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Today’s BrainWOD: 092815

By | Memory, wod | No Comments

Spot the Differences

*Once you study an image, turn it over or fold the page so you can’t see it!

Study Image 1a for 1:00.

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

Find 2 differences in Image 1b.
Study Image 2a for 1:00

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

Find 2 differences in Image 2b
Study Image 3a for 1:00

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

Find 2 differences in Image 3b.
Study Image 4a for 1:00

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

Find 2 differences in Image 4b.

1a:                                                                 1b:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.25.56 AM

2a:                                                                 2b:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.26.02 AM

3a:                                                                3b:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.26.08 AM

4a:                                                               4b:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.26.14 AM





Sensory Processing and Perception: Part 3

By | Blog, Enrichment, Enrichment for Adults, Games, Ignite! At Home, Ignite! At School, Ignite! In The Workplace, Math, Memory, Uncategorized, wod | No Comments

In Part 3 of this series we take a look at another important skill involving vision called Visual Spatial Processing.  The affect that this system has on learning is quite profound. Students who struggle with visual spatial processing may have:

  • difficulty making visual images to “see something in the mind’s eye” or “get the picture”
  • difficulty remembering and differentiating left and right
  • difficulty in combining disconnected, vague or partially hidden visual information patterns into a meaningful whole
  • difficulty manipulating simple visual patterns or maintaining their orientation to see things in space
  • difficulty mentally manipulating objects or visual patterns to see how they would appear if altered or rotated in space
  • difficulty finding a path through a spatial field or pattern
  • difficulty in estimating or comparing visual lengths and distances without measuring them
  • difficulty understanding mathematics concepts in geometry, calculus and other higher math
  • difficulty in remembering letter formations and letter patterns
  • difficulty in reading charts, maps and blueprints and extracting the needed information
  • difficulty arranging materials in space, such as in their desks or lockers or rooms at home
  • difficulty catching all visual details
  • difficulty copying information from far point, like the blackboard or from near point, like texts


Enhancing these skills vs. reducing their use

When designing instructional strategies around visual spatial processing, a common approach is to reduce the use of visual spatial processing opting for more language based processing so that the student can keep up with the flow of the lesson.

Rather, create opportunities for students to strengthen their visual spatial skills because they much more capable of solving problems in the future having worked on this skill.

Physical challenges that focus on body awareness is a fun and easy place to start building this skill as well as sharpen executive functions like planning, organization and evaluating.

Here’s one example of a “comparing” workout:

10 meter Bear crawl forward

5 narrow stance squats

5 wide stance squats

5 toes out squats

5 natural stance squats

10 meter Bear crawl backward

3 rounds for time followed by reflection questions like “Which type of squat did you feel the most stable?  Which bear crawl was faster?”

Take this activity one step further and develop a challenge with a specific goal.  This will get the individual to Visualize, Plan, Verbalize, Execute then Reflect how they will complete the task.

Example of a “goal setting” workout:

Get over the box then, broad jump to the wall 5 Rounds.

Rule: You must get over the box a different way each round (record how) and estimate the number of jumps it will take you to get to the other side before you begin each round.  

It’s important for each individual to have a written copy of their plan for reflection and tracking.  Individuals who have difficulty writing should doodle or make some kind of shorthand visual representation of their box jump tactics followed by their broad jump estimations. For example, a student may use their left foot first so they would write the letter L and draw a foot.

Again, this is a way to DEVELOP the visual spatial skills not reduce the use.

Try out some other Visual Spatial Activities here.



Today’s BrainWOD: 080715

By | Memory, wod | No Comments


“Crime Scene” by Jeff Martin of The Brand X Method

800m Run

3:00 Wall Sit

800m Run

Recall all items in the room where the wall sit was done.


Setup: while participants are on their first run, scatter up to 30 random objects on the floor in the gym. Don’t mention them during the wall sits.

After their second run, have them recall as many of the objects as possible.


Sensory Processing and Perception: Part 2

By | Blog, Enrichment, Enrichment for Adults, Ignite! At Home, Ignite! At School, Ignite! In The Workplace, Memory, wod | No Comments

The visual system occupies over 30% of the brains mass and is the only sense that has an entire lobe dedicated to its functional processing called the occipital lobe.

