Banging your head repeatedly against the brick wall of teachers’ stupidity helps increase blood flow to your frontal lobes

February 16th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, brain gym | 105 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday February 16 2008

As time passes, largely against my will, I have become a student of nonsense. More importantly, I’ve become interested in why some forms of nonsense can lucratively persist, where others quietly fail. Brain Gym continues to produce more email than almost any other subject: usually it is from teachers, eager to defend the practice, but also from children, astonished at the sheer stupidity of what they are being taught.

As you will remember, Brain Gym is a set of perfectly good fun exercise break ideas for kids, which costs a packet and comes attached to a bizarre and entirely bogus pseudoscientific explanatory framework. They tell you to rub either side of your breast bone, in a special Brain Gym way called Brain Buttons: “This exercise stimulates the flow of oxygen-carrying blood through the carotid arteries to the brain to awaken it and increase concentration and relaxation. Brain buttons lie directly over and stimulate the carotid arteries.” Through your ribcage. Without using scissors.

They’re keen on drinking water. Fair enough. But why? “Processed foods,” says the Brain Gym manual, “do not contain water.” Is there water in soup? No. “All other liquids are processed in the body as food, and do not serve the body’s water needs.” This ridiculousness comes at very great cost, paid for by you, the taxpayer, in thousands of state schools. It is peddled directly to your children by their credulous and apparently moronic teachers.

If you like scandals, then this is one. The very same person who tells your child that blood is pumped around the lungs and then the body by the heart, is also telling them that when they do The Energizer exercise then “this back and forward movement of the head increases the circulation to the frontal lobe for greater comprehension and rational thinking”.

Beyond the stupidity of some headteachers, how has Brain Gym survived? A clue can be found in a set of experiments from the March 2008 edition of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, which elegantly show that people will buy into bogus explanations much more readily when they are dressed up with a few technical words from the world of neuroscience. Subjects were given descriptions of various psychology phenomena, and then randomly offered one of four explanations for them: the explanations either contained neuroscience, or didn’t; and they were either good explanations or bad ones (bad ones being, for example, simply circular restatements of the phenomenon itself).

Here is one of their scenarios. Experiments have shown that people are quite bad at estimating the knowledge of others: if we know the answer to a piece of trivia, we overestimate the extent to which other people will know that answer too. A “without neuroscience” explanation for this phenomenon was: “The researchers claim that this [overestimation] happens because subjects have trouble switching their point of view to consider what someone else might know, mistakenly projecting their own knowledge on to others.” (This happened to be a “good” explanation.)

A “with neuroscience” explanation – and a cruddy one too – was this: “Brain scans indicate that this [overestimation] happens because of the frontal lobe brain circuitry known to be involved in self-knowledge. Subjects make more mistakes when they have to judge the knowledge of others. People are much better at judging what they themselves know.” The neuroscience information is irrelevant to the logic of the explanation.

The subjects were from three groups: everyday people, neuroscience students, and neuroscience academics. All three groups judged good explanations as more satisfying than bad ones, but the subjects in the two non-expert groups judged that the explanations with logically irrelevant neurosciencey information were more satisfying than the explanations without. What’s more, the bogus neuroscience information had a particularly strong effect on peoples’ judgments of bad explanations. As quacks are well aware, adding scientific-sounding but conceptually uninformative information makes it harder to spot a dodgy explanation.

An interesting question is why. The very presence of neuroscience information might be seen as a surrogate marker of a good explanation, regardless of what is actually said. As the researchers say, “something about seeing neuroscience information may encourage people to believe they have received a scientific explanation when they have not.”

brain-mould-big.jpg

More clues can be found in the extensive literature on irrationality. People tend, for example, to rate longer explanations as being more similar to “experts’ explanations”. There is also the “seductive details” effect: if you present related (but logically irrelevant) details to people, as part of an argument, that seems to make it more difficult for them to encode and later recall the main argument of a text, because attention is diverted.

But any meaningless filler, not just scientific jargon, can change behaviour: studies have found, for example, that people respond positively more often to requests with uninformative “placebo” information in them: office warriors will be interested to hear that “Can I use the photocopier? I have to make some copies,” is more successful than the simple “Can I use the photocopier?”

And more than all this, the public – although not scientists – express a rather Victorian fetish for reductionist explanations about the world (“expensive fish oil pills solve complex social problem in schools” being my favourite example). The neurosciencey language in this new “bogus neuroscience explanations” experiment – and in the Brain Gym literature – make us feel as if we have been given a physical explanation for a behavioural phenomenon (“an exercise break in class is refreshing”): we have made the behavioural phenomena feel somehow connected to a larger explanatory system, the physical sciences, the world of certainty, graphs, and unambiguous data.

Like descriptions of genetic risk factors for violence, this is a partial explanation, but it is not an excuse. Headteachers are still peddling Brain Gym across the UK. And I am writing all your names in my naughty book.

· Please send your bad science to bad.science@guardian.co.uk

References:

The original paper is great, free to access, and has some cracking one-liners. Read it.

The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations

Here is a serious paper looking at the ridiculous neuroscience assumptions behind Brain Gym (rather gratifyingly they reference me in it, I’ll have to crowbar that into my RAE).

Brain Gym[R]: Building Stronger Brains or Wishful Thinking?

Here is a PhD on the bogusity of the research on Brain Gym:

scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-04212001-144531/

The number of mentions for Brain Gym on government websites is truly eye watering.

www.google.co.uk/search?q=%22brain+gym%22+inurl%3Agov

And here are just a few of the thousands of schools in the UK which are using this nonsense:

www.google.co.uk/search?q=%22brain+gym%22+inurl%3Asch.uk

I had no idea we had so many morons in high places. Teaching children.

Luckily not all children are falling for it:

Here are two excellently cheeky kids demonstrating what happens when you do the incredibly powerful “Brain Buttons” exercise the wrong way around. You’ll have to turn the sound up, I like the bit where they say “yes, mm, and the scientists proved all this in 1985″.
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Meanwhile here are some teachers taking Brain Gym much more seriously.
.braingym2.JPG

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Do you want to know what they’re doing?

“Hook-ups shift electrical energy from the survival centres in the hindbrain to the reasoning centres in the midbrain and neocortex, thus activating hemispheric integration … the tongue pressing into the roof of the mouth stimulates the limbic system for emotional processing in concert with more refined reasoning in the frontal lobes”

The stupid. It burns.


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105 Responses



  1. jackpt said,

    February 16, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Heh. Good piece. The stupid doesn’t just burn, it stuns. If there’s a neurosciency explanation for didactic stupidity stunning a blog comment poster into a content-free comment, please let me know. There must be a simple explanation :). Maybe I should rub my chin.

  2. bazzargh said,

    February 16, 2008 at 2:33 am

    I’m sure brain gym is just the latest Dana Wyse artwork…
    www.tag.bc.ca/dynamic/artwork_display.asp?ArtworkID=214

  3. Dr* T said,

    February 16, 2008 at 7:44 am

    From a ‘sales’ point of view, you’ve got to be impressed with someone being able to sell tap water and minimal movement for lots of money, to lots of people, with repeat business.

    It’s the one thing that I find incredible about quackery.

    See also: Homeopathy.

  4. Sceptiphreniac said,

    February 16, 2008 at 7:49 am

    I am a secondary school teacher, and I’m certainly not eager to defend the practice, being in full agreement with Ben’s remarks in this area.
    Ben’s comment about the teachers who do it being “moronic” does not apply to the one teacher in our school who is most open about her use of brain gym: she’s one of the best, if not the best, teacher that we’ve got. She’s certainly a lot better than me. I think the reason for this is as Ben has said in an earlier article on Brain Gym. The techniques work as exercises in between study, and also as something that everyone in the class can do successfully, which helps bring the class together. This is probably why she likes it. The explanatory framework is of course barking at the moon, and I have to grit my teeth every time she mentions it.

  5. Moganero said,

    February 16, 2008 at 8:03 am

    sticking my two-pennorth in I emailed the folowing to The Standards Site Brain Gym page
    at www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/thinkingskills/resources/565248

    “It’s about time that this expensive and totally unscientifically validated technique was seen for what it is – a fraud. There is no valid evidence for either its theoretical soundness or for its claimed benefits. To see an exposé of this visit www.badscience.net/?p=613

    Let’s see if it generates any response.

  6. ACH said,

    February 16, 2008 at 8:05 am

    That papaer that refernces you also calls you a “British newspaper reporter”

  7. Daniel Rutter said,

    February 16, 2008 at 8:49 am

    I’d be interested to learn what effect Brain Gym has on the crockus.

  8. Dudley said,

    February 16, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Give the kids their own column.

  9. PhilEdwards said,

    February 16, 2008 at 11:47 am

    What really irritated me was when my son was set Brain Gym *homework* – one week he had to devise a new ‘brain break’ exercise. ‘Brain break’ signifies exercises like touching your nose with your left hand and your left ear with your right hand, then switching to right hand on nose and left hand on *right* ear, and repeat – only usually more complicated. They’re fiendishly difficult to do at any speed, and to be fair they probably do break up the monotony of lessons. But ‘brain break’… furrfu.

  10. Mojo said,

    February 16, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    For some reason I misread “brain break” in Phil’s post for “brain leak”, whatever that is…

  11. Mojo said,

    February 16, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Ambrielle said, “I would love to hear from some teachers who believe, despite all the evidence it is pseudo-scientific crock.”

