Dr. Kevin McGrew
Get the latest news on Interactive metronome training, it's application and breakthroughs as well as insights in the science behind it and the latest tips and success stories from clients and therapist using IM and IM-Home.
Dr. McGrew conducts research in the areas of theories of human intelligence, intelligence testing, school learning, and the application of neurotechnology to cognitive performance and learning. He has published over 60 different journal articles, books or book chapters in his areas of expertise. He is a coauthor of the Woodcock-Johnson Battery III. Detailed information can be found at his the IAP web page. McGrew disseminates information regarding human intelligence and the human brain clock at two professional blogs (IQs Corner; Brain Clock Blog).
A picture is worth a thousand words. So, without further ado, below I unveil the following pictorial representation that captures, in my professional opinion, “what is happening under the hood” with Interactive Metronome (IM) technology, particularly as it relates to improved attention, focus, and thinking efficiency.
A few interesting video gems for your viewing.
First, forget multitasking and try mono-tasking. Focus on just one thing...it may be beneficial.
“Ned the Neuron” and “Your Fantastic Elastic brain”: Let’s educate our children about their brains and brain fitness.
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.
As noted in the latest IM-HOME post, the annual IM conference was viewed as a huge success. I was fortunate to be the invited keynote speaker. The title of my address was “I think…therefore IM.” As noted in the most recent IM-HOME post, the IM staff is busy editing the video of all presentations, including my address. I am anxious for the final edited videos to be announced.
In early posts at the IM-HOME blog, I described the initial stages of my interest in the IM technology. One of the primary keys to my interest was the stunning fact that IM has been reported to improve a variety of different human performance outcomes in vastly different domains. These included stroke rehabilitation, golf swing, reading achievement, and ADHD. I have written that for this to be plausible, IM must be impacting some form of brain-based domain-general (jack-of-all-trades) mechanism.
LATEST GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH: Another study reports positive impact of IM on reading achievement...
I just learned that the following article is soon to be published (click here for journal info)
This is the second peer-reviewed article to demonstrate a significant positive impact of Interactive Metronome (IM) training on certain reading behaviors in a study with both experimental and control groups. The other study was one I was involved with (Taub, McGrew, & Keith, 2007; the abstract is presented below). You can access that complete 2007 manuscript at the Brain Clock blog.
I Think…Therefore IM (or…IM…therefore I think—better!): Preview of Dr. Kevin McGrew’s (aka, the Time Doc2) IM Conference Presentation
In a couple of weeks I will be the keynote speaker at the annual Interactive Metronome Professional Conference in San Antonio, TX. I will speak for approximately 1.5 hours and have much to share. At this time I thought I would give a small preview (aka, a “tease”) of some of the content I will be presenting. I have recorded a very brief video (6.5 minutes) where I explain some of the key concepts I will be describing (and expanding on) during my presentation. I hope you enjoy. This is a self-made video with an iPhone (on a tripod pointed at my computer as I go thru PowerPoint slides)—so be gentle.
IM-HOME readers may have wondered why I have been MIA from the IM-HOME blog. I simply have been swamped this summer. I have been very busy accumulating the latest brain network research—research that has direct relevance to understanding how IM improves focus, controlled attention, working memory, and executive functions. The problem has been that the research literature has been exploding at such a rate that I can barely keep up with reading it—let alone write about it.
But…I now have a goal to start blogging (again) on a regular basis.
First, I want to thank IM for the advance press regarding my IM Keynote in October. The pressure is on.
The law of individual differences is the only proven law in psychology. This law has resulted in decades of research regarding theories and models of intelligence and individual differences in intelligence. Within the past two decades a general consensus has emerged from the psychometric intelligence research that the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory of intelligenceis the most empirically supported taxonomy for understanding the structure of human intelligence.
[Note – this is the first in a series of posts intended to present an integration of intelligence, cognitive neuroscience, and applied neuroscience research with the goal to advance a set of hypotheses or model(s) that explain how the Interactive Metronome® (IM) technology results in improved cognitive functioning—specifically focus or controlled attention]
Jim Cassily was the inventor of the patented technology behind Interactive Metronome®. Through a serendipitous set of events I recently learned about the early days of his development of the original “time machine.” The purpose of this post is to share a portion of Jim Cassily’s role in the IM story. I give special thanks to Jim’s wife, Katie, who has graciously supplied me with original documents, pictures, and anecdotes regarding Jim’s passion for sharing the technology he developed to improve the lives of others. I consider it an honor to amplify a portion of Jim’s legacy via efforts to share information regarding the brain-based mechanisms involved in the IM neurotechnology (see Brain Clock blog).
