The Birth of Neuroplasticity Interventions: A Twenty Year Perspective

Abstract

Fast ForWord® was the first, computer/Internet delivered, neuroplasticity-based training program ever developed to enhance neural performance. It grew out of over 25 years of basic and clinical research in two distinct scientific disciplines.


One utilized behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods to study individual differences in language development and the etiology of developmental language-based learning disabilities (including Specific Language Impairment, Autism and Dyslexia).

The other utilized neurophysiological and behavioral methods in animals to study neuroplasticity, that is, changes at the cellular level driven by behavioral training techniques.

This chapter reviews (1) how these two lines of research were integrated to form the scientific basis of Fast ForWord® and (2) the steps taken to translate and instantiate our collaborative laboratory research into clinical and classroom interventionsthat could be scaled up for broad distribution around the world, while remaining efficient, effective and enduring. In 1996, Scientific Learning Corporation (SLC) was co-founded by four research scientists (Paula Tallal, Michael Merzenich, William Jenkins and Steve Miller).

To date, nearly three million children in 55 countries have received Fast ForWord® interventions. On any given school day approximately 100,000 children log in to train on one of twelve Fast ForWord®Language, Literacy or Reading programs. More recently, Fast ForWord® language and reading programs are being used increasingly as an effective method for improving English as a second language (ESL), including success for ESL children whose first language is non-alphabetic.

Introduction

When we began our collaboration in 1993, the now rapidly growing fields of “cognitive neurotherapeutics” and “neuroeducation” did not exist, nor did the concept of using neuroplasticity-based training to improve “brain fitness”. The methods we developed, and subsequently were the basis of over 50 patents, were the first to use video gaming technologies with the explicit goal of improving human performance.

Research on Language Development and Disorders

The most basic unit of any language is the phoneme, the smallest unit of sound that can change the meaning of a word. For alphabetic languages, in order to learn how to read and become a proficient reader the child must become aware that words can be segmented into smaller units of sound (phonemes) and it is these sounds that the letters represent. This is referred to as phonological awareness. Phonemes are the basic building blocks for spoken language, as well as for alphabetic written languages.

Research on Neuroplasticity-Based Training

Neurophysiologists have mapped the features of the sensory world at the single cell level. This research has shown that within each sensory modality the features that represent the physical world come to be mapped at the cellular level in a highly organized fashion.

The Birth of Fast ForWord®: Translating Theory into Practice

Considering the amount of speech directed to the infant, it is easy to understand how important speech is in shaping the auditory cortex during critical periods of human development.

Designing Neuroplasticity-Based Training Games

For our first study we designed and developed a series of verbal training exercises ranging from speech discrimination to grammatical comprehension, disguised as “games”. Some of these games were implemented on computers, while trained professionals using tape-recorded stimuli presented others.

The First Laboratory Studies: Rutgers Summer Camps 1994–1995

Our initial laboratory studies were conducted with children who each met the criteria for language learning impairment (LLI). Two groups matched on age, IQ and language skills were quasi-randomly assigned to receive the same language intervention program.

Scaling Up: The “Neurotherapeutic Revolution”

  • Fast ForWord® Language v1
  • First Multi-site Clinical Field Trial (1996–1997)
It is one thing to obtain results in well-controlled studies in a research laboratory under the direct supervision of skilled research scientists. It is quite another to demonstrate that efficacy can be achieve in “real-world” clinics and classrooms where children most commonly receive intervention. Soon after founding Scientific Learning Corporation (SLC) our first goal was to convert the games used in our laboratory studies into a fully computerized training program (Fast ForWord® Language v1), and then to conduct large-scale field trials in clinical and educational settings to assess its “real-world” efficacy.

Independent Agency Evaluations of Fast ForWord®

Studies on the effectiveness of educational and/or clinical interventions are inherently difficult, in part because of the many skill sets and multidisciplinary collaborations required to conduct these studies in “real- world” clinics and school settings. Before introducing a new method, curriculum or product, schools have to answer a practical question: does the new approach leads to better outcomes for their students than whatever intervention strategies they currently have in place? In translating research from the laboratory to classrooms, we have found that most school administrators and curriculum directors are only willing to make important decisions for their school after they have conducted their own, internal, independent study.