    The thing is that there’s no reason to assume that all the actual exercises are “pseudo-scientific crock” – it’s the explanations. Ben cites a paper saying that “people will buy into bogus explanations much more readily when they are dressed up with a few technical words from the world of neuroscience”, or put more succinctly “bullshit baffles brains”.

    It’s not so much the acceptance of bogus exercises here, as the acceptance of the pseudoscientific (and unnecessarily complicated) explanations for the use and design of those exercises. If you were to simply say “give the kids some breathing/coordination/whatever exercises as a break in the lessons, it would probably be just as effective as the brain gym stuff.

    The issue is that they’re using pseudoscientific explanations to persuade people that there’s something going on here that is more difficult and complicated than it actually is, and using this as a pretext for charging large amounts of money for advice which, when you actually look at it, largely comes down to the bleeding obvious (with a little added bollocks). See also “nutritionists”, Feng Shui etc.

  12. raygirvan said,

    February 16, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    My wife’s an ex-teacher: she tells me, regrettably, that schools/teachers are very prone to this kind of misinformation. Staff noticeboard produced a regular stream of officially-distributed garbage: typically urban-myth-type warnings like “Blue Star” tattoos. Maybe it’s something to do with the system: heavy workload and overload of official information and diktats, making it too hard and time-consuming to critically assess every damn thing; plus a top-down hierarchy where it’s not good for the career to question the latest brainless idea the head / PTA / governing body has decided to introduce.

  13. pv said,

    February 16, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    and using this as a pretext for charging large amounts of money for advice which, when you actually look at it, largely comes down to the bleeding obvious

    My thoughts exactly. It’s a con trick.
    The really sad thing I think is that most, if not all, the pseudo-scientific explanations are demonstrably nonsense – and that teachers are buying into it. It’s not a particularly palatable thing to have to consider and possible something that teachers themselves (particularly head teachers) should be ashamed of.

  14. woodchopper said,

    February 16, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Just watched the video. I love the bit where the kid makes the metal sign at the end ;-)

  15. LeonStander said,

    February 16, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Ben, I’m so glad you’re debunking this nonsense. I’m a school principal (head teacher) at a special school in South Africa. We’ve been approached by Brain Gym practitioners on numerous occasions and we’ve even allowed them to make presentations at the school. We used their presentations as exercises in critical thinking, evidence evaluation and recognising pseudoscience for our teachers and therapists.

    Teachers in ordinary schools, however, tend to be gullible when it comes to pseudoscience – “genetic” brain profiles, whole-brain half-wittery and multiple intelligences are all well represented in education.

  16. Robert Carnegie said,

    February 16, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    I’m confused about carotid arteries, how many each person has and where, even after reading en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotid_artery – well, glancing at it, without pictures. I’m afraid of what the pictures might be of. But it seems to be saying that at ribcage level you have at most one of the things. Of course in a large class, that’s one per pupil.

    Kids being assigned to make up their own Brain Gym exercises is marvellous. Do they get to make up the scientific explanations as well?

    I suppose that a prescribed and signalled physical activity may be a remedy against students fidgeting the rest of the time, may give the brain’s abstract symbolic reasoning lobes a bit of a rest for a moment, not to mention the eyes, and even stimuulate blood flow – they say that watching television can bring on a low-metabolic trance state, but I think Double Geography is worse. But that isn’t what they’re saying, is it?

  17. raygirvan said,

    February 17, 2008 at 1:24 am

    I’m confused about carotid arteries
    What they do inside the chest is academic. All you need to worry about is that they’re the two big ones that run up your throat to your head on each side. If they’re cut, you’re dead. If they’re squeezed hard, you’re dead.

  18. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 17, 2008 at 1:41 am

    that’s the short and long of it. oh, and if you tickle them through your tits its makes you a frickin genius.

  19. raygirvan said,

    February 17, 2008 at 2:29 am

    Ah, forgot that bit. And we won’t talk about what happens if you’re pervy and squeeze them softly.

  20. Charliesgirl said,

    February 17, 2008 at 4:04 am

    I work at a primary school in Brisbane, Australia. Brain gym snake oil merchants have been hovering around the peripheries of educational circles here for a few years now. I had to endure an afternoon after work a couple of years ago where this nonsense was peddled as Professional Development (PD). I was so taken aback by some of the presenter’s statements, eg that water is absorbed through the roof of the mouth – that I spoke up. I was a lone voice, and for my trouble was ‘spoken to’ ie disciplined by my principal (UK equivalent headmaster) the next morning and had to apologise. I did apologise for being rude (which I was) but did not resile from my position that brain gym is pseudoscientific piffle at its most insidious. I was told that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that the program works. I replied that anecdote isn’t evidence, and that I’d wait until the results of a proper randomised and controlled trial proving the benefit of brain gym have been run. That’s when I’ll change my mind.
    I have just posted the link to the article on this page to my work colleagues.
    I really do think that those of us who are in education need to be prepared to run the risk of being pilloried and/or upsetting people to state our case. Someone much wiser than me once said that not to speak out about a wrong is the same as condoning it.
    The powers that be in education are always looking for quick and cheap magic bullet solutions. Brain gym promises this magic bullet and as such is very attractive to bureaucrats. The marketing ploy is very seductive. We can provide your staff with PD and the books (at cost $$$$$) for this program which will solve all of these problems!

  21. igb said,

    February 17, 2008 at 8:56 am

    “I was a lone voice, and for my trouble was ’spoken to’ ie disciplined by my principal (UK equivalent headmaster) the next morning and had to apologise.”

    My mother, a retired secondary teacher, has the theory that all teachers (she includes herself) end up with the mentality of the age group they teach. Presumably by extension primary heads end up with the attitudes of teachers of four year olds. Four year olds do sometimes need to be told to sit down, shut up and do as they’re told: the way in which primary teachers are cowed by their heads (disproportionately male, bearing in mind the demographic of the teaching staff) is similar, but inappropriate.

    There’s also the horrible collaborationist tendency of the teaching profession (note the claims in other articles that “I nearly spoke out”…but didn’t). There’s a school in Birmingham where the head decided SATs were a waste of time, so refused to do them. The governors were nervous, but backed her. Some years have passed, and nothing’s happened: no sacking, no loss of funding, nothing. It’s like the way the public sector regards “someone vaguely threatening to talk to a solicitor about vaguely thinking about writing a letter” as equivalent to losing a case in the Court of Appeal. Teachers need to grow a backbone, and tell headmasters to fuck off when they get out of line. Honestly, nothing will happen. Schools need to grow a backbone and tell parents to fuck off too: once a few litiginous parents had their houses taken from them when the authority recovered costs the problem would go away.

    It’s a failing of teaching today (probably caused by all the women in it): a horrible consensus style of management, which means that no-one will speak out against rubbish because it’ll offend, and no-one will drive problems through resolution because that will involve conflict. If someone’s talking rubbish, tell them so. There and then. If the head takes you to one side, laugh in his face.

  22. BSM said,

    February 17, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I’m still interested in who within the educational establishment is either tacitly or actively condoning this nonsense and their motives.

    As chair of governors at a primary school I was offered and received the Equazen eye-Q fish oil information pack. The bad science was not as scary as the obvious fact that Equazen had received so much co-operation from the school and education department involved in creating their publicity materials. I’d very much like to know what their contractual relationships were.

    The fact that Ben’s Freedom of Information requests to pursue this matter were just fobbed off or ignored was appalling. Bad Science, meet Bad Politics.

  23. dirtyboy said,

    February 17, 2008 at 11:48 am

    STOPTHEPRESS!
    I have discovered a new and better alternative to Brain Gym!
    It works along similar lines and uses the same scientific principles, but instead of stimulating my brain buttons, what I do is use an area of the body I like to call my Centre Of Creative Knowledge. Now, when I stimulate this Centre Of Creative Knowledge, it massively increases blood-flow to the area (this is really tue!). After only a few minutes of vigorous stimulation I am overcome by great feelings of relaxation and stress-relief (albeit with concurrent feelings of hollowness and a sense that my life maybe hasn’t worked out the way I really wanted – but this is only temporary) and my ability to concentrate is much improved.
    Now I’m thinking of setting up my own company to promote this healthy and enjoyable activity in all schools. Hooray!

  24. zooloo said,

    February 17, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    dirtyboy… an excellent idea.

    Perhaps a more advanced stage could be conjoined Centre Of Creative Knowledge exercises as I believe the ancient principles of Ying and Yang can aid the quantum holistic experience.

    Any suggestions for a name for the first group and perhaps for what the second group are afterwards – could these names be applied to advocates of brain gym too?

  25. gadgeezer said,

    February 17, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    desperate educationalists learning umpteen delusions of educational deliverance

    atrocious ideas rampant - harm education, academia – despair (of) scientists

    or

    charismatic hucksters aided (by) neuroscience-y charts – education racketeers (and) snake-doctors

  26. emmer said,

    February 17, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    That is the most twatty thing I have ever read and I don’t know how you can bear not to throw your computer out of the window.

  27. avraamov said,

    February 17, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    igb:

    “It’s a failing of teaching today (probably caused by all the women in it):”

    This is your mother speaking. Go and stand in the corner and stay there until i say so.

