Tag Archives: Learning

Your Eyes, Your Ears, Your Brain–Oh my!!

By: Tina C. Davidson

Brain_ears_eyes_communicationThe unearthing of previously unknown information about how our brain/body functions fascinates me.

So, I was pretty intrigued when I saw the following article title in The Atlantic by Ed Yong:

When Your Eyes Move, So Do Your Eardrums

… and no one knows why.

Well, eventually someone will try to figure out the “why,” but until then at least we know that when your eyes move, so do your eardrums. Right?

They also found that the eardrums start to wobble about 10 milliseconds before the eyes. This suggest that the ears aren’t reacting to what’s happening in the eyes. Instead, Groh says, “the brain is saying: I am about to move the eyes; ears, get ready.”

That is some pretty fast communication between the brain and the ears (0.01 seconds–wowzers–that’s like spidey-sense).

For a closer look at this study, you can check out, “The eardrums move when the eyes move: A multisensory effect on the mechanics of hearing.” (Here’s the link Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United State of America.)

I’ll leave you with this quote from The Atlantic to ponder.

“This suggests that there are no safe spaces in the brain,” Groh says. “One sensory system is influenced by another right at the point where the physical energy is first detected.”

Don’t let it keep you up at night–that part about there being “no safe places in the brain.”

We can’t always comprehend how the brain functions, but we know that the brain is pretty amazing.

Obviously, I’m a fan.


The Atlantic


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America



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Filed under Learning, Neuroscience, Uncategorized

Back to School and Your Brain

By: Tina Davidson


It’s that time of year again. Social media is filled with pictures of kids sporting new shoes and holding chalkboards to document their current grade level.

The first day of school should be a happy day for students, right?

Rarely do you see a sobbing child in a back-to-school photo (I know I cried when I started kindergarten) or belligerent photos of kids flipping off the camera  (a little league softball team learned the repercussions of this the hard way).

Although not all kids appreciate having their picture taken, they all love going back to school, right?

A thumbs down picture might be as far as some moms will let their kids go in expressing their disdain for having to go back to school.

The topic of kids being able to express themselves was addressed in a book I (sorta) read during summer vacation.

The first time I busted out the book, “How Children Fail,” by John Holt, my youngest son was appalled.

“It’s just mean to write a book about how children fail.”

B. Davidson, age 8

I tried to explain that it was a book about helping kids and preventing failure.

To my dismay, I failed to finish reading it, but I did succeed in reading the book’s summary.

One section of the summary that resonated with me was a discussion the author had with teachers.  Holt felt that most teachers aren’t honest about their feelings of impartiality (liking some students more than others).  This creates feelings of guilt in teachers and some force fake smiles around their students.

He went on to mention that the children in these classrooms end up resenting their phony teachers and this in turn creates phony kids. **You’ll have to read the passage to get all the context.**

“As we are not honest with them, so we won’t let children be honest with us. To begin with, we require them to take part in the fiction that school is a wonderful place and that they love every minute of it. They learn early that not to like school or the teacher is verboten, not to be said, not even to be thought. ”

“How Children Fail” by John Holt, Pg. 284

Have you ever corrected your child for complaining about school?

Guilty here.

I don’t want to encourage Eeyores (poor dear!) when it comes to school, but every kid should be free to express themselves.

Here’s a scary passage from the summary:

“It is a rare child who, anywhere in his growing up, meets even one older person with whom he can talk openly about what most interests him, concerns him, worries him.”


Looking back, I’m glad my son expressed his dislike to me about my choice in summer reading books.

Holt also has a book titled, “How Children Learn.” I should probably let my son see me reading that one too. Or at least ask him how he feels about learning.

How do you feel about all this? Need some tools to help communicate with your child or help them with school?

The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.


Check out the book, “Mindset,” by Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck. I read all of this fascinating book and I’m continuing to work on my mindset.

People with a growth mindset are also constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. Certainly they’re sensitive to positive and negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive action: What can I learn from this? How can I improve?


