Authors: Bliss Pereira, Sumeet Motwani
Certificate: View Certificate
Using visual learning and meditation based techniques to develop brain training apps that can significantly improve cognitive performance. This paper seeks to understand what causes slow cognitive processing speed and designs an application to diagnose it in early stages and provide support to people having slow processing speed. Moreover, significant primary data is collected to validate the hypothesis that visual learning techniques presented through mobile applications can improve cognitive performance. Secondary data based on 100 sessions in 12,000 subjects is also analyzed to understand the improvement of brain functioning. The study also points to the option of including meditation training in schools to help children focus and concentrate better. The goal of this paper is to test the efficiency of CogniBuddy’s program offered through app. A comprehensive study of cognitive processing speed and how slow processing speeds affect students. The solution focuses on an entropy based way of calculating information processing speed in the brain to understand it better and an app, CogniBuddy, for brain training based on meditation and visual perception amelioration. Link to the Application https://drive.google.com/file/d/18VnWa7y0U0lIWx-WtGRQg4tPGEUEKW9U/view
Processing speed is an essential component of the cognitive process, and as such is among the most important skills in learning, academic performance, intellectual development, reasoning and experience.
Processing speed is a cognitive ability that can be defined as the amount of time it takes a person to perform a task. It relates to the speed with which a person can perceive and react, whether it is visual (letters and numbers), auditory (language), or movement. In other words, processing speed is the time between receiving and responding to a stimulus.
Slow processing speed is not related to intelligence, which means that one does not necessarily predict the other. Slow processing speed means that some certain tasks will be more challenging than others, such as reading, math, listening, taking notes or having a conversation. It can also interfere with executive functions, as a person with a slow processing speed will have a more difficult time planning, setting goals, making decisions, initiating tasks, paying attention, etc.
Processing speed refers to a greater ability to perform tasks that are simple or already easily learned. It refers to the ability to process information automatically, which means to process information quickly and without doing it consciously. The faster the processing, the quicker your ability to think, react or learn.
Over the last decade, the accessibility and use of smartphones and mobile internet has quickly expanded around the globe. In parallel to this rapid growth, the industry of mobile apps is exploding.
Brain training is a program of regular activities purported to maintain or improve one's cognitive abilities. The phrase “cognitive ability” usually refers to components of fluid intelligence such as executive function and working memory.
Therefore, the main objective is the development of CogniBuddy, an application that provides a blend of visual tasks related to response time, comprehension skills, and analytical thinking to improve cognitive performance. CogniBuddy was designed to be used by students between the ages 12-17 directly, enabling rapid statistical analysis to be conducted on the results. Brain processing speed was tracked through performance on different tasks, time taken to process complex tasks, and the accuracy, precision, and recall on different cognitive challenges.
Mounting evidence suggests that cognitive training programs may have the ability to counteract this decline in cognitive processing speed in students. Based on a growing body of research showing that meditation has positive effects on cognition in younger and middle-aged adults, meditation may be able to offset age-related cognitive decline or even enhance cognitive function in older adults. In this paper, we review studies investigating the effects of meditation on cognitive speeds.
In general, the studies reviewed suggested a positive effect of meditation techniques, especially in the area of ??attention, as well as memory, verbal fluency, and cognitive flexibility. Meditation could be a potentially appropriate non-pharmacological intervention aimed at improving a student's performance in a multitude of tasks.
Although research has found that practicing long-term mindfulness meditation enhances executive functioning and the ability to maintain attention, the effects of short mindfulness training have not been fully explored. Therefore, we examined whether short meditation training affects cognition and mood when compared to an active control group. After two sessions of meditation training or listening to a recorded book, participants with no prior meditation experience were assessed by measures of mood, verbal fluency, visual coding, and working memory.
Both interventions were effective in improving mood but only short meditation exercises reduced fatigue and anxiety, improved cognitive speed, and increased alertness.
Furthermore, brief wakefulness training significantly improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive performance. Meditation training can enhance the ability to maintain attention; Meditation was a key motivation for a solution to this problem since scientific research has seen benefits reported with long-term meditators.