  28. emmer said,

    February 17, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    That brain gym+gov google search has some very disturbing results. I really don’t like the utterly uncritical brain gym link on this ‘a framework for dyslexia’ resources page:
    www.dfes.gov.uk/readwriteplus/understandingdyslexia/approachesprogrammes/physiological/

    though I don’t know whether any of the other ‘physiological approaches’ are any more credible – how can you tell?

    I do think teachers are more susceptible to faddy initiatives than other front-line workers, but I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s nice and quite rare as a teacher to have someone taking the time to give you the theory behind something – teachers are on such a treadmill they rarely have an opportunity to reflect on the rationale behind what they’re doing .

  29. emmer said,

    February 17, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    oh, and I agree that it’s the local and national government whose scientific moronity needs addressing rather than the teachers if this sort of thing is going to stop.

  30. Ambrielle said,

    February 18, 2008 at 4:26 am

    It’s just not good enough that teachers “are no more likely than the general public to fall for this kind of thing.”, and has been suggested, may be more susceptible to fads. Maybe I’m expecting too much, but teachers should be held to a higher standard as they are teaching the next generation. How is education to improve with lazy attitudes towards critical thinking? Although I agree with other commenters that upper management and government policy has a lot to answer for.

  31. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 18, 2008 at 9:19 am

    these are teachers, filling young uncallibrated minds with nonsense, and betraying their position of responsibilility.

    i have a great deal of symptathy for the idea that quacks are not exploiting people, because their customers are adults who are perfectly capable of making their own foolish decisions. in fact, i would go so far as to say that when adults die because of their choice of quack remedies – which is unusual – then that is not the fault of the quack but of the customer.

    however, with teachers, there is no excuse. i respect their autonomy, i think there are a lot of great teachers around, but i absolutely stand by my use of language earlier: if a teacher plays along with the nonsense of brain gym then that is indeed moronic, and dangerous too.

    children are predisposed to take their world view from the adults around them, that’s the point of being a teacher. what is brain gym teaching them? to be gullible consumers of fantastical pseudoscientific garbage? that truth doesnt matter? that sciencey sounding words are just there to sell stuff? that you can just make science up?

    brain gym is so ridiculous that i would be tempted to say that any teacher who stands by while this rubbish is peddled to children in their school without speaking out is similarly responsible. brain gym has grown and grown, this is now absolute mainstream in british schools. it’s a national scandal and there’s not much evidence of teachers standing up to it, with rare exceptions

    digitalkatie.typepad.com/blog/brain_gym/index.html

    i have, incidentally, done a fair bit of digging, and although there is a lot of mention of brain gym on gov websites this seems to be reactive, and often fairly neutral, like “some people use this”, i can’t find much evidence of it being pushed by government. i’m happy to be informed otherwise, but brain gym seems to me to be a massive grass roots movement pushed autonously and locally by teachers across the country.

  32. unhurt said,

    February 18, 2008 at 10:51 am

    igb: It’s a failing of teaching today (probably caused by all the women in it)

    i do hope you’re being sarcastic. otherwise i would like to tell you to stuff it up your miserable sexist arse. are you all in favour of critical thinking except when you would rather trot out lazy stereotypes?

    and now i’ve forgotten what i was actually going to say in support of the consesus here (evangelical emails excluded, of course). i will be asking my teacherly relatives if this crap has made an appearance in their parts of the scottish education system.

  33. Lafayette said,

    February 18, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Now if we can just combine Brain Gym with Scientology’s Applied Scholastics….

    www.study-tech.org/

  34. Lafayette said,

    February 18, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    “maybe the teachers do not have enough scientific knowledge to allow them to critically assess this brian jim bollocks.”

    And this is the real crux of the problem because teachers are educators and Brain Gym is being sold as an educative tool. You are right, of course, that not all teachers will have enough of a scientific understanding to critically assess BG, but within the infrastructure of a school there should be somebody capable of doing so. Conscientious educators ought to find out from someone who knows better than them whether BG is baloney or not; that there appears to be no way nor any inclination to do so is a very real worry.

  35. Ephiny said,

    February 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    “Purely anectdotal but haveing two sons at primary school where most, nearly all, teachers are female, there is one male teacher in a school of approx 400 children, I do not think most of the teachers come from a scientific backgound. ”

    Sorry to pick on this comment in particular, but I notice several people have made the observations that primary school teaching is female-dominated (probably true) and that primary school teachers don’t tend to have a scientific background (also quite possibly true) and mnay of you seem to be implying that there’s a connection between these things. Where does that come from? Because as far as I know, there are at least as many women as men studying and working in medicine and the life sciences, and presumably this is the most relevant ‘scientific background’ here.

    The implication seems to be that the teachers are bad at science because they’re predominantly women, and women are more likely to be bad at science. But I’m not aware of any evidence for that. I agree it would be great to see more people with a strong background in the sciences going into teaching at all levels, and possibly it would be a good thing to see primary teaching and childcare become less gendered. However I’m not conviced these are the same issue.

  36. unhurt said,

    February 18, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    (also, what Ephiny said)

  37. Plebian said,

    February 18, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Looking at their website the FAQ section includes this interesting gem:

    “How does movement affect the brain? Do actual physical changes in the brain occur through the use of BRAIN GYM®?

    Yes. Briefly, BRAIN GYM® works by facilitating optimal achievement of mental potential through specific movement experiences. All acts of speech, hearing, vision, and coordination are learned through a complex repertoire of movements. BRAIN GYM® promotes efficient communication among the many nerve cells and functional centers located throughout the brain and sensory motor system. Blocks in learning occur when the body is tense and information cannot flow freely among these centers. The BRAIN GYM® movements stimulate this flow of information within the brain and sensory system, freeing the innate ability to learn and function at top efficiency.

    Surely this can be challanged through ASA? The mechanism mentioned is total bollocks – if you tense your muscles, you think slower.

    I think that people need to be more sympathetic towards teachers. I think that most will be genuinely interested to hear just how woo-woo the explanations are. Why don’t we come up with a Teachers’ Information Pack, detailing what Brain Gym proports to be and why what it says is nonsense. Correctly executed this could make a real difference.

    Re: Primary Teacher Gender –
    www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/xsdataset.asp?vlnk=185&More=Y
    In 1998 83% of Primary Teachers were women. I cant find exact figures but Science degrees are more likely to be studied by men than women, as anyone studying physics can attest. Therefore the simple logic is that on average the higher the propertion of women teachers, the lower the propertion of science educated teachers.
    This could bring the inference that women are ‘worse’ at science or are more ‘ditzy’ in general, however it obviously only suggests degree choice and nothing more.

  38. emidavis said,

    February 18, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Eleven-year-old Harry says; “It (brain gym, presumably) helps me concentrate and it stops me from running about the classroom like a lunatic”

    I’m not a school techer and it is a while since I was at school, but shouldn’t the teacher be preventing him from running around the classroom like a lunatic? And if he actually sat still, wouldn’t his concentration improve so he actually learnt something? Problem sorted without brain-gym.

    Congrats to the South African head teacher who used brain gym sales presentations as training exercises for crtical thinking and evaluating psuedo-science. At least some benefit may be derived from yet another attempt to milk tax payers’ money.

  39. Diotima said,

    February 18, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Isuspect that ‘brain gym’ is a belated offshoot of a ‘controversial’ (ie useless) treatment for autism, ‘psychomotor patterning’. The assumption is that an autistic or brain damaged child can have his or her brain ‘rewired’ by a series of regular manipulations of the body. Of course parents will try anything in these circumstances. I met a woman who believed that her seriously brain-damaged son would be ‘cured’ by this method. The ‘method’ was dreamed up by Dolman and Delacato about 30 years ago: they set up some sort of Institute in Philadelphia to promote it.

  40. Phil said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Last year, during your initial BrainGym coverage I was alarmed to hear my 6 year old son talking about it. So I dutifully made an appointment to see the headteacher and sent copies of your articiles ahead of time so they could be digested. To be honest I was’nt expecting much, but I had’nt prepared myself for a full on defence of the system. The teachers had apparently noticed an improvement therefore BrainGym MUST work! I walked out pretty angry and dumbfounded!

    Phil

  41. Ephiny said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    “Science degrees are more likely to be studied by men than women, as anyone studying physics can attest. ”

    I think that depends very much on the particular science subject. I am quite prepared to believe that physics is still male-dominated (similarly comp sci and engineering in my experience, though maths seems to be surprisingly close to 50/500 these days), but that doesn’t mean that science generally has the same lack of balance – look at a class of biology or biochemistry or medical students and you will see quite a different picture.
    In any case, I imagine there are very few physics (or any science) graduates of any gender teaching primary school, so the gender composition of physics courses is probably not particularly relevant here.

    “Therefore the simple logic is that on average the higher the propertion of women teachers, the lower the propertion of science educated teachers.”

    I don’t think it’s as simple as that at all. You can’t just say ‘if more men went into primary teaching, there would be more physicists in primary teaching’, because our jobs are not assigned to us randomly! Even if you did attract more men to teaching, you wouldn’t get a random sample of men, so there wouldn’t necessarily be a representative proportion of scientists among them. In fact there probably would not be.

  42. Ephiny said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    That would be 50/50, not 50/500, of course…

  43. Some Random Bloke said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    #49: Your correct response to that would have been to explain about the Hawthorne Effect:
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect

  44. xtian said,

    February 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I had an MRI done while I did brain buttons, and technician said there was a massive increase in activity in the Shatner’s Bassoon region.

