All posts by MINDZ ADMIN

Phil is the creator of Mindz Brainplay, the only company in the world to take neuroscience out of the lab, and onto the street.

The Learning Brain

A summary of points from ‘Understanding The Learning Brain’, a professional development course for teachers by Phil Dye . For more about the presenter, click HERE.

  • Brain basics for teachers: Click HERE
  • Brain research for educators: Click HERE
  • Getting to the Learning Brain: Click HERE


The Neurosky or Sichiray Mindwave headset

Below are print guides for teachers on using the Mindwave headset in a classroom environment. I know teachers are busy, so if you prefer, watch this 5 minute video on fitting and using the headset.

  • Mindwave headset use 1 (an intro): Click HERE
  • Mindwave headset use 2 (understanding what you see) : Click HERE
  • Mindwave headset use 3 (using the graph & meters): Click HERE
  • Mindwave headset use 4 (activities & experiments): Click HERE

Phil Dye contact:
Phone: 0412 678 179
Email: phil@mindz.com.au

 

Using the Neurosky Mindwave

Many schools are now using the Neurosky Mindwave in one of its forms to help students understand their mind and find their ‘learning brain’.

Below are links to teacher’s resources to assist with using the Neurosky Mindwave – either the RF or Bluetooth version

An intro to the Neurosky Mindwave for teachers: Click HERE

Getting to the Learning brain

Here are tips to help students bring themselves into the learning zone (Theta). We can’t force it, but we can guide.

Impractical, revolutionary tips…
For secondary students:
Get funding to install a bank of treadmills at the back of classrooms used by slow or reluctant learners. This stimulates neurogenesis and puts students in Theta. Want proof? See the video HERE.

For infants/primary students:
Reverse the lunch-play order to a longer play – then a quiet lunch in the classroom while learning. Remember, exercise produces memory neurons  so why not INCREASE the mount of play and even add formal exercise activities. Food also puts students into Theta – the learning brain. Want proof? See HERE and HERE.

Easier, more practical tips…

  1. Tell your students what they will be doing and why. If they understand, they will gladly take part. In some ways, it’s the best lesson you can teach them.
  2. Try one lesson a day with the different technique. Then slowly progress to more. Using the new technique in very lesson will be too much for the students and too much for you.
  3. Eating produces Theta. Can the students eat (good food – not sweets) in the room?
  4. Laughter produces Theta. Even showing a photo of a cute kitten produces Theta for a short while.
  5. Have a ‘learning zone’ or ‘quiet brain’ activity before a lesson.  A good one is just to show a video of the glitter jar. There are other slow videos on YouTube but some are too long or too ‘cartoonish’. Cartoons and bright colours will do the opposite of what you want. Often just doing a breathing exercise is best. Slow, not fast, eyes closed, focus on their breathing . They could also watch a short ‘learning zone’ video without words eg:
    HERE     ⇒ HERE
    HERE    ⇒ HERE
    HERE     ⇒ HERE
    HERE     ⇒ HERE
  6. A person will go into Theta post-vigorous exercise or during repetitive exercise (like lap swimming or jogging). Playground play is usually a ‘Beta’ zone and students can take 30 minutes to come down from that. Could your students play first, then eat and then learn?
  7. If you have students who are clearly ‘up’ at the start of the day, you could suggest a morning lap-swimming program or similar to the parents.
  8. Dull the lighting if a classroom is very bright. You can’t escape florescent tubes yet due to hi-rate flickering they can effect some students with learning disorders.
  9. Use a soft, even voice – try not to raise it.
  10. Many lessons – especially in secondary school, are too long. Your students aren’t Buddhist monks and will get titchy after 20 minutes. They are used to distraction every 8 minutes via commercial TV and the beeping of their phone. This is how it is in the 21st century and we can’t change it. Accept it but…
  11. Use a brain break to split the lesson up. For younger children, a song, a joke, a game or memory exercise can work. For older students, a brief travel video, scene from a movie, memory exercise, ‘toothbrush’ activity or story circle should work.
  12. Always bring them back to the learning zone with a breathing activity (or similar).
  13. Start the day with some vigorous exercise. If in doubt, the book to read is called ‘Spark’ by Dr John Ratey.
  14. Experiment with some Theta based music/sound in the classroom. There’s lots on YouTube and Spotify yet some have too many ups and downs to really work. If it has words or you can detect a beat don’t use it. A drone is OK. Sometimes just a straight binaural beat like this one on Spotify can help. Others have a more musical flavour like this one.
  15. Keep the volume very low – barely audible. This is important. It’s white background noise only and some students won’t even notice it. If several students ask about it, turn it down or explain what it is.
  16. Stop office announcements and interruptions in lesson times. Educate office staff. Educate other teachers.
  17. Give the students feedback if you’re noticing a difference in the way they’re learning. Praise those who seem to be a little ‘quieter’.
  18. If you are using a basic EEG like the Neurosky MindWave, get the students who have trouble ‘coming down’ to do their EEG work before a lesson.