I have been blogging about brain-clock research at my home base (Brain Clock Blog) for many years and more recently have been blogging at the IM-Home website and blog. A problem with sharing information via blogging is that we bloggers make desired connections via hyperlinks. We insert them so the reader will read prior posts for related or background information. Often readers don’t want to take the time to bounce back and forth between linked stories...
As summarized in prior posts, neurocognitive research suggests that the predominant gear of our minds transmission is neutral. Our mental engine is working (idling) but to those observing us, our brain is not moving—we often do not appear cognitively engaged in any complex thinking or processing.
The typical person spends up to half their time engaged in the spontaneous chasing of miscellaneous thoughts down various rabbit holes of our minds. Our thought promiscuous mind wanders here-and-there when daydreaming (“zoning out”) or becoming trapped in a cycle of negative unchecked thoughts (e.g., rumination over negative unhappy thoughts; mania; obsessions). However, the unconstrained busy or wandering mind can also produce creative insights and thoughts. An unquiet or busy mind can be good or bad depending on the demands facing the individual at any given time. More importantly, the amount of optimal mind wandering may vary for different people.
I have been reading Winfred Gallagher’s 2009 book “RAPT: Attention and the focused life.” In many of my blog posts I maintain that Interactive Metronome (IM) training requires controlled attention—focus. I have further suggested that “on demand focus” is a potentially powerful tool. By this I mean one wants to train your brain to invoke focused attention when facing cognitively demanding tasks. However, 100% laser beam focus is not attainable, nor would one want to constantly be super focused. The mind wandering of the default brain networkneeds to be shut down to focus. However, unfettered mind wandering can allow for creative thought (and also the flip side—ruminations of irrational or bad thoughts).
ADHD as a brain network dysfunction—IM as a tool to “fine tune” and control this network.
The explosion of research on large scale brain networks, and the “resting state” or “default mode or default network” in particular, has been dizzying. I previously reviewedkey brain network research describing the interaction between the default, salience (attention) and executive controlled networks. The most important conclusion, which was reinforced by my personal experiencewith Interactive Metronome (IM), is that problems with controlled attention (focus) may be responsible for a number of the behavioral symptoms of ADHD—and this is due to the poor ability to suppress the random self-talk “background noise” of the default brain network. [Click herefor related IM-HOME ADHD posts; click herefor ADHD- related Brain Clock.]
The "Time Doc" (K. McGrew) Voice of America interview on focus and "quieting the busy mind"
Why is a scholar in intelligence theory and testing spending time working with and researching the brain-clock based neurotechnology of Interactive Metronome?
I have now explained this connection on my recent Internet radio show interview. In it you will learn why IM technology appears to increase focus (controlled attention; working memory) in a manner similar to mindfulness meditation and other brain fitness programs. You will learn that these technologies help to "quiet the busy" mind that is due to the default brain network, via the strengthening of the salience and central executive networks. The connection with general intelligence (g) is also discussed via Jensen's neural efficiency hypothesis and the temporal g notion of neural efficiency. If you want to read more, check out the Time Doc's posts at the IM-Home blog (check for posts under my name or under the category of "science"... and be sure to click on "see other stories" if it does not give you all the posts) These include the Time Doc's own personal experience with the IM-Home brain clock based technology... Read more...
Alertness versus focus: Same or different?
Often upon completing a brief description of the benefits of IM to an individual, which centers on the benefits of increased controlled attention or “on demand focus”, people often ask me why not just drink one of those highly advertised energy drinks. These drinks claim to increase alertness, attention, energy and focus. Drinking an energy drink is much easier when compared to committing to IM training for three weekly hour sessions over a period of 4-5 weeks
In general, the primary claim of these energy drinks is increased alertness. Thus, it is important to understand that alertness is not the same as controlled attention or focus. Given all the claims circulating in the “cognitive enhancement” market place (energy drinks, brain fitness technologies), it is important that the discourse be scientifically-based and grounded in a professional consensus of terms. So let me attempt to add some order to the increasing confusion of terms.
