Episode 41: Exploring Visual, Auditory, Tactile and Kinesthetic Ways of Processing
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Exploring Metacognition and Executive Functioning
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- A Workshop on Multisensory Teaching: Accommodating Each Learner's Best Ways of Processing: https://tinyurl.com/yuedmr64
- Student Processing Inventory: https://tinyurl.com/yntf4k8h
- Metacognition: https://tinyurl.com/4dbtc8cw
- Working Memory: https://tinyurl.com/working-memory
- Multisensory Multiplication: https://tinyurl.com/bdc8btfv
- BulletMap Academy: https://bulletmapacademy.com/
- Learning Specialist Courses:https://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/
- Executive Functions and Study Skills Course: https://tinyurl.com/n86mf2bx
- Go Dyslexia Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/go-dyslexia-podcast/id1104665925
- Good Sensory Learning: https://goodsensorylearning.com/
- Learning Specialist Courses: https://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/
- Dyslexia Explored: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dyslexia-explored/id1387645599
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- Dyslexia at Work: www.dyslexiawork.com
Erica: Welcome to the personal brain trainer podcast. I'm Dr. Erica Warren.
Darius: And I'm Darius Namdaran, and we're your hosts. Join us on an adventure to translate scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and explanations for everyday life. We explore executive function and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind.
Erica: Come learn to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals. This podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages. This podcast is brought to you by Goodsensorylearning.com, where you can find educational and occupational therapy lessons and remedial materials that bring delight to learning. Finally, you can find Dr. Warren's many courses at, uh, Learningspecialistcourses.com. Come check out our newest course on developing executive functions and study strategies.
Darius: This podcast is sponsored by Dyslexiaproductivitycoaching.com. We give you a simple productivity system for your Apple devices that harnesses the creativity that comes with your Dyslexia. So, Erica, what are we going to cover this week?
Erica: So this week I'm excited because it's starting a three podcast set that we're going to be doing, where we're going to be talking about, ultimately, once we get through all three episodes, twelve different ways of processing. And today we're going to be focusing on, uh, visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic ways of processing. So I think it's going to be a very exciting episode. A lot of teachers are aware of those and they tend to call them sensory processing areas. But it'll be fun the next two weeks to step into some new ones that people may not really be aware of. But I think it's important to talk about these four first.
Darius: And, um, with my business hat on of the workplace and executives and managers, et cetera, and processing, how important processing is in work. So much of what we do that is of high value is knowledge work, and it's not just memorization like the old days, et cetera. So it'd be interesting to sort of, uh, expand it, see it from an educational perspective and, um, hear what your take is on the work side.
Erica: Yeah, because I think what we tend to do, whether we're a teacher or an employer, is we tend to expect others to process the way we process. And so understanding them, learning about the different ways of processing and understanding also that people don't process your way. So even if something doesn't work for you, for example, if it doesn't really help you to take notes, that doesn't mean that's not the case for other people. For some people, it is vital, or for some people, it is extremely important for them to process out loud, and for other people, it doesn't help at all. So it's really hard to step out of your own way of processing to understand that someone would need something that doesn't work for you. But by us, uh, introducing these twelve ways of processing, it will hopefully help you to be more compassionate and understanding and perhaps even consider some accommodations, whether you're in the workplace or, uh, in a school, for those that may be processed differently than you do.
Darius: And also give yourself accommodations for that as well. Reflect on yourself and say, that is the way I work. And often we can discount one way of processing information because it's not an important way or it's not a typical way that other people process information. I think in many cases, it's about translating sometimes information coming to you in one mode and translating it into a mode of processing that you find useful as well. Anyway, let's get stuck into the four of them. What's the first one?
Erica: The first one is called visual processing. And visual processing really helps us to understand and interpret any kind of visual stimuli. And in fact, what's really interesting about visual processing is I consider that there to be two types. There is your ability to recognize visuals, things that you've already seen, and then there's an internal visual processing, which is your ability to visualize or create mental imagery. And that's also visual. In fact, research has been done recently to show that the brain can't necessarily tell the difference between what you see in reality and what you visualize. Uh, they have pretty much the same weight of importance, and a lot of people don't realize that. So it's interesting. I was just talking to a student yesterday about how important it is to visualize, because the brain really sees that as yet just another image to encode and can really help us when it comes to learning and even planning for our future.
Darius: Well, with my law degree hat on my law mind, the law courts have known about this phenomenon of what you imagine and what you see as often being held in similar weight by a witness, because that's why you need corroboration. One witness is not enough because sometimes we can be completely convinced because we've imagined something, and our, uh, brain has started to think of it as a reality. I remember my law professor came in to the lecture and they brought in a gun, a fake gun, a starter gun, and they were talking about stuff, and then they shot the gun and then started to ask us about what they remembered about the incident. It's a famous thing that happens a lot. So he recreated it. And that instance affected your memory of circumstances before and after it. So even when your memory wasn't theoretically affected by it, it was still affected in retrospect by the gun and so forth. So it's just fascinating that even in our law courts, we've realized that we need corroboration.
Erica: Well, and I think you're hitting on something very interesting because when somebody has a gun, it creates enormous fear and anxiety, which triggers the amygdala. And the amygdala has this incredible memory, but you're also in a state of frenzy. You're there in fight, flight, or freeze, typically. And so you are kind of hyper aware, but you're right, because we have these thoughts or it might even trigger some other visualizations or you might imagine what could happen even though it didn't. Yeah, or you're looking around at different people so you might mix up their faces with who actually has the gun or yes, so that there's so many ways to be absolutely convinced that you saw something that you didn't because of that visualization process. So yeah, it's very interesting, isn't it?