Cognitive Neurotherapeutics: The Challenges of Translation

The biggest challenge we have faced along our journey to translate our laboratory research into real world settings has been negotiating the torturous path between the world of our scientific colleagues, as compared to the very different world of K-12 educators and clinicians who make the decisions about whether our products will be offered to the children who could benefit from them. Nowhere have these different worlds collided more directly than when it comes to assessing and reporting the efficacy of Fast ForWord® products.

To Learn more about The Birth of Neuroplasticity Interventions. Download the PDF Article (there is a publishers charge)  Click here

Evidence of Effectiveness – Deep Diving into MySciLEARN Reports


Deep Diving into MyScilearn Reports
Is about deep data and how we are applying Smart Technology to our products for you to understand your students’ progress better.
It is a practical session directed at educators who use Fast ForWord programs and a good overview for those of you who want to see the power of data analysis in teaching.

You should learn:

(1) The Key Indicators to monitor for student success.

(2) The identification of each student’s individual needs.

(3) How to save valuable time by automating the preparation and communication of reports!

What if you could reach every struggling reader at your school with exactly the skills they need at just the right time? What if these students started to improve quickly, were self-motivated, and worked more independently?
Learn how the new version of the evidence-based Fast ForWord reading intervention program will bring a dramatic difference to your students this year, and provide you with one option to meet the needs of multiple student subgroups.

Overview

Title: Training Webinar – Deep Diving into MySciLEARN Reports!

Originally broadcast Date:  Thursday, September 27, 2018

Duration: 1 hour

Speaker Bio

Tom Chapin

Professional Development Manager

Scientific Learning

Fast ForWord language and reading intervention allows educators, parents, and clinical providers to easily track a learner’s progress. MySciLEARN reports and Reading Progress Indicator assessments ensure every learner receives the appropriate guidance and support necessary to become a better reader and better student.

 

MySciLEARN Reports

 

MySciLEARN reports are online data analysis and reporting tools tha

[spacer t track individual learner, classroom, school, and district level performance.

  • Automatically analyzes individual and group learning progress, including diagnostic and prescriptive information, displayed in graphs and tables
  • Offers timely and specific intervention guidance, providing recommendations to maximize the impact of classroom reading instruction and the effectiveness of the Fast ForWord reading intervention program
  • Provides future forecasting with insights into the potential effects Fast ForWord can have on a school district’s performance in as little as 1 year.

Evidence Based Education

Fast ForWord language and reading intervention allows educators, parents, and clinical providers to easily track a learner’s progress. MySciLEARN reports and Reading Progress Indicator assessments ensure every learner receives the appropriate guidance and support necessary to become a better reader and better student.

 

Reading Progress Indicator (RPI)is an online assessment that rapidly measures the effects of the Fast ForWord family of products by evaluating reading performance as students progress from product to product.

RPI Combines with MyScilearn to Provide Valuable Information for Teachers on Each Student

Reading Progress Indicator (RPI) assessments correlate to international recognised normed assessments and help indicate how learners are responding to Fast ForWord.

Quickly assesses four key skill areas: phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Automatically scores assessment and report results for parents, teachers, and administrators.

Provides accurate progress information that correlates to nationally recognised normed assessments.

Automatically generates assessment reports for individuals, groups and schools.

Reading Progress Indicator (RPI) was developed by Scientific Learning and Bookette Software Company (now Pearson plc).

Established psychometric procedures were used to produce a test that is valid, reliable, and unbiased, and to generate nationally-representative norms.

See the results of 23 validation studies
Click here

Reading Progress Indicator provides four assessment levels based on the grade entered for the student:

K-1,
K 2-3,
K 4-6, and
K 7-13+

(Pre-Kindergarten students are not eligible for the assessments).
The assessments are not timed.

 

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Testimonial By Amalia “My first speech”

Hi there friends.

My name is Amalia and I am happy to invite you to join me in an adventure where we shall learn how to create our first speech, build our vocabulary skills connected to these topic writing correctly and efficiently. How you can manage your interview through your use of body language but most importantly having fun.

See you there!

 

Amalia works on programs like Fast ForWord Reading 3

How it works

The Fast ForWord Reading Level 3 product consists of six exercises that correlate to reading curriculum standards.