  45. Delster said,

    February 18, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    “Hook-ups shift electrical energy from the survival centres in the hindbrain to the reasoning centres in the midbrain and neocortex, thus activating hemispheric integration …

    So this moves electrical energy… presumably thereby shorting out the synapses it moves into as they already are operating at normal loads?

    The body tense blocking learning comment… i wish they had told my corporal during basic training this as he seemed to think that giving us 50 push ups for a wrong answer would improve recall… funnily enough it did sharpen attention for some reason…

    About 30 years ago (when i was 10) my school had an outing to see a story teller. His technique for getting the kids to hold still was to get to a dramatic point in the story, pause and say have a wiggle… so all the kids would move aruond in their seats and then sit dead still and silent for the next 15-20 minutes. If you’ve ever been in an auditorium with 400+ kids then you know dead silence is almost unheard of.

    So instead of brain gym we could possibly just have teachers saying “have a wiggle” every now and then?

  46. randomness said,

    February 18, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Ok, cards on table time. I’m the head of a primary school and had been intrigued about Brain Gym when it first came out. I think many heads and teachers were partly because it was new (and we all like to be the first kid on the block with a new whatever).
    I didn’t purchase it though because I didn’t see how exercises and movements could be owned and sold. I did manage to blag some off the t’interweb and tried some with the kids (which they liked) but it just didn’t seem right.
    I like Plebian’s idea of a Teacher Information Pack (teachers would like that), but I guess it comes down to a “Who’s going to produce it?” scenario.
    I have to say though, that although teachers are graduate professionals, that doesn’t stop some of them from being stupid (in the same way that other graduate professionals can be) and doesn’t stop some of the sensible ones subscribing to stupid ideas. For instance many teachers seem to believe in god, so if they can believe in something that can by definition have no body of evidence to back it up, they’ll swallow the “evidence” of the efficacy of fish oil and Brain Gym hook-up, line and sinker.

  47. Neil Desperandum said,

    February 18, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    BG: if a teacher plays along with the nonsense of brain gym then that is indeed moronic, and dangerous too.

    It’s neither of the above. I’ve told you a gzillion time, Ben, not to exaggerate.

    Brain gym is mildly irritating.

    Teachers doing brain gym may be ignorant, but they’re not morons. They’re trying their best to make lessons interesting and varied for the little darlings. At least teachers trying brain gym are trying new strategies.

    Of course it’s bollocks, but how is a poor humanities graduate to tell? Go on, you decide which of the following is edu-bollocks: cognitive acceleration; VAK learning styles; emotional intelligence; multiple intelligences; drinking water; pupil voice; cooperative learning; walt & wilf; plenaries; assessment for learning; peer assessment; enrichment; mind-mapping; etc; etc; etc. Remember, you’ve got no time to do research before the bell goes. Heck, you don’t have time to go to the toilet most days.

    The people who sell brain gym should be tarred, feathered and rode on a rail. But the teachers need help. And more money. And longer holidays.

  48. Dr T. fortunei said,

    February 18, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Funnily enough, my 9 year old told me today they will be doing T’ai Chi every day at the moment (KS2 topic work, apparently). I’m sure it serves much the same basic function as BrainGym (i.e. a bit of a break, move around blabla & without the neurobabble), but is cheaper….!
    It concerns me mightily that any school would feel desparate enough to cough up for the BrainGym – they would have to be removing resources from something else, because it’s so limited. I can’t imagine what the discussion would be like justifying the cost…

  49. eveningperson said,

    February 18, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Well, Ben has gone down a few notches in my estimation. Perhaps he thinks that the information he has is readily available to everyone else, or perhaps he doesn’t realise that teachers don’t have the same autonomy that doctors have.

    It’s perfectly fair, of course, to try to explain WHY Brain Gym is junk. Is there any accessible critique of it that could readily be made available to people who are tempted by the neurononsense?

    But if you want to convince people, you have to make some effort to try to see things from their point of view and understand why they fall for it, not just call them names.

  50. davidgmwilson said,

    February 19, 2008 at 12:35 am

    what are we to make of this,

    www.lumosity.com/light/guardian.html

    and in the Guardian too, but then again in the Media section, looked at usually by us dumb arts graduates…

  51. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 19, 2008 at 12:37 am

    eveningperson:

    i have given a lengthy explanation of why this nonsense is appealing, as you request, complete with links to interesting experiments. this does rather make me suspect you are one of that elite band of posters who do not trouble themselves to read what they are commenting on, but in any case, i am happy to address the moron issue.

    what you are saying is that it requires specialist knowledge, information, and abilities to spot that this is nonsense:

    “Hook-ups shift electrical energy from the survival centres in the hindbrain to the reasoning centres in the midbrain and neocortex, thus activating hemispheric integration … the tongue pressing into the roof of the mouth stimulates the limbic system for emotional processing in concert with more refined reasoning in the frontal lobes”

    and

    “Processed foods do not contain water.” “All other liquids are processed in the body as food, and do not serve the body’s water needs.”

    i don’t think anybody needs specialist information to spot the nonsense there. i think it is very obviously nonsense, and it will be obviously nonsense to large numbers of teachers in schools. some of them will laugh it off. some of them protest, such as science teachers, and some of them have written to me, and all of them have told me that they were ignored in their schools, often on the grounds of some ill thought out flappymindedness involving “different varieties of truth”.

    doubtless there are different stories about the local politics of how and why this nonsense is adopted in different schools, but it is transparent nonsense, there is no excuse, and it is thoroughly and undeniably moronic. there is no other term for it. i don’t call people who fall for quacks fools, nor victims, because they are neither. i don’t call quacks exploitative, because usually it’s more complicated than that. but wih brain gym in schools the stakes are sufficiently high, and the people involved sufficiently into the territory of “should know better”, that i will embrace such judgements: teachers who buy into brain gym are very simply stupid, lazy, thoughtless, or irresponsible.

    i should add that like most posters i find the earlier suggestion that the penetrance of brain gym has anything to do with a preponderance of female teachers offensive and unpleasant.

  52. igb said,

    February 19, 2008 at 7:18 am

    [[ My comment about women, which seems to have exercised one commentator, is simply pointing out that groups of women tend to resolve difference by consensus-seeking, groups of men by conflict. Indeed, when it’s convenient, women tend to advance that as an advantage: emotional intelligence, and all that. It’s cultural, not innate: I work for a Japanese company, where conflict is avoided at all costs by all. It is a rare woman who will stick her hand up and say “this is all bollocks” while a room full of her colleagues nod along to the rhythms of the speaker. If the person who calls that observation sexist disagrees, great.
    And so far as I know I always post under my own initials. ]]

    “Of course it’s bollocks, but how is a poor humanities graduate to tell? Go on, you decide which of the following is edu-bollocks: cognitive acceleration; VAK learning styles; emotional intelligence; multiple intelligences; drinking water; pupil voice; cooperative learning; walt & wilf; plenaries; assessment for learning; peer assessment; enrichment; mind-mapping; etc; etc; etc. Remember, you’ve got no time to do research before the bell goes. Heck, you don’t have time to go to the toilet most days.”

    Perhaps is nasty cynical engineering professional in me, but all of them are bollocks until proven otherwise. Thirty seconds of reading google page summaries identifies all the ones that claim to divide children into distinct `types’ or `groups’ as certainly wrong. I got a lecture on VAK from a gullible colleague who’d been on a training course about learning styles for professional development: I’ve never heard so much tosh since TQM was at its peak.

    Educators would do well to read the highlights of 1970s software engineering debates, notably Brooks’ “No Silver Bullets”, and then google for `Pathological Science’. Simple models that advance simple solutions to long-standing and seemingly intractable problems are almost always wrong. Anything which claims to be able to teach you do something previously thought difficult in a week is bollocks. Anything which claims to reveal simple typologies in complex systems is bollocks (all those personality inventory type things beloved of HR departments: tosh).

    There are no silver bullets.

  53. superburger said,

    February 19, 2008 at 9:25 am

    are you *sure* moron is a good word – like imbecile and cretin and retard its got its own ‘scientific’ meaning.

    “tosser” is a much better description.

  54. superburger said,

    February 19, 2008 at 9:27 am

    @ Neil Desperandum

    “Teachers doing brain gym may be ignorant, but they’re not morons. They’re trying their best to make lessons interesting and varied for the little darlings. At least teachers trying brain gym are trying new strategies.”

    Why not just do the exercises without any of the science-ish nonsense?

    Don’t think anyones claimed there’s any harm in taking a 5 minute break during quadruple maths.

  55. Pepper said,

    February 19, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Sorry for off-topic.

    “Quackometer silenced!”
    Here is info:
    gimpyblog.wordpress.com/

    It is really silenced. Try:
    www.quackometer.net/blog/

  56. eveningperson said,

    February 19, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Ben,
    I didn’t ask why ‘this nonsense is appealing’, I asked what attempts have been made to explain to non-specialists why what the BG people are claiming is nonsense.

    Neil Desperandum summed it up well. Yes, those things you quoted DO require specialist knowledge to know whether they are true or false (your blog won’t let me copy and paste and I can’t be arsed to type them out again), and superficially they look as real as some of the amazing things that you can read in New Scientist and the Guardian. You have that knowledge from an early stage of your med training, but history, art, language etc. graduates do not necessarily have it.