Schools visits & Teacher PD for 2022

NSW school STEM incursions and National ZOOM sessions for all grades now open. Bookings or inquiries can be made HERE.

ZOOM sessions are tailored to the grade in consultation with the teacher. These sessions will involve viewing brain activity in real time as well as all the information and stories that made the face-to-face incursions so popular.

A 15-question on-line quiz can be included for teachers to help assess learning. The quiz is automatically marked with results sent through to the teacher.

Zoom sessions range in price from $200   – $500 depending on the length of session and the points teachers want covered.

Teacher PD
Bookings for 2022 school-based (on-site) face-to-face teacher PD can now be accepted. Teacher PD over ZOOM available on request.

Private experience inquiry


New brain research

New brain research is added every month. The research is usually not the original scientific papers, but plain-English discussions of the research from media, academia, government and health organizations.

March 2022
What does reading from a screen do to your brain?
BBC News: Click HERE

February 2022
What happens when a patient being assessed with an EEG dies during the test? What does the EEG brain readings tell us about dying?
BBC News: Click HERE

January 2022
The flow state and Nootropics
Pure Nootropics: Click HERE

December 2021
New simple brain-wave test may detect early signs of Alzheimer’s
BBC News: Click HERE

July 2021a
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. How it works and why Australians should care.
ABC News: Click HERE

July 2021b
Hallucinogens and their growing use in Australian brain therapy
ABC News: Click HERE

June 2021
Rebellious workers: Why their thinking is important
BBC Creativity: Click HERE

May 2021
Screen time and children’s brain development.
BBC FUTURE: Click HERE

April 2021
Detect early signs of dementia through a driving test? Yes!
Neuroscience News: Click HERE

March 2021
Vitamin A found to help those pesky dendrites!
Science Daily: Click HERE

February 2021
Using immune cells to repair brain tissue post stroke
Brain Research UK: Click HERE

January  2021
Flight, fight – or – faint. Why we have different responses to fear
The Conversation:  Click HERE

December 2020
How screen time alters the brain of a child
BBC Future: Click HERE

November 2020 (a)
Our neurons are far more powerful than we thought
Gizmodo: Click HERE

November 2020 (b)
Does Mindfulness help you to not sweat the small stuff? Seemingly not!
Science Daily: Click HERE

October 2020 (a)
The amazing activation speed of Dopamine and Serotonin
Science Daily: Click HERE

October 2020 (b)
Elon Musk and Gertrude the pig
BBC Science: Click HERE

September 2020 (a)
Binge drinkers lack empathy
Science Daily: Click HERE

September 2020 (b)
Exercise helps learning and memory in young adults,. Something we’ve been saying for years. Here’s more research for the unbelievers.
Neuroscience News: Click HERE

August 2020 (b)
Sports head injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
Brain Facts.org: Click HERE