Scrap Cat

Canine Crew

Twisted Pictures

Chicken Dog

Book Monkeys

Hog Hat Zone

These exercises build on the Fast ForWord Reading series products by concentrating on reading knowledge and fluency, with a focus on phonology and spelling, morphological properties and complexity, syntactic complexity, vocabulary, and comprehension. In addition, the exercises help develop brain processing efficiency by strengthening four key areas—memory, attention, processing rate, and sequencing. For example, the exercises:

  • Build memory by developing the ability to hold words and sentences in working memory while retrieving knowledge about vocabulary, spelling, and grammar from long-term memory.
  • Improve attention by requiring selective focus on different aspects of words and sentences, and by requiring sustained focus on long sentences and paragraphs.
  • Develop processing skills for linguistic, visual, and auditory information.
  • Develop sequencing by strengthening the ability to use positional cues to identify missing letters and words, the ability to use word order to understand precise sentence meaning, and the ability to track temporal and causal event sequences in passages.

More about the exercises

Introduction language. Each exercise begins with an introduction that explains how to work on that exercise. You can choose to present the introductions in Spanish. To learn more see Fast ForWord exercise intro languages.

Success Viewer. At the end of each student session, the Success Viewer provides the student with a quick view of his or her success in the exercises, along with any points earned in the exercises. See Reading Level 3 Success Viewer for details.

iPad. When using the exercises on a mobile digital device such as iPad, students interact with the exercises in a different way than on a computer; for example, students use a touchscreen on iPad, but use a mouse or keyboard on a computer. For details on these and a few other differences, see What’s different for Fast ForWord on iPad.

With Exercises like

 

About Twisted Pictures

The Fast ForWord Reading Level 3 exercise Twisted Pictures helps develop sentence comprehension, syntax (sentence structure), logical reasoning, and vocabulary.

The object of Twisted Pictures is to help the museum set up a new exhibit by matching the correct descriptive sentences to their corresponding paintings.

How students use Twisted Pictures

To work on Twisted Pictures, the student clicks the yellow paw to see a painting and four sentences displayed on the screen. The student must review the painting, read the descriptive sentences, and then click the sentence that best describes what is happening in the painting. Points are awarded for each correct answer, and bonus points are awarded after 10 correct answers.

Tip: The following keyboard shortcut is available in Twisted Pictures:

  • Paw (start button). Space bar
  • Responses, top to bottom. Number keys 1 through 4

How Twisted Pictures rewards progress

Session consecutive correct counter. The three lights below the student’s name represent the consecutive correct counter. The lights turn on to indicate the number of consecutive correct responses. When the student answers three consecutive trials correctly, a fun animation plays and counter resets. Each time the student answers three consecutive trials correctly two times, the safe on right side of the screen opens a little more. As the student continues answering trials correctly in a session, more fun animations play, which can help indicate a more successful session performance.

Session high score. Each time the student surpasses the highest score ever achieved in one session, the points counter lights up and flashes the words High Score.

Time. The timer at the top of the screen shows the amount of time the student needs to work on the exercise that day, which is based on the student’s protocol. When the time requirement is met, the exercise session automatically ends, and the student can either choose another exercise to work on or review his/her success in the exercises.

Exercise percent complete markers. The percent complete markers (squares) to the left of the paw indicate the percentage of completed content in the exercise. Each marker represents 10% of the exercise. When all of the markers light up, the exercise is complete.

How students master Twisted Pictures

The student will continue to work on Twisted Pictures until the skills in the exercise are mastered. Then, the exercise is closed. For more information see About completing a program.

Tip: For a complete list of content used in the exercise, check the teacher manual (see User guides & manuals).

“At the Begining of the Year I Didn’t Like Reading…”

“At the beginning of the year I didn’t like reading because I couldn’t really understand anything. I felt like I was being very stupid and not being able to do stuff like I shouldn’t belong in middle school,

We talk about goals and they’re like well I am never gonna do anything. I am too dumb, I am too stupid, I can’t read, I can’t do these things.

My heart broke. Yes, you can this is the possibility for your future. We did a lot of research into different programs and we came across a program called Fast ForWord, it was an online interactive program, it was all brain based using neuroscience.

If I were to describe Fast ForWord: –

Step 1: targets the underlying memory, attention or processing challenges a student may have

Step 2: Provides intensive practice on reading skills

Step 3: The computer listens and provides feedback as students read aloud

The fantastic thing about this program is that every piece of data is live, you are in it, I am in it. I can tell you that every time you click this is the result and we can make those comparisons and tangibly see the effort you put in made this difference.

When I came into this classroom I was at a 2.5 and then when I went to reading camp I was like a 6 point and I was able to go from this really low level to this really high level.

After I took this class for a session, I felt like I could keep up with everybody else. Like I could be who I wanted to be like they can be who they wanted to be.

