FAQ

BioLink is not a quick fix.  To use the violin example, there’s no short cut to being able to make music.  The good news is that once a student has mastered the skills of BioLink, they have them for the rest of their lives because they use them every day.
By mastering skills of this nature, students are now in control of their attention, allowing them to focus on what they want, when they want, regardless of how exciting, stimulating, or engaging it is.  This translates into shorter homework time, paying longer attention to classroom lectures, better ability to follow directions, less time spent off-task, and the ability to ignore distractions and concentrate regardless of the environment.
To discuss attention, we’ll use the metaphor of an orchestra. Before the conductor steps on-stage, the members of the orchestra are working independently. Some players are tuning their instruments, some are shuffling their music, some are chatting, and some are rehearsing their parts for this concert. That’s what an unfocused mind is like. Each part of the mind is attending to a variety of things. This is a typical state of daydreaming.
When the conductor enters the stage, stands before the orchestra and raises the baton, the musicians play together in synchrony. That directed, engaged energy is the same type the brain exhibits when it is paying attention.  Students with attention problems don’t have a deficit or lack of attention, but they do have problems with control over directing their attention.  As mentioned before, the differences between day dreaming and focus are not always clear to a person with an attention challenge, and largely because there are varying degrees of both mental states.  Yes, a person can be totally day dreaming or totally focused, but there’s a huge “twilight” area in between where the two are mixed to varying degrees.
A noisier environment more closely simulates average working- and learning conditions in schools and offices. We choose not to create lab conditions or work with fancy noise reduction earphones, as this is not the challenged environment that ADHD people deal with in daily life
Yes, we make use of the FOCUS CPT test to measure 5 building blocks of attentional control.
Scientific research has demonstrated that the brain is adaptable and capable of learning throughout life. This is termed neuroplasticity. BioLink allows the user to view the attentive state in real-time. Over time, through deliberate practice, students can learn to increase focus and concentration. Deliberate practice entails setting goals to improve skill performance. The interactive exercises also challenge students to improve memory, finish tasks, visual tracking, and filter out distractions. Gradually, even ADHD students can retain the skills necessary to be successful in the classroom, work, and home.
You decided to place your child on medication with a healthcare provider. Use of medication is a medical decision and must be decided under advisement of your healthcare provider. It is important to realize that medication does not teach skills or behaviours. BioLink is an educational skill-building tool that also teaches students to improve behaviours. Once these skills are learned, frequently the need for medication greatly diminishes. However, you must discuss the matter with your healthcare provider regarding changes to medication or any medical issues.
New statistics estimate that 8% to 10% of all children have ADHD. Roughly 60% to 70% of those children will carry their attention problems into adulthood. Sadly, almost 30% of those on medication will either not get benefits from it, or through parents’ poor control will not use the medication as prescribed by health care practitioners. The inability to finish assignments, stay organized, remember things, or become easily distracted follow children into adulthood where it’s estimated billions of dollars are lost due to these problems. BioLink teaches organization, improves memory, trains you to complete tasks and become less distracted. These skills are vitally important success at either school or the workplace. Additionally, we have the Academic Bridge that teaches you how to finish homework or balance your check book in appropriate times. This superior tool is a tremendous asset when learning to complete tasks vitally important to success at work or school.
Not at all, you are doing brain exercises. Near-infrared rays have extremely low energy. This type of technology is already used in many studies on the brain. The little device with the red light that doctors place on one of your fingers in order to measure your heart rate and blood saturation uses similar technology – therefore completely harmless.
A big role and yes, you can help. Although very few studies up to now were able to show clearly the impact of food additives, sugar and trans-fats on cognitive functioning, it is widely believed that a good diet can help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with ADHD. Bio-Link provides parents with dietary and other health advice when needed. Prof. Visser has almost 20 years of experience in terms of food supplements, and dietary advice is supplied by qualified nutritionists.
References
1) Vernon et al., International Journal of Psychophysiology, 47 (2003) 75–85.
2) Friel, Alternative Medicine Review , Volume 12, Number 2 2007
3) Fox et al., Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Vol. 30, No. 4, December 2005
4) Heinrich et al., Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48:1 (2007), pp 3–16
5) Jensen et al., The Journal of Pain, Vol 9, No 3 (March), 2008: pp 193-199
6) Monderer et al., Epilepsy & Behavior , 3 (2002) 214–218
7) Enger et al. Clinical Neurophysiology 115 (2004) 131–139
8) Angelakis et al. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 21: 110–129, 2007
9) Sitaram et al. Neural Networks 22 (2009) 1320-1328
10) Blackett, York Biofeedback Centre
11) Coben et al., Journal of Attentional Disorders, (2009), 56 – 65
12) Ehlis et al., Journal of Psychiatric Research 42 (2008) 1060–1067
13) Negoro et al., Child Psychiatry Hum Dev (2010) 41:193–203
14) Steiner et al., Clinical Pediatrics, (2011) 50(7) 615 –622

What is the science behind the programme?