    And for them, it may not be worth the effort of getting that knowledge – after all, the actual exercises are simply fun breaks that most of the students seem to enjoy. They might actually be beneficial in a classroom setting but not because of the gobbledygook that BG puts out.

    I had no part of the discussion about ‘female teachers’. (Aren’t a majority of the entrants to medical training now women, too?) I noted that many things that teachers do are now determined from above. My own hypothesis is that there has been an increase in this sort of thing because of the insistence that schools and universities, like the NHS, adopt ideas (and managers) from business that are really inappropriate to the professional setting.

    One of the remarkable things about hard-headed business people is that they tend to be, in actuality, highly credulous, and readily fall for nonsense peddled by management consultants and books, economists, feng shui practitioners and what have you, as long as it fits what they want to believe. I put this down to the fact they work in a high-risk environment where success is much more the result of luck than skill, and so anything that claims to manage that risk is attractive. Rather like primitive man seeking the help of gods and spirits, really.

  57. David Mingay said,

    February 19, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I always take a 5 minute break during every double period. It doesn’t seem to matter what the kids do, but so long as I get a quick fag at the back of the kitchens, I find we all start the second half of the lesson refreshed and stimulated.

  58. JoanCrawford said,

    February 19, 2008 at 11:33 am

    “Why not just do the exercises without any of the science-ish nonsense?”

    Superburger, I would expect teachers to break up their lessons with energising diversions every now and again; it seems like good practice.

    But you, you evil pervert, you seek to take the very royalties out of the mouths of Brain Gym directors.

    Shame on you!

  59. superburger said,

    February 19, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    ‘I would expect teachers to break up their lessons with energising diversions every now and again; it seems like good practice.

    right kids, smoke break, back here in 5 minutes or else.

  60. emilypk said,

    February 19, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    “Science degrees are more likely to be studied by men than women, as anyone studying physics can attest. ”

    I think that depends very much on the particular science subject.
    —————
    Indeed, life sciences and veterinary mediciane are predominantly female as are many other scientific and scientificially-based disciplines.

    And if people with a solid science background don’t go into teaching maybe it has something to do with it being an underpaid, thankless job prone to ‘fads from above’ and being criticised and condescended to rabidly by the world at large. I very much doubt that most teachers give a damn about brain gym twaddle but teaching has been largely ‘teacher-proofed’ for years and they have to deliver the curriculum handed to them.

  61. BrickWall said,

    February 19, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    seasonticket suggests teachers were “good kids” back in the day. Well I certainly wasn’t and although I am no longer teaching (see below) myself and colleagues certainly didn’t cosy along with management. Indeed our Department were often in conflict with senior management and would always say if some new edict was absurd – result? Head of Department was removed over the summer break and not replaced.
    The rest of us struggled on with the next level up of management “running” our department. Within the year 3 out of 5 of our Department had left – 1 early retiree, 1 moved to a different FE college and 1 (me) out of teaching completely.
    Don’t know how things have panned out in the next 10 years.

  62. Dr Aust said,

    February 19, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Apologies if anyone’s already, said this, but I would expect the fraction of teachers in primary school with science B/Gs to resemble the fraction of ALL graduates with science-based degrees.

    I don’t buy this stuff about it being “teacher gender-related”. While men may well outnumber women in physical science subjects (and even there I’d have to see the numbers), in “biology” and “biomedical” degrees – which nowadays probably outnumber physical science ones – the gender ratio is at least equal.

    I certainly write references for both primary and secondary teacher training for bioscience graduates (Russell Gp Univ).

    The more pressing question would be why people with degree level training (which universally has at least something to do with assessing evidence, though clearly not always scientific evidence) can switch off their brains when presented with this sort of claptrap. We have heard a suggestions up the thread, from “neuroscience-y words sound convincing” (esp. if you’re not a scientist), through “po-mo, cultural relativism, what’s evidence?” and “who cares if it gets them moving / we don’t use the daft explanations” to “we are given this as an authority-approved Bill of Goods and if we point out its failings we are told to shut up”.

    But blaming it on teacher gender is plain daft.

  63. BrickWall said,

    February 19, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    I must admit there seems to be rather a lot of faith being placed in peoples peers (peers assessed as other graduates of some sort or other) and some sort of relationship between someone’s academic achievements and their common/any sense levels.

    Half the people I knew at university (2 Russell Gp Univ.s) were idiots outside of the narrow focus of passing university exams. And that goes for quite a lot of the medics I knew too.

    I’m not suggesting I’m in any way smarter than them but come on you don’t seriously believe that that badge of academic achievement means people aren’t capable of being gullible/not caring about the reasons they do things/not able to (don’t want to) rock any boats?

    How many times have you seen that great sign off of contradiction “GP and Homeopath”?

  64. emilypk said,

    February 19, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Indeed. I know some very highly educated ‘hard science’PhDed scientists that belief in (and these are real examples) the Sacred blood/descendents of Jesus tripe, homeopathy, aliens mutilate cattle, cloned meat is toxic, human actions are not effecting the global climate and small mammals don’t feel pain.

  65. fifecircle said,

    February 19, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    “Does a man of sense run after every silly tale of hobgoblins or fairies, and canvass particularly the evidence? I never knew anyone, that examined and deliberated about nonsense who did not believe it before the end of his enquiries.” David Hume (1711-1776)

  66. Despard said,

    February 19, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    This is the bit where I like to stand up for psychology, the much derided semi-social-science, against the ‘physics is such a hard science’ brigade. (Apologies for mischaracterising anyone here, it’s been a long day.)

    I have an undergraduate degree in physics, and I’m damn sure that the four years I spent in it didn’t teach me any science. Oh, I learned plenty of inconsequential facts about how to calculate moments of inertia and relativistic changes in speed/length and how to calculate whether a photon will tunnel through a 1D box in a quantum fashion. In short, I learned a lot of physics. But I didn’t learn much science. There wasn’t time.

    I also now have a Ph.D. in what is technically experimental psychology (but which I am wont to call ‘neuroscience’ for the wow factor… yes, I realise how sadly ironic that is after reading this column!). The three years of learning a new field and how things are approached in psychology led me to open my eyes and look at exactly what ‘science’ was. In psych, undergrads are told pretty much from the word go that the brain is a pretty complicated thing, and we don’t really know too much about how it works, and oh by the way here is some primary literature from a couple of years ago, now go away and write an essay on what the evidence is for this conception of visual attention as opposed to that one.

    Ok, they’re undergrads so they’re not very good at it, but bear with me. During the psychology undergrad, these people are exposed to a hell of a lot more different types of evidence, statistics and cases where critical thinking is required than I was during my physics degree. Whether they come out of it any more scientifically-minded than ‘hard science’ graduates is an open question, but I would argue that it’s teachers who are psychology graduates who are coming off best from this, especially since they’re taught about things like framing, how to make a scientific argument (no essays in physics after all), etc.

    To be fair, one reason psychology is so focused on the scientific process is that there is a LOT of rubbish out there, even today. ;-)

  67. emmer said,

    February 19, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Re. 72: There is a lot of gimmicky rubbish peddled to teachers – personally I think Gardner’s ‘multiple intelligences’ is at least as stupid and much more pernicious than brain gym – I attended hours of training on it as a teacher. It’s totally unsupported by evidence and could profoundly influence a child’s concept of themselves as a learner in a not very helpful way.

    I’ve taught in a lot of schools where Brain Gym is used haphazardly but I’ve never attended training on it. Anecdotally, I don’t think any teachers I’ve met who’ve used it had picked up on the kinesiological pseudoscientific stuff – most of them just had pin people diagrams of each movement pinned up on the wall with no theory included. I have no idea how common thorough theory-grounded insets on braingym are. I did hear the occassional teacher mutter vaguely about sides of the brain, but not to any great extent.

    I wonder whether Ben would call people who take their children to see quacks morons.

  68. emmer said,

    February 19, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Oh, but the importance of emotional intelligence is well researched – if season ticket’s training was rubbish, that’s the trainer’s fault.

  69. pv said,

    February 19, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    No one has answered the question as to why it’s necessary for schools to fork out loads of money (tax payers’ money)to Brain Gym for the privilege of providing what are in effect exercise breaks. Would schools be paying anything for what anyone with any experience of children already knows if it weren’t wrapped up in pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo?
    Probably not.

  70. Geeb said,

    February 19, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    @76: BrickWall said..
    > How many times have you seen that great sign off of contradiction “GP and Homeopath”?

    No contradiction there, just pragmatism. GPs aren’t allowed to prescribe a placebo, but sometimes that’s all a patient needs, so they just put on the homeopath hat and make the patient better.

    And maybe that tells us something about the teachers – calling it “Brain Gym” might make it acceptable for them to get the kids out of their seats for 5 minutes, whereas otherwise it’s indiscipline, with a very cross headteacher peering in through the door and some parents writing stern letters to the school after finding out what junior did today.

    Yeah, they’d be better off not filling the kids’ heads with pseudo-scientific crap, but we aren’t clamouring to ban any mention of Father Christmas – those children that ever find themselves in a position where they need to do a bit of thinking will see straight through it, and in the meantime it’s just a (relatively low harm) myth that people are willing to waste a bit of money on.