I try really hard to make a difference for my students I would make as big as a difference for these students if I didn’t have the Fast ForWord program there to help them.”

STRONG EVIDENCE: 250 + RESEARCH STUDIES

K-12: Learning Difficulties/Special Education, ELL/EAL/ESL

USED IN 55 + COUNTRIES

MORE THAN 3 MILLION STUDENTS

THE NEW FAST FORWORD IS HERE!

TRY IT WITH YOUR STUDENTS.

www.NeuronLearning.com

 

The Fast ForWord science

The Fast ForWord suite of programs provides a language and literacy intervention that uses the principles of neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to rewire and improve—to target the root cause of slow academic progress in struggling students and English language learners. The software was developed by neuroscientists to quickly improve reading skills while concurrently developing memory, attention, processing and sequencing—the cognitive skills required to read and learn effectively.

The Fast ForWord Language and Literacy series programs within this suite include a patented speech processing technology that enhances the speech sounds at early exercise levels, progressing to natural speech sounds at higher exercise levels. This technology includes two separate but equally important speech modification stages: duration extensions (slowing down the speech) and selective intensity increases (enhancing the intensity of the rapid transitional elements in the speech). Together, these technologies provide the auditory nervous system with an enhanced speech signal that allows the student to more effectively differentiate the rapid transitions in spoken language.

Why Do We Slow Down Speech

Duration extensions (slowing down the speech)

In this stage, the software employs a patented processing algorithm to slow the rate of the entire speech signal while still maintaining the speech signal’s natural quality. For example, a word (such as bat) that may typically last 1.0 seconds in natural speech could last as long as 1.5 seconds after this processing is applied. By lengthening the duration of the speech, the fast speech elements (such as stop consonants) are further apart from the steady speech elements (such as vowels), which provides the auditory nervous system with more time to respond to the fast speech sounds.

 

Selective intensity increases (amplifying sounds in the speech)

In this stage, our patented software process identifies the fast transitional elements within the speech (such as the /b/ sound in the word bat) and then selectively amplifies those elements. By applying these selective intensity increases, the more rapid transitional phonemes in the speech are emphasized, allowing the auditory nervous system to respond more vigorously to the fast speech sounds.

Fast ForWord implementation

About scheduling a program

Each Fast ForWord product uses a specific protocol, or schedule, that determines which exercises are worked on in that product, how often those exercises are worked on, and the length of time spent working in each exercise on a given day. The Scientific Learning protocols have been proven to help maximize the benefits of the Fast ForWord products. By default, each of the Fast ForWord products presents two to three exercises each day, for a total of 30 minutes each day, five days a week. For those who require more flexibility, the software provides alternate protocols to meet different student requirements. See Fast ForWord program protocols for more details on protocols and how to change them. For tips on choosing the protocol that best fits your needs, see Fast ForWord implementation guidelines in MySciLEARN Toolbox.

Tip: Encourage your students to complete the Fast ForWord protocol each day. A consistent daily routine that allows for intense repetition will maximize the benefits of the exercises.

About completing a program

Fast ForWord product completion works differently based on the Fast ForWord product series.

  • Foundations II and Language/Literacy series. As the student masters an exercise, that exercise is closed and removed from the protocol. However, as more exercises are closed by the student, a closed exercise may reopen at the highest levels so that the student can continue working on the most important skills in the product. As the student continues to master exercises, the protocol adjusts the time spent in each exercise so that the student always works on the open exercises for the total number of minutes in the protocol. When the student masters the last of the remaining exercises, all of the exercises are closed and the product is considered complete.
  • Foundations I and Reading series. As the student masters an exercise, that exercise is closed and will not be visited again. The program adjusts the schedule so that the student is only working on open (incomplete) exercises. When the student masters the last open exercise, the product is complete.

Students Learn Faster Using Neuron English

Students Who Use Neuron English Learn English Faster

Neuroscientists Designed Our Programs to Give the Most Effective Learning Experience in the Classroom
We Have a Unique 3 Step Method to Master English
# 1 Prepare the Brain for Learning
Students develop their cognitive and critical language skills
#2  Practice Makes Perfect
Students practice systematically in accordance with your curriculum
# 3 Reinforcement
Students use voice recognition software to develop pronunciation, fluency,
vocabulary and comprehension.
Proven By Research
We have 21 studies that meet US Government Evidence Standards  – the most of any reading intervention evaluated.

Are You Ready to Do Something Different?

