Puzzles with a Purpose
Why do children come to see Dr. Markus?
Their parents and teachers notice a discrepancy between their test taking ability and daily performance.
The children's program focuses on the process of learning, moving children from passive recipients of information to active generators of ideas. Dr. Markus's exercises teach new ways of processing information which can be applied in school as well as every aspect of their lives.
Students gain better problem solving abilities and learn alternative strategies for decision making, as well as logical thinking and organizational skills. These skills all lead to better study habits, test-taking skills, and grades. The program helps provide insight and competence in difficult school subjects and helps students identify their analytical strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the successes they achieve in this program increase their self-esteem and confidence.
Home School Enrichment
We offer lesson plans that are designed to improve mental flexibility, problem solving, and memory.
These brain exercises develop visual imagery skill. Visual imagery is the ability to create pictures in your head. Visual imagery is the foundation for abstract thinking and mathematics. With these visual imagery exercises your students will develop skills to:
The adolescent's program focuses on the process of learning, moving adolescents from passive recipients of information to active generators of ideas. The exercises teach new ways of processing information which can then be applied in school as well as every aspect of their lives.
Students gain better problem solving abilities and alternative strategies for decision making, and they learn logical thinking and organizational skills. These skills all lead to better study habits, test-taking abilities, and improved grades. The program helps provide insight and competence in difficult school subjects and helps students identify their analytical strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the successes they achieve in this program increases their self-esteem and confidence.
Practice these concepts today with our Strong Mind Puzzles App! Our App introduces mistakes for you to fix and help to habituate new patterns of thinking to solve the problems presented.
By the age of 75, the average adult has half the brain cells in the occipital cortex (visual area) of the average 20-year-old. This massive loss may be due in part to the effect aging has on our eyes. With time, the cornea (the transparent fluid-filled bag in front of the lens) changes in molecular structure. As a result, light rays are bent and scattered more haphazardly which we experience as blurred vision. The shape of the cornea also changes. It flattens so that, by age 60, many of us require the help of eyeglasses or magnifying lens for close, detailed work.
The iris (which controls the size of the pupil) is also altered by aging. Its fibers may atrophy so that the size of the pupil is reduced. This means fewer photons can enter our eyes, requiring more light for close activities such as reading. The atrophy also reduces flexibility so our eyes cannot adjust as quickly to sudden change in light intensity. In other words, we become less sensitive to gradual contrasts in light or shadow.
As we age, our eyes grow more and more lens tissues. Because previous tissues are not removed, the new layers compress the older ones to the center, thus increasing the lens' diameter. Between 20 and 70 years of age, the average lens triples in mass. This is another cause of farsightedness. Moreover, the lens takes on a yellowish hue. It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish greens, blues, and violets. And yellow itself becomes less "bright." Our color perception is altered.
Of course, these changes don't happen overnight. The changes are so gradual that many times we're more apt to blame something in the environment ("They don't make lights as strong as they used to") or lose interest in activities we once enjoyed than to recognize that our perceptual ability has altered.
Contrast the devastation of the occipital cortex with the vitality of the prefrontal cortex (associated with memory). In most people, the prefrontal lobe shows virtually no loss of brain cells with age. Some studies suggest that memory impairment in the aged is not so much loss of specific facts as it is a reduced ability to readily retrieve what is known. This may be due to a reduction or disconnection of neural pathways.
This raises an interesting possibility regarding the preservation of mental facilities as we age. It is known that an active social life greatly contributes to the maintenance of a healthy brain. Perhaps part of the reason is that interaction with other people provides increased sensory stimulation that keeps brain cells alive and active. It is not the stimuli itself that matters, but the way the stimuli is processed through intentional interaction. In other words, when we relate to other people, we have to engage our frontal lobes (the judgmental and decision making part of the brain) to organize the sensory stimuli we're receiving and to act upon it.
With this possibility in mind, Designs for Strong Minds™ (DSM) programs can provide systematic, progressive training of the visual systems through intentional behavior. DSM does this with graphic puzzles organized to challenge and enhance cognitive and relational thinking skills such as comparative and sequential thinking, part-whole relationships and categorization. In effect, the puzzles encourage participants to exercise the muscles that are most likely to atrophy with age—the ones that enable us to note and observe fine details that enrich our lives. Consequently, DSM helps make people aware of what they have gradually been missing.
Research has shown that like other muscles brain function is a use it or lose it proposition. The more aging adults challenge and use their minds the more agile their brains remain. The aging adult program is designed to help older individuals improve their mental flexibility, problem solving and memory. Aging adults who have worked with Dr. Markus say that they concentrate better, have become better communicators, and feel more confident in their ability to handle their day-to-day lives.
Strengthen Cognitive Function with Designs for Strong Minds’ Strong Mind Puzzles App!
Many of the most successful professionals often feel like they're missing something. They feel as though they're stalled in their careers or that some missing piece of the puzzle would help them succeed even further. Most professionals play to their strengths, but Designs for Strong Minds™ helps them strengthen their weaknesses.
NASA Critical Thinking Training Program Customized for Corporate Training
Aleksa started the Learning How to Learn Program two months ago. Since she began the program, we have noticed that Aleksa has developed an awareness of order in the universe. She has demonstrated an increased awareness of time, direction in space and how things are organized in relation to hierarchy. Almost overnight, she has become interested in which direction she is traveling, how long a trip will take, and if we estimated correctly. She is more aware of her environment and notices when something needs to be done, without being asked.
Aleksa reports that she noticed that homework is easier now. In fact she approaches homework with a much better attitude, and perseveres through longer assignments without getting frustrated. Consequently, her self confidence has improved. We are thrilled with Aleksa's progress in such a short amount of time.
The first time my family met Dr. Donalee Markus we were struggling emotionally with our daughter Rachel. We were at our wits end and Doctors told us she needed to be medicated. At age 4 ½ we knew that was the wrong path for her. After the first evaluation Donalee turned to us and said, “She’s great, I can help and she will calm down”. My husband just sat there stunned and I cried. This was the first person who said they could help, this was the first time someone could see her potential. You see through all the difficult times, we didn’t realize Rachel was very bright – Donalee Markus did.
Rachel from the beginning tested Donalee and the environment. The first several sessions she sat under the table and wouldn’t come out. Donalee respected Rachel and slowly engaged her to participate. With love, patience and coaching Rachel began to work on the puzzles Donalee created. At first she resisted them and eventually couldn’t get enough. It was the first time, for Rachel, that someone understood how her brain worked and how it needed to perform better.
Right in front of our eyes, we watched Rachel begin to socialize, calm down, build her self-esteem/confidence and want to participate in the world around her. She truly blossomed into a unique and beautiful girl, the child we knew she was. Today Rachel is coaching other students, attends a private gifted school and is truly happy. Her experience was so successful that her brother and mother (me) joined the program. I guess at the end of the day, we could all use a little retraining of the brain. Thank you Donalee and staff for your dedication to the needs of children greater than any pill could give. We are truly blessed.
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