August 2020 (a)
How cognitive decline can be reversed: A targeted approach
Science Daily: Click HERE

July 2020 (a)
How Covid-19 is affecting the brain
The Guardian:
Click HERE

February 2020 (c)
Many ask us about Deep Brain Stimulation – a procedure we talk about in our experiences for those with Parkinson’s or Epilepsy. Here’s a simple, personal story.
BBC News:
Click HERE

February 2020 (b)
What’s happening in the adolescent brain?
Cambridge University:
Click HERE

February 2020 (a)
Weight training staves off Alzheimer’s: New Australian research
The ABC: Click HERE

January 2020 (c)
Can a regular sauna stave off dementia? It seems so!
Psychology Today:
Click HERE

January 2020 (b)
The newest research on blood pressure and dementia. A New Zealand first.
The NZ Herald:
Click HERE

January 2020 (a)
ADHD medicine and it’s impact on the brain. An interesting yet complex read for those effected by ADHD.
Science Daily:
Click HERE

December 2019(a)
The amazing work to map the bio-markers of disease using AI and automatically tell the brain to send in the army.
BBC Science: Click HERE

December 2019(b)
Humans grow new neurons well into their 90s
The Guardian Neuroscience: Click HERE

December 2019 (c)
The Lion’s Mane Mushroom reverses memory decline
US Library of Medicine: Click HERE

November 2019
The increasing similarity between Autism and Dementia.
Neuroscience news: Click HERE

October 2019 (a)
Theta and the link to learning and memory
American Assoc. Advancement of Science: Click HERE

October 2019 (b)
New Australian study links dementia to air pollution
Neura:  Click HERE

September 2019
Diagnosing dementia through walking patterns.
Science daily: Click HERE

August 2019
Does Multi-tasking exist?
BBC Science: Click HERE

July 2019 (a)
How to escape the multi-modular brain state created by modern work
BBC Science: Click HERE

July 2019 (b)
Alzheimer’s Disease explained simply
Live Science: Click HERE

July 2019 (c)
The future of brain-computer interfaces
BBC Science: Click HERE

June 2019
Artificial intelligence helping find active neurons
Duke University and Eureka Alert – Click HERE

May 2019
Neurogenesis and exercise in the treatment of Alzheimer’s?
Nature Journal – Click HERE

April 2019:
Advances in Deep Brain Stimulation show promise.
Science Daily – Click HERE

March 2019:
Gut bacteria and mental health: the evidence increases.
Nature Journal – Click HERE

February 2019:
Does Micro-dosing improve Mood and Performance?
Neuroscience News – Click HERE

And below is research from pre-2019

A wine each day keeps alzheimers away https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/moderate-drinking-reduce-alzheimers-risk/
Being in Theta: The Benefits of Autopilot sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/1…
Brain and Health brainandhealth.com/brain-waves
Brain Injury Australia: Measuring Concussion in Sport braininjuryaustralia.org.au/reso…
Brainwaves explained scientificamerican.com/article/w…
Brainworks brainworksneurotherapy.com/what-…
Could this explain our unique intelligence? sciencealert.com/human-excitator…
Exercise and the Brain: John Ratey johnratey.com
Exercise and the recipe for neurogenesis qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-diseas…
Got an itch? Blame your brain. sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/1…
Know your Neurons blogs.scientificamerican.com/bra…
Modular v non-modular brains sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/1…
More on the left and right brain myth npr.org/sections/13.7/2013/12/02…
Neurogenesis and exercise psychologytoday.com/blog/the-ath…
Psychedelic drugs in the treatment of depression neurosciencenews.com/psychedelic…
The Herpes virus and its link to Alzheimer’s sciencealert.com/there-s-mountin…
The modular brain ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PM…
The Rosehip Neuron livescience.com/63441-new-brain-…

Experiences post-lockdown

Updated June 27, 2020
The following information regards Mindz public, private or corporate Experiences for the remainder of 2020.
This may change according to Government advice.