Whether we are “in school” or not there is always more to learn.

Have a great school year!

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Filed under Book Review, Brain Health, Learning, Uncategorized

Rubber Bands and Your Brain

The Abstract Brain

Illustration by E.D.

By: Tina Davidson

My second grader knows a lot about the brain.

This is thanks in part to the book, “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain!” by Dr. JoAnn Deak and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley.  His Montessori learning center teachers use this book to help their students understand how they can grow and stretch their brains.  One day my son had a conversation with me about his fantastic elastic brain. He explained he had a large rubber band when it came to math since this subject is a breeze, but when it came to reading he still had a small rubber band– he is not an expert reader yet.

This rubber band idea is explained in the lesson plans that accompany the book:

Each of us was born with large and small rubber bands, corresponding to areas in which we are skillful and areas where we can grow.  Model how rubber bands can stretch, and explain that this stretching is symbolic of brain growth.”

You can download the lesson plans for “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” for free online and purchase the book on Amazon.

The Magic Decade

Recently, after a drawing exercise at school, my son brought home the picture posted above. He told me it was a picture of the brain and proceeded to tell me where the cerebrum, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala were located on it. (As a brain blogger and mother, I was quite impressed with how much he knew about brain anatomy).  He also offered to draw and label the parts of the brain on his picture, but I told him it wasn’t necessary since I preferred the original abstract picture without the labels.

Sometimes I visualize my son’s brain more like a sponge than a rubber band– he soaks up information quickly and is able to retain it. He is in what Dr. Deak refers to as the “magic decade.” During the first ten year’s of one’s life, key neural connections are being made.  The University of Maine has a bulletin online that addresses the various stages of brain development in children, what you can do to support growth, and the different windows of learning. The bulletin mentioned:

Brain development does not stop after early childhood, but it is the foundation upon which the brain continues developing. Early childhood is the time to build either a strong and supportive, or fragile and unreliable foundation. These early years are very important in the development that continues in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

The early years are very important but remember the concept of neuroplasticity and that it is never too late at any age to grow and stretch your brain.

What routines have you established to help your children learn? How have you stretched your brain lately?  Do you think my son’s picture should have been orientated the other direction and I posted it upside down?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of rubber bands and your brain.

Sources & Resources

Deak, JoAnn. “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain.”

Online lesson plans for “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain.” www.littlepicklepress.com

The University of Maine.  Judith Graham, Extension human development specialist. Revised by Leslie A. Forstadt, Ph.D. Child and Family Development Specialist. “Bulletin #4356, Children and Brain Development: What We Know About How Children Learn.”

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Filed under Brain Development, Learning

Creating Neural Pathways with the Montessori Method

I found a great site, Montessori for Everyone, and I was especially interested in the blog post titled, “The Neurology of Montessori.”

Just as Jim Kwik mentions in his Kwik Learning mini-series, http://kwiklearning.com/mini/videos, Montessori for Everyone’s post also attributes optimized learning to a hand-to-brain connection (read full post here http://www.blog.montessoriforeveryone.com/the-neurology-of-montessori.html).

Jim Kwik talked about the importance of adults taking notes when listening/learning (Video 4) and using your finger under a reading line to boost your reading speed (Video 3).

Children in a Montessori classroom use their hands to manipulate objects, such as small wood letters for reading, and beads for math.  Students’ brains soak up what they are learning by repetition.  Also, their mirror neurons are taking in what others are doing and learning by example.  (If you aren’t familiar with mirror neurons yet, I will fill you in on that fascinating topic in a future post.)

Perhaps you have a child, friend, cousin, niece, etc. who would benefit from a Montessori education? Or perhaps it is time you tried this approach to learning?

It is never too late to learn. We know this thanks to the science of neuroplasticity!

E.D. Alphabet Age 5

E.D. Alphabet
Age 5

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October 11, 2013 · 10:26 pm