Erica: So let's consider some examples of what visual processing includes. So of course it involves the eyes and the visual cortex and it's typically images, diagrams, color coding is a really nice way of bringing something visual into a task that may not necessarily be visual videos. Other interesting things are body language. We don't always think about that, but that has a lot to do with our comprehension of communication because body language and facial features share a lot. There's a, ah, condition called nonverbal learning disability where these individuals can't really interpret nonverbal cues clearly. And so it's amazing how much you can miss in communication because sarcasm you're going to miss sarcasm because sarcasm is often reflected in facial features or body language and tone and such. But that's an interesting one. What are your thoughts?
Darius: Well, I remember at university when my wife was doing her psychology, that a huge proportion of communication between human beings. They measure it in percentage terms. I vaguely tell me if you know the numbers on this, it was like 60% body language and then about 15% the words you say, and then another like 10% the tone of the words, et cetera. And there's these layers of communication in many ways it's relating to what we're talking about here because these are multimodal ways of communicating and multimodal ways of processing. Processing visuals, processing sound and tone processing, the actual keywords, et cetera. They're all different modes of communication layered on top of one another or simultaneously communicated.
Erica: Right? And people often think of a lecture as just auditory, but in fact there is that huge visual component. And I often say that struggling readers really, really have a hard time with reading comprehension if they're not visualizing. And in fact, it's funny, ever since I started my practice over 25 years ago, I always ask struggling readers that don't like to read, that really hate reading, I ask them if they can visualize and 100% of the time they say no. So it goes to show you that visualization is so important with reading comprehension and we have research that backs that up, that when you're visualizing, your reading comprehension improves dramatically. And when you're not visualizing, it's really, really hard. It's hard to keep track of who the characters are. You lose track of the setting. I remember this one student that read this book and she said, oh, I absolutely loved this book, it was a really good book. And I said, Where did it take place? She said, I have no idea. So we looked it up online, and it happened to actually take place in the town that we lived in. And she was like, oh, my God, that completely changes everything. So visuals are very, very important to understanding. And we think of even when we're communicating, oh, that's a different sense. That's verbal. But the visual piece is so important. Think about it. Eye contact, how important eye contact is when you're communicating. And what it does is it creates this kind of connection. So without that visual component, it's like being blind. If you said, uh, you had to lose one sense, the last one I would pick is vision. And that just seems so frightening to me, not to be able to see.
Darius: So if you were to lose one sense, you're saying there but you had said at the beginning of this conversation that not everyone processes the way you do. So could it be that another person, given that choice, they might choose another thing? Like movement is so important to them, and that reinforces your point that it's different for different people? I've got something sticking in my mind, which is and we've talked about this a number of times, touched on this throughout the podcast. Processing, okay? This word processing, we just throw it around, okay? But we don't often stop to think about what processing actually means. And it's a very, very important word. Teachers use it a lot, educators use it a lot. Business people use it a lot. I need to process that. And we say it process that. But what does processing mean? And I think it would be good to ponder on that. And so that everything we're talking about relates to a deeper understanding of processing, because there's a big difference to visual. I see something, okay. Or I imagine something. Yes, but what does it mean to process something visually or process something verbally or physically? kinesthetically? Now, that talks about not just receiving it, but some digestive processes it were.
Erica: Yeah. So, well, let's talk about visual processing as an example. So a lot of people think, oh, visual processing is just what you see. In fact, that's not the case. So it's taking that information from what you see, and it's taking it to a part of your brain called the visual cortex, which is actually in the back of the brain. And that's what processes visual information. But then it also communicates with other parts of the brain to pull all that together. So it makes sense. And then it has to be encoded as well. And it might even bring in executive functions to make sense of it as well, or to organize it, or to be able to place it within timescale. So it's a very complicated thing, but vision is required. It's one of the pieces of visual processing. But vision is not what processing is. It's the first step, and processing is the second step.
Darius: You know, this adage of I'll sleep on that. Like my mom used to always say, you know, important decision, just sleep on it. Darius I think part of that is about processing. You need to give your mind time to process some information, process a decision, and sleep on it. What's your take in this sort of realm of processing? Because there's that kind of instant processing that's going on of, um, encoding it, connecting it, your brain deciding, is this important or not important? And deleting what's not important, retaining what is important, connecting it with other things that are important in your memory, et cetera. That's processing. But what about that sort of longer processing, like sleeping on something?
Erica: Well, I think there are dilemmas where you have to consider many different options. So those are ones where you typically sleep on it, where you're having to make some sense of something a little bit more complex. But there are times where we just need to have what you call these kind of mini breaks while we're working or studying. And the Huberman Lab podcast I really enjoy. And he talks about how when you are going into these workflows of about 90 minutes, he suggests stopping every few minutes just to look at the wall or look out the window to give your mind a break from all this incoming information so that it can process. And you feel like you're not really doing anything, but your brain is. And it's kind of giving it like a big breath, like it gives it that breath so that it can kind of gain some energy and continue to work. But I think that there is definitely something to those moments of mini processing, and you often actually see it. So when you're speaking to somebody and they pause and they look up, it's often you look up to the right. And when you do look up to the right, it actually does help the brain process. And that's why you often see people looking up. You don't really often see them looking down or looking to the left. It's usually up and to the right. Or they might look to the side, but they're kind of giving themselves that moment to process or to think about it. And I think it also has to do with bringing in executive functions, because executive functions is really part of that processing. Because, of course, we know that working memory is a part of executive functions. And if we think about it right, if we're staying with our visual processing, visual processing, it brings in that visualization. So even when we are, we look away and we're thinking about it, we might be visualizing the next step, or we might visualize what's the next thing that we're going to be talking about. It's funny because, of course, there are those that really are very visual, and they're visualizing and conjuring up all sorts of imagery, whereas there are those that really don't use it very much. And you and I have talked about this, that there's really a continuum to visual processing. And I used to call it a blind mind's eye when people were not able to visualize. And there are reasons why that happens. You might have trauma where you block visualization, could be night terrors, could be many reasons. Could be that you never really learned to tap into it, never really learned the language of it. But I changed it based on your recommendation to call it a closed mind's eye. I really like that because so far I've never had a student that I haven't been able to open up that capacity. Sometimes, uh, it's exploring what the reason is that their mind's eye closed. Sometimes it's just a matter of teaching them the steps on how to open it up and how to use their imagination. But it's very, very interesting the importance of visualization. And of course that is a major component of working memory to bring it back to working memory. So what really helps I like to flip it our memory work is to have that capacity to visualize, but also that capacity to use our inner voice, which we're going to be talking about in auditory processing. Do you have any other things you want to say about visual processing before we move on to auditory processing?