Public experiences – Sydney and Blue Mountains

  1. Public experiences in either Sydney or the Blue Mountains will re-commence on July 1, 2020.
  2.  To facilitate social distancing,  group size will be limited to 4 people unless in a family group where 6 can attend.
  3. All guests will need to provide a mobile phone number to the facilitator.
  4. Guests over 16 years are expected to have the COVIDSafe App on their phone.
  5. The facilitator will wear a face-mask when fitting a headset to guests.  Hand sanitizer will be used before each fitting.
  6. Sydney bookings can be made from July 4 once a sutable venue is established.
  7. Blue Mountains bookings can be made HERE.

Private, Family and Corporate experiences

  1. Family and private groups are limited to 6 people.
  2. Corporate group numbers will depend on location.
  3. The facilitator will wear a face-mask when fitting a headset to any participant.
  4. The facilitator will use hand sanitizer before each fitting.
  5. Guests are expected to have the COVIDSafe App on their phone.
  6. For corporate events, the presentation area must be 3 metres from the front row of the audience.
  7. Bookings or inquiries for private or family experiences can be made HERE.
  8. Bookings or inquiries for corporate experiences can be made HERE.

The Myth of Multitasking

The Myth of Multitasking: Implications for teachers and their students

Phil Dye: Founder of Mindz Brainplay

In all of our teachers’ PD, student sessions or corporate experiences, we stress the irrefutable fact that multitasking, once the holy grail of workplace behavior, does NOT produce good results.

Our brain experiences electrical changes throughout the day depending on what we’re planning, thinking, doing, hearing or experiencing. The brain state needed for multitasking involves our brain cells (neurons) being high in electricity. This is called ‘Beta’ and it’s where we do many things at once yet do none of these exceptionally well. There is immense brain work involved in trying to juggle many things at once and it’s exceptionally tiring. Teachers know that all too well!

Unfortunately, multitasking does not allow the brain to move into ‘Theta’, the low-electrical brain state necessary for mistake-free work or learning. Learning and focus comes with no distraction or pressure. It comes with quiet or at least limited sound dynamics.

It doesn’t come naturally after 20 minutes of playground play, rugby training or jostling up the stairs to get to class. It will never exist with office PA announcements during class, the sound of jackhammers, students calling out or the distraction of mobile phones. Mobile phones on silent are even worse as students constantly check for possible messages. Mobile phones in a locker at least 10 metres from a smart watch is the only answer.

It also follows that a student’s brain state is often a reflection of the teacher’s brain state. If a teacher is relaxed, controlled and focused, a majority of the class will reflect that. If a teacher is pressured, distracted and stressed, the class will usually be the same – an impossible state for student learning and a terrible state for teaching job satisfaction.

Understanding the learning brain not only equips teachers with a toolbox for creating the best learning zone in students, it equips them with knowledge about their own brain state. Not covered in any teacher training course, it’s vital knowledge for today’s teacher.

Brain basics for teachers

The human brain is a soft, mushy thing containing between 80-100 billion tiny brain cells called neurons. Each of these neurons can transfer or generate a small electric signal. It’s as if we were all born with about 100 billion tiny batteries inside our head.

All day long our neurons generate differing levels of electricity depending on what we’re doing, thinking or experiencing.

Proactive
Some of these neurons start the electrical charge to make us move the way we want to. They are called ‘motor neurons’ and are more densely packed on the right side (hemisphere) of the brain. Other neurons help us remember things or plan. They can be anywhere but are mostly towards the front of the brain. That is our neurons in ‘proactive’ mode.

Reactive
Often our neurons are responding to something external like pain, noise, food, physical stimulation or fear. That is the ‘reactive’ mode.

Neurons can switch to be proactive or reactive. It depends on the intention or the stimuli, yet really, we don’t actually know how this happens.