I first turn to the highly respected Annual Review of Psychologyfor an article published by Posner and Rosthbart (2007).Their comprehensive research review makes a distinction between three different attention networks—alerting, orienting, and executive attention. These three different attention networks are orchestrated by different areas of the brain (see figure below). They also differ in the primary neurotransmitters utilized by each system---alerting (acetylcholine), orienting (norepinephrine), and executive (dopamine). Although related and often working collaboratively, they are different forms of attention.
You are a time machine
Time and space are the two fundamental dimensions of our lives. All forms of human behavior require us to process and understand information we receive from our environment in either spatial or temporal patterns. Even though mental timing (temporal processing) research is in a stage of infancy (when compared to spatial processing) important insights regarding the human brain clock have emerged.
Below is a list (albeit incomplete) of some of the major conclusions regarding the human brain clock. The sources for these statements come from my review of the temporal processing and brain clock literature during the past five years. Most of this information has been disseminated at the Brain Clock blog or the Brain Clock Evolving Web of Knowledge (EWOK). The goal of this post is to provide a Readers Digest summary of the major conclusions. This material can serve as a set of "talking points" at your next social event where you can impress your friends and family as you explain why you use the high-tech IM "clapper" (with a cowbell tone no less) either as a provider or as client.
Our brains measure time constantly. It's hard to find any complex human behavior where mental timing is not involved. Timing is required to walk, talk, perform complex movements and coordinate information flow across the brain for complex human thought. Think about moving your arm and hand to grasp a coffee cup. The messages to perform this task originate in your brain, which is not directly connected to your arm, hands and fingers. The ability to perform the necessary motor movements is possible only because the mind and extremities are connected via timing. Precisely timed neural messages connect your brain and extremities. You are a time machine.
U snooze and you lose. I had received an advanced copy of Sebastian Seung's Connectome and had hoped to make one of the first book review posts about it. I simply could not find time to read it fast enough and the professionals have already weighed in on the book...so you might as well read their reviews. I have a few minor comments.
I agree with the review in the Wall Street Journal review that this may be one of the best written books on the basics of brain science. Keeping up with contemporary neuroscience and placing it in the context of what I learned during my training and professional experiences has been hard. As I read some of the material that I consider "review" I realized that it was not just a review for me, but it helped my mind see the forrest-from-the-trees re: the neuroscience knowledge I had accumulated---but had not taken time to distill. It is a very good introductory book for the educated lay public on brain science and a nice "organizing review" for professionals.
Another review, which is more an excerpt of of the essence of the book is now also available at the brain fitness heart of the internet--SharpBrains.
My only complaint is that I had hoped it would deal more with the exciting research being completed by the Human Connectome Project. The project receives mention, but Seung then tends to dismiss the approach in favor of his ideas on how to understand the human mind at different level of the connectome. In contrast, I am increasingly excited with the research on brain networks...and ultimately the brain connectome.
Finally, you can listen and watch Seung speaking about connectomes during his TED talk.
IM is measuring and changing something real and important
No human investigation can be called real science if it cannot be demonstrated mathematically
Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on Painting (1651)
Progress in science depends on new techniques, new discoveries and new ideas, probably in that order
Sydney Brenner (1980)
At the core of the IM intervention technology is a precise measurement system. To users and clinicians the IM measurement system is transparent. Yet, without the valid and precise measurement system, IM would not work.
In my “Brain or neural efficiency: Is it quickness or timing?” post, I advanced the hypothesis that the effectiveness of Interactive Metronome may be due to IM operating on a fundamental dimension of brain or neural efficiency, which intelligence scholars also relate to general intelligence (g). I have also suggested that this mechanism improves control of attention and may allow individuals to “quiet a busy mind”and invoke “on-demand focus.”
As an applied intelligence test developer (click here), I have been intrigued by the underlying precise millisecond-based measurement system which is the heart of IM technology. IM technology would not work if the underlying measurement system could not reliably measure differences in synchronized metronome tapping between individuals and changes within the same individual over repeated sessions.