Darius: Isn't it interesting that we're talking about twelve different ways of processing here? Right, okay. And I'm just doing the math and.
Erica: Of course today it's just the first four, but yes, ultimately we will be.
Darius: But your working memory primarily has two doorways, as it were, the phonological loop and the visual spatial loop. And so how does it tie in with that? Because uh, this might be useful to jump to another form of processing that isn't physical. Did you say kinesthetic?
Erica: Yes, we're going to be talking about kinesthetic glass mhm yeah.
Darius: So when we get to the kinesthetic, I'm going to ask you about the working memory and these two things because you're kinesthetically experiencing something, but it's still got to go through your working memory in order to get into your working memory and so on. So that'll be fascinating. I'm looking forward to that bit.
Erica: Yeah, I've actually already considered that and had a little bit of, uh, wow and an awe experience when preparing for this very podcast. So it'll be fun because I feel that all four of these visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic do have a place in working memory. So we'll talk about that. So auditory processing is the same thing as visual processing, but instead of vision, it's using sound. So we use our ears and what we're hearing in the environment. Then we process that information cognitively to make sense of it. So auditory processing is making sense of what we hear. And examples of that are lectures, discussions, audiobooks, podcasts, echo, reading, is an interesting one that I thought I would mention because it's something that I often suggest to the families that I work with that have a child that really enjoys auditory processing and they're struggling with reading. For example. So echo reading is where I would read a book, or, uh, I would actually select a book, I would read the first sentence of the book and then the student would reread that first sentence that I just read, and then I would read the second sentence and then they would echo. That's why they call it echo reading. They would read again that second sentence. And what I like about it is it takes kids away from decoding individual letters into words and it enables them to start to see whole words, which is so important because so many struggling readers, even when they can read, continue to decode. And when you're decoding, you're taking each letter and you're stringing them together and you're using an enormous amount of working memory and attention to be able just to decode. And when kids stay in that way of reading their comprehension tanks because they don't have enough cognitive space to visualize or comprehend what they're reading, because all of their energy is spent on decoding. So, echo reading and of course, listening to audiobooks, and I love to use Voice Dream Reader, so this is definitely a call out to that amazing app. And what makes that so great is that you can listen to it. Of course, now you're combining processing areas. You can listen to it and then also watch it on a phone or a device. And it highlights each line, it highlights each word in another color. And so it helps you to track across the page, which is so important because tracking can really take up a lot of cognitive space as well. Actually, Voicetream Reader has this very cool feature called Pacman Mode, where the words disappear as you're reading it. So it forces the brain to read in a fluid manner. So you can see now we're combining visual and auditory so that it supports reading, uh, even more. But when kids start to use that type of technology while they're listening again, they start to see whole words instead of spending so much time decoding because we want to get them to the point where they can recognize whole words and recognize even whole parts of sentences or whole sentences and kind of absorb it all at once so that they can expend more energy on the comprehension and less on the reading.
Darius: Yeah, it came as a revelation to me when I learned how to speed read. Now I've got dyslexia, but I can speed read now. And when I read the book on speed reading, the author was saying, it is possible to read three words at once. And I was like, really? That's not true. But sometimes you need someone to say, it's possible for you to break the four minute mile sort of thing. It is possible someone's done it and you're like, all right then. And then more people do it. And when that happened to me, I was like, three words at once. And they said, well, think about it like this. Often a set of three words could be of the car. The car is the main important one. And you've got of the car, and it's a little phrase, and you want to understand that phrase. Go and get the key of the car. And instead of reading of the car, it's of the car. And that was a revelation for me, that you can cluster and often forcing my finger across the page. Speed readers do that. They often touch the first third of a sentence, the middle third, and then the final third, and make their eye focus in the middle of the set of words so that they're scanning all of them at once. And if you do that, you can force your brain to keep that rhythm. And I was actually taught that by my Dyslexia, uh, assessor when I was 35 years old. She said an ah offhand comment. She said, Darius, you need to learn to read with your finger or a pen. And I said, well, why? And she said, you're missing words and you're filling in the gaps of understanding, which is what your brain is designed to do as a person with Dyslexia, you do it to an extreme level. There's a gap. You miss something where you fill it in with your understanding, imagination, or predictive mind. But if you're reading academic work, you can't accurately fill in those gaps. And sometimes you'll fill in a gap that should say not and you've said you've missed out the knot and you get all the meaning incorrect after that. So this forcing your finger to point at a word stops you skipping over certain words. So just fascinating. And it also ties in with what you're just about to talk about. This kinesthetic as well. Sometimes touching the page, that physical movement across it, combined with the visual, combined with the verbal inside of your head, these are all working with one another. I've got really enamored with the phrase multimodal. We hear about multi sensory multi processing. Yes, but this multimodal way of processing information kind of decidifies it, because often we think, multisensory, let's make all lovely colors and so on. And yeah, that's part of it. But this multimodal way of, uh, it's coming out of artificial intelligence, how we're trying to teach these AIS to process information like we do. And it's fascinating, and it relates a lot to how we process information. So if you take GPT-3, for example, that we've been talking about before, and loads of people are aware of it, it's very much a language based model. It's all words. All it's processing is words. But yesterday I don't know when this podcast will come out, probably come out in about a month. But yesterday, on the 14 March, 2023 GPT Four was released. And GPT Four can process visual as well as verbal. So you can give it a picture and you can say to the picture, why is this picture funny? And it will say, this is a picture of a man standing in front of a car on a skateboard with a banana in his hand, pretending to shoot at the kids down the side of the road. And it's funny because a banana isn't really a gun, and a man standing on a skateboard pretending to shoot a kid is really a kid thing to do. And the kid's looking at him like he's an adult, saying, how silly you are, you should be more grown up. And it understands what it's looking at through a process. So right now, the world, so much of the world is trying to figure out how do human beings process the outer world? Not just for ourselves personally, but to teach these AIS to do it. It's incredible. And if you carry that on with Kinesthetic, okay, because we're going to come to it and Tactile and Kinesthetic, you then tie in to what Tesla is doing with artificial intelligence. In that Tesla. I have a Tesla. It's amazing what it can do. It is both learning from the road and adapting to it kinesthetically physically. And what they're finding out is there are certain abilities that the machine learning cannot pass until it's in a physical entity.