 

Click here for More Information

 

Ranked the top English language development program on the US government’s What Works Clearinghouse, Fast ForWord is uniquely designed to build the listening, speaking and reading skills for beginning to advanced language learners. The program provides the English phonics training, intensive grammar and vocabulary practice, and oral speaking and reading reinforcement necessary to build both basic and academic English proficiency.

 

Providing Adaptive, Personalised Exercises to Build English Fast

 

  • English phonemic training
  • Extensive academic vocabulary support, in Spanish and English
  • English morphology, grammar, listening, and reading comprehension
  • Patented speech verification technology that listens as students read aloud and provides corrective feedback when words are mispronounced

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing The New Fast ForWord – Now with SmartLearning Technology

What if you could reach every struggling reader at your school with exactly the skills they need at just the right time? What if these students started to improve quickly, were self-motivated, and worked more independently?
Learn how the new version of the evidence-based Fast ForWord reading intervention program will bring a dramatic difference to your students this year, and provide you with one option to meet the needs of multiple student subgroups.

You should learn:

(1) What to expect from the New Fast ForWord,

(2) When to use your guided reading tool, Reading Assistant, to get reading fluency and comprehension results before winter break, and

(3) The tools available at your fingertips to make this year feel…dare we say it…Effortless!

Overview

Title: Introducing the New Fast ForWord – Now with SmartLearning Technology!

Originally broadcast Date:  Thursday, August 23, 2018

Duration: 1 hour

10 New Improved Features for The Fast ForWord Family. Teachers and Students are loving it!

What will the students love about the new and improved Fast ForWord technology?

  1. Point Counter

Mistakes and setbacks occur when students rush to complete the program. Staying focused will earn the student points and that is how a student makes progress. Students get responses in a row correct and they will actually see the points there and then, which motivates the student when they  see how many points in a row they get right.

  1. Replay/Play Back

Play Back on Fast ForWord means a student can be able to rewind/playback a word or sentence with the click of a button to hear it again.

  1. Autoplay

This allows a student with a click of a button to run through a series of trials. Autoplay and earning points work together to assist the student attain the correct trials. The autoplay feature allows the students to get through the trials much faster.

  1. Adaptivity

Students adapt faster with materials and tools that they can easily associate themselves with. The materials Fast Forword provides can easily be adopted by new students.

  1. Progress Indicators

Progress indicators inform users about the status of ongoing processes. Fast ForWord meter indicator has been improved with the new Feeder Meter, and the percentage complete of the student. This feature will motivate the students to aim for a higher percentage.

What will the Educators love from the new feature of Fast ForWord?

  1. Better Introductions

Fast ForWord Foundations 1 has a better method of training students to make a better and strong start while using the program.

  1. Automated Coaching

Students who need help while using the program can rest assured that Fast Forword Foundation I, have identified and introduced just in time automated coaching to correct and help common issues associated with the program.

  1. Language Structure

Ele-bot – The Fast ForWord Language v2 exercise program is now improved and is able to help with what to listen for and how to understand various grammatical forms.

  1. Vocabulary Pre-Teaching

Students ready to use Fast ForWord facilitates have an advantage. This is because Foundation I, has combined instructions and relevant vocabulary within the exercises, giving students the meanings of words before they encounter them.

In General, the Fast ForWord Family has benefited from:

  1. Smartlearning Technology.

Fast ForWord program has been greatly improved using Smartlearning technology. With artificial intelligence educators can deliver smarter, more focused interventions and faster results for students.

 

WEBINAR: BACK TO SCHOOL WITH THE NEW FAST FORWORD

New Fast ForWord makes your life easier – while getting your students better results?

By the end of this webinar recording you will know the best ways to set up your implementation now so you save time throughout the year.

Attend to learn:

(1) What to expect from the New Fast ForWord,

(2) When to use your guided reading tool, Reading Assistant, to get reading fluency and comprehension results before winter break, and

(3) The tools available at your fingertips to make this year feel…dare we say it…Effortless!

About the Speaker 

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Ben Philpott
Professional Development Specialist K-12
Scientific Learning Corporation

Ben Philpott lives in Tucson Arizona and earned his BA in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).

He has worked as a licenced Speech Pathology Assistant in school, clinic and home settings in Arizona and California. He currently works for Scientific Learning where he consults with teachers on how to implement Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant in their school.

Overview

Title: Back to School with the New Fast ForWord

Originally broadcast Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Duration: 1 hour