The app has a built-in meditation section that contains interventions for effective sleep and focus during studies. Study participants' progress was tracked and secondary data sources were pooled to determine the effectiveness of meditation in general and application in particular to improve the cognitive performance of the participants involved without any pharmacological interventions.
IV. SOCIETAL EFFECTS
However, research has shown that processing speed is linked to reading development and reading performance. Specifically, processing speed may be a factor in these situations:
Reading disorders such as dyslexia: A subset of reading disorders in which individuals display marked difficulties with verbal and visual processing speed.
Grapho-motor problems (dysgraphia): Individuals with dysgraphia have serious trouble forming letters and numbers; their handwriting is slow and labored; they may have trouble with spacing between words; they mix upper- and lower-case letters; etc. Because neatness only comes with their taking much time, their written work can be very strained and painful.
In addition to cognitive and attentional variables, a number of emotional factors can increase how much time it takes for students to complete work. When students are anxious, their processing speed can slow due to self-doubt, uncertainty, second-guessing, and self-consciousness.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can cause even more slowing. Here are some examples of how children with OCD might behave in this context:
One child has developed a “rule” that if he hesitates when reading, he “has to” reread the entire passage.
Another child spends an inordinate time when writing, laboring to form letters and numbers so that they are “perfect.”
Regardless of the category of services for which the gifted student qualifies, it’s important to prevent slow processing from interfering with a child’s success. Teachers should be aware of how slow processing speed can affect the performance of bright students and strive to differentiate their instruction. Gifted students with slow work pace should not be denied gifted education opportunities.
Because some very bright students with slow processing speed do not see themselves as smart, it’s important to help them understand the nature and pattern of their abilities. It may help to remind them that all people have strengths and weaknesses and that having a slower pace does not mean one is not smart. One student loved that I referred to him as an intellectual tank — not very fast, but extremely powerful.
Some students make good use of timers and alarms to help them track time. A teenager I worked with began using an alarm clock in the bathroom to remind him to get out of the shower. It can also help to conduct a time study. Teaching and training the students with SPS with good time management skills will help them perform better.
Parents can use a stopwatch to determine how much time it takes the child to complete routine tasks like doing a chore or getting dressed for school. These times can be used as goals to work toward and rewards can be provided when the student completes a task within the allotted time. Parents too should be counseled to set realistic goals for younger children who otherwise will feel frustrated with repeated failures.
V. A NEW METHOD TO ANALYZE THE BRAIN’S PROCESSING SPEED
For more than a century, psychologists have used reaction time as a window into the brain. The thinking is that information processing takes time, so the average amount of time taken to begin or complete a task reflects the duration of the cognitive processes involved in it.
For example, a typical reaction-time experiment might ask a subject to classify a sequence of letters as a word or a nonword, by pressing a button. This kind of experiment is called a visual lexical decision task.
This information-centric approach is clearly ripe for an information-theoretic treatment. And sure enough, no sooner had Claude Shannon published his theory of information in the 1940s, than psychologists began to apply it to the exchange of information between the environment and the brain that goes on during reaction-time experiments.
Their approach eventually led to Hick’s Law, one of the few laws of experimental psychology. It states that the time it takes to make a choice is linearly related to the entropy of the possible alternatives. The results from various reaction-time experiments seem to show that this is the case. Although one byproduct of this approach is that the results are intimately linked to the type of experiment used to measure the reaction time. And that makes each study peculiarly vulnerable to the idiosyncrasies of the experimental approach. Therefore, a better method is to study reaction times by analyzing the entropy of their distribution rather than in the manner of thermodynamics. Entropy is an estimate of the amount of information needed to specify the state of the system. The entropy of the distribution of reaction times is independent of the type of experiment and so provides a better measure of the cognitive processes involved. That’s important, not least because it provides a way to more easily compare the results from different types of experiment.
This allows us to determine how much information the brain can process during lexical decision tasks - which is a maximum of 60 bits per second. However, it must be noted that this does not refer to the information processing capacity of the entire brain but is instead a measure of input/output capacity during a single task.
