geniuses have a tendency to constantly seek out novel activities and learn new domains. Einstein, for example, was skilled in multiple areas.

When you seek novelty, several things are going on. First of all, you are creating new synaptic connections with every new activity you engage in. These connections build on each other, increasing your neural activity, creating more connections to build on other connections—learning is taking place.

Novelty also triggers dopamine, which not only kicks motivation into high gear, but it stimulates neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons—and prepares your brain for learning. All you need to do is feed the hunger.

Researchers in Sweden found that after 14 hours of training working memory over 5 weeks’ time, study participants showed an increase in the dopamine receptor associated with neural growth and development. This increase in plasticity, allowing greater binding of this receptor, is a very good thing for maximizing cognitive functioning.

So it pays to continually seek new activities to engage your mind and expand your cognitive horizons. Learn an instrument. Take an art class. Go to a museum. Read about a new area of science. Be a knowledge junkie. 

If you are interested in growing your brain, Optiminds can help you improve your cognitive skills—the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

The Rationale Behind Cognitive Training

October 13, 2011

For some time now, Optiminds has been offering programs and techniques designed to help prevent cognitive loss and strengthen cognitive abilities in mid and later life.

Research shows that the normal aging process is strongly associated with brain changes that lead to a weakening of some select cognitive domains in healthy people. As more baby boomers become seniors, it’s no surprise that there is a growing interest in finding methods to “keep our brains sharp” by maintaining or enhancing cognitive performance.

As we discover more about the human brain, ongoing scientific advances support the potential for neural connectivity in the brain to be malleable throughout the lifespan, and the capacity in late life for neurogenesis—the development of nerve tissues.

Observational evidence suggests that throughout adult life, there may be opportunities to protect and even enhance brain and cognitive function through prudent attention to modifying factors such as lifestyle, work and recreational choices, exercise, diet, health management and even by other means such as cognitive training..

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

October 6, 2011

Most of us joke or tease about memory loss as we get older. But memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. It may be one of the signs of Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.

Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees; and one symptom alone does not necessarily indicate that a person has Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you are concerned about symptoms you or a loved one are having, following is a list of some of the more common symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Money trouble
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Wandering
  • Repetitive speech or actions
  • Seemingly purposeless activity
  • Loss of initiative and motivation
  • Don’t recognize family and friends
  • Loss of motor skills and sense of touch
  • Difficulty dressing
  • Disregard for grooming and hygiene
  • Forgetting meals
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Delusions and paranoia
  • Verbal and physical aggression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Clingy or childlike behavior

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

What is Cognitive Training?

May 11, 2011

If an individual is having trouble paying attention or learning, tutoring or drill and practice in academic areas are often not effective. In fact, approximately 80% of all learning struggles aren’t due to poorly taught information, but are in fact the result of one or more cognitive skills weaknesses. (See our May 4, 2011 blog entry for a discussion of “cognitive skills.”)

Cognitive training, also referred to as “brain exercise,” focuses on helping to improve the “core” abilities and self-control necessary before an individual can function successfully academically. Typically, cognitive training consists of a variety of exercises designed to help improve functioning in areas such as sustaining attention, thinking before acting, visual and auditory processing, listening and reading. The exercises “drill for skill” directly in the areas where basic specific cognitive difficulties occur.

Research has shown that brain exercise can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and can also improve the cognitive functioning of people with attention deficit disorder, head injuries, autism, schizophrenia and other cognitive problems. Cognitive training is used to develop the thinking skills that help children in school and adults in the workplace improve their memory, attention, listening skills, self-control, processing speed, and more.

Optiminds is a Cognitive, Professional Brain Training Skills Center owned and operated by Jane Stewart, Ph.D. Visit us at: www.optimindsct.com, give us a call at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com.

What are Cognitive Skills?

May 4, 2011

Cognitive skills are the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn. They allow us to process the huge influx of information we receive each and every day at work, at school and in life. If your cognitive skills aren’t up to speed, no matter what kind of information you try to grasp—or how many times you try to grasp it—the process can feel sluggish and slow.

Cognitive skills include a wide variety of abilities that are necessary for analyzing sounds and images, recalling information, making associations between different pieces of information, and maintaining focus on a given task.

Some examples of cognitive skills include:

Processing Speed—the speed at which your brain processes information. Faster processing speed means more efficient thinking and learning.

Auditory Processing—the ability to analyze, blend and segment sounds. Auditory processing is crucial for speaking, reading and spelling. When you read, for example, you need to be able to identify the individual and blended sounds that make each word unique and recognizable.

Visual Processing—the ability to perceive, analyze and think in visual images. Visual processing is imperative for reading, remembering, walking, driving, playing sports and thousands of other tasks people perform every day.

Long-Term Memory—the “library” of facts and knowledge a person has accumulated in the past.

Short-Term Memory—Also called working memory, this skill handles the dynamic job of keeping at the forefront of your mind the information you need to complete immediate and short-term tasks.

Logic and Reasoning—the ability to reason, form concepts, and solve problems using unfamiliar information or new procedures. Logic and reasoning enable you to create correlations, solve problems, plan ahead and draw conclusions.

Attention Skills—There are three types of attention skills. Sustained Attention is the ability to stay focused and on-task for a period of time. Selective Attention is the ability to quickly sort through incoming information and stay focused on one thing in spite of distractions. Divided Attention is the ability to multi-task.

Optiminds is a Cognitive, Professional Brain Training Skills Center owned and operated by Jane Stewart, Ph.D. Visit us at: www.optimindsct.com, give us a call at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com.


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