Erica: M very interesting. Well, and I want to go back to this multimodal idea. Now, I have a whole way of assessing the twelve ways of processing. It's called the eclectic learning approach. And I have an assessment that goes into all of this. And what I have determined over the years of using it is that when we go multimodal, so, for example, because I have a whole way of scoring it, and the higher your score, the more you prefer that way of processing, the more helpful it is for you. And what I've noticed is that if I present something, a lesson to a student, the more multimodal or more multi processing I accommodate, the more likely they are to learn it. Because you can take their numbers and you can add them. So if they have a four in visual and a three in auditory, if you use both a lecture that's with high visuals, they're up to a seven. So the more engaged they'll be, the more you'll be able to hold their attention, the more excited they'll be about the learning. So a lot of it is the whole purpose of this approach is to teach teachers about the twelve different ways of processing, but also how to accommodate the unique needs of the individuals and even assess the students that they do have.
Darius: What about I'm very big on, um, not expecting the world to adjust to you, but you learn how to adjust to the world. It's a form of cognitive flexibility. So someone could say, oh, I'm a very verbal learner. Why are they not saying it to me? Or that maybe that's not so obvious. I'm a very kinesthetic learner. Why are they not making it practical and physical for me? And so on. It's all just words and pictures. Well, then your response is a certain amount of self awareness that you think, I know myself well enough that I have to immediately try and make this as physical and kinesthetic and tactile as possible for me. Okay. And it could be as simple as what we should just jump. Let's just jump to those two so that we can tie all four together in the conversation.
Erica: But before we do that with auditory processing, I want to point something out because this is really important, which is there are two types. Again, what do you know? There is what we hear in our environment. And then, like, visualization is that inner piece. Your inner voice also plays a role, which is a part of working memory. Again, it's one of those tools. And when we talk about the Visual Spatial sketch pad and, uh, he also refers it as the phonological loop, or I like to call it the inner voice. Those terms, the Phonological loop and Visual Spatial sketch pad goes back to Alan Battley, uh, his model, just if you're curious. So that inner voice is incredibly powerful in the learning process and is a big piece of working memory and our ability to encode things. So, although there is these outer voices that we are processing, there's also that inner voice that we're processing. So it's really interesting to think about the fact that we have these two types. Um, and the fun thing is we're going to be talking about two types when it comes to all four of these ways of processing. But now that I've said that, we can move on to tactile processing. And tactile processing is the ability to interpret and understand information that we touch. So we're looking more fine motor. Sometimes there's a fine line between tactile and kinesthetic because tactile is somewhat kinesthetic. So if we're using more wide, sweeping movements so if we're teaching, for example, children to create the letters, and we're using their arm and we're using big, large strokes, we're actually making it. We might be combining tactile with kinesthetic, particularly if we have them to write the letters really large on the board, right? And then all of a sudden but yes, tactile and kinesthetic is somewhat related because it has to do with the body. Just think of the tactile as a little bit more of a fine motor and tends to focus primarily on your hands. Although, say you didn't have hands, which is not a pleasant thought. But there are those that don't have hands. I guess tactile processing would be reallocated if they are holding. A pencil in their mouth, that could be a form of tactile processing. Or if you were using your feet, that could be a form of tactile processing. It's just that kind of fine motor. And examples are hands on experiments, sculpting, which is one of my favorite things, touching things, manipulating, stretching your body. Again, now we're somewhere between tactile and kinesthetic, depending on if you're just stretching your hands versus stretching your whole body. Drawing and writing are also very interesting tactile pieces. So what are your thoughts about those examples?
Darius: Well, I'd like to focus in on the writing, because I think handwriting is a very powerful thing. Um, and we live in a digital world, and we're very much moving in the workplace to digital notes and digitized information. But I notice a lot with my clients that especially with Dyslexia. And it's ironic because a lot of people with Dyslexia find it difficulty learning to write as well as learning to read. Handwriting can be hard. Learning your F's and learning just that spatial awareness of up, down, left, right, all of that sort of thing can be really hard. And yet, once you've got it, it's so valuable for us, uh, to process information. The time it takes to write something by hand, you're shaping the word, you're feeling the word. There's a position on the paper. So there's this visual spatial awareness. It was on the top right hand. And the sense of friction and the pleasure of the flow of the ink and liking different kinds of stationery, or a, uh, two B pencil instead of an HB pencil that scratches. And all of that kind of dynamic is so important to us. Like, how many people are just love a good time with a stationery shop? Want to go in there and get some nice paper, get some nice pens, some colors, some sticky notes, or something physical? It's deeply wired into us to sort of process this information physically as well. And there's a huge value to that. And I think they only i, uh, see it with clients, because the clients, often as adults, they're like, I know I've got to get super organized, but I really love writing things down on bits of paper and postit notes. And I'm kind of scared that I might have to give all of that up, and I know I should, but I don't want to, and I don't know what to do, and so on. And I'm kind of like it's okay, you're still going to write by hand. You're still going to write with pen and paper. You're still going to have notebooks and postits and so on. But you might have to take a quick scan of it and put it in your apple notes. You might still have to take a quick scan of it and put it in your apple notes. So it's there for your reference. You might want to do some of your notes by right. Writing on an iPad, et cetera. And even on an iPad, writing on the iPad. The pen slips around the place. And so people have got these paper like surfaces where you stick a screen protector on it and it goes rough, and it gives you that sort of rough friction and resistance on the paper, on the screen, as it were, because we need that sort of tactile response. And they've even done it in the iPhone, where you've got Haptic feedback, where it shakes a little bit when you tap a buzz button or something like that. So it feels so there's something in us that really values this physical feedback.