  71. igb said,

    February 19, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    “Oh, but the importance of emotional intelligence is well researched”

    So let’s see the references, then. Or is this the “that’s a load of rubbish, that’s a load of rubbish, but my pet project merely requires a little more work prior to publication” argument?

    It’s a decent bet that any concept of cognition or behaviour which is popular amongst one small group but has no traction elsewhere is bollocks. This isn’t a dig at teachers: the same’s true of HR departments, for example, and `trainers’.

    As someone said a few posts back, how brains work and how brains are used is complex, messy and ill-understood. Anyone who claims to be able to give you valuable insights into human behaviour in a two hour course is clearly talking nonsense, because if it were that easy large, high quality and well-funded research psychology departments could all close down tomorrow.

    VAK, Brain Gym, everything de Bono has said or thought since `Children Solve Problems’, Multiple Intelligences, Myers-Briggs, Jahari Windows, any word ever uttered in a gathering referred to as a workshop in which there is not a lathe present, anything said within twenty feet of anyone calling themselves a `facilitator’, any presentation in while a post-it note is used, anyone who uses the word `brain storming’, anything in which nine dots, boxes or paradigms are discussed: rubbish, all of it. Or at least, enough of it is rubbish that no one can stay sane and find the non-nonsense.

    What is it Hume said? I’m not sure I agree 100%, but he has a point…

    “When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in hand any volume . . . ; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion”

  72. emmer said,

    February 19, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    igb: When I say well researched I mean that research into the importance of emotional intelligence for educational achievement has been published in peer reviewed journals. And the research is promoted and applied in schools by educational psychologists, which brain gym wouldn’t be.

  73. kingshiner said,

    February 20, 2008 at 2:45 am

    I wonder whether the myth about processed foods came about because nutrition information tables don’t include water?

  74. WillAllen said,

    February 20, 2008 at 11:02 am

    On female teachers:

    xkcd.com/385/

  75. Dr Aust said,

    February 20, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Talking of water:

    “All other liquids are processed in the body as food, and do not serve the body’s water needs.”

    Of course this is total scientific nonsense, as Ben said in the original article.

    I suppose it MAY have its origins in the fact that there is some evidence that taking more fluids along with meals might promote satieity (feeling full). Therefore one could hypothesize that consuming foods with high water content might make you feel fuller (all else being equal, which it rarely would be, so that all other satiety cues were the same).

    If you were a complete idiot you might interpret this as “that water in what you ate was processed as food”. You would be totally wrong, though.

    Proper water balance science includes water in food, of course. And water in caffeinated drinks, and in beer, and wine… all the water you take in, in fact. Duh!

    For a comprehensive squashing of all the water myths peddled by the Nutritionistas, I recommend Heinz Valtin’s review here.

  76. emmer said,

    February 20, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    igb: I’m not sure whether you expect me to defend Bar-on’s model of emotional intelligence wot you appear to have randomly found on the internet, and I’m not entirely sure why my previous posts suggest I might want to.

  77. igb said,

    February 20, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    ““Perhaps
    the most concrete progress has been
    achieved in the educational domain,
    where evidence is accumulating that trait
    EI is implicated in academic performance
    and behaviour at school””

    You didn’t quote the entire sentence, which continues “with effects that are especially relevant to vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals”. It then goes on to reference two studies, the only examples of the “accumulating” evidence, one on students with learning disabilities and one on students with “low IQ” (and it’s so nice to see you back in the office, Cyril).

    You can adduce quite a few thing from studies of vulnerable and disadvantaged students with learning difficulties, but it’s quite a stretch to argue that they are applicable to the full range of individuals.

    “With respect to organisational applications, the amount of empirical data available is in inverse proportion to the barrage of unsubstantiated claims.” “In the clinical arena, the number of relevant studies is surprisingly small”. “As a general point, it is worth noting that the effect sizes in empirical studies of EI (both trait and ability) tend to be moderate and nowhere near the levels implied in various popular pieces”. Those aren’t the words of people with a sense that their field is built on strong, or indeed any, sound experimental foundations.

    I don’t see anything in the paper you referenced to convince me that the field is, in fact, meaningless nonsense. There’s some handwaving theories with no experimental underpinnings, which make vague predictions which haven’t been demonstrated in controlled studies on the populations to which the claims relate. Call us back when Emotional Intelligence can out-do bump-feeling in predictive power.

  78. Charliesgirl said,

    February 21, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I mentioned in my earlier post that I put this URL in an email to my teaching colleagues.
    Here is the text of this email.

    Subject: Brain gym is pseudoscientific nonsense.
    Text of message:
    Here’s the evidence.
    www.badscience.net/?p=613
    Skeptically,
    (Signed with my real name!)

    I got a couple of protesting emails back in reply very quickly, so I decided to post this general reply.

    “Subject: Brain Gym
    Text of message:

    To all defenders of Brain Gym.

    For those of you who say that it works, my reply to you is that anecdote isn’t evidence. It can never be any more than a starting point for a proper investigation.
    The fact remains that the science underpinning brain gym is junk. The link to the article I posted explains why.
    I am not saying that exercise breaks for classes are not a good thing. At times they can be a very good thing. What I am saying is that as educators we shouldn’t be supporting snake oil merchants who peddle programs founded on bad science.
    Maybe this term would could have some PD on Feng Shui and pay money for an outside practitioner to come in to the school and arrange our furniture so that it aligns with the right vibes? After all, I know there are staff members who know that this works. How about astrology and homeopathy?

    Come on, guys. We are teachers after all, and should value and actively promote the scientific method. We shouldn’t be promoting pseudoscience.”
    Signed with my real name
    (I did get one private ‘hear hear’ from a colleague.)

    For my trouble, I got ‘spoken to’, admittedly quite nicely, by my principal the next day. He had been in receipt of some “expressions of concern” from some staff members whose feathers were obviously ruffled. What I found sad though was that it was a concern which he shared. The main sticking point seemed to be that I had called my colleagues morons.
    My response was that I had done no such thing. At this point I was informed that this was the term used in the reference I had given so by association I had called them morons. The best guess that I can make is that he had actually clicked on the website and was reacting to the terms ‘credulous’ and ‘moronic’.

    I was a bit stunned with this, and at a bit of a loss for words. I did insist that I felt that I had the ‘right of reply’ after the staff had to endure 90 minutes of the ‘sell’ from a Brain Gym purveyor in the name of Professional Development one afternoon after school a couple of years ago. I refused to resile from my position and stated that as a matter of principle I felt that I needed to put the case against Brain Gym to my colleagues and that this article said it much better than I could.
    It seems that when it came down to it his main concern was with the writing style and the abusive language (eg teachers’ studipity!) in the article. When I asked him what would convince him he said would be much more likely to take seriously a research paper written in the appropriate academic style.
    I will be placing a hard copy of the Hyatt article “Brain Gym[R]: Building Stronger Brains or Wishful Thinking?” (from the link given above) and leave this on my principal’s desk tomorrow. It says pretty much the same thing about Brain Gym as the Banging Heads article, but says it in a much more scholarly way.

  79. Dr Aust said,

    February 21, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Of course, a significant number of academics who write the never-read scholarly stuff would be found cheering Ben on precisely BECAUSE the blog “Reaches the places other approaches cannot reach”.

    For instance, I don’t know how many people actually read scholarly papers in the sciences, but as an author of them I reckon I would be safe with “not very many”. Even a blog with hardly any readers almost certainly gets far more.

    And then on the other side of the argument from the scholars, as you say, one has the Compulsory-Seminar-training- puffed mass-produced glitzy high-production-value sales lit of Brain Gym and its ilk, complete with paid salesperson to promote it.

    So does the good science win out? Hmmmm.

    So while I can just about see where your Head is coming from, I think he and your colleagues are being over-sensitive, and he is misreading the Brain Gym lit. Their puff-stuff is not “information” so much as “propaganda”. And to oppose that, one needs something a bit more arresting than scholarly research – one also needs to GET THE MESSAGE OUT.

    Anyway, congrats to CharliesGirl for a bit of grass roots action. And next time you will be able to “adjust” the approach for even more effectiveness. I think Ben once wrote something about a point of BadScience blogs being precisely to equip people out their with the tools to change opinions where they were, and he was dead right, IMHO.

  80. Dr Aust said,

    February 22, 2008 at 10:42 am

    At least the religion is clearly labelled “religious education”, or should be, buffalo66. The trouble with Brain Gym is that it is superstition masquerading as science.

  81. pv said,

    February 22, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Charliesgirl, you might like to put it to your head teacher that if the money paying for Brain Gym were coming out of his own pocket he might not be so apathetic.
    I’ve been thinking recently that the success of Brain Gym could in part be put down to the desperation of teachers. It’s more complicated than that I expect but there are issues such as students’ deteriorating behaviour and their ability to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time, that keep coming up in teachers’ meetings and their meetings with parents. At least such things are discussed over here (Italy).
    It doesn’t excuse anyone buying into the daft pseudo-scientific explanations, or even paying anything at all for what is in effect simple straight-forward sensible advice about regular breaks and diversions.

    PS. I don’t know anyone over here who’s ever heard of Brain Gym, just like there doesn’t seem to be an anti-MMR or anti-vax movement. Italy isn’t quack- or woo-free by any stretch of the imagination but there do seem to be some ridiculous woo things that are specific to the main English speaking countries – the UK and US etc.

