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Neuro-Cognitive Restructuring & DSM/LHTL Programs

The Designs for Strong Minds (DSM) and Learning How To Learn (LHTL) programs are based on a neurocognitive model that utilizes attention, intention, and rehearsal to implement learning and behavioral change. They are distinguished from other cognitive training programs that emphasize either standardized procedures (e.g. answering telephones, filling out forms, baking brownies, etc.) or lateral thinking (e.g. role-playing, teamwork, thinking outside the box, etc.) through mediation and a large variety of visual puzzles organized by logical structures.

Mediation is the process by which someone who knows more directs the attention of someone who knows less to relevant information that is determined by a specific intention. Mediation enables transference because it makes the learner consciously aware of:

• The inherent structure of the problem

• The intended goal

• The relevant information

Understanding when, where, why, and how new learning can be applied creates usable knowledge that enables learners to:

• Recognize similarities in diverse situations

• Assess the ways in which situations are similar and different

• Formulate a plan of action in accordance with the assessment

• Analyze the degree to which the actions succeed or fail

• Gain insight into their own preferences and expectations

Most instruction imparts established theories or routines as a means of leading someone from knowing less to knowing more. The learner never has an opportunity to explore the structure or examine the premise upon which the lesson was built.

The DSM and LHTL programs were not intended to impart pre-digested information but to enhance conscious recognition of various logical structures that have long been associated with intelligent behavior, specifically:

• Conditional reasoning

• Bi-conditional reasoning

• Analytical perception

• Classification

Utilizing visual puzzles that require bottom-up thinking to solve, the mediator guides learners through the backwaters of their own subconscious thought processes, allowing them to objectively think about how they think and habitually structure information.

Once people have learned to recognize their own organizational behaviors, they can more easily:

• Verbalize their rationale for doing something in a particular way

• Monitor their current level of understanding

• Determine when additional information is required

• Evaluate new information based on its consistency with what they already know and its relevance for achieving their intended goal

• Create analogies that help them and other people advance their understanding of the situation

DSM and LHTL puzzles utilize the same methods artists have employed for centuries to trick viewers into making assumptions about what they see and understand. Through intentional intervention, mediators lead learners to an awareness of how their assumptions influence:

• What they see

• How they think

• What they do

The puzzles are not merely optical illusions. To solve them the learner has to visualize the conditions that make some answers logical and others illogical. In this way the learner experiences both the depth and breadth of neurocognitive restructuring.

In addition multiple experiences requiring the same general strategy strengthen synapse formations and broaden the learner's perceptual behavior. A wide variety of puzzles allow learners to explore new strategies for:

• Organizing information

• Generating options

• Making decisions

• Solving problems

• Verifying solutions

Unlike most trainees who are conditioned to looking for correct formulas and single solutions, program participants develop Expert Minds that:

• Seek to understand the goal

• Organize the available information based on the goal

• Structure the problem so that the goal can be achieved

• Evaluate the solution's success at satisfying the goal

• Strategize more effective ways of achieving similar goals

© Copyright 2006 Donalee Markus, Ph.D. & Associates