Erica: It's interesting because I think you're super tactile, and that's one of your most important ways of processing. So it's really important for you. But there are those people where it's really not that important. Now, can they develop that skill? Yes. And can those that really need tactile processing, can they learn to process in other ways? Yes, and I'm a really good example of that. And I think a lot of people, when we went from handwriting, because I'm old enough, that when I was little, we handwrite everything. We didn't have word processors yet. And when we had to transition from handwriting to word processing and typing, I would handwrite it and then type it. And it took me years and years and years in order to be able to just type and process. And now it's taken me a long time to move away from typing to get to voice, whether it's voice activated things or being able to oh, uh, my gosh. It was just this year that I gave up my paper planner. Just this year. And I finally I tried so many times to go online or on my phone, and I always ran back to paper. And this is the first time where I've let go of paper, and I'm like, wow, the heavens have opened, and it's so much better. But, uh, I just wasn't ready for a really long time, and I now have been able to embrace it, but it just took me a long time.
Darius: Uh, why was it hard to go from do you mean a physical diary, as it were, or a paper planner on the wall?
Erica: No, it was a physical paper planner that I bought every year online. I got 2022, and I handwrote everything out, and I carried that thing around with me. I just couldn't let go of it. But now I have. Now I have, and it's much, much better. But it just took me a really long time. So just as you were saying, there are ways that we can expand our ways of processing and use other ways of processing. So it's funny, when I first work with students, I figure out what their ways of processing are, their best ways, their favorite ways, and I meet them, I give them strategies that are in line with their comfort zone. And then once we've developed a relationship and they trust me, I'll say, let's explore. Let me introduce you to some other ways of processing that might feel a little uncomfortable initially, but if you practice them, they might actually give you a whole new set of tools that could be really mind expanding. So I think when you're talking about processing, it's a combination of if you're just trying to give somebody content, give it to them in the way that they process most easily. Because when you're learning new processing areas, it takes up a lot of cognitive energy and then you don't have room to learn. So you kind of have to build that skill to automaticity before you can use it effectively. And it just took me that long to build my skill of typing and writing and trusting the Internet and trusting everything to finally take that leap. Believe me, I took it and I always ran back because it just didn't work. And now this last time, I was like, okay, I've got this. But I feel a sense of cognitive growth every time I do that, but it just takes me a while to build it to automaticity.
Darius: I'd like to know more about that. So when did you make the change? A year ago.
Erica: You said within the last year.
Darius: And, um, what were you you were using a paper planner. What did you move over to?
Erica: Well, I moved to Google Calendar. And now because of our podcasts, I'm now using Apple Notes. So I'm using a combination of Apple Notes and Google Calendar. Okay. Apple notes is really good. And it's funny because ever since Apple has upgraded and with the new systems, I've noticed that even though I didn't set up my Apple Calendar, it's already set up just like my Google Calendar, which really freaks me out because sometimes I open up the wrong calendar by accident. I'm like, Wait a minute, this looks different. I'm like, but it's the same stuff. How did they do that? So they've been doing some sneaky things on the back end to try to entice me over to use just Apple. They must have heard our podcast where you were saying, Erica go Apple.
Darius: So did you run your paper calendar at the same time as your digital calendar? For a while. So they were simultaneous as a backup.
Erica: Kind of, but not fully. And then it was just too much to keep them both up, uh, to date. So a little bit there was a little bit of overlap, but it was just frustrating because it was actually more.
Darius: Work and the tactile side of writing it down in the physical calendar and so on, compared to typing it out and processing it on the digital side. What's the difference now? Where do you think the pros and is there any cons? Have you noticed? Where are the pros and cons? There?
Erica: I think what's happened for me is that now I have, um right now I'm holding up all these little colorful index cards and sticky notes. So now I've moved away from having sheets of paper with lists to little sticky notes that I then transfer over to Apple Notes. So they're just those moments where I just have, like when we're in a podcast and this great thought pops into my head, I don't want to lose it. So I quickly write it down on one of my sticky notes, and then sometime at the end of the day, I look through every thing and say, okay, what do I need to put into Apple Notes? Or what do I need to put into my calendar? And then I throw all my sticky notes away.
Darius: I see. Now that's interesting. So there's still this sort of instant kind of get it fascinating. Uh, brilliant.
Erica: Well, it's a clear my working memory.
Erica: So that I can continue to focus on our conversation, because otherwise I don't want to let go of something. The only way I can do is to write it down, but I don't want to open up Apple Notes in the middle of our podcast. So it'll be interesting to see how if that also eventually makes it over to technology, and I give that up altogether. Although, as you said, there's just something just so, like, almost I don't know, it just feels so good and satisfying to write things down. That tactile piece and the pencil sliding over the paper, there's just something almost therapeutic to it for me. And I do love keeping a written journal to kind of organize my thoughts and even to help me to process so it gets back to the processing. There are times where just writing something out and I'm like, wow, that was good.
