You can’t help but be impressed by the research going on at the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas. Top to bottom, I think they are putting in place the team that will lead to new breakthroughs in autism, attention deficit disorder, Alzheimer’s, and other significant brain issues.
The Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training, or SMART, program is based on cognitive neuroscience principles of how to best engage the rapidly developing frontal brain networks to build strategic thinking, advanced reasoning and innovative problem solving skills. The SMART program trains cognitive strategies to improve brain efficiency through organization, synthesis, abstraction and interpretation of meaning, based on brain science that has shown that constructing novel, generalized meanings is how the brain best learns.
SMART is distinct from all other training approaches in that the evidenced-based, patent-pending program focuses on top-down processing of information, rather than bottom-up learning. The research behind the SMART program shows that top-down, generalized meanings are more robustly stored and retrieved as compared to a rapid loss of specific details.
SMART trains individuals to maximize their brain power, think strategically and engage their imagination. Center for BrainHealth neuroscientists, Drs. Sandra Bond Chapman, Jacquelyn Gamino, Lori Cook, and Molly Keebler developed the SMART program to train cognitive strategies that enhance and engage the brain’s frontal lobes to improve brain efficiency through organization, synthesis, abstraction and interpretation of meaning. SMART teaches individuals how to think strategically, enabling deeper understanding, and creativity, and it works because SMART addresses the three pivotal brain processes that ensure mental productivity: strategic attention, integration, and mental flexibility.
The brain can process 400 billion pieces of information a minute, but that does not mean it should. The combination of information overload and tendencies to multitask has greatly impaired strategic attention. It is harder to sift through information and block what is irrelevant. With the SMART program, individuals learn how to focus with laser precision on the tasks and decisions that matter, better understand root issues, and separate relevant and extraneous information.
How do you assimilate and synthesize huge amounts of facts and opinions to get at the core ideas? It is a matter of conscious, effortful processing. It requires dynamically shifting from the facts at hand to the global view. This process of zooming in and zooming out allows individuals to reach beyond the tangible to the global picture. SMART teaches program participants to extract meaning from various sources, develop abstract ideas, and engage in futuristic thinking.
In today’s world, our brains are neuroengineered to rigidly seek the “correct” answer. Most people are good at storing and reproducing massive amounts of information, but not so good at identifying and solving messy problems. When, in fact, our brain needs to be flexible in how to use information in order to create new solutions and novel applications. Through the SMART program, individuals learn to maximize their brain power at all stages of life. Participants learn to construct insightful interpretations, imagine potential problems, identify multiple solutions, create novel directions, and view issues from diverse perspectives.
The goal of the Center for BrainHealth is to apply learnings from research immediately to those populations who may benefit. BrainHealth scientists have learned that the brain training of deeper-level thinking through the SMART program carries over into untrained areas allowing study participants to more effectively assimilate, manage, and utilize information like never before.