The Learning Brain is a specific electrical state in our brain. Called Theta, it’s about a quarter of the way up our electrical spectrum. Here’s a summary of the states from top to bottom.Gamma
The very top electrical state in healthy people is called Gamma. This is when the electricity in many neuron groups is highest – technically between 25 and 100 Hz – very fast. Gamma puts Adrenalin into our system to make us stronger and faster. We can see this when people are in ‘flight or fight’ mode or playing competitive sport.

Strangely, some Tibetan monks have shown Gamma when

Gamma waves

meditating leading to the theory that they are in a heightened state of consciousness that we don’t really understand. More research is needed for this, yet for us normal mortals, Gamma is for running away from lions, playing tough sport or being physically and mentally super active. It is a TERRIBLE state for learning.

Beta
Beta is the next level down from Gamma and happens when we are wide awake, working and multitasking. For teachers, this is most of the day. Planning, organising, teaching, marking and confronting the myriad of fires that exist in a teacher’s day is the realm of Beta. It’s a fast electrical state yet not as fast as Gamma.

It’s a good state for getting things done and strategic thinking. A person in Beta all day will be exhausted by the end of it. A human’s neurons can only be in a high electrical state for so long.

Students are in Beta when doing several things at once. They could be listening and taking notes as well as checking their phone. They are also in Beta when doing tasks they find hard or they are anxious. It is NOT a good state for learning.

Alpha
This is the middle zone of our electrical spectrum. It’s not high and not low. It’s for processing what is happening around you. It is also very necessary for visual processing and understanding. When you’re in an art gallery you are in Alpha. When you’re reading silently to yourself, you’re in Alpha. You’re also in Alpha when driving quietly on a country road.

The one thing that ruins Alpha is sound – or most forms of sound. That’s why you can’t make noise in an art gallery. It ruins your ability to process the art. Watching a silent movie involves far more Alpha than watching a movie with dialogue.

For teachers, Alpha is a good learning zone yet mainly when the learning involves visual processing or reading. English (for native English speakers), art, history and design can benefit from Alpha. Some sound can help with Alpha yet this needs to be quite specific:

  • A low, soothing voice
  • Quiet music without words – just audible
  • Nothing abrupt – consistent volume – no outside noise

It’s the beginning of the electrical state that produces ‘flow’ – the state when time goes quickly and you’re in the zone. Unfortunately, many teachers and students don’t experience Alpha at all during their day.

Theta
This is the true learning state. It is about a quarter of the way up your electrical spectrum. Theta occurs in daydreaming and meditation, yet also very much in single focused attention (doing one thing only).

Theta electrical signals originate in or near the hippocampus (deep inside the brain). They are very concerned with memory & especially the formation of new memories & navigation. There is a reliable relationship between the size of a person’s hippocampus (producing Theta) & memory performance. A person in Theta is THE MOST receptive to information and learning.  A teacher in Theta or Alpha is also at their best, can think clearly and be in control. 

Poor memory, bad behavior and learning difficulties are often related to too much Beta and not enough Theta creation.

The hippocampus has many densely packed layers of neurons & generates very strong EEG signals. These densely packed, memory-rich neurons can actually be formed during vigorous, sweaty exercise. This is called Neorogenesis.

While most people using the MINDZ headset will not be relaxed & meditative, they will be paying attention to one thing (the screen) & will therefore show Theta. Some people have a genetic default in Theta and are quite chilled. Besides that, Theta is produced by:

  • Eating,
  • laughing (or crying),
  • meditating (in whatever way you meditate eg swimming laps)
  • 30 minutes after vigorous or hard exercise.

The DELTA brain wave (0-4Hz).
Delta is experienced in deep, dreamless sleep & in transcendental meditation where awareness is fully detached. Among many things, deep sleep is important in healing & regeneration – both physical & emotional. Not having enough deep sleep is detrimental to your health in more ways than one. No one using the MINDZ headset will show DELTA.