Darius: Yeah, I'm glad you brought that because I was going to talk about that too. I think I am close to the point where everything's gone digital now. For me, I'm fully digital paperless that I used to do my journaling on my iPad. But now Apple Notes has taken a lot of the practical stuff I would put into my journal away and put it into the right place in Apple Notes and so on. But I am missing those times where I just sit down and write something and reflect just by writing. And I'm thinking to myself just now, actually, maybe it's time to go back to a moleskin and just have the moleskin. The leather backed notebook of, uh, the leather feeling of the moleskin. I did that for 30 years, and I have a shelf full of them just listed in date order of all my thoughts and so on. And I decided six years ago to go to the iPad and do that on the iPad. Instead, I did it for a six month experiment. I was like, oh, actually, I think I'm going to keep doing this. Then it became a one year experiment, and now it's become like a six year experiment. No, I'd say about five year experiment. And now I'm actually thinking, do you know what? There's one little aspect of all of that that I would still like to keep in paper. And I'll probably scan it into apple notes still, but I would like it as paper.
Erica: Yeah, it's almost nostalgic like. Oh, cool. I'm going to handwrite this. Uh, there's something just very grounding about it. Yeah. Well, now that we've talked about that, let's go a little bit into kinesthetic processing, because this is interesting. Although I didn't talk about the two types of tactile processing.
Darius: So the two types I'm going to guess okay, I'm going to guess you're going to have some outer expression of tactile processing and some inner expression, because that's the pattern I'm seeing. There's the outer hearing and there's the inner voice. There's the outer seeing, and there's the inner visualization. Are you going to find a way of outer tactile experience and an inner tactile experience?
Erica: Sort of. I definitely have that for the kinesthetic. And because kinesthetic and tactile are related, because it's the body, you could say the visual spatial sketch pad. Because it is a sketch pad, it's a handwriting writing. So the visual spatial piece, writing is spatial, right? So I would say it's writing, which is spatial, which is so writing is outer, but spatial is inner. But there's also those that just need what I call handgun. They need to have something in their hands to fiddle with while they're processing. I think you and I are similar that way. When I'm in a podcast, I always have something in my hand. Like right now, I've got this little rock in my hand, or I have to make sure that it's something that doesn't make too much noise. And I know both of us have had moments where you're like, what are you doing? Yeah, we were fiddling with clicking.
Darius: The classic is clicking a pen. Click, click.
Erica: So there's that piece of those that just need whether it is fiddling with something, something gooey, that's where the handgun comes in. But also it's some kind of manipulative or even doodling. You're not really doing anything. You're just giving yourself that kind of little movement. It's like you're just like that's why I call it handgun or tactical toys, all that kind of stuff. So that is very different than writing. So when I use my assessment, I really make a distinction between those that need handgun or tactile toys versus those that need to be handwriting. Because sometimes it's both and sometimes it's one, and sometimes it's neither. So that's pretty interesting. So onto kinesthetic processing, which is the ability to interpret and understand information through movement, movement of our bodies. And so as we were saying earlier, we're m moving from fine motor to gross motor when we're talking about tactile processing. And that's where we're getting into things like dance and sports and skits. And when it comes to school, you can have these little rubber foot swings underneath your desk, or you can sit on a Zenergy ball chair, which are these blow up balls that you can bounce on, or having wiggle seats, which are these plastic things that you can blow up. And the kids can kind of move their waist and so that they don't have to they appear to be sitting still, but they still have these micro movements which satisfy their kinesthetic needs. And I've even seen online some desks that whether there's a treadmill underneath it or an elliptical underneath it, or a bicycle underneath it, so that you can actually be expelling some energy while you're learning. Because for some kids, when you ask them to sit still, and adults too, you're actually almost shutting off processing. It puts them to sleep.
Darius: And, um, I think it's interesting what you just said there, expelling some energy. That's a byproduct. Often you look at it and you think, oh, it's just a form of exercise. But actually, for some people, that's just a byproduct. For others, it's a, uh, required part of processing. Now, sometimes I've noticed with myself, for example, I need to pace the room and walk up and down the room and think and talk something through to myself. And those are multiple modes of processing. I'm speaking out loud and I'm moving, and that's really important. So other kinesthetic, like the standing desks, are a key part of the workplace nowadays, the ability to just you're sitting down. You decide, right, I'm going to raise my I've got a standing desk. You can raise your desk, you can stand there. It's good for your posture, but it also means you're balancing on your feet. There's just more range of movement. And that's part of the kinesthetic aspect of, uh, us processing. And you can see it happening in childhood, and you can see it happening in adulthood as well. So, for example, in childhood, you'll do multiplication tables, and you maybe start counting on your fingers. So you're physically processing kinesthetically, processing those numbers. They're clearly defined in one side or the other. And then when you get into adulthood, you're also using your hands to communicate. Sometimes up here, up there, down. This is kinesthetics. It's not just communication to the other person. It's communication to yourself, too. You're doing it for your own processing of information as well as body language to the other. It fulfills both functions, and it's helping.