Enhancing the Visual System 

One of most interesting client programs I’ve put together was for a gentlemen who had fallen off a ladder, hitting the back of his head where the occipital lobe resides.  The concussion had affected his visual system and his drivers license was suspended until he was able to pass the eye exam.  Since the eyes are muscles, they will respond to specialized training so in addition to balance and coordination exercises our sessions included eye tracking activities such as Brock Strings and Pencil Push ups (research) to help with convergence. I was fortunate to receive guidance from optometrist Dr. Lynda Myles when it came to evaluating the client’s progress.  After 3 months of training, the gentlemen passed his eye exam and got his license back.

Complete as many pencil push ups in 2 minutes as possible.  Go!

Visual spatial skills start with the mechanical functions of the eyes (convergence, scanning and jumping) to send information to the visual system then hands over the responsibility of recognizing and organizing the information (high order functions) to other parts of the brain.

Try these extremely addicting visual spatial puzzles called Tangrams.

answers to yesterday’s sound quiz

1)F  2)J  3)E  4)N  5)i  6)K  7)M  8)C  9)A  10)H  11)D  12)G  13)B  14)L  15)Q  16)P  17)O

Today’s BrainWOD: 072915

By | Language, Memory, Public Speaking, Uncategorized, wod | No Comments

Use the following words in an oral story: burglar, envelope, forest, desk lamp. Start the narration as soon as the workout has finished.


Hollow Rock to Squat to Pike Jump x 5

Hollow Rock to Squat to Tuck Jump x 5

Hollow Rock to Squat to Missile Lunch x 5

Lateral Plank Walk – 20m

4 rounds.

Speaking while under duress (stress) is a valuable skill that can be built in the gym. Your body doesn’t know the difference between physical stress and mental stress. We can simulate stressful conditions with exercise, and thereby condition ourselves to pressure in the workplace.

Today’s BrainWOD: 072715

By | Math, Memory, wod | No Comments

In seven minutes:

Read the first question.

Do three burpees.

Answer the first question. Look at the second question.

Do four burpees.

Continue until all questions are finished, or you reach the 7:00 cap.

This workout includes a very high cognitive load. Interference in the form of rising numbers (3 burpees the first equation, 4 for the second equation, 5 for the third…) means carrying an extra number in your short-term memory. Some will “sprint” by attempting to solve the question while doing the burpees. For athletes who are familiar with the movement, this should be of medium difficulty. But athletes who aren’t used to burpees, or aren’t used to vigorous exercise, will struggle to recall all five numbers and the answer.

Here’s the worksheet:


How Adult Coloring Books Improve Cognition

By | Blog, Enrichment, Enrichment for Adults, Ignite! At Home, Ignite! At School, Ignite! In The Workplace, Interventions, Memory, Spatial Awareness | No Comments

While in a case conference with a team of experts discussing future therapy goals for a TBI (traumatic brain injury) client, coloring books for adults made its way onto the list. The conversation sparked excitement in the team as we recognized this activity could solve a number of problems we were facing at this stage of therapy.

1.  How can we minimize the amount of hours the client spends out of the home attending different therapies? With 2 small children at home during the summer, this was important for the family.

2.  What activities can the whole family do together that still count as therapy homework?

3. How do we teach this client to relax when the client perceives yoga, meditation and even sleep to be activities that get in the way of their to-do list.

In addition to these goals, we’re always on the look out for fresh, cognitively stimulating activities and research is demonstrating adult coloring books can provide just that.

“The practice generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity”, sites an article published in the Huffington Post.

Beyond Motor Skills, Sensory Processing and Perception and Creativity and Imagination, which are 3 out of 10 Cognitive Domains, other cognitive benefits can include Attention, Logic, Organization and Planning, Motivation, and Social and Emotional Functioning.

A recent article published in the New Yorker, outlines some other interesting applications for adult coloring books, from enrichment to “preventing murders”.

Go here to print off some very cool coloring sheets




Today’s BrainWOD

By | Memory, wod | No Comments

Names and Faces

Spend up to 3 minutes with the first picture, including names under each face.

Then, an “interference” workout:

50 double-unders (high skill with higher cognitive load)

50 situps

40 double-unders

40 situps

30 double-unders

30 situps

20 double-unders

20 situps

10 double-unders

10 situps.

The workout should take less than 10 minutes and be primarily aerobic.

Then, Names and Faces Part II:

Match the name to the face.

Athletes can use any mental strategy to help them remember.