Our results showed that slow processing speed can be diagnosed early in children and subsequently they could be provided with proper support right from young age to avoid them from living frustrated lives. Brain training for 4 weeks could lead to improved cognitive function in students. Moreover, meditation has a direct impact on concentration, especially in high IQ students suffering from lack of focus due to slow processing speed learning disability. Overall, there was an improvement in all 3 criteria - response, comprehension, and analytical skills through brain training and meditation. The key outcome of this paper was the understanding of brain training, a new scientifically and computationally backed method of measuring information processing speed and capacity, and the development and analysis of an application to increase cognitive performance through meditation and visual techniques.
X. PERSONAL REFLECTIONS
Growing up, I would look past my best friend being slower at completing ordinary seeming tasks to which I often remarked her as being lazy. It was only midway through high school that she was diagnosed with the disability of slow processing speed. Ever since then, I’ve felt terrible remorse for my remarks and have been curious as to how many such people would go undiagnosed if not paid attention to closely. This is what led me to pursue further investigation in this area.
As a high school student, I felt too unequipped to make any real impact on the way slow processing speed is diagnosed and treated. However, I was able to find the right mentor who had a fresh perspective to offer to the solution because of his experience with Machine Learning. We decided to build a brain training app that helps improve cognitive performance.
Through the course of this research, I gained perspective of the various challenges low processing speed poses in teenagers and children and how it affects learning outcomes which academic environments are apathetic to. It was a perpetually exciting task too, since I’ve come to realize that there’s so much more that can be done to create more inclusive learning experiences and solutions based on the cognitive processing speed of individuals. I look forward to conducting further research in the area of child development to come up with solutions to solve learning challenges faced by people of all ages.
Beyond the research aspect of the project, I enjoyed designing and developing the mobile application. I used Figma to design the UI/UX and Kotlin for the application. I now have an understanding of the tech stacks used by software developers for various applications alongside the research methods employed by cognitive scientists studying child development. My next aim is to address the several gray areas left in my research and make the application accessible to ios users for which I am working on migrating the codebase to flutter which is a full-stack app development tool. The feeling of having a fully-functional android application on your phone is surreal and it’s a skill which I’m certain is going to be handy for future endeavors .
Therefore, in conclusion, we analyzed the importance of processing speed and how low processing speed impacts students. Through a study involving primary and secondary data focused on students between the ages 11-17, we worked towards a successful, robust, and novel solution to increase brain processing speed and impact the lives of students across the nation affected with this issue. The app, which is easily usable and accessible and will be published on all major App stores will have the potential to change the lives of countless people and is backed by primary research done in this paper. We conducted a randomized control trial and developed an app based on meditation and improvement in visual processing speed. This is a unique, novel solution and we are the first to do it. Moreover, I also designed a unique way of analyzing the brain’s processing speed, which rendered an even more accurate study so we could understand the problem and the solution. I learned about how significant this issue is, even in smart students, and how little has been done to solve it. I also learnt about the urgency of this issue and if I had to do it all over again, I would first start by talking to even more students facing this issue and understanding their demographics. With their demographics on hand, it will be feasible to develop solutions that specifically cater to their needs, leading to less experimentation and faster results. However, I believe that experimentation is what led to a successful solution and a great overall learning experience that will propel my future career and motivations to keep helping students facing a plethora of issues.
 Ebaid, Deena et al. “Cognitive Processing Speed across the Lifespan: Beyond the Influence of Motor Speed.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience vol. 9 62. 22 Mar. 2017, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00062  Abd-alrazaq A, Ahmed A, Alali H, Aldardour A, Househ M The Effectiveness of Serious Games on Cognitive Processing Speed Among Older Adults With Cognitive Impairment: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis JMIR Serious Games 2022;10(3):e36754 URL: https://games.jmir.org/2022/3/e36754 DOI: 10.2196/36754  Bosnes, I., Bosnes, O., Stordal, E. et al. Processing speed and working memory are predicted by components of successful aging: a HUNT study. BMC Psychol 10, 16 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-022-00718-7  Hyman, R (March 1953). \"Stimulus information as a determinant of reaction time\". Journal of Experimental Psychology. 45 (3): 188–96. doi:10.1037/h0056940  Hick, W. E. (1 March 1952). \"On the rate of gain of information\" (PDF). Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 4 (1): 11–26. doi:10.1080/17470215208416600
Copyright © 2023 Bliss Pereira, Sumeet Motwani. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.