Erica: You to keep attention, so it keeps you fully engaged. And it's funny, when you were talking about multiplication using your hands, I'm like thinking, oh, that's fine motor, and it is. But again, there's this fine line between it's a matter of how much movement. Like, I have my way of teaching multiplication, where I use the tactile piece, which is touching your fingers, but I also use the whole body where you're assigning numbers to movements and then M, it's a combination of movements that gets you to the answer, which is really interesting in the sense of using another sense. But I have to share with you a really interesting story. I'm not sure if I've told this to you or not before, but I was doing a workshop on the twelve ways of processing, in fact, to my old high school, which was really strange. So it's a while ago that I did it, but some of my old teachers were there, and there were 350 faculty at the meeting, and I gave them the inventory and they all took it. Now, you don't just have one way of processing, you have multiple ways of processing. And what I would say is, all right, pick your top four ways of processing. And when I call out the processing area, I want you to stand up. So all the visual learners stand up. Lots of people stand up. All the auditory learners stand up. Lots of people. And then I said, all the kinesthetic learners stand up. Only one person stood up. Now, this was middle and high school. If there were elementary school teachers, I have a theory that a lot of people would have stood up in elementary. But for middle and high school, only one person out of 350. It blew my mind. And I said, what do you teach? And she said, Jim, I love that. So everybody, there was a roar of laughter, but inside I was like I gasped. And I was like, my God. This is why these poor kinesthetic learners are so underserved in education. Because the teachers don't process that way. Because the teachers don't process that way. They don't accommodate those learners naturally. The other thing is, what I've found is if you're not a kinesthetic processor, movement can actually distract you. So many of these kids that are kinesthetic processors, they're always saying, sit still, sit still. Because it's agitating to everybody else, right? So these poor kinesthetic processors, which is why it's so important to have these kinesthetic brain breaks or just little kinesthetic moments throughout the day to really accommodate those kids. But unfortunately, what I'm noticing is that because those kids are not doing well because their needs are not being met, they are acting out. Makes sense, right? Because they're bursting, they need to move, and then they're losing recess because they get in trouble, and then it's an even more profound problem. And then all of a sudden, we're getting real behavior problems because it's like putting a kid in a straitjacket. It's awful for them that's kinesthetic learners. I'm, um, often preaching that it's so important because even in the public school system in the States, they've been taking out physical education in many schools because they want to spend more time on learning. And I'm like, oh my goodness, if these poor kids don't have that too, that's awful. So yeah. It's really important that we accommodate those learners. Even if it's just in spits and starts just in little bits, it's huge for them. And then helping the other kids to understand that if that's agitating for them, okay, then put them in the front of the class. And the kinesthetic learners can be in the back of the class and they won't bother each other. They'll be moving around. Or I often work with my kids and say, what are some ways that we can accommodate your needs without agitating everybody else? What can you do underneath the desk that's not going to be annoying? And then also communicating with the teachers, oh, this is a need. This is what they're going to be doing, and guide them in those moments.
Darius: Yeah, I know. I mean, for me, it was rocking on my chair, and the teachers forbade that. And I always thought, I can't wait till I'm an adult and then I can rock on any chair I want. And I do. And I think it's part of ADHD as well. It's a bit of a sort of energy thing, movement thing. Now, I said that we would finish off talking about working memory and these multiple modes of processing.
Erica: Before we do that, I'm going to do one more thing. There are two types.
Darius: Oh, of course, yes.
Erica: Right. So there are two types of kinesthetic. There are those that observe or experience movement. I think it's mostly experience movement externally, and then there are those that experience movement internally. And I never thought about it this way, but that could be a really interesting accommodation to work, to help kids to be able to sit still. You can say, okay, you're sitting still in your body, but in your imagination, you can still move around because then you won't disturb anybody. Never thought about that. But really spatialization, which again, is over in the realm of the visual spatial sketch pad, is movement. It's movement through space. So you can imagine moving through space. And of course, one of the best memory strategies that memory champions use is memory palaces or the method of locai. And that is all about imaginary movement.
Darius: Yeah. My daughter used to just sing all the time and have music in her. Just sing all the time. And then there would be times we would say to her, look, it's time to just sing inside your head, okay? And we would say to her, you seem to sing all the time. I mean, literally all the time, Rosie. And she would go, of course I do. And I go, Is it kind of like you've got music in your head all the time? And she's like, yeah, of course. Doesn't everyone have music playing in their head all the time? And this is like a little six, five, six year old. And, uh, we're going, no, not everybody. She said, really? While we're talking, can you hear music? And she's like, yeah. And then she'll just sing along with it and play the sounds and so on. And literally all the time there's a soundtrack going on inside of her head and if she had her way, she would just be singing or speaking all the time. And so we just had to say, you can keep singing, but you need to sing inside your head. Okay? This is inside your head time. And then she go, okay. And half, um, an hour go by. I've been singing inside my head for the last half hour. Can I sing outside now, please?
Erica: Oh my God, that's so cute. And we will definitely explore that in not next week, the following weeks, where we are going to be talking about rhythmic, melodic learning.
Darius: So, working memory, all these ways of processing are coming through the gate of our mind through different senses. Tactile, kinesthetic, big movement, sound, vision, music, all these different sort of senses, but they're still going through this gateway in my imagination. This narrow gateway, okay? Huge amount of information flowing into this bottleneck, or not necessarily a bottleneck, it can become one, which is the gateway of your working memory. Mhm, and it's this sort of stage where the information comes and it gets moved to the right place. And we're talking about this phonological loop and this visual spatial sketch pad. How does that relate to all these different senses?
Erica: Well, when it comes to working memory, the very, very first step is sensory processing. So you process that information, then you bring it in by using your immediate and short term memory, which is what holds it on the stage of your working memory. Then you utilize the skills of your inner voice to keep it alive and your inner visualizations and spatialization skills to keep that information alive so that you can then mentally manipulate it and either encode it into long term memory or pull information from long term memory to mix into that soup of, uh, making sense of it or working your memory. And some of that is going to be released into the ethos what's the word? Into the atmosphere.
Erica: And others are going to be fully encoded into long term memory.
Darius: Yeah. I think what's fascinating is I was just speaking to Dr. Brock and fornet ID about their new publication, their second edition of their Dyslexic advantage on my other podcast, and they were talking about the Nobel Prize winners about the play, uh, cells and grid cells and the 3d memory matrix, and how they made a breakthrough in the ten years since they published the book, or however many years it was, that we don't just have this matrix in our mind for three dimensions or memory. Uh, we also have this matrix for concepts and personal events and timelines. So there's this kind of physical brain sort of 3D grid in our brain and we go and place thoughts and memories into like a 3D physical grid, as it were, inside of our memory. So it's not that our memories are some sort of sequence and then we kind of reconstruct them. They're actually placed into like a 3D grid that matches what we're seeing on the outside or something similar. Do you know what I mean?