Names and Faces


By | Blog, Enrichment, Enrichment for Adults, Games, Ignite! At Home, Ignite! At School, Ignite! In The Workplace, Interventions, Memory, Weekly Challenges, wod | No Comments

This is one of the most complex processes in the brain because it involves many different parts of the brain.  We can break memory down into three responsibilities; 1. Absorption of information 2. Storage of information and 3. Retrieval of information.

Absorbing and then storing information is called “encoding” which calls upon the brain’s pattern recognition system to identify the stimulus then classify it.  The third responsibility, retrieval, operates on three different time lines; immediate recall (a few seconds), delayed recall, (minutes or hours) and finally remote memory (years).

Enhancing Memory

Play around with different memory techniques such as Story retell, Person Action Object and Memory Palace, using a variety of stimuli (words, numbers, pictures, names and faces or a deck of cards).  Practice memory retrieval without cues to strengthen memory.  For example a common studying strategy is to read a page of notes over and over until it feels familiar.  This gives the brain a false sense of owning the knowledge because the brain has learned to predict what comes next while reading.  So when called upon to produce the information on that page of notes without a visual cue, the brain is lost (for most individuals).  Retrieving information that hasn’t been stored through ‘free recall’ practice is like trying to find your keys when someone else has put them away.

Memorizing digits of Pi


Numbers themselves carry little meaning however meaning can be given to numbers so that they are easier to understand.

Try chunking this long string of numbers into meaningful images.  For example the first 5 digits can be looked at as a pattern 31415, so give that pattern a name.  Try using dates (ie 92 was the year you got married) or an athlete’s numbers (ie. 35 is Justin Verlander). Think of hotel room numbers you have stayed in, the price of a significant purchase, an address, or a phone number. The more detailed the abstract, the more emotions attached to it, the easier it will be to retrieve.  Once you have broken down 54 digits of Pi into 10,15 or 20 meaningful images, the next step is to practice associating your meaningful images to their corresponding digits.  Caution, the more items you have the more demanding it will be to keep them all in order!

Your task is to be able to recall all 54 digits after a 2 minute delay.  Keep a log of your encoding sessions (record which numbers, on what day and how long you spent turning chunks into meaning) and your retrieval sessions (record the number of attempts and the number of digits you were able to successfully recall after a 2 minute delay).

Here’s an example of a training log for this activity:

Day 1 Sequence – 314159265

Encoding time: 8 minutes

Retrieval after 2 minute delay: 9 digits after 4 attempts


Day 2 Sequence – 314159265  358979323

Encoding time: 7 minutes

Retrieval after 2 minute delay: 18 digits after 6 attempts.


Complete an intense combination of exercises during the 2 minute delay for even more brain benefits!

Post results to comments


By | Blog, Creative Writing, Enrichment, Enrichment for Adults, Games, Ignite! At Home, Ignite! At School, Ignite! In The Workplace, Language, Memory, Public Speaking, Reading, Weekly Challenges, Writing | No Comments

The brain uses two separate processes to piece together language; Encoding and Retrieval.  Encoding starts with letter recognition such as shape and sound which is then used to develop word recognition and ultimately ending in meaning and understanding.  This can also include encoding verbal, non-verbal and body language from others.  Retrieval on the other hand, also termed ‘Expressive language’, is the brain’s ability to express thoughts into words, name things, and execute word finding.

Enhancing Language

Increasing the time spent with words and exposure to a variety of words develops associations and connections within the brain. Individual attention with each process is needed in order to improve one’s language skills.

To improve encoding one should read, learn new words, learn a new language, use mind maps to attach details to a main idea, and play word search puzzles to mention a few.

To improve retrieval skills one should retell a story, name pictures, play crossword puzzles, play categories or any other activity that requires the individual to retrieve previously stored information using associations or free recall.  An example of retrieval using associations would be asking an individual to name or classify a picture seen on a flash card.  For free recall, remove any visual, auditory or kinesthetic clue to help them retrieve the right information.  An example being the verbal fluency activity which asks the individual to name as many items from a particular category.

Try these language puzzles during your workout today.

1.) Encoding Word List

2.) Retrieval: Every minute on the minute, name as many items from each category as possible. 1 point per word, discount repeats and plurals.

1st minute: Farm Animals

2nd minute: Zoo Animals

3rd minute: School Supplies

4th minute: Gym Equipment

5th minute: Food

*Mix in a round of your favorite movement during one or more of the minutes for maximum brain benefits!