As recently as twenty years ago, scientists believed that the genes we were born with wholly determined the structure of our brains.  However, current extensive research performed by scientists worldwide proves that how our brains develop, learn, and grow depends on the vital interaction between nature and nurture.  Nature, or more accurately genetic endowment, is directly affected by the environment, care challenges and teachings received (nurture).
Learning takes place by construction of neural networks.  Neural networks are the whispering of neurons to each other.  Neurons are brain cells that communicate with each other via an electrochemical process that carries neurotransmitters across the division between the neurons (the synapse).
Our five senses process information (external stimuli) and then select certain neural connections to become active.  In the recent past, scientists believed this network building or neural activation to be deterministic of the genes you are born with which would determine the networks that could develop.  However, it has been proved that activation is a random selection among many possible neural connections that could occur.  It is not something that happens by deterministic design.  New information (sensory input) enters the brain through pre-existing networks, which is why it is imperative to provide challenging stimulation in early childhood.
If the input is not new, it can trigger memory.  If it is new it can trigger learning.  Cognitive psychology refers to this process as constructivism:  the learner builds his or her own knowledge on his current knowledge base, but only in response to a challenge.  BioLink  directly challenges students to build the neural networks necessary to pay attention.
Scientists apply the term neuroplasticity to the action of brain growth and adaptation in response to challenge.  Provided the correct challenge and environment, children and adults frequently compensate (shift brain function from one area to another) when a certain area of the brain cannot function correctly.  It is documented in many medical and neurological journals that the brain will increase activity in one region to overcome loss of another region.  UCLA pediatric neurologist Dr. Donald Shields states, if there’s a way to compensate, the developing brain will find it.  There is no question that the brain can compensate even if it has problems focusing attention.  However, it has to be provided with the correct environment prompting challenge.  Play Attention is founded in educational cognitive psychology to provide the correct environment and challenge.
Furthermore, the old notion that early childhood experiences have little impact on later development has been proven false.  We now know that the brain is directly and decisively affected by early experiences.  This includes the architecture of the brain and the nature and extent of adult capacities;  the actual capacity to form new neural networks is directly affected by early childhood experiences.
It was also thought that brain development is linear:  the brain’s capacity to learn and change grows steadily as an infant matures into adulthood.  It is now known that brain development is non-linear:  there are optimum times for acquiring different kinds of knowledge and skills.  For example, it is often easier for a very young child to learn a new language than a person past the age of 25.  However, the brain can grow and continue to develop provided the right conditions are met.

Behaviour shaping – self distracting behaviour

If you speak out of turn at work or the teacher sends notes home telling you that your child is interrupting the entire class, our Behavioral Shaping program can mitigate or extinguish these behaviors. Our behavioral shaping program presents a direct correlation between behavior, attention, and workplace or classroom success. It’s then quite easy to self-regulate and extinguish problem behaviors without tears or punishment. Though not always the case, many students with attention challenges (especially younger ones) tend to display what are called “Self-distracting Behaviours”. These are things like fidgeting, impulsive verbal expression, compulsive movement, humming, talking, nail biting, hair twirling, leg shaking, foot tapping—the list goes on and on. Again, self-distracting behaviours are not present in every individual with an attention challenge because some are pure daydreamers. For those students who do manifest them, however, extinguishing these behaviours is not always easy. Before we move on, it’s important to take a moment to address the reason self-distracting behaviours occur. Every individual is different, but in general it is not a lack of attention that presents the problem. Instead, the problem lies in diffused attention, wherein the student is paying attention to many things at once. A student or learner in class, when a lecture or lesson is going on, is not just hearing what the teacher has to say. He is also hearing when the air conditioning cuts on and off. He is also watching the people in the hall move about, and the maintenance man outside the window cutting the grass. He is also daydreaming about his favourite cartoon, simultaneously wondering what the two children in the back of the classroom are whispering about. His total or global attention is being divided among all of these stimuli, so he catches mere bits and pieces of each. Self-distracting behaviours often develop as coping mechanisms, for example, twirling a pencil. Keep in mind a single self-distracting behaviour is being used here exclusively for the purpose of giving a usable example. Many attention challenged individuals of this type do lots of different things, the variety and frequency of which are often dependent on the situation.
One of Play Attention’s most remarkable features is its ability to draw a direct relationship between attention and behaviour. When a student fidgets, attention is diminished, causing the screen characters to either move in the wrong direction, or at the very least stop working properly. This immediately tells the students that they are not paying attention. It also clearly demonstrates to the students that their behaviour is directly related to their attention.