Erica: Well, I think what you're tapping into, and this is something we're going to be talking about in our next podcast, is sequential or simultaneous processors. Now, I would argue that they're going to be those people that place it in very much of a sequence and they organize things sequentially, like a timeline, if that's how they process. And then there are going to be others that process simultaneously where they need to kind of almost create a mental web or diagram or mind map. And then, uh, depending on how you process, you might add visuals or not. So I know that I organized spatially and I always organized simultaneously. So it did look more like a mind map. But it's interesting how you can shift and morph it, depending on what's most important for that particular learner. And I think having them to be aware of how they process best is really important so that they can process that way, but then occasionally stepping out and trying something new. And of course, there are certain ways of organizing that are both sequential and simultaneous. Actually, a timeline can be both because you can web off of it and you can have images added to it. But I think there's a personal preference there on how you organize.
Darius: The reason I brought that into the conversation was that the working memory, as you've digested that sense and you've brought it inside, we've been talking about this stage, the working memory, being like a stage with a spotlight on it.
Darius: And in a way, it's not just a flat stage. It's often kind of like this matrix of a stage. Do you know what I mean? There's layers to it, this matrix, and your working memory is slotting it into it according to what's happening is you're getting these senses, physical senses, other kinds of senses that are giving you a three dimensional view of what you're understanding. So going back to the corroboration of your imagination that we started off in the podcast for in court, you've got physical evidence, you've got verbal evidence, you've got visual evidence. And in a way, the court case is kind of like that. It's like bringing the information into the courtroom and deciding what is the truth, what is the important thing here and what is our verdict is another metaphor, in a way, for this working memory. It's like, what's important, what we doing with it? Uh, how are we putting everything together, structuring it all because you've got different elements that are coming in and what is truth? What is the element there? So I was just imagining this, the play cells and the grid. Cells that these Nobel Prize winners have discovered in the brain as this kind of grid that we're playing with.
Erica: I love this and I think we're going to change that in our image. I think having a 3D virtual stage makes a lot of sense. It feels really cool too. So our working memory is a 3D virtual stage, but just to play with this notion, because I don't think that everybody necessarily processes 3D, but the second you say it, you can in a way. So part of it is just being aware of it, right? So I can tell you right now that when it comes to visualization, I have great difficulty visualizing reality. But if you give me a photograph which is no longer 3D, it's flat. I can visualize it really easily. So I can picture a photograph in my mind's eye, but I have great difficulty picturing reality, which is 3D because it's really so many layers of images and the depth is a hard thing for me to visualize. Now I can spatialize it, I can imagine M moving through space, so I have no trouble imagining moving through my home. But I think that it's interesting and I think the more we talk about it, the more it kind of opens people of, oh, I never even thought of that. Like I had one student say, well, you know, the way I draw is I project the image on the piece of paper and then I trace it m. And that blew my mind. And then I thought, well, maybe I should try that. I never ever thought about that or another parent that I was talking about visualization when reading and she was in her seventy s and after she listened to me in the consultation she said I heard what you said about Visualizing when you read and I can visualize and I can read but I never thought about pairing the two together. And I tried it and it was wonderful. So sometimes it's just a matter of just suggesting that you can do something and then you're like, whoa, I'm going to give that a try.
Darius: Yes. So sometimes we think to ourselves when we're talking about these modes, processing modes, multimodal approach, that you think, well, I am a visual processor and that's it. And that's what you're going against here, which I like a lot, which is, yes, you're naturally like this, this and this, but you can also develop these other skills. And I think that's so empowering because sometimes we can just default to think, oh, well, that's just the way I am, I can't do it like this. And you're like, no, you're natural at some things and you can learn other skills, you can skill up in these other areas. And it was interesting. I brought this book down. The Dyslexic advantage that I referenced the authors in that mentioned this interesting scenario where the scientists took a group of people with Dyslexia, and they were typically less good at a certain group of them were typically less good at two dimensional visual thinking but very good at three dimensional visual thinking than a typical thinker. So it was interesting. It's like, just because you're a visual thinker doesn't necessarily mean you're a good two dimensional thinker. Like you were just saying there. Uh, they were the reverse. They weren't good at the two dimensional, but they were really good at the three dimensional. Like, they could walk in their imagination into a house, up the stairs, take a left, take a right. That prize was in the top left hand corner, and it was over there. And they could easily figure all of that out. But two dimensional, it was hard. And, um, what their case was, the thesis in that research was that our brains are often because they're limited, we have limited resources in our brains. There's a trade off in where skill sets and certain abilities, natural abilities, are given. And typical thinkers have a sort of general even spread across them. But then certain individuals, one area of resources transferred over to another, and that's dialed up and another one's dialed down, and they become a really expert at, uh, one particular area. Of course, you can strengthen the other, but you get a very unusual natural ability in another area.
Erica: Yeah, and I think this really points on how important it is to assess what people's best ways of processing are. And what I've found that when I do consultations with my families, I give it to everybody because it develops compassion. The parents are like, Why am I taking this? And I said, Because I want to see how you process. Because typically, again, they are going to push the ways that helped them to learn, and then they develop so much more compassion. And then even the child is like, oh, that's why my mom is telling me to organize my room all the time, because it helps them to think. It doesn't help me, but I'll do it for my mom. But I don't like it when she's telling me to do it for me, because she's wrong. Right. So it's really cool to be able to do that. And then I think the other thing I wanted to point out is in this particular episode, we are really talking about four sensory processing areas. In the next two episodes, we're going to be talking about processing areas, but they're not necessarily sensory. And, uh, that just gets you curious. So that some of them use some senses, but they're not primarily sensory areas. So that will get you enticed to listen to the next two.
Darius: Look forward to that. Erica.
Erica: Thanks, Darius. Thank you for joining our conversation here at the Personal Brain Trainer Podcast. This is Dr. Erica Warren and, um Darius Namdaran.
Darius: Check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned in the podcast, and please leave us a review and share us on social media. Until next time. Bye bye.