  82. warhelmet said,

    February 22, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Emotional Intelligence? Is that the thing that used to be called empathy? Or are we talking something more knowing, more manipulative?

    Dressing up pseudo-scientific bullshit as “professional development” is not confined to Brian-Jim and and the education sector. I work in the private sector and in Human Resources – long story but I don’t really belong there with my science/math/stats background – and rail against thing like spending money on NLP courses. “Oh but there’s SOMETHING useful in it” – yes, but the self-annointed wankers are ripping you off when you get the good bits elsewhere for a lot less, if not nothing. I’ve a little bit of counselling knowledge, which cost me nothing, and goes way beyond NLP stuff. I’ve got a little bit of yoga, a little bit of tai-chi – ignoring the pseudo-mystical baggage, as a series of practical physical exercises that have an effect on mental well-being, even the small amount I have has benefits. But it cost me nowt. There was no marketing, just the thing about good and useful knowledge should be shared and passed on.

    Brian-Jim sticks in the craw because it is proprietory. It’s marketing flim-flam. I don’t care if anyone thinks it’s useful. Public money flushed down the toilet, again. Any positive stuff in Brian-Jim can be got from elsewhere, but better and cheaper, if not free.

  83. Barbara H said,

    February 23, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    My 9 year old son was targeted for ‘intervention’ last year and an IEP (Individual Education Plan) was devised that included 15 minutes brain gym a day. I objected strongly and colluded with a teaching assistant to replace this ‘intervention’ with a ‘proper’ exercise/fitness session (the TA is a trained fitness instructor). Good.
    This year however, ‘Barmy Gin’ (you can do a lot with brain gym anagrams) reasserted itself in the IEP following an assessment by an occupational therapist, who to my dismay seemed to think there was some credence in ‘Bring Yam’ techniques.
    And this was where I began to realise that it’s not just teachers who are gullible. The teacher and I both believed occupational therapy to be a respectable calling, staffed by people who were, I dunno, extensions of the medical profession. I mean, they’re employed on the NHS, right? You see a doctor and you’re often referred to an OT. So if we trust NHS doctors, we can trust OTs, right?
    Right?
    So. back to my son’s assessment; this OT mentioned ‘Mangy Rib’ and on seeing my knuckles whiten on the table, started going ‘oh yes, I know its controversial, well, might be something in it, laterality, henispheres, core stability etc etc’ The teacher nodded earnestly. I continued to rant, politely of course. My kid will not have to do ‘Grimy Ban’ now because I’ve made a noise, but I fear it will still be recommended for other kids in the school.
    Teachers want to be good at their job. They desperately look for ‘ideas’ to help them. Some of them fall for ‘In My Garb’ training courses and you can call them suckers for that if you like. But if occupational therapists, whom teachers view as representatives of the conventional medical profession, are peddling (or at least, not completely trashing) this garbage, can you blame them for thinking ‘there must be something in it’?

  84. Dr Aust said,

    February 23, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Good point, Barbara.

    I have a lot of sympathy for people under pressure and wanting to do something for their pupils/patients/clients/whatever. Giving a really useful “tailored service” takes time, often not available in the amount needed. So when you are presented with neatly pre-packaged tools, and in the absence of a “sales-pitch-independent” alternative, people will tend to grab at it. Even in the Univ context, it is easier to use “pre-devised” tutorial exercises for students than to think new ones up yourself. Of course, if you didn’t devise them you then become reliant on the person who did for some part of the quality of what gets done. When that person is a commercial provider selling a product. One can say “caveat emptor”, but the dangers
    are obvious.

    The only solution, really, is to educate people in the professions (and the professions as a whole) to be more aware of the pitfalls of apparent Gift Horses. A lot of progress has been made on this with doctors and the Pharma Cos, but I suspect it is less far along in other bits of the public/health sector.

  85. Robert Carnegie said,

    February 24, 2008 at 1:36 am

    46 (I haven’t looked in for a while): I don’t think the Advertising Standards Agency, if it is they that you have in mind, do web sites. This may be why you get those car ads where the car proceeds sedately and legally along a road while “Visit www.nippa.com” scrolls over the screen, and when you go to the web site you read that the car runs mostly on rainwater and up walls and you can have sex with it. And since the BrainHurts Web site uses American spelling (“center”) it may be particularly off the ASA radar.

    It was my understanding before too, not to mention the bee in the bonnet, that the ASA was the advertising industry’s self-appointed fig-leaf for truthfulness in advertising, that it usually adjudicated and barred only campaigns of ads that were long since replaced anyway, and exceptions to this expectation would be, have been, an unexpected pleasant surprise.

    As for sex differences in teachers, can it be demonstrated that they don’t exist? Would it be necessarily favourable to either sex? Could we examine penetration in other institutions? Mostly male doctors in the old days and even up to now who have been unreceptive to novel ideas such as washing hands or not letting the same necktie drop into different successive patients’ open wounds, have unnecessarily killed a lot of people. It is a pity that the novel idea now being discussed is an expensive doctrine whose so-called scientific basis apparently is scientifically illiterate and brazen with it.

    Anyway, one of Ben’s last comments seems to imply that Brain Gym is now unstoppable and simply cannot be removed from the British education system, which, if so, is a great pity. But what does actual sports science think of it? And isn’t that applicable in schools? Let’s develop this… suppose we argue that Brain Gym will cause British athletes to fail in the London Olympic Games. Maybe have an episode of Doctor Who where Brain Gym is revealed as a cunning evil scheme by child-eating aliens, athough that plot has already been done with the dining hall chips… More sensibly, have properly programmed, researched, planned physical and mental activities for students with an actual repeatable evidence base.

  86. carlsamuelsanderson said,

    February 25, 2008 at 8:13 am

    I have done brain gym at college because a teacher made us basically and I dont believe the “science” behind it but I do believe that it works. It provides a very good break from your work and allows you to have fun before getting back down to it. It really wakes you up! Also ben you didnt exactly pick a good example of children did you? The college I went to (With its brain gym sessions) won “best non-selective state school maths scores for boys” So maybe you need to look at all the facts before you slate people?

  87. LeonStander said,

    February 25, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Many OT’s and psychologists seem to be part of the Brain Gym movement (at least in South Africa). How they reconsile their neuroscience training with Brain Gym pseudoscience is anyone’s guess.

    As to the effectiveness of the exercises, there is no scientific evidence. If it’s just about providing a break with physical exercise, why not have a real kinesiology teacher (we used to call them PT teachers) devise a sensible set of exercises?

    I’ve posted on this issue in my blog www.occamsdonkey.com
    Specifically I question whether a teacher can do the Brain Gym exercises without providing the pseudoscience explanations. In South Africa Brain Gym has excluded the explanations (chakra’s etc.) from their published literature and now call themselves a science!

  88. Robert Carnegie said,

    February 26, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Any sign of Brain Gym becoming a religion, like Falun Gong or Scientology? i.e. something that you insist on doing whilst entirely aware that it’s blitheringly stupid. Perhaps you view of religion differs from mine, we could discuss it…

  89. LeonStander said,

    February 27, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Robert, I think they can be regarded as a granfalloon (after Kurt Vonnegut), rather than a religion. I quote from a blog posting I did on whole-brain half-wittery, but which I think is also applicable to Brain Gym: “A granfalloon is a group of people, often hierarchically organised, that associate around a meaningless, fabricated premise. The granfalloon would be established by the leader (or guru) and members would be limited to approved training and literature. The guru may be well aware that his or her product is nonsense, but the faithful followers or practitioners are kept in the dark. The quaint American expression “mushroomed – kept in the dark and fed manure”, seems appropriate.”

  90. Bill Mac said,

    February 27, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Love the article, but it’s a bit unfair for a scientist to say “science shows that people are taken in by complex statements about the brain” and then say that people who are taken in by complex statements about the brain are “morons”… No, mostly they’re just people, doing a hard job and clutching at any straws. We teachers get subjected to a lot of this stuff and some of it is bound to go well with hard-pressed people who’ll try ANYTHING to get the little bastards to behave… It would be easy enough for me to make nasty comments about doctors today, their greed, gullibility or plain deceit in having dished out the Prozac for the last few years…maybe that shows even doctors can get taken in by complex arguments about the brain or maybe they too will mostly do what they think the government or the patient wants (or in teachers case their lords and masters in Inspection etc). As an Assistant Principal even I have to admit that I haven’t got the courage to say to an Inspector, “no, we happen to think that visual/ kinaeshetic etc is a load of old tosh”…why would I want to shoot myself in the foot with the guy who makes public judgements about me when the methods do “work” (if only for their Hawthorne effect, or because using different teaching styles or getting kids to waggle their thumbs in mid-lesson is likely to make things more interesting and purposeful-seeming.) So it’s a great article in terms of the content, but very unfair in giving teachers as a group such a hard time. I’ve sat in many a training day listening with my right brain to bollocks about my left brain – because when it’s me in the classroom I can just do what I beleive – it’s a very autonomous profession in the end… So let us have our placebos, Ben – they probably don’t cost the country half as much as the placebos being dished out daily by doctors..

