The Science Behind Cellfield
Cellfield is a proven method to improve the reading abilities of both children and adults. Leveraging educational computer programs, Cellfield re-wires the brain, creating new neural pathways within the students brain, leading to understanding and comprehension of what is being read.
Understanding Brain Plasticity
The brain is plastic. For years, scientists maintained that once our brains had formed, they could not be changed. They likened our brains to machines, “hardwired” like a computer. A computer will only have as much memory as you give it. If it runs out of memory, or if something stops working, it will not replenish itself.
Scientists believed for years that if a part of the brain didn’t develop properly during key formative years, or if it became damaged (say, through a head injury or stroke), it was irreparable.
Now scientists are showing us that this is not true.
Now we hear of the brain being “plastic,” malleable, NOT hardwired, but able to change constantly throughout our lives (for better or worse).
Why are neurons important? Neurons are one of the core component of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral ganglia.
Neurons process and transmit information by electrical or chemical signalling. Neurons connect to each other to form networks, “wires in the brain that transmit information from one location to another.”
Every time we learn something, a connection between neurons is made. The more we repeat that task, the stronger the connection becomes. Every time we forget something, a connection is broken.
Understanding Brain Functions
Cellfield is an intervention designed well before the term “brain plasticity” became fashionable. It is designed to take advantage of the ability of the brain, with the right input, to quickly create the connections responsible for proper reading. Here are some relevant skills:
Executive function: A set of mental skills that help us do things. A “neural management committee” of cognitive processes, takes inputs from various areas and decides when and where to direct attention and sustain conscious “thinking power.”
Working memory: The “white board of the mind.” This is the part of short-term memory where the conscious processing of immediate information takes place, for learning and problem solving. A deficit often leads to difficulties in school.
Cognition: The “thinking power” used in working memory with information from experience and the senses.
Cognitive pathways: When executive function, working memory and cognition work together, conscious “cognitive pathways” are formed. As they get used, these pathways are learned and strengthened.
Behavioural pathways: When something is learned and mastered by the cognitive pathways, that something is shifted down into the sub-conscious as an automatized skill or piece of knowledge.
This can be used when required without having to be processes in working memory. This frees working memory capacity, so more skills can be mastered.
When students have automatized basic reading skills, their working memory capacity is freed. so that more advanced skills such as comprehension, can be mastered.
Understanding Reading Difficulties
The typical route to reading aloud: Knowing that words can be divided into sounds, beginner readers (and experienced readers presented with an unfamiliar word) match sounds to letters and identify words, reading slowly, one word at a time.
After 4-12 accurate identifications, the shape and sounds of the words are “connected” in the brain, so the word can be automatically recognised. This allows reading to become fluent, and free cognitive space/working memory for higher order tasks such as comprehension. Experienced readers do not need to sound out words, going directly from what their eyes see to meaning.
Reading difficulties/disabilities. Good readers automatically use three main functions for reading:
- Broca’s area: sequencing and control of speech/articulation.
- Parietal temporal area: integrates visual/print and the phonologic/sound structure of the language – word analysis.
- The occipital-temporal area: remembers the form of the word
Those with persistent reading difficulties do not easily recognise the association between speech sounds and the written letters (parietal temporal) and so do not automate the shape of the words (occipital temporal). They over-rely on the sounds in the words (Broca’s area) without making the other connections. Reading is laborious and slow with poor comprehension.
What Should a Reading Intervention Do?
Combining literature on reading difficulties, medical studies, neurology, psychology, and the brain, Cellfield designer Dimitri Caplygin concluded that a reading intervention program should do the following, and this is what Cellfield does:
- Improve auditory processing speed: Progressive acoustically modified target words in rhymes.
- Improve visual processing speed: Motion graphics, moving masks, colour and orthoptic correction.
- Bond auditory and visual functions: Simultaneous auditory, visual and orthographic task requirements.
- Increase working memory capacity: Simultaneous orthographic/auditory/eye/hand coordination demands, with embedded text, Pidgin English and advanced mosaics.
- Improve attention: Motion graphics, tight time-outs with multi-sensory tasks and scoring systems.
- Improve motivation: Through built in novelty from a radically new approach, a scoring system, and experiencing success for the first time.
- Improve eye movement control: Place demands on eye movement due to opaque moving graphics which become moving masks and using corrective lenses as needed.
- Synchronies data arriving at the left hemisphere: The simultaneous orthographic/auditory, semantic and motor functions shift the right hemisphere activity to the language centres in the left hemisphere.