  91. Barbara H said,

    February 28, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Bill Mac:
    I sympathise hugely. I’m a parent governor at my kid’s primary school (the kid in post 105) and I’m not afraid to say that brain gym is tosh because that’s what I’m there for. Must say though, I’m looking forward to going to our next meeting and using the word ‘granfalloon.’ See if I can get it in the minutes..
    As has been said before, using this stuff as a break from the grind in the classroom is fine, as long as you realise its no different to singing a song or going to the toilet or whatever else you choose as a wake-up technique. It’s the justifying it with cod science and the paying for it with state money that we dissenters object to. Why would I go to our finance committee and agree to blow the budget on ‘listening with your right brain to bollocks about your left brain?’ That’s the bit I would be ashamed to face the inspectors with.
    In fact, no-one is going to suggest paying for brain gym at our extremely skint school, because teachers and SENCOs can download free ‘exercise sheets’ and create a do-it-yourself brain gym course. And they will do it unquestioningly; firstly because to do so is free, secondly because as I said, this stuff is getting a veneer of respectability, creeping stealthily into school at the bottom of the Occupational Therapists’ bag of balls and skittles.
    So even if you get rid of the scandal of schools wasting their money on all this, you still have to deal with the fact that teachers who use brain gym along with all the spurious scientific justifications are basically teaching kids the Wrong Stuff. That is what’s so offensive about it. Photocopy the exercise sheets if you must, but please, tippex out all the crap about carotid arteries and processed food first. Make clear to your children and your staff that it’s an exercise break, nothing more or less.
    And if the inspectors like it so much, get them to join in the next session. I’m thinking of blowing the budget on a set of Ben’s ‘Quack’ T-shirts for our next trial by ofsted ;)

  92. Bill Mac said,

    March 2, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Well, agreed. Actually I’m in sixth form education so we don’t have brain gym, but we do have visual, kinaesthetic etc and regrettably loads of people do believe in it, it’s really so deep in many, many teachers and administrators psyches that it isn’t worth arguing about it. It’s not so much that I have to tell Inspectors that I agree with it (I don’t have to do that) but I wouldn’t want to put my head up and say I DON’T believe in it… And regrettably, “holistic” and “whole-brain” and that there are differences between women and men’s psychological make-up “women are better at multi-tasking” (I ask you) are so deep in people’s minds that they can’t be challenged – they’re just folk-myths like “WW1 British generals were stupid” (bet loads of the people reading this believe that little canard) or “The Great Wall of China can be seen from space”… The thing is, whatever Ben says, plenty of people believe in God without any evidence (and I’m not saying they’re wrong to, before anyone complains), so how much easier and certainly un-moronic it is to believe in left-brain right brain, brain-gym…

  93. mscir said,

    March 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Sounds like your country is plagued with corruption as bad as my own (US). I’d love to see exactly who is benefiting from this. And I’d really love to see the “scientists” who promoted this product interviewed. It seems obvious that this is just another example of greed run rampant, similar to the ‘No Child Left Behind’ crock we were handed.

  94. Bill Mac said,

    March 12, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Ha ha – I love this sort of stuff. Totally loony, but convinced of it’s own rectitude. Since I started reading Bad Science I note degrees of this all over the place, I’m always spotting this sort of thing in the papers now.

  95. Robert Carnegie said,

    March 13, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    “Empathise”? “Populate the site”? Oh well, if I worked with kids all the time my verbal skill would atrophy too :-)

  96. Sunshine said,

    September 24, 2008 at 10:06 am

    My singing tutor uses Brain Gym. Or, to be more accurate, she would like to use Brain Gym. However, as I pay her £30 an hour I don’t allow her to waste the first 15 minutes (£7.50!) of my lesson on quackery. It is a source of friction between us…

  97. mathnawi said,

    November 4, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    This is a pretty trivial topic Ben. Brain Gym and probably any brief exercise that gets the students focussing on physical activity/breathing is a neat way of re-energising and settling a class. Yes, a rendition of heads, shoulders, knees and toes, a bit of Tai Chi, even juggling may well be as effective. Teachers are generally not morons Ben, even most of those who accept and use Brain Gym. They are expedient. They don’t have a lot of time, they don’t get a lot of money and they have to do a lot of work. For the children of you (possibly) and many of the posters. If something works – and the only practical test is experiential – why not use it? Are you really suggesting teachers do academic research on such a trivial subject? The company behind it may be talking a lot of pseudo-scientific crap. If it settles a class, why should the teacher care. Yes, public money should not be spent on things which have no value – in that case they should be assessed at a government level. Brain Gym get the dosh because they came up with a sellable system – it is easier for teachers to do something ready-made than devise a unique programme – even it would have the same effect (of settling/focussing that is – I don’t care about the science, which probably isn’t communicated to the kids in 99.99% of instances anyway). However, teachers don’t have a lot of time and have other priorities. Write to the Department of Education, devise your own settling exercise without the pseudo-science – do something positive if you really give a toss about it. Calling teachers morons makes you sound a bit of a prat mate.

  98. zeno said,

    December 9, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Good to see this nonsense is being aired in public tomorrow:

    www.theherald.co.uk/features/otherfeatures/display.var.2473859.0.Is_Brain_Gym_scientific.php

    “Professor Sergio Della Sala, Professor of Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, will use part of a prize-winning public lecture to voice his concern that Scottish schools are paying thousands of pounds to train teachers in controversial techniques such as “brain gym” and “neuro-physiological psychology”.”

  99. theunderstudy said,

    February 21, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I can’t stand brain gym, they used to make us do it at school, well, actually the school wouldn’t actually pay for it (yay) but one misguided teacher nicked some exercises of her daughter’s school who did. Result, lots of bored 16 year olds wasting time rubbing their ears two lessons before their GCSEs. Half the class ended up rubbing their ears and reading the text book under the table. Something is seriously wrong with your education when you have to revise in secret. If they wanted us to exercise they shouldn’t have cut PE from two lessons a week to one.

  100. NZSceptic said,

    March 7, 2009 at 4:56 am

    I learnt Brian Gym from a practitioner in Paramate, Porirua 1995 and found it invaluable while studying for my degree at Victoria University in Wellington. Later I found that someone was running classes at Victoria but didn’t feel inclined to join (on an aside, I am told Victoria offers a paper in witch craft. I have not verified this). If I recall correctly, it may have cost NZ$80 thought this is a bit of a guess. It wasn’t expensive. The lady who did the consulting said that the Education Department of central government and/or local teachers had referred pupils to her. I can believe it. It was demonstrated and I was suitably convinced of its benefits and was willing to learn.

    I found Brian Gym invaluable and if someone asked me if I would recommend it, the answer would be yes though I am not a teacher so would not necessary recognise anyone who may benefit from the techniques.

    While I have not read the entire piece on this website concerning Brain Gym, some people would benefit from it. For me it worked. The reason it worked I cannot recall to the extent where I could write authoritatively. I haven’t practised the techniques for some ten plus years and nolonger believe I need it.

    Having said all that, while at High School I did learn Transcendental Mediation and there was a teacher at school pushing it. Having discovered what TM was, I would not go near it with the proverbial barge pole. The person who taught me TM said it was not a religion. Later I discovered it was. Part of the initiation session to receive the mantra was to kneel infront of a Hindu shrine. Had I known otherwise I would have walked out. Noone on the course was told that the initiation session involved kneeling before a Hindu deity.

  101. markaguy said,

    December 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    1) Science Teacher (Physics)
    2) Came across this rubbish during teacher training 2004/5
    3) Laughed my head off that anyone could beleave this tosh (As did my Peers, scientists of all 3 Species.)
    4) Thought the movements may be an excuse for a 2 minute break from sitting down too long.
    5) Sometimes get kids moving around doing simular things to brain gym when they have been heads down for 20 Mins Plus. JUST to give their body / mind a break.
    6) Constantly PERPLEXED at the RUBBISH some educationalists PREACH to Teachers who THEN REPEAT rubbish.
    7) Education / Learning is simple, If you do something often enough you are able to recall it (Facts or actions), if you practice problem solving, you get good at using and finding new uses for existing skills.

    A Footballer is good at football and plays well because they practice and have an interest in the game. The same can be said of Scientists, or even belly dancers.
    As we get older the physical limitations of our bodies will eventially cause decline. That’s Life !

  102. betty said,

    July 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I’m a Neuroscientist who is going into teacher training. I will certainly refuse to teach this rubbish, unless it’s part of a critical thinking exercise! All I can say is…BRING IT ON!!!! I will not let my noble discipline be abused and misrepresented by this tosh!

  103. jcomnibus said,

    May 31, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Scientific theories only attempt to prove something does NOT exist. Therefore, any anecdotal beneficial evidence that remains is thus discarded and it is left to parents who need it to attempt to educate so-called professionals of the value of brain-based sensory integration education. I have been a proponent of this for years. Crossing midline grows and strengthens the billions of connections in the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that connects the left and right hemispheres and is responsible for communication and comprehension. How do I know? I am raising a child without one. He can walk, talk, eat, communicate, and do all other things requiring a corpus callosum. How so? Using sensory integration practices, of which “smart Moves” and “Brain Gym” are all a part of. See my website at www.omnibuswring.com. I am writing my own eBook; it has just taken this long (10 years) as I am raising my son to the best of my ability, given naysayers in the school system.

  104. 09philj said,

    June 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Brain Gym? Ha ha ha. An actual brain gym, for me, would be a combination of logic and lateral thinking puzzles. I want that rolled out across the country.

  105. smidr said,

    June 15, 2013 at 8:37 am

    lol brain